Fish farmers fearing loss of stock to predators can now construct a wooden portable pond that can accommodate 300 fish for less than Sh30,000 in their secure backyard.

Alex Aholi of Kenya Market-Led Aquaculture Programme said a wooden pond is one of the cheapest and safest ways of successfully raising more than 300 fingerlings to maturity right at the homestead.

“Farmers lose close to half of fish to thieves and other predators when their ponds are far away from home. A wooden fish pond at one’s backyard boosts surveillance against human and animal predators such as snakes, rodents, dogs and cats,” he said.

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Pond construction

A 20 feet by 10 feet by four feet pond can raise about 300 tilapia fingerlings or at least 500 catfish, which would mature in six to eight months.

Besides security, a wooden portable fish pond is an ideal tool for both urban and rural farmers, who want to move into aquaculture on limited land, he said.

The base requires about 200 feet of timber. The two sides for the width require 80 feet while the length will consume 160 feet of timber.

Timber cost

Timber costs in Kenya depend on the type of wood and area of purchase. Taking an average cost of Sh27 per foot in Nairobi, timber for the pond will cost Sh12,880.

In Kisii, the same size costs Sh25.Mukima tree timber, which costs Sh20 in Nyeri fetches Sh25 in Nairobi.

An allowance of Sh1,000 expenditure on timber will cater for any extra pieces for patching up.

Three and four-inch nails of two kilogrammes cost Sh400.

Holding the water

A polythene lining of about 30 square metres is required to hold the water. A good quality lining gauge costs between Sh250 and Sh500 per square metre. It will cost Sh9,000 for a lining of Sh300 per square metre gauge.

A hexagonal wire-mesh costing about Sh2,000 is required to cover the top against animal predators.

With labour of about Sh2,000, the total cost of the pond will be Sh27,280.

Pond capacity

The wooden pond can hold between 700 litres to 1,000 litres of water. The water should be drained or regularly changed to avoid accumulation of toxic substances from excrement and food remains.

If a farmer rears 300 tilapia or 500 catfish, they can reap a gross income of about Sh10,000 on first round after maturity.

“Tilapia will do best because the pond is free from mud,”said Aholi.

Costly containers

The portable pond is convenient for an urban farmer who may not have permanent residence. It is also easy to move the pond within the homestead, he said.

Mombasa County in 2015 launched similar backyard fish ponds out of used cargo containers bought for youth groups.

But they are more expensive, ranging from Sh110,000 to Sh150,000 for a 20 feet container.