Cage farming, also known as cage culture, has emerged as one of the most effective methods for cultivating fish in Kerala’s diverse water bodies, including ponds, rivers, lakes, and the sea.
Unlike closed systems like recirculating aquaculture, cage culture allows fish to thrive in their natural environment while still benefiting from controlled conditions.
Cage Fish Farming in Kerala: Unlocking the Potential of Cage Culture
In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of cage fish farming, including key considerations and steps to ensure a successful venture in this aquaculture practice.
1. Site Selection: The Foundation of Success
Selecting the right location is paramount to the success of cage fish farming in Kerala. With access to seawater, brackish water, and freshwater, you have a range of choices. However, carefully examine the water source’s chemical parameters, including oxygen concentration, temperature, salinity, and more. Assess factors like accessibility, storage facilities, and staff accommodations to make an informed decision.
2. Cage Size Matters
Determining the appropriate cage size is crucial. The size should align with the data collected from your chosen site. The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (C.M.F.R.I) has developed cage designs ranging from 6 meters in diameter to 15 meters in diameter, with 2-meter diameter HDPE cages suitable for seed rearing. The recommended size for stocking fish is typically 6 meters by 4 meters by 2 meters.
3. Crafting Cage Frames and Nets
Cage frames can be constructed using various materials such as GI pipe, PVC, bamboo, or square tubes. The choice of material should consider durability in specific water conditions. Materials like HDPE and PVC are known for their longevity. Nylon twisted nets are the popular choice for cage farming, known for their durability. Proper maintenance is essential to prolong their lifespan.
4. Stocking Fish Seeds
The stocking density varies depending on the fish variety. Proper management, coupled with an ideal location, can yield impressive results, ranging from 20 to 40 kg/m3. The quality of fish feed and seeds significantly impacts growth and mortality rates.
5. Feeds and Feed Management
The type of feed used depends on the fish species being cultivated. Options include fresh or frozen fish, green leaves, and floating dry pellets. Feeding can be a challenge in flowing water bodies, but automated fish feeders help deliver precise quantities, reducing food wastage and promoting rapid growth.
6. Cage Management for Health
Proper cage management is vital for the health and growth of fish seeds. Regular net cleaning, at least once a week, prevents algae growth and ensures proper water circulation. Protect the cage from bird attacks by covering it with bird nets and be vigilant about potential threats from turtles.
Cage culture offers an exciting opportunity to engage in sustainable aquaculture and contribute to Kerala’s thriving fisheries industry.