“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.