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I ran into this when researching whether tilapia would be a good idea for me to raise. It seems that the state of California wants its share of my money, about 800 dollars of it, if they can say what I am doing is aquaculture. But, if my systems are simply a hobby, as opposed to a business, it looks as though I can skirt by. Sort of. If I only keep koi or goldfish. I think. The fish are still regulated, and there's this link for the very same form that demands my money after the statement.

Wait.

If my koi or goldfish happen to have babies.. Does that make me an aquaculturalist?

I'm sooooo confused. Anybody want to straighten the laws of California out for us all?

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Hello:) We've just made an aquaponic system and we're looking for some fingerlings, and I read that you're selling fingerlings.  How much are you selling tilapia for? (I read that tilapia are sturdy fish and that we should start with tilapias) Are you near LA county? Is it possible to pick them up?


Jon Parr said:

Let me break it down, and separate myth from reality. Sam, you're half right. Tilapia raised for commercial human consumption require an aquaculture permit thru DFG, and DFG will not approve a permit in NorCal. Very true. However, tilapia is not illegal to possess, transport, or raise anywhere in California. Believe me on this one. I have had many conversations and emails with varying levels of DFG staff, and I am 100% sure of this statement. DFG may tell you otherwise, or agree with me, depending on who you speak to. California works like this: rather than generating a list of all the species that ARE ALLOWED, they made a list of species that ARE NOT ALLOWED. The list is here:

https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=28427

Page 10, family cichlidae. There are four species of tilapia commonly farmed for the table. Niles and blues ARE PROHIBITED, o. mossambicus and o. hornorum are not. I have been raising and selling tilapia for years, and two years ago decided I would get legit and pay for an aquaculture permit. On the application, there is a description for who needs a permit, and who does not. First off, all aspects of raising, breeding, and selling goldfish and koi are specifically exempt from all DFG rules, despite the fact that they are not native and quite invasive. Secondly, all tropical fish for hobby purposes are exempt, including raising, breeding and selling. Importation may produce its own troubles, IDK, but any California resident may raise any tropical fish for hobby purposes so long as it is not on the prohibited list. Period. If you choose to eat your hobby fish, or sell your hobby fish to a fellow enthusiast, then do so. If you wish to kill your hobby fish and sell the fillets for human consumption, then you must pay for an aquaculture permit and be subject to DFG for approval and monitoring.

Sam, tilapia are an invasive species, in fact, I believe they are the most invasive species of fish in the world (or maybe carp), BUT they do NOT pose a local threat for NorCal. They die below 55 F, and NorCal is simply too cold for them. And there is a century of proof thereof. That makes tilapia near the top of the list for LEAST invasive locally, ironically.

Now having said all that, tilapia is a poor choice for Cali AP, unless you are indoors, have a very hi-tech GH, or have free heat like geothermal. They cost $2 per pound, or $4 live raised in washington state. Why bother paying for heating of water? Any temperate is a better choice, bluegill, carp, catfish, green sunfish (all of these, btw, are non-native and invasive, yet allowed by DFG). Or better yet, how about natives like trout, salmon, sturgeon, and Sacramento perch (Cali only native sunfish). Sturgeon? Hell yes, I have 50 in a tank right now. Awesome taste and texture, phenomenal growth (12-15 lbs in three years, a buddy has 80-100 lb sturgeons six years old), and they feed right thru the winter.

And I sell fingerlings if you're interested, tilapia, carp, catfish, red ear sunfish, bluegill, crappie, and natives: Sac Perch, Sac blackfish, sturgeon, and soon trout and Kokanee salmon.

I am interested in some fingerlings if you are not to far.

thanks Frank Andrews



Jon Parr said:

Let me break it down, and separate myth from reality. Sam, you're half right. Tilapia raised for commercial human consumption require an aquaculture permit thru DFG, and DFG will not approve a permit in NorCal. Very true. However, tilapia is not illegal to possess, transport, or raise anywhere in California. Believe me on this one. I have had many conversations and emails with varying levels of DFG staff, and I am 100% sure of this statement. DFG may tell you otherwise, or agree with me, depending on who you speak to. California works like this: rather than generating a list of all the species that ARE ALLOWED, they made a list of species that ARE NOT ALLOWED. The list is here:

https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=28427

Page 10, family cichlidae. There are four species of tilapia commonly farmed for the table. Niles and blues ARE PROHIBITED, o. mossambicus and o. hornorum are not. I have been raising and selling tilapia for years, and two years ago decided I would get legit and pay for an aquaculture permit. On the application, there is a description for who needs a permit, and who does not. First off, all aspects of raising, breeding, and selling goldfish and koi are specifically exempt from all DFG rules, despite the fact that they are not native and quite invasive. Secondly, all tropical fish for hobby purposes are exempt, including raising, breeding and selling. Importation may produce its own troubles, IDK, but any California resident may raise any tropical fish for hobby purposes so long as it is not on the prohibited list. Period. If you choose to eat your hobby fish, or sell your hobby fish to a fellow enthusiast, then do so. If you wish to kill your hobby fish and sell the fillets for human consumption, then you must pay for an aquaculture permit and be subject to DFG for approval and monitoring.

Sam, tilapia are an invasive species, in fact, I believe they are the most invasive species of fish in the world (or maybe carp), BUT they do NOT pose a local threat for NorCal. They die below 55 F, and NorCal is simply too cold for them. And there is a century of proof thereof. That makes tilapia near the top of the list for LEAST invasive locally, ironically.

Now having said all that, tilapia is a poor choice for Cali AP, unless you are indoors, have a very hi-tech GH, or have free heat like geothermal. They cost $2 per pound, or $4 live raised in washington state. Why bother paying for heating of water? Any temperate is a better choice, bluegill, carp, catfish, green sunfish (all of these, btw, are non-native and invasive, yet allowed by DFG). Or better yet, how about natives like trout, salmon, sturgeon, and Sacramento perch (Cali only native sunfish). Sturgeon? Hell yes, I have 50 in a tank right now. Awesome taste and texture, phenomenal growth (12-15 lbs in three years, a buddy has 80-100 lb sturgeons six years old), and they feed right thru the winter.

And I sell fingerlings if you're interested, tilapia, carp, catfish, red ear sunfish, bluegill, crappie, and natives: Sac Perch, Sac blackfish, sturgeon, and soon trout and Kokanee salmon.

Awesome summary John. Thank you. I'm in So Cal (SD County) and I would love to have a good source for fingerlings. Specifically channel catfish but sturgeon sounds interesting and I've always wanted to try trout or salmon. It's a little warm down here but I have a ton of solar electric and someday I want to build a water to water heat pump to suck the heat from one system and dump it into another - trout and tilapia; salmon and catfish?? Please let me know how to get in touch with you for fingerlings.
 
Jon Parr said:

Let me break it down, and separate myth from reality. Sam, you're half right. Tilapia raised for commercial human consumption require an aquaculture permit thru DFG, and DFG will not approve a permit in NorCal. Very true. However, tilapia is not illegal to possess, transport, or raise anywhere in California. Believe me on this one. I have had many conversations and emails with varying levels of DFG staff, and I am 100% sure of this statement. DFG may tell you otherwise, or agree with me, depending on who you speak to. California works like this: rather than generating a list of all the species that ARE ALLOWED, they made a list of species that ARE NOT ALLOWED. The list is here:

https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=28427

Page 10, family cichlidae. There are four species of tilapia commonly farmed for the table. Niles and blues ARE PROHIBITED, o. mossambicus and o. hornorum are not. I have been raising and selling tilapia for years, and two years ago decided I would get legit and pay for an aquaculture permit. On the application, there is a description for who needs a permit, and who does not. First off, all aspects of raising, breeding, and selling goldfish and koi are specifically exempt from all DFG rules, despite the fact that they are not native and quite invasive. Secondly, all tropical fish for hobby purposes are exempt, including raising, breeding and selling. Importation may produce its own troubles, IDK, but any California resident may raise any tropical fish for hobby purposes so long as it is not on the prohibited list. Period. If you choose to eat your hobby fish, or sell your hobby fish to a fellow enthusiast, then do so. If you wish to kill your hobby fish and sell the fillets for human consumption, then you must pay for an aquaculture permit and be subject to DFG for approval and monitoring.

Sam, tilapia are an invasive species, in fact, I believe they are the most invasive species of fish in the world (or maybe carp), BUT they do NOT pose a local threat for NorCal. They die below 55 F, and NorCal is simply too cold for them. And there is a century of proof thereof. That makes tilapia near the top of the list for LEAST invasive locally, ironically.

Now having said all that, tilapia is a poor choice for Cali AP, unless you are indoors, have a very hi-tech GH, or have free heat like geothermal. They cost $2 per pound, or $4 live raised in washington state. Why bother paying for heating of water? Any temperate is a better choice, bluegill, carp, catfish, green sunfish (all of these, btw, are non-native and invasive, yet allowed by DFG). Or better yet, how about natives like trout, salmon, sturgeon, and Sacramento perch (Cali only native sunfish). Sturgeon? Hell yes, I have 50 in a tank right now. Awesome taste and texture, phenomenal growth (12-15 lbs in three years, a buddy has 80-100 lb sturgeons six years old), and they feed right thru the winter.

And I sell fingerlings if you're interested, tilapia, carp, catfish, red ear sunfish, bluegill, crappie, and natives: Sac Perch, Sac blackfish, sturgeon, and soon trout and Kokanee salmon.

I'm just starting to design a system since we finally bought a house in San Diego. After reading numerous posts about California and potential fines if you grow fish for consumption I contacted, just this week, the State Aquaculture Coordinator at CA Dept Fish & Wildlife.

This is a quote from his response; "The Aquaculture Registration is for commercial aquaculture businesses.  Which means you would be required to register before you began selling your fish.  The registration is not required before that point."

At this point I feel fairly secure that I can grow and consume fish on my property.

Hi Cheri, I'm in Santee. Are you familiar with San Diego Drum and Totes? Good quality used food grade IBC, etc. What kinda fish are you planning? Let me know if you want a local for collaboration. Dstjohn@cox.net.
Sorry, Chet - darn auto correct.

Ha! No problem. Yes I'd love to have a local for collaboration!

Two issues I'm struggling with right now;

1) Fish. I posted under the Fish heading but restating here I must say I'm torn. Tilapia have all the qualities I want; taste, quick growth, year round spawning. However I'm concerned with maintaining the right temperature year round and through the nights. I don't want heating the water to cause my electric bill to overtake cost savings from harvesting the fish. I'm also a bit concerned from what I've read about using water between 80-85F for plants that want cooler water for optimal growth. On the other hand the non-tropical species seem to only breed once a year which makes consistent harvest rather difficult. The space is up against the side of the house so I could insulate well and build a roll-down plastic to create a greenhouse effect.

2) The space I have results in a tank with an inside width of ~28". I can go long and get to ~300 gallons without a problem but this constraint makes it difficult to find a standard products. So, I'm looking at a custom wood frame with pond liner or custom fiberglass (which I have no experience in doing).

So, looking for San Diego advice on fish mostly...fish I intend to consume. 
 
David said:

Sorry, Chet - darn auto correct.

Temp is definitely an issue. Whitebrook farms sells a tilapia that survives down to 45°, but they are not legal for possession in CA. Mozambique are the only ones I know are allowed in So Cal per DWFG. I have heaters on thermostat and timers. Thermostat comes on as needed, timer to limit use to off-peak electric rates between 10pm and 6am for my tariff rate with SDGE.

Catfish will brave the temps, but kinda stop eating below about 60°. This makes it harder to get the required nutrients to your plants. I actually add ammonia daily at times when the water temp is low.

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