How to farm tilapia

Tilapia farming at home is an easy and exciting way to put the freshest fish on your family’s table. Your own farm raised tilapia will be the best tasting fish you’ve ever eaten. It will easily take on any gourmet preparation that you choose, without adding that “muddy river bottom” taste to your meals. Best of all, your own tilapia won’t cost $3.99 to $8.99 per pound. In fact, with just a little extra effort, you can even feed your backyard tilapia for free!

Professional tilapia farming made simple

We are Lakeway Tilapia. A full service hatchery, supplying breeding colonies and tilapia fingerlings for commercial aquaculture and backyard tilapia farming. We are deeply committed to educating those interested in starting up new tilapia farming operations, as well as improving the yields and profitability of existing tilapia farms. Our main website, LakewayTilapia.com, is filled with all sorts of technical information about tilapia fingerlings and tilapia farming. We are very proud of the accuracy that we maintain on our sites, however this level of technical expertise can sometimes be a bit overwhelming for the average backyard tilapia farmer.

We created Backyard Tilapia in an effort to keep things simple. Plain talk and a little bit of irreverence are at home here. We’re only going to focus on the techniques that are easily repeatable at home. We will utilize materials that can be purchased locally and methods that allow for a lot of deviation. Of course, we will be mindful of your money too and will always take the path of lowest cost, provided that it doesn’t negatively impact the quality of your tilapia harvest.

Your tilapia farm is our mission

Our primary mission with Backyard Tilapia is to enable food independence for you and your family. We will show you how to raise hundreds of pounds of tilapia per year in your own backyard or garage. That’s more than enough edible filets to feed the largest family, with plenty left over for friends and relatives. We’re also going to show you how to do this on a very tight budget. If you’re like most of us, the whole point of tilapia farming at home is to save money and enjoy a more self-sufficient lifestyle. As a bonus, your own farm raised tilapia will be the healthiest, cleanest, and best tasting you’ve ever had; one hundred percent free of any hormones or genetic modifications, and completely organic.

There are many tilapia farming methods that end with a fish on your plate. Our goal from the onset of this website, is to make sure that anyone can do it, without making it a full-time chore or maxing out their credit cards. If you agree with what you read here, please tell everyone about Backyard Tilapia, if you don’t agree then please tell us.

Food independence is within your reach

Two hundred years ago, seventy percent of all Americans worked on the farm. Today, less than one percent of the population works in farming and only about one third of American homeowners are taking the time to do any vegetable gardening at all. The number of households engaged in animal protein farming is so low that there isn’t even a reliable statistic for it. Our modern way of life dictates that we are supposed to work at a job in exchange for money and then spend that money to buy all of the things that we need, including our food. The irony of this societal conformity is that we could have produced much of this food ourselves in just a few minutes per day and then used the savings to enhance our lives in other ways or possibly even worked a little bit less.

The next time that you are at the grocery store, think about how many hours you had to work for each item that you put in the shopping cart. The cost of meat is outrageous and a big part of why so many people have given it up entirely and now the price of fish is going up too. The problem of rising prices isn’t being created by greedy farmers, it’s all of the middlemen including co-ops, processors, distributors, suppliers and the grocery stores themselves, who step in after the harvest. By farming your own fresh tilapia at home, you are literally eliminating everyone between you and your food. Instead of working at your job just to line the pockets of multi-national food conglomerates, you can keep your money for all of the things that you can’t make yourself. You will soon discover a secret that a growing number of people in America are getting to know. Growing your own food and farming your own tilapia requires far less of your time and effort, than the job you do to earn the money that you trade at the grocery store.

Are you considering fish farming as a new business or as a way of diversifying your existing business? Then this post is for you.

Tilapia farming is a great venture you can start as a side job.

It promises high profits if everything is done well.

In this guide, I am going to give you a detailed step by step process of how to start a tilapia fish farm in Ghana.

This guide will also include:

  • Business plan for tilapia fish farming
  • How profitable is tilapia farming?
  • And a lot more.

Table of Contents

How profitable is tilapia farming?

Before we look at how to start a tilapia fish farm let us see whether it’s profitable or not.

This will help you make a better decision before venturing into the business.

Is tilapia fish farming profitable?

I will say yes. Let’s see why.

Actually, the profitability of a tilapia farm will depend solely on how the business is run.

The larger population in Ghana appreciates protein sources such as tilapia.

The market is readily available, buyers are willing to purchase tilapia at high cost provided its packaged well.

Tilapia is on high demand as Ghanaians are always ready to buy fish.

Food vendors, restaurants and tilapia farmers are making a lot from this business.

How to start the tilapia fish farm.

These are the steps you need to follow be become a successful tilapia farmer.

I have further explained them into details below.

  1. Write a business plan
  2. Choose a site for the farming.
  3. Stock the farm
  4. Managing the farm
  5. Harvesting and selling your produce.

Step 1.

Writing a business plan.

This is a basic requirement for every business venture.

You outline your goals in your business plan and how you intend to achieve them.

You can read more about how to write a business plan from HERE.

Step 2.

Choosing a site for the tilapia fish farm.

Here, I suggest you visit the fish farmers association of Ghana to know exactly what it takes to start a tilapia fish farm in Ghana.

You will be exposed to fish companies and other fish farmers to guide you on your journey.

Decide where you want your fish farm to be located.

It should be located at non residential sites.

After deciding and choosing a place, build a fish tank or pond.

Step 3

Stocking the farm.

This follows as soon as you’re done with getting the required structure in place.

Visit different fish companies, ask for the price of fingerlings, compare and make a good decision.

Ensure you are buying healthy fingerlings.

You can get expert tips on which fingerlings to go for by consulting a local fish farmer or the Fish Farmers Association of Ghana.

You can contact the farms listed below for expert advice and stock purchasing.

Step 4.

Managing the Farm.

Good farm management determines the success of your farm.

  • Feed the fingerlings the required times of the day.
  • Keep the pond tidy
  • Keep the pond away from predators.

Step 5.

Harvesting.

When the fish are finally mature, its time to sell it to the market and make your profits.

Final thoughts.

This guide gives an overview of the tilapia fish farming in Ghana.

For more technical help, send us an email on [email protected]

Tilapia is a warm-water fish with strong vitality and easy growth. Tilapia is delicious, the fillets are mild and white. There are hundreds of recipes for tilapia, and you can create new and healthy foods for your family. Fresh tilapia is in great demand, not only for family consumption, but also for restaurants and seafood shops.

How to farm tilapiaTilapia Fish Farm

Tilapia farming has become a trend in the fish farming industry. In addition, tilapia farming has become one of the easiest farming methods because it can be applied to farms of all sizes. From large industrial producers with complex tools to small tilapia ponds with simple equipment. Because the cost of raising tilapia is also very cheap, many people try to raise tilapia at home.

Develop a Plan and Budget

Take a moment to develop a plan for how you will grow tilapia. This does not have to be a formal plan or even written down, but you do need to consider the following:

How will you learn to breed tilapia? For example, would you buy a book, contact a promotion agency in your state, use online resources, or take a tilapia farming course?

What is your budget? How much money you can spend on your project will determine whether you buy new or used materials, or whether you try to improvise with materials you already have.

Do you need to buy some items, such as water tanks, biological filters, aerators, filters, feed or other equipment? If so, where did you get them?

How will you sustain your fish? What will you feed them? When will they feed? How to maintain proper levels of dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide, pH and nitrogen compounds in the water? How do you keep these warm-water fish at an appropriate temperature? Tilapia can withstand a range of environmental conditions, but you need to try to optimize their growth conditions to get the best results.

Are you planning to breed fish to avoid buying fry or fingerlings? If so, what type of incubation system would you use?

What do you do when the fish is ready for harvest? Are you going to use them to make home food or sell it to the local market?

Machine for Making Floating Fish Feed

How to farm tilapia

How to farm tilapia

Set Up Your Tilapia System

Tilapia can grow successfully in a variety of environments, including ponds, cages, and tanks.

According to reports, urban farmers even breed in trash cans. Raising fish in a pond is perhaps the easiest way. You can even let the fish eat natural food in the pond. If you are using a tank or cage, you will need to purchase the materials needed to build these systems. If you are using a tank, especially where the water is not circulating, you may need to adjust the water for a few days before introducing your fish. It is best to start small and gradually develop into a larger system as experience grows.

Get Fish to Start Your Farm

Now that your culture environment is ready, it is time to introduce fish into your system to grow. Normally, you will buy tilapia fry (larvae range from 0.75″ to 2.0″). Find a reputable dealer to buy your fish.

After you receive your fingerlings, you may need to allow your fingerlings to slowly adapt to the temperature, pH and general water conditions of the growing environment. Bring your newly crop fish to the growing environment and start breeding.

Feed Tilapia with Good Feed and Supplements

Another important thing to note is the type of tilapia food. Tilapia can adapt not only to the environment, but also to any available food source. Because they can eat any type of food, they are easily fed. Nonetheless, make sure you choose a high-quality food to ensure that the tilapia can thrive.

Natural feeds that are good for tilapia include bran, coconut pulp, and even leftover food. In addition to this natural food, supplementing them with nutrients is also a good way to promote their growth. You can give them special fish vitamins at least once a month to ensure the healthy growth of your tilapia. In addition to paying attention to their food, you also need to clean the water and swimming pool regularly.

Growing Conditions for Tilapia

During the growth phase, you need to feed your fish and maintain favorable environmental conditions. When the characteristics of water are kept within the optimal range, the growth effect is the best.

For tilapia, the recommended water chemistry values are as follows:
Temperature: 80-100°F, 85°F is optimal
(Note: tilapia will slow their eating at 75°F, will become weak at 60°F and die at 50°F)
Dissolved Oxygen: 5-7 ppm (parts per million)
PH: 7-7.5
Free Ammonia (not total ammonia): optimal=0, 2ppm will kill, 1ppm will slow growth.
Nitrite: 0.3 mg/l or less
Nitrate: 200-300 ppm
CO2: 20 mg/l or less
Chlorine: 0

Just like growing a traditional vegetable garden requires proper care and maintenance, you will need to pay attention to your aquatic crops to promote optimal growth. Under proper growth conditions, tilapia fingerlings can reach harvestable size within 8 months.

Disease Control and Treatment

Tilapia may be affected by bacterial or viral diseases, so you must take active measures to protect your pond to avoid the outbreak of this disease. This can be achieved by cleaning your pond regularly, preventing overcrowding, and regularly screening ponds for risk factors.

When the disease breaks out, the first treatment is to change the water. However, you can still use chemicals like formalin, salt or organophosphate, but this should be done under professional guidance.

Marketing Your Fishes

If your motivation is profit, then you must carefully consider the best marketing plan to maximize your profits. You can sell directly to consumers, or you can sell to people who buy in bulk from you.

Program Officer, Aquaculture

China is the world’s largest producer of Tilapia (32% of global production) the second most farmed food fish species in the world that is playing a key role in food security, thanks to its low costs and high efficiency. Tilapia production is centered in the southern provinces, especially Guangdong and Hainan, that together account for more than 50% of Chinese tilapia production. IDH partners with the tilapia industry in Hainan in a project that aims to increase efficiency.

For tilapia to play a key role in food security, aquaculture feed and disease management are vital. A single disease (streptococcus) is responsible for about one billion US dollar annual losses globally. A newly detected pathogen, Tilapia Lake Virus, is threatening production in an increasing number of countries.

The IDH Aquaculture Program pilots projects as to learn how to reduce disease occurrences and to improve feed efficiency. We believe this can be done by strengthening partnerships and by adopting technology.

Project in Hainan, China

In China, IDH is partnering with China Blue, ProGift, Xiang’ Tai, Joann IT, Yu2Le, The Fishin’ Company, and the Hainan Tilapia Sustainability Alliance in a three-year project in Hainan Province. The aim of the project is to increase partnerships and implement the use of farm data to control diseases and improve feed efficiency. We build an information system that includes data from value chain players, as well as data from automated sensors placed in tilapia ponds. This data is analyzed by scientific institutions, and the value-chain players receive feedback and advice on how to improve feed and disease management. This leads to improved practices, and increased domestic and export market access. We link financial institutions to the project, so that they better understand risk levels of aquaculture producers.

Lessons learned in 2018

In 2018, the project strengthened collaboration and increased the use of data and technology. Farmers purchased a 24-hour sensor that measures dissolved oxygen levels and water temperature. The sensor is connected to an app in which farmers manually record daily practices, including feeding, water management and disease treatment. This reminds and warns farmers on whether the water in their ponds requires action.

How to farm tilapia

A working group was established that conducted bi-weekly and monthly on-site inspection. The project convened 8 parties of the value chain on an agreement. All stakeholders receive performance and growth data. Such data help their business: the hatchery now knows how well its fingerlings grow; and the processing plant can reduce costs for sampling because they knew there were no antibiotics used.

The first year of the project was challenging. The Internet of Things system (the sensor and the app) did at first not fit the open and tropical environment in Hainan. Although the selected system was the best option available in China’s market the IOT system faced many problems: the sensor was too sensitive, the wireless connection broke and the unstable electricity led to failures. This discouraged farmers, as the data was not accurate.

We learned that technology company should not only train farmers on how to use their equipment, but also adjust their equipment to different circumstances, such as tropical storms and unstable electricity supply. Furthermore, receiving data on the water temperature and dissolved oxygen is one thing, putting this information into management actions that increase the health of the fish is another. This requires a translation of the raw data into practices on how to farm fish, and the technology companies did not necessarily have this knowledge available.

We also learned that this approach, although it was adopted to a limited number of farmers, led to results. The farmers involved in the project improved their feed efficiency from 1.55 to 1.35, and their survival rates increased from 65% to 84%.

Learning Event in November 2018

In November, a learning event was organized in Hainan which brought together stakeholders from the Hainan aquaculture sector, government officials, technology companies, and financial institutions, who discussed data-driven management for a sustainable tilapia industry. The participants showed a strong interest for data-driven management.

The conference showed that the problems in the project are common. Mr. Yang Honglei of the Hainan Seafood Alliance Trading Co., Ltd. underlined that the bottlenecks for the Hainan Tilapia industry to move towards a data-driven approach is the lack of well-developed sensors and a lack of interest from farmers. Professor Lin Shiwei of Hainan University said that the problems of the equipment for these technology solutions are widespread.

How to farm tilapia

IDH introduced technology companies active in the aquaculture industry, to present their solutions to the Chinese participants to encourage cross-learning. The Canadian company XpertSea introduced their hardware and software, that uses artificial intelligence and integrates big data as to help farmers improve their farming practices. The Indonesian company JALA, which combines water quality sensors with a data platform for the Indonesian Shrimp industry, showed that overall yields of shrimp can be increased by 20%. FairAgora explained that trust of farmers remains critical for collecting data. The participants of the conference were inspired by seeing innovative services of technology companies outside of China.

The financial sector showed their interest in the topic. China Pacific Property Insurance explained that insurance companies are facing high risks. They see the potential of data for developing better insurance products. The crowd was also inspired by a system applied in animal husbandry of Alibaba Cloud ET. This system uses big data to provide access to finance without using collateral. Zheng Wei, a senior commissioner at Hainan Bank mentioned that data can provide credit ratings.

These lessons will be integrated into the project in Hainan and elsewhere as to drive the aquaculture sector towards more efficient use of natural resources.

Written by: Pat B How-To 6 Comments Print This Article

How to farm tilapia

Image source: Jacksonville.com

In a former life, before moving to the Ozarks to embark upon an unanticipated homesteading lifestyle, I studied to be and worked as a zoologist and marine biologist. As odd as it may seem, the skills I acquired and the things I learned in that life are not as far removed from a farm in the middle of the country as you might think. As it turns out, adding fish production to a self-sufficiency plan is as feasible as it is beneficial.

I won’t rehash the health benefits of fresh fish in the diet. I will, however, state that having an additional protein source and adding variety to your diet has wonderful psychological benefits. The ability to provide variety in your diet cannot be overestimated.

When it comes to raising fish, about the easiest species to work with is the humble (yet delicious!) tilapia. Tilapia are tolerant to a wide range of water quality parameters, they eat a lot of stuff that is considered undesirable in many aquaculture settings, and they grow like weeds and reproduce like rabbits. The hardest part of keeping tilapia is maintaining water temperature through the cold months, but with a bit of ingenuity even this obstacle is not insurmountable.

Tilapias are filter feeders, and they are generally plankton and detritus feeders. In other words, they eat all the funky stuff that is suspended in the water column. They can be raised on almost any commercial fish feed, and can even eat things like dog and cat food. Allowing algae and other aquatic plants to grow in a tank, often a big no-no in other aquaculture endeavors, can provide a free source of supplemental feed for your tilapia. When I was in graduate school, some other students and I were tasked with cleaning out some large fish tanks that had been sitting untended for several years on one of the school’s docks. When we drained the murky green algae choked water from the tank, we found a fair number of large tilapia, along with juveniles, thriving in the gloom. These fish had lived for several years, forgotten by the professor or grad student who had been using them in their research, living only on the algae that grew naturally in the tank. I don’t advocate this strategy in fish farming; I only bring it up to illustrate what a hardy species tilapia are.

Tilapia don’t require heavily aerated water. They have the ability to gulp air at the surface should water become anoxic. Again, I am not advocating growing fish in oxygen-poor water, but pointing out that aeration need not be extreme. Allowing water to fall back into the tank on its return from your filtration system will input quite a bit of oxygen, and should adequately supply your fish.

Setting up an aquaculture unit can be done with readily available supplies. Easy set pools, available at end of season clearance sales at the local Walmart, make great fish tanks. An 8 foot pool with three feet of depth holds a bit over 1,000 gallons. This is enough volume to comfortably raise 250 fish to a terminal live weight of 2 pounds. A two pound fish will provide two ¾ pound fillets. The uneaten portions of the fish make great fertilizer, as fish meal or fish emulsion.

A simple biological filter system can be built using a 25 gallon trough, a five gallon bucket, and some gravel. Drill a bunch of ¼ inch holes in the bucket up to about 6 inches from the bottom. Place the bucket in the center of the trough, weighted with a brick. Fill the space between the bucket and the trough wall with gravel, almost to the top. The gravel will provide substrate for bacteria that eat the waste products produced by your fish. The bucket will house a water pump, and the holes at the bottom of the bucket ensure that all water going through the pump is first drawn through the bacteria rich gravel.

Now all you need is a bit of plumbing to allow water to flow out of your tank, into your filter, and back into the tank. I always set up systems with an overflow from tank to filter, and pump water from the filter into the tank, with this configuration a broken pipe will never cause a tank to be pumped dry which has a tendency to kill your fish. Set up a stand pipe at your chosen water depth and allow water to flow from the tank into the gravel of your filter from this pipe. Pump water from the center of the bucket in the filter back to the tank, allowing the water to fall some distance into the tank. This fall will serve to aerate the water. A 400-500 gph pump will give your water plenty of turnover and aeration

As I said earlier, water temperature is the biggest hurdle in raising tilapia. In order to achieve optimum growth rates water temperature must be in the mid-70s or higher. Some strains can survive in water as cold as 48 degrees, but they don’t grow at this temperature. We combat this in the winter months by keeping our tank inside our high tunnel. Supplemental heat is provided with large aquarium heaters. This has a twofold benefit: first the water maintains a temperature conducive to fish growth and second the water provides a great thermal mass that helps keep the tunnel warmer. Win/win.

A friend of mine set up a barrel stove with stainless steel water coils inside to heat his fish water. Never use copper pipe for aquaculture, copper can be toxic. This friend used stainless gas line for his coils and it worked great. You can get a two barrel stove kit and run your water heating coils in the upper barrel. This one is still on my projects list. I like it because it doesn’t require electricity.

Stock can be had from a wide range of sources. The closer to home you get your stock, the better suited it will be to your environment. Once you get your initial stock you can breed your own stock for grow-out in relatively small indoor tanks (even in large aquaria). Tilapia have an 8 month grow out, so if you breed in the winter you can have small fish ready for your tank when it starts to warm up in the spring.

Much of the tilapia available in supermarkets is raised on foreign fish farms, often in China. I find it very hard to trust these products. By growing your own, you eliminate the risks and achieve control over your food. Tilapia are pretty easy to raise, and can be an important supplement to your self-sufficiency program. Aquaculture units need not be elaborate, and with a bit of planning a very functional system can be cobbled together from Walmart and Tractor Supply parts on a pretty tight budget.

Aquaculture

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How to farm tilapia

North Carolina’s Tilapia industry is based on indoor, RAS (Recirculating Aquaculture System) technology. Producers raise this subtropical fish in systems that maintain a clean and healthful environment 24/7, throughtout the year. Our producers annually produce over 1,000,000 lbs with most fish being sold live to ethnic Asian metropolitan markets along the east coast. Farm gate revenues are approximately $2,500,000 for 2018.

For additional information, please see:

Other sites of interest:

Written By

Mike Frinsko Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture – Aquaculture Serves 18 Counties Based out of Jones Call Mike

N.C. Cooperative Extension, Jones County Center

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Aquaculture

How to farm tilapiaHow to farm tilapia

Often referred to as “fish farming”, Aquaculture is broadly defined as the culture of any living aquatic resource. Fish, crustaceans, molluscs, plants, algae, and even useful bacteria, can be produced in aquaculture facilities. In North Carolina, we have a diverse industry that focus’ on the following species: Fish: Striped Bass (and hybrid striped bass), Tilapia, Catfish and Trout (NC is a top producer of trout); Crustaceans: crayfish and Blue Crabs; and Molluscs: oysters and clams.

These organisms may be raised in the more traditional “open systems” such as ponds and leased coastal waters, or in more “intensive systems” especially the indoor tank facilities referred to as “recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS)”. Aquaculture is a complex and dynamic industry and North Carolina is part of this global powerhouse of seafood production. The materials contained in this website are intended to provide useful, research based, information with a focus to assist the development of the NC industry. For additional information, please contact any of the staff mentioned in the “NCSU Aquaculture Team” page. A short introductory aquaculture “preview” video can be seen here

Written by: Pat B How-To 6 Comments Print This Article

How to farm tilapia

Image source: Jacksonville.com

In a former life, before moving to the Ozarks to embark upon an unanticipated homesteading lifestyle, I studied to be and worked as a zoologist and marine biologist. As odd as it may seem, the skills I acquired and the things I learned in that life are not as far removed from a farm in the middle of the country as you might think. As it turns out, adding fish production to a self-sufficiency plan is as feasible as it is beneficial.

I won’t rehash the health benefits of fresh fish in the diet. I will, however, state that having an additional protein source and adding variety to your diet has wonderful psychological benefits. The ability to provide variety in your diet cannot be overestimated.

When it comes to raising fish, about the easiest species to work with is the humble (yet delicious!) tilapia. Tilapia are tolerant to a wide range of water quality parameters, they eat a lot of stuff that is considered undesirable in many aquaculture settings, and they grow like weeds and reproduce like rabbits. The hardest part of keeping tilapia is maintaining water temperature through the cold months, but with a bit of ingenuity even this obstacle is not insurmountable.

Tilapias are filter feeders, and they are generally plankton and detritus feeders. In other words, they eat all the funky stuff that is suspended in the water column. They can be raised on almost any commercial fish feed, and can even eat things like dog and cat food. Allowing algae and other aquatic plants to grow in a tank, often a big no-no in other aquaculture endeavors, can provide a free source of supplemental feed for your tilapia. When I was in graduate school, some other students and I were tasked with cleaning out some large fish tanks that had been sitting untended for several years on one of the school’s docks. When we drained the murky green algae choked water from the tank, we found a fair number of large tilapia, along with juveniles, thriving in the gloom. These fish had lived for several years, forgotten by the professor or grad student who had been using them in their research, living only on the algae that grew naturally in the tank. I don’t advocate this strategy in fish farming; I only bring it up to illustrate what a hardy species tilapia are.

Tilapia don’t require heavily aerated water. They have the ability to gulp air at the surface should water become anoxic. Again, I am not advocating growing fish in oxygen-poor water, but pointing out that aeration need not be extreme. Allowing water to fall back into the tank on its return from your filtration system will input quite a bit of oxygen, and should adequately supply your fish.

Setting up an aquaculture unit can be done with readily available supplies. Easy set pools, available at end of season clearance sales at the local Walmart, make great fish tanks. An 8 foot pool with three feet of depth holds a bit over 1,000 gallons. This is enough volume to comfortably raise 250 fish to a terminal live weight of 2 pounds. A two pound fish will provide two ¾ pound fillets. The uneaten portions of the fish make great fertilizer, as fish meal or fish emulsion.

A simple biological filter system can be built using a 25 gallon trough, a five gallon bucket, and some gravel. Drill a bunch of ¼ inch holes in the bucket up to about 6 inches from the bottom. Place the bucket in the center of the trough, weighted with a brick. Fill the space between the bucket and the trough wall with gravel, almost to the top. The gravel will provide substrate for bacteria that eat the waste products produced by your fish. The bucket will house a water pump, and the holes at the bottom of the bucket ensure that all water going through the pump is first drawn through the bacteria rich gravel.

Now all you need is a bit of plumbing to allow water to flow out of your tank, into your filter, and back into the tank. I always set up systems with an overflow from tank to filter, and pump water from the filter into the tank, with this configuration a broken pipe will never cause a tank to be pumped dry which has a tendency to kill your fish. Set up a stand pipe at your chosen water depth and allow water to flow from the tank into the gravel of your filter from this pipe. Pump water from the center of the bucket in the filter back to the tank, allowing the water to fall some distance into the tank. This fall will serve to aerate the water. A 400-500 gph pump will give your water plenty of turnover and aeration

As I said earlier, water temperature is the biggest hurdle in raising tilapia. In order to achieve optimum growth rates water temperature must be in the mid-70s or higher. Some strains can survive in water as cold as 48 degrees, but they don’t grow at this temperature. We combat this in the winter months by keeping our tank inside our high tunnel. Supplemental heat is provided with large aquarium heaters. This has a twofold benefit: first the water maintains a temperature conducive to fish growth and second the water provides a great thermal mass that helps keep the tunnel warmer. Win/win.

A friend of mine set up a barrel stove with stainless steel water coils inside to heat his fish water. Never use copper pipe for aquaculture, copper can be toxic. This friend used stainless gas line for his coils and it worked great. You can get a two barrel stove kit and run your water heating coils in the upper barrel. This one is still on my projects list. I like it because it doesn’t require electricity.

Stock can be had from a wide range of sources. The closer to home you get your stock, the better suited it will be to your environment. Once you get your initial stock you can breed your own stock for grow-out in relatively small indoor tanks (even in large aquaria). Tilapia have an 8 month grow out, so if you breed in the winter you can have small fish ready for your tank when it starts to warm up in the spring.

Much of the tilapia available in supermarkets is raised on foreign fish farms, often in China. I find it very hard to trust these products. By growing your own, you eliminate the risks and achieve control over your food. Tilapia are pretty easy to raise, and can be an important supplement to your self-sufficiency program. Aquaculture units need not be elaborate, and with a bit of planning a very functional system can be cobbled together from Walmart and Tractor Supply parts on a pretty tight budget.

Aquaculture

Now on Twitter

  • Home
  • Tilapia

How to farm tilapia

North Carolina’s Tilapia industry is based on indoor, RAS (Recirculating Aquaculture System) technology. Producers raise this subtropical fish in systems that maintain a clean and healthful environment 24/7, throughtout the year. Our producers annually produce over 1,000,000 lbs with most fish being sold live to ethnic Asian metropolitan markets along the east coast. Farm gate revenues are approximately $2,500,000 for 2018.

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Written By

Mike Frinsko Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture – Aquaculture Serves 18 Counties Based out of Jones Call Mike

N.C. Cooperative Extension, Jones County Center

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Mike Frinsko Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture – Aquaculture

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About
Aquaculture

How to farm tilapiaHow to farm tilapia

Often referred to as “fish farming”, Aquaculture is broadly defined as the culture of any living aquatic resource. Fish, crustaceans, molluscs, plants, algae, and even useful bacteria, can be produced in aquaculture facilities. In North Carolina, we have a diverse industry that focus’ on the following species: Fish: Striped Bass (and hybrid striped bass), Tilapia, Catfish and Trout (NC is a top producer of trout); Crustaceans: crayfish and Blue Crabs; and Molluscs: oysters and clams.

These organisms may be raised in the more traditional “open systems” such as ponds and leased coastal waters, or in more “intensive systems” especially the indoor tank facilities referred to as “recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS)”. Aquaculture is a complex and dynamic industry and North Carolina is part of this global powerhouse of seafood production. The materials contained in this website are intended to provide useful, research based, information with a focus to assist the development of the NC industry. For additional information, please contact any of the staff mentioned in the “NCSU Aquaculture Team” page. A short introductory aquaculture “preview” video can be seen here