Malasya: Malaysians, especially the youth, should consider venturing into indoor aquaculture as it entails a lower start-up capital and overheads and fewer risks, compared with traditional aquaculture, says an aquaculturist.
Sepang Today Aquaculture Centre (STAC) chairman Khoo Eng Wah, who has been in the field for almost 50 years, said traditional aquaculture carried out outdoors required large plots of land and a higher start-up capital.
In comparison, Khoo said, a person could venture into indoor aquaculture with just RM50,000 to set up a indoor system, which would include tanks, pumps as well as fingerlings and juvenile fish, among others.
“Indoor ponds are also not exposed to the risks that outdoor ponds are, such as floods, typhoons and dust.”
Khoo, a graduate of the National University of Singapore, said these risks were eliminated with indoor aquaculture, where fish were reared in PVC or concrete tanks, and shaded from the elements.
He added that with indoor aquaculture, there was no soil at the bottom of the tanks, and the conditions of the water, such as its temperature and pH level, could be easily monitored with computer software.
“With indoor aquaculture, you do not need vast tracts of lands. You can utilise shop lots, and there are many vacant shop lots available nowadays.
“If you use a recirculation aquaculture system (RAS), you don’t even need to change the water and you can use a mixture of good bacteria to help convert ammonia from the fish’s waste into nitrate, so that the fish are not affected,” he said, adding that nitrate-rich water could be recycled to water plants.
Khoo said both marine and freshwater fish, such as the Australian jade perch, tilapia and Sabah garoupa, as well as various species of prawns and crabs, were suitable for indoor cultivation.
“The Australian jade perch is very much in demand because it is rich in Omega 3 oil. In fact, it has three times the Omega 3 oil of salmon.”
He said one cycle of fish from fingerling to marketable adult size (600gm) took seven to eight months.
Different fish, he said, had different production costs as the cost of fingerlings and fish food, electricity, water and good bacteria differed from fish to fish.
On average, he said the production cost was RM12 to RM14 per kg for the Australian jade perch which could fetch about RM28 per kg on the market.
For tilapia, the production cost is RM7 to RM8 per kg and the selling price, RM10 to RM11 per kg.
He said depending on the type of fish, returns could range from 30% to 100%.
STAC is a a private aquaculture resource and training centre, which provides training and consultancy courses for those seeking to venture into aquaculture.