Today's Quote


“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Friday, January 23, 2009

Raising Tilapia; Diversity for the Small Homesteader

African Tilapia are a hardy fish. They make a great addition to homesteads because they can be raised in a small area and are extremely hardy. They have a mild flavor as a fish and even those who are not particularly fond of fish tend to at the very least tolerate tilapia. There are just a few requirements for raising tilapia. They don't like very cold water, preferring their home to be in the 80 degree range. They can tolerate a short distance either side of that range, but the closer you can stick to it the better. Tilapia are great foragers and enjoy fresh greens as well as blue green algae in their diets. They are also fond of duckweed. Unlike many fish in a pond they require no large water filtration system. In fact having a good number of water hyacinth in your pond will remove the amount in sufficient amount. They are tolerant of more ammonia in their water than most pond fish. They are fairly cheap to buy as fingerlings and just a few fingerlings will produce a large harvest for a family. The reproduce quickly and grow to harvest weight rapidly. From spawn to harvest takes approximately 4 months. So starting in the spring with fingerlings can yield a harvest in the fall. Many people do not even use a pond to raise their tilapia, instead choosing to raise and harvest all year long in indoor aquariums. In fact, at harvest time in the fall, choose a few of your tilapia that are on the smaller side and put them in a large aquarium in your home. They can be wintered there and then released in the spring into your pond. I would recommend that the aquarium setup take advantage of water filtration because of the smaller area in which your tilapia live. Ammonia levels will rise quickly. Tilapia are also a versatile fish, often called the chicken of the fish world. They can be cooked in almost any manner you desire. Raising tilapia is a great way to add a source of protein to your homestead and add something a little different giving your family variety in their diet. Even if you are small raising just enough for a meal every month or so in an aquarium, they are still worth the time and the very little effort that they require.

10 comments:

Kurt Caddy said...

I am interested in raising talapia for our family in tanks. Please send any information about how to do this. I was also wondering what your source for fingerlings is? Thanks Kurt Caddy

Yresim said...

I had two questions:
1) What is the formula for determining how many adult fish can be kept in a given tank? I was looking at a 75-100 gallon setup, but I can't find anything to tell me how many fish to get.
2) Do you have any advice on finding a source for the fingerlings?

Kat said...

Sorry for not seeing the comments here til now. I know in January I was having computer issues and couldn't access google at all, so I guess I didn't receive comment notices. To answer your questions: How many fish? I simply don't know. I have seen tank and barrel set-ups but no one every mentions a ratio other than tilapia and catfish both do well in a crowded environment. The more fish the more water changes you will want. In the barrel set-ups I have seen as the fish grow half of them are place in another barrel. They start in one barrel and then finish in two. They have always looked plum full of fish. As for source, look in your states farmer's market bulletin. They typically have farmers that are selling fingerlings in your state. That is what I have done for mine. My recommendation would be to purchase the smallest amount available and work from their to see what works for your set-up. Sometimes farming is just a guessing game with a try and see approach. Hope this helps, Kat

James.S. said...

In an average intensive Tilapia system you can get away with around 1lb per gallon. There are people pushing 4+lb per gallon mark but the higher the number the greater chance of a rapid swing resulting in total loss.

Nemo said...

I'm curious what the temperature tolerance would be? I live in the back country, no access to power that I dont generate myself, and use a wood stove for heat.. How critical is maintaining their water temp during the winter?

Kat said...

Nemo, tilapia are very sensitive to temperature. They originate in Africa so do really well in hot climates, but cold will kill them. You can overwinter a few breeders in a good sized tank in the house and then let them do their thing to raise more once the water heats up in the spring. They don't take but just a few months from hatch to harvest. Start in the spring and harvest in the fall, then you will have plenty till the next season. Or you could have a small indoor setup and raise a smaller amount in the winter as long as you can keep the water warm. Maybe you could experiment to see how far away from the wood stove to maintain proper water temps a tank would need to be and then you will be ready to get fish. I imagine the heat of the stove will keep it warm you will just need to experience using distance from the stove as your thermostat. Blessings, Kat

yahoo.com said...

I live in Fla and it doesn't really get that cold here. Do you think that whatever fish I don't harvest in the fall will make it through the mild winters we have?

Kat said...

yahoo, depending on where in FL you are. In south Florida, I would say they probably stand a good chance but in north Florida I would not chance it. Somewhere in between you might be ok if your pond is deep enough, but in a barrel or above ground setting they would need a heat source. Hope that helps, Kat

david mircea said...

U can put 1 tilapia for one gallon, they will grow faster, and control ammonia if u do 1 tilapiA in 3 gallons.
U can by tilpia from me! Dmircea5@gmail. Om

david mircea said...

Sorry, dmircea5@gmail.com