Cambodia Fish Farming


Fish farming in Cambodia has been increasing for the last 20 years; however, it still has a long way to go. The most popular fish is the Tilapia (Nile perch) and a local catfish. Most of the intensive fish farming in Cambodia is around Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal Province, which leaves vast areas that are ripe for fish production. Fish farming in Cambodia is mainly in cages and intensive pond fish-farming. As of 2016, there were approximately 60,000 ponds and cage farms involved in fish farming in Cambodia.

Battambang Fish Farming Charity

The fish-farming charity that we support is our project. We aim to raise $400,000 from donations and profits from our commercial enterprises then re-invest money from the fish sold. We have ambitious plans for this amazing enterprise.

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.
Teach a man to fish and he feeds his family for life.
Give a man a fish farm and he feeds his community for life.

Working with global experts that we know personally, we are confident that we will launch the project by the end of 2019. With your support we will produce 200,000 fish in the first year, increasing by 200,000 fish per annum for the next five years.

Fish Farming in Cambodia |Project Overview

Using the funds raised through our website and donations, we will “lend” farmers enough capital to invest in launching and maintaining their own fish farm for 12 months. There will be no interest and the repayment terms will be generous. We believe that lending rather than handouts will allow farmers a certain amount of self-respect and motivation. We believe that fish farming in Cambodia should not be seen as a charity.

The project does not simply cover rearing fish for personal consumption but encompasses the planning of a fish farm through to building the farm and the commercial exploitation of fish farming. All for the benefit of the wider community. This is a not-for-profit business in the sense that shareholders will benefit from dividends.

Fishing Charities

Fishing charities are thin on the ground, which is why we have decided to have a fishing charity as our mission. We actively recruit volunteers who can help us move forward with our fish farming charity. If you have any experience in fish farming, we want to hear from you (contact at bottom of page). When considering a Cambodian charity, we hope that you will have us on your list. This is the only charity that we actively seek donations and volunteers.

If anyone knows of any other fishing charities that would like to partner with us, we would love to hear about them.

Cambodian Fish Farming, What We Know

Much of what we base our advice on is from experience in fish farming in Thailand, which is not far away from Battambang. We are given advice from Jim Rakocy, a global leader in Tilapia fish farming, which added to the Asian expertise of Warren Turner will ensure that we make this project a success. Jim’s expertise in ponds and tanks are legendary; he knows a fair bit about commercial fish farming. A standard pond with reasonable fish food should provide a harvest of 9,600  Tilapia weighing 700 grams each.
  • Keep fish in ponds no deeper than two metres or less than 1.2 metre. Shallow ponds become too hot and deep ponds make it difficult to harvest the fish. Safety measures have to be installed and safety instilled into farmers. Most farms will have children on them.
  • Two to four fish per cubic metre of pond. This will depend on how much feed is available, such as bought foods, rice husks and animal waste.
  • Use growing ponds for fish fry until ready for larger ponds.
  • Maximize use of ponds with different fish varieties.
  • As a rule of thumb, fish pellets should be no bigger than the eye of the fish being fed.
  • If fish pellets are not completely eaten, stop feeding. Over feeding does not make fish grow quicker.
  • Do not use night lights at ponds. If you need night time security at ponds, use infra red googles and cameras. These can be purchased reasonably cheaply.
  • Recirculate water from ponds to agricultural fields – pump water from pond floor and add oxygenated water from sprays. Fish waste is high in potassium and other nutrients, which makes it an excellent fertilizer.
  • Keep ponds to a reasonable size for harvesting and continuity purposes: 20 metres by 40 metres is ideal. It is better to have 3-5 medium-sized ponds rather than one huge pond.
  • Fish of similar size in same ponds so that the fish can be harvested at the same time.
  • Each farm to have at least three to five ponds to maintain a regular supply of mature fish.
  • Many fish that are reared in ponds in Asia (or the Tonle Sap) have a dirt taste. Simply keep fish in a clean water environment with no food and they will basically clean themselves out.
  • The addition of clove oil when transporting live fish keeps them calm and prevents death.
  • Fish should be transported as early in the morning as possible.
  • Aerate at night and longer on cloudy days.
  • Feeding and aeration can substantially increase growth and fish numbers in ponds.
  • Marketing plans and research for surplus fish is essential.

Planning and building a Fish Farm

A full detailed plan will be available for each farm. Including exact timescales, dimensions, layouts and technical drawings. We are going to assume that Cambodian farmers have zero equipment.

  • Survey and layout the land for digging the ponds.
  • Decide on best time to dig ponds; obviously in drier seasons
  • Mechanical or manual digging
  • Locate suitable water supply; local river or undergrounds water supply.
  • decide on location of solar water pumps
  • Grow out ponds.
  • Hapas

An important step in this process is understanding how to order and purchase equipment. Most of these items are included here:

  • Solar pump
  • Aeration paddles if required
  • Solar power for above
  • Record books
  • Fish filleting knives and tables
  • Packaging.
  • Hydrated lime
  • Solar aeration paddles.
  • Spades and shovles
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Weighing Scales
  • Transport tanks
  • Infra red goggles
  • Transportation tanks
  • Ice making equipment
  • Dip nets
  • Seine reels
  • Filters
  • Pond lining
  • Pond supports
  • Life vests

And don’t forget the fish. For this business to thrive, it needs good management of the fish.

  • Cost of resale fish should be at least 2.5 times cost of feed
  • Fish food (we can use pig food pellets)
  • Pellets must float
  • Inorganic fertilizer (16-20-0 or 15-15-15) – Nitrogen/Phosphorous/ Potassium
  • Organic fertilizer – manure, vegetation etc

Training and education is also an important part of the development and ongoing production of these fish farms. Nam Sai can offer training at their farms in Thailand. Through education at this organisation’s facilities, fish farmers can understand how to arrange the supply of fish fry and fingerlings. In addition, understand the storage of feed.

Shared Equipment

Some equipment by necessity will be shared in a co-operative enviroment. This equipment might be purchased, leased or rented (daily, weekly, monthly or yearly).

  • Digger and digging equipment.
  • Drilling equipment for water wells.
  • Water location specialists.
  • Theodolite/land survey equipment.
  • Pellet manufacturing. We may at some point wish to manufacture our own pellets. However, if adequate fish pellets are not available, pig food pellets are acceptable.

Red Tilapia Fish Farming

fish farming charity in Battamabang, Cambodia


Tilapia is one of the fastest growing farmed fish and are fairly hardy. In addition to this, their body weight is one of the highest protein content of any fish for human consumption; plus they look good. We are opting for red over black tilapia because red tilapia cook better – making it a better commercial product.

The Nam Sai hybrid red tilapia are ideal for fish farming:

  • From 0.2 grams they will grow to a maturity of 700 grams within six months. Meaning two potential harvests per year. Whilst the mature fish are being prepared for harvest the younger fish would be in grow-out pools.
  • Red Tilapia have a high fillet yield. In layman’s terms, it is good for eating.
  • They have moderate disease resistance. Resistance can be increased with inoculation and careful husbandry. However, with careful husbandry, a disease can be avoided.

Cambodian Cat Fish – Pangasius hypophthalmus

This is a marvellous indigenous fish to Asia and is well suited for farming purposes for several reasons:

  • Cambodian catfish cultured and farmed in Asia for decades making it recognizable to most farmers.
  • From 0.5g Cambodian catfish can grow  to 2kg within 12 months and up to 10kg – given time or feed.
  • As a possible game fish for angling they can grow to as much as 40kg in larger ponds and lakes.
  • Cambodian catfish are tolerant of poor quality water, preventing the need for water management and purification.
  • Water deficient in dissolved oxygen does not provide an obstacle for healthy growth as catfish can breathe air; meaning that no aeration of the ponds are required.
  • Pangasius can eat about almost anything including manure and waste products. Ponds are often created below latrines.
  • They are high in lipids making them a nutritious meal.
  • Cambodian catfish are suited to high-density farming producing more fish per cubic metre.
  • Cat fish can be transported live in relatively small amounts of water without need of refrigeration, which is ideal in Cambodia.
  • As a hardy local fish they are extremely disease resistant.

Fish fry or fingerling

What is the difference? Young fry often die in transportation and easily becomes diseased. Older fingerlings have a better success rate and are inoculated against fishy diseases. It is far simpler and cheaper to buy fish fry than try to breed them. Fish fry can be bought for as little as 5,000 for $100. Nam Sai offers guarantees transport mortality rates and an additional 5% on every order.

Where do you buy tilapia or cat fish

Nam Sai fish farm in Thailand has been know to us for many years and a global supplier of Tilapia fry and fingerlings. This hatchery produces tens of millions of sex-reversed male Tilapia fingerlings monthly. It is run by Warren Turner who is from Wales and obtained an advanced degree at the Asia Institute of Technology outside Bangkok. He is fluent in Thai and has run his operation for close to 30 years. He ships male fingerlings throughout Thailand and to 45 other countries.

Cambodia Fish Farming | Does sex matter

The sex of our fish is very important to our Cambodia fish farming projects as you do not want the fish trying to breed. Why is that? They use energy and we want as much protein per fish as possible. All the fish we supply are reversed sex to males; no females allowed! It is easier and cheaper to buy reversed sex fingerlings that have been inoculated than to try and breed our own. Males grow bigger, quicker and have more protein.

Fish Pond Construction and Design

fish farming in Cambodia with fish pond construction and design
Fish Pond Construction and Design

When researching fish pond construction and design we have leaned heavily on the experience of Nam Sai. Their experience in fish farming in Thailand we can transfer their experience into Cambodia fish farming.

We have to keep the size of ponds to less than 40 metres by 20 metres, which allows the fish to be easily managed. It is also important that fish are kept in ponds that are one metre deep to two metres deep; under one metre deep they get too hot and over two metres the fish are difficult to catch.


Ducks are great for adding essential nutrients to ponds. Duck waste is turned into phytoplankton, which is the staple food for Tilapia. When considering fish pond construction and design we are taking into consideration a duck habitat. It goes without saying that this adds to sustainable Cambodia fish farming and family nutrition.

Cambodia Fish Farming | Solar Water Pumps

Another challenge farmers have in fish pond construction and design is either too much or too little rain. Pumps are required to either pump water from underground and rivers or to remove it during the rainy season. Having petrol or gas pumps are not the solution as farmers will run out of fuel. Unfortunately, if you give farmers petrol it might be used for other purposes. The answer is a decent solar powered pump. A suitable pump is going to be in the range of $3,000.

Pumping water from underground has the benefit of having less bacteria making the fish less suspect to disease.

We have looked at several options for our fish farms and continue to do so. However, the RPS 800 solar well pump or similar will be a fantastic option. The manufacturer has indicated special prices for fish farming in Cambodian projects.

These water pumps are ideal for hydroponics in Cambodia and other farming and agricultural projects in Cambodia