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Fish farm can be money maker

US - Plenty of country homeowners are looking for ways to make extra cash from their extra acres.

One answer could be to turn a pond or a spare barn into an aquaculture operation. It can take less than $10,000 to start raising fish on a small scale, and the payoff from a side business can add up to $10,000 to $20,000 a year, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service educators say.

But relatively few Hoosier farmers have ventured into the aquaculture field, partly because it takes research and experimentation to learn how to raise fish.

The state's 47 aquaculture operations sold nearly $3.2 million in fish in 2002, according to the most recent Census of Agriculture. Aquaculture contributed only a tiny portion of the nearly $4.8 billion in agricultural products Hoosier farmers sold that year.

John and Julie Topsoglou started raising tilapia in their Roanoke basement about five years ago. That evolved into Midwest Fish Hatcheries, the business they own with partner Malcolm Albersmeyer. The fish farm, now located in a barn southwest of Fort Wayne, will be ready to supply thousands of young fish each week to other aquaculture businesses beginning later this year, John Topsoglou said.

Source: SouthBendTribune