Tilapia Farming and Other Aquaponics Fish
Tilapia farming is currently one of the most popular practices in aquaculture. Likewise, the use of tilapia in aquaponics is also wide spread particulary in warm weather locations. To be successful in tilapia farming warm water temperatures must be maintained throughout the year. So in a cold weather geographical area, the use of a greenhouse, an indoor location or a water heater is required.
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Fortunatley for those who can't meet these requirements, there is a wide variety of other freshwater fish that can be stocked in aquaponic holding tanks or ponds in warm or cold locations. In selecting your aquatic live stock there several key factors that need to be considred first.
- Are these fish being raised primarily for eating or are they ornamental fish that are intended as pets?
- Which types of fish are best suited to the weather, temperature, and general conditions of your location.
- If you are to mixing a variety of fish in a single tank, are these species compatible?
Other considerations are that fish do not develop or grow identically. Some fish grow faster than others, and larger fish will often bully or even eat smaller fish even though they may be compatible when they are similar size. Some freshwater fish are better suited for living in a closed-tank environment and some will not even reproduce at all in holding tanks. If you select those fish, you will have to buy additional fingerlings after a harvest in order to begin the cycle anew.
What follows are the characteristics of some of the most popular fish that are stocked in aquaponic systems:
Tilapia FarmingTilapia farming is a popular practice in aquaculture because of their large size, and palatability. Like other large fish, they are a good source of protein and are also among the easiest and most profitable fish to farm. This is due to their omnivorous diet that allows them to dine on the aquatic vegetation that grows naturally in the tank reducing feeding costs. They also tolerate a high stocking density and have a rapid rate of growth (6 to 7 months to harvest size). So tilapia farming can produce two harvests per year, each with a very effcient yield of lbs of fish per volume of water.
Tilapia or as they are also known, St. Peter's fish, are a spiny-finned freshwater fish of the Cichlidae family, native largely to Africa and Middle East. Tilapia are categorized as an invasive species, which means that you have to be extra careful not to accidentally release them into the wild where they can negatively impact the growth and reproduction of native species.Tilapias raised in inland tanks or channels are considered safe for the environment, since their waste and disease is contained.
Tilapia is a mild-flavored freshwater fish that will survive and thrive in holding tanks a consistent water temperature is maintained. The preferred water temperature for optimal growth and reproduction is 82-86o F. Growth drops off significantly below 68 degrees and the fish will not survive below 50 degrees.
Tilapia can be raised with a wide variety of other aquatic animals including catfish and prawns. It's mild "non-fishy" taste makes it the 5th most consumed fish in the US. Tilapia farming as part of an aquaponics system can produce a sustainable and balanced food supply for any family and when scaled to a sufficient size can also be a profitable business.
Other Edible Fish
White BassWhite bass are a small member of the bass family usually not weighing more than three to four pounds. Also known as sandies, these fish also have a short lifespan of only three to four year and grow rapidly to maturity. White bass are temperature tolerant and can be raised in tanks with other fish of a similar or larger size.
White bass are also an excellent tasting fish and unlike tilapia, white bass are carnivorous and can feed easily on small crabs and fish.
Crappie have delicious, flaky, white flesh that has earned them the reputation as one of the finest tasting freshwater fish. The Cajun name for crappie in Southern Louisiana, "sac-a-lait," literally translates as "sack of milk," and is a testament to it's excellent white meat.Crappie are prolific breeders and adapt well to closed systems. Unfortunately, crappies need at least two years before they are able to mate and reproduce which can extend the time for the intial harvest. The average size of the adult crappie is between one half and one pound, though they are known to grow much larger.
Carnivorous by nature, crappies should be fed insects and small fish if they are kept in a closed system fish tank or pond. Like the white bass, they can be raised with other fish as long as relative size is considered.
KoiKoi are a colorful, domesticated version of the common wild carp, Cyprinus Carpio. They can grow to over 3 feet in length and life spans of over 20 years are not uncommon. In Japan, where it is the national fish, koi are family pets and are often given as gifts to acquaintances with backyard ponds.
Koi are omnivores that eat both animal and vegetable food. A good diet for pond fish constitutes both these matters and there are commercial foods are available that provide a wide variety of both. Koi will recognize their owners as they approach the pond at feeding time and will throng to the area where they are normally fed. As large fish that love eating, koi can be trained to eat from the owner’s hand. Koi have very distinctive colors and physical characteristics that enable individual fish to be easily recognized. Koi will reproduce in either a fish tank or pond
GoldfishGoldfish are a relatively small domesticated member of the carp family. Goldfish breeds vary greatly in size, body shape, fin configuration and coloration. Goldfish will reproduce in a fish tank or pond and can survive at a wide range of temepraures. Goldfish are a good chocie for very small aquaponic systems since they are hardy and can live in relatively restricted spaces.
More Aquaponics FishOther freshwater fish that can power aquaponic systems are:
- Largemouth Bass
- Small Mouth Bass
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