fish farmer

How to become fish farmer

What does a fish farmer do?

Fish farming involves breeding shellfish and fish such as salmon and trout for the food industry. Some fish farmers rear other types of fish to stock lakes and rivers for angling purposes, or for ornamental ponds. Farms either breed their own fish by hatching eggs from adult stock or buy in young fish from elsewhere and rear them.

Freshwater fish may be kept in tanks, ponds, cages or concrete raceways. Marine fish are housed in large pens or sea cages. Shellfish are farmed in their natural marine environment.

The main areas of work in fish farming are:

  • feeding fish by hand or by filling hoppers that feed them automatically. Shellfish feed naturally from the sea
  • monitoring the health of fish
  • grading fish or shellfish by size and moving them to bigger tanks or other holding units
  • maintaining water quality by making regular checks on factors such as water temperature and oxygen content, cleaning filters and screens that trap leaves and other debris on freshwater farms, treating water before releasing it back into the river
  • harvesting fish when ready for sale
  • selling fish to the public and/or trade customers
  • maintaining buildings, equipment and fish habitats, including the cleaning of ponds and screens.

As most fish farms have small numbers of staff, managers usually do many of the above tasks, as well as supervising fish farm workers. They also keep records and accounts; buy fresh stock, feedstuff, equipment and materials; and are sometimes responsible for fish processing or smoking units.

Managers must also ensure that their enterprise complies with environmental standards and objectives agreed with local authorities, and that legal requirements are met.

Some fish farms provide angling facilities.


What's the working environment like for a fish farmer?

Fish farms operate seven days a week. Hours can be long and may include early mornings, evenings, weekends and emergency callouts. A rota system may be in operation.

Fish farms tend to be in isolated areas. Work is outdoors in all weather conditions. It is quite an active job, which involves heavy lifting, standing, bending and carrying.

It may be necessary to drive a vehicle to collect feed or equipment and deliver fish to local buyers, so a driving licence is often useful.


What does it take to become a fish farmer?

To be a fish farmer you should:

  • have an enthusiasm for fish and their welfare
  • have a variety of practical skills eg woodwork, welding, basic plumbing
  • be able to work on your own, as well as part of a small team
  • have good health, be fit and able to cope with heavy work
  • be prepared to work outdoors in all weathers
  • have the ability to adapt to new technology
  • be able to swim
  • have business and communication skills and be highly organised.

Even though there are no set entry requirements, a related college course will provide you with useful skills and knowledge. It is helpful if you are a member of an angling club, or if you volunteer at a conservation or ecological organisation, this will also stand you in good stead. 

Fish farmer career opportunities

Fish farmers can progress into other areas like fisheries management, biological science or environmental research if they have a degree qualification. 

On a larger farm, you could progress to supervisor or manager. 
Some fish farmers even start their own farm based on the knowledge they acquire. 


Further information

If you would like to learn more about becoming a fish farmer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM)
22 Rushworth Avenue
West Bridgford
Tel: 0115 982 2317

British Trout Association
The Rural Centre
West Mains
Tel: 0131 472 4080

Lantra House
Tel: 0845 707 8007

Lantra career advice sites: