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Are tilapia really a healthy food source,Not according to Wake forest researchers.

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Hi AJ,


You're a smart guy, and I wish more people your age had the interest you have in food production.  If they did, I suspect we'd be eating a lot healthier food as a society.  I sincerely hope you didn't take my response to your post as a personal attack or anything of the such.  It was not intended that way at all.  I was just hoping to shed some additional light on the subject and perhaps provide a bit of direct insight to others who could benefit from it.  I do sincerely apologize if you felt it was anything to the contrary.


The products you mention, specifically poultry meal (which typically consists of less than 5% of common commercial feeds), are byproducts from food production for human consumption.  These animals aren't raised for fish food.  They are too valuable for that.  The portions used for fish food are essentially the "scraps".  Basically, a recycled input that could easily be considered "sustainable" as long as we humans continue to eat chicken.  Ironically, the bulk of the nutritional supplements in the "non-gmo" koi food are most likely derived from the same types of byproducts as well as other related land animal byproducts.  Also, menhaden (the fish used in the special koi diet as the source of fishmeal)  on the other hand is harvested specifically for use as fishmeal for fish foods.  Sadly, menhaden used to be an "easy harvest" fish that a simple low tech fishing vessel could harvest in abundance, but now, due to over harvesting, they must use specialized boats teamed up with helicopters of all things that are used as scouting vehicles to locate the schools.  Far from sustainable and increasingly energy intensive to harvest.  What's worse, lots of our larger predator fish rely on menhaden as a primary and secondary food source.  As we continue to over harvest them, we accelerate the loss of larger predator fish.... making our problems worse.


I have consulted with nutritionists, assisting them with the formulation of several fish food diets, primarily cichlid (including a tilapia specific line) but also several native North American fish diets as well.  I'm by no means an expert, but I do have a fairly good grasp on the subject for a layman.  I even spent over a year working with the same nutritionists trying to formulate a reasonably priced and nutritionally balanced organic tilapia food with a shelf life of greater than 3 months, and we ultimately concluded that doing so was essentially impossible at the time.  My experience in the fish food industry, combined with my pond and lake management and commercial aquaculture background has given me a bit of insight on the subject.  Again, I'm no expert, but I do believe I'm qualified to provide some useful commentary that can benefit the AP community as a whole.


To clarify, I am extremely anti-GMO... at least for now, until better research sheds further light on the subject... at which time I'll probably still be very anti-GMO. :-)   However, I view the dangers of genetically altered organisms as more of a threat to biodiversity than nutrition, which frankly, is the bigger risk to humans and our entire existence in my opinion.  Of course, everyone is free to have their own views on the subject.


You said: "??? I havent seen any tilapia eating chickens the last time i checked Kellen."


I said land animals, but let's go with chickens, which are birds.  Never seen a dead bird that had ended up in a pond or lake eaten by a catfish?  Never seen a gosling or duckling pulled under the water by a largemouth bass, a northern pike or a muskie?  Never seen a bird fall out of a nest and into a pond to be gobbled up by a bass or a muskie or a northern pike?  How about mammals?  Never seen a mouse swimming across a pond as the sun rises that disappears in a splash of water created by a bass?  Never seen a small muskrat meet its demise to a hungry Florida strain largemouth bass while traversing a narrow channel?  Never seen a dead deer at the water's edge with fish like bluegill, tilapia, shiners, catfish, bullheads and others crowding around it, picking away at it for an easy meal?  It's safe to say you haven't, and that's understandable.  Most haven't.... but I have.  Now, when we talk about tilapia specifically, I assume you know that many/most of the strains popularly domesticated for aquaculture use are also detrivores in the wild.  Sure, most of us are aware that they feed on invertebrates, small fish, algae and various macrophytes, but a large portion of their diet comes from detritus material.  In other words, rotting dead stuff, including rotting dead land animals.  Land animals gravitate towards bodies of water.  They are essential to life.  As a result, they are often where animals die, and those animals end up as food for fish and other life forms in that body of water.


With all that said... If you like the food you are using, and it makes you feel good to feed it to your fish, keep on feeding it.  To you, it's worth the high price.


Take care bud! :-)

Kellen, thanks for the thorough response, its most appreciated.  I really like conversations that have different angles in them, I normally learn the most from these types of chats.  It's like failure; contrary to popular belief failure can be very beneficial because of the learning that goes on.  Success = you already know how to do it; you still learn from success but not nearly as much from failure.  Failure is great if one takes the time to think things through and remember what was learned.  I see my little knowledge of fish feed as a "failure" but i now learned alot from you, and others i talk to only because of that way of thinking.  I will look into other feeds, but i just need to know that they are trying their best to eliminate GMO's.  I realize that there is little i can do at this point to change this GMO in the feed issue, i still try though  ( i have already wrote 3 companies explaining the need for a non-gmo feed, but i am only 1 person that buys so little feed).  So i will have to make-do with what is available.   I may try both feeds on to different groups of fish and see their health and growth rates.  Ill have to do more searching and thinking. Thanks for the info again :)
All good info guys, I like the discussion too.

All i can say Ryan is"really" I think it helped her mind after she read the original article,and quit eating tilapia 3 times a week.she was not looking for something to blame ,she was  making peace and coming to grips with dying.

This is my last post on the subject.The above links are just a dip in the bucket on whats out there..Make your own choices .

This aquaponic food movement  is the answer for feeding the world ,and combating the unjust practice of making human health a revenue stream.There are no easy answers and Kellen seems to have spent a great amount of effort  on his part finding some solutions.Until we recognize  the true source of the problem  and address  that ,It will remain a difficult task to find  a  equitable solution  to the fish food problem.

Dr chiltons rebuttal has not been made available to the public,nor has it been cited in any other medical journals.

I would encourage you to follow the bouncing ball as it were,  use logic  as it relates  to the situation,and ask yourself what does the person or group have to gain by their positions.

If anyone has any questions regarding the meaning of some of the above links ,hit me up directly ,and i will try to put them in laymans terms as best i can .

That being said ,I feel continuing  on with this thread in a public way is counter productive to what Sylvia"Mama Bear  of aquaponics "Berenstein is trying to accomplish with this forum.

I would like to say a little more about tilapia being a quality food or not.....   In their native environment, Africa, parts of the Middle East,  They often lived in very harsh conditions especially during the dry seasons.   Sometimes they lived in mud holes where the water quality was very poor  and they had to eat anything they could.  So Tilapia are survivors.  That is why I would discourage anyone from eating tilapia from most foreign sources.   Often manure from questionable sources is used to 'fertilize' the pond.   Sometime the source has even been human manure,  sometimes cattle and  sometimes even hog pens are placed above the tilapia pond,     Then food is used from a wide variety of sources on a least cost basis.   When these animals are in terrible conditions often antibiotics are added to the food to keep the fish healthy on a short term basis, which is an indication of how bad the conditions are if these survivor fish need antibiotics to keep them alive.   A couple of years ago malamine was discovered in the flesh of some tilapia from Asia.   Malamine added to feed makes the test for protein come out higher than it really is.   Malamine is the same substance that was found in some baby food in Europe with illness and deaths to follow,  and also in pet food here in the US which killed a lot of pets.   So the Asians fed it to fish and then Americans ate the Malamine that way.   Ugh.   Malamine destroys the liver..   Heavy metals and cancer causing agents have even been found.......  The FDA only checks about 1% of the sea food coming into this country and it fails the tests about 60% of the time.   ( I think the F in FDA really stands for flunky)    So,   I say tilapia are a poor source of food but I also say they are a superior source of food,  depending on their environment and the food they are eating.   And yes,   in the wild these fish would eat a land based animal or another fish,  after the animal is good and ripe.   They also eat roots, duck weed and algae.   They are filter feeders as well.   They don't have teeth just rough lips so they don't kill another fish to eat it but they will kill another fish for territory.   They kill another fish by descaling it,  if it can't get away fast enough.  So with aquaponics we have a great opportunity to control the feed and feed them a high quality feed,  which could even include some chopped up fresh roots and leaves from the lettuce or basil.   By the way,  isn't is interesting that Asians in this country eat American raised tilapia, while Americans mostly east cheap Asian raised tilapia.?????   The Asians that live here have figured out that the American raised tilapia is the best!!!  So there are my thoughts for the day.  


That women was taken off all the medication, that is what scott  said.

Medications will attack the liver in no time and will cause the liver to cease to function. My wife had to take a lot of medication and the medication damaged her liver. Now she only takes what necessary to take and  she does take it in reduced doses. And instead the liver getting worse like it used to, it is staying the same. And I bet with you if she would be able to stop to take medications then it would get better. This is what doctors don't tell you, just to make a sell and to make sure you are a returning customer.

Back then when that happen with my wife's liver, she took a lot of medication, but she rarely bought any fish. Now she is taken less medications and the liver is staying the same and the liver is not getting worse anymore, but we buy a lot of tilapia fish now.

It is not the fish, it is the medication.  

Ryan said:

I hear mystery stories like this all the time from customers. There are far too many environmental factors for me to ever believe that this lady's problem was eating tilapia. I believe people get to a point when they just want to blame it on something and the first thing that looks like it could have anything to do with their problem ends up being blamed for the whole thing. It probably helped her mentally but thats about it.
That's a very valid point Johann.
that was a really great rant. what you said is so often overlooked by us "civilized" humans. to go even further, we have even denied our instinctual behaviors in favor of being cultured, polite, etc. we fear being "heathen" or "barbaric". yet in our minds how often do we have animal impulses, but suppress them. like a vegetarian who gets a whiff of barbeque...yum that smells good. oh it's meat? yuk...or the preachers of sexual abstinence who end up being the most morally pathetic porn addicts...we need to embrace our true nature and relax a little. and as you say we are no longer in the jungles, forests, savanas etc. so we need to adapt. going for the least amount of suffering is a very good plan. i appreciate your thought on that. anway, thanks again 

AJ Grottke said:

I dont want to get too deep into this, but GMO consumption DOES affect the animal consuming it.  They have done many tests on lab rats which have shown signs of infertility, abnormal growth, and other things when fed a GMO diet.  Also there have been reports of cattle and other livestock deaths by switching from regular feed to GMO feed.  None of this has been tested on humans, but im not getting paid to be a test subject, so why should i test drive their untested products?  I feel that this GMO shit isnt good for ne thing it touches. Pay me alot of money to eat GMO's and tell me its experimental then maybe ill understand.  We should not be tested on for free, or without our consent.  Its untested, genetically altered, and normally used e-coli to make it possible.

Now on the natural side of things, its all BS.  Do you think any cultivated fish is natural? Do you think eating bananas if you live in Northern USA is natural?  No its not.  Nothing is natural except living in the rainforest and being in a hunter/gatherer society.  Natural is the same a OG, a marketing shame!  We as human are like poodles, a breed that lives in the confines of security which would rarely occur in a "natural" setting.  With that said, im not trying to be natural at all, i could care less.  I grow food using inputs i buy from somewhere else.  Ive come to terms with not living in a natural world.  I would like to try and provide the organisms i grow with a diverse nutrient load and with respect.  Thats it.  And i realize that if im changing the natural settings of a organism (growing fish in a plastic tank) then other things will have to change in order to attempt to compensate for this shift.  Like a change in diet for example, to something that isnt natural, because they are not being grown naturally.  Back to the people eating bananas analogy; native American survived fine in a hunter/gatherer based lifestyle.  There was no diabetes, no obesity, little or no cancer.  They did not think to eat a banana to improve health because they were already healthy living off their natural diet and would have to go way out of their way to get one.  Nowadays, since we have an unnatural lifestyle, and diets con composed of refined foods, we are sickened with obesity, cancer, etc.  So doctors suggest pharmaceuticals, or healthy eating, something such as a banana.  Though this banana would be an "unnatural" food to most of us the the northern USA, many people would say "Oh your being healthy by eating a banana."  And you are supplementing your diet with nutrients that are good for you which your not getting because we are living in an "unnatural" setting.  To summarize, an unnatural setting will require unnatural inputs in order to sustain that setting.

"The fact is, many fish DO eat "land animals" in the wild, and in some cases, quite routinely." ??? I havent seen any tilapia eating chickens the last time i checked Kellen.  And if they did it wouldn't be factory farmed chicken caged and fed GMO's.  If you know of any actually feed up to your "natural" standards Kellen, please, let us know.  Id love to buy some.  Im trying my best, but i dont think ground up chickens and large quantities of GMOs are any good.  I dont want to feed my animals pain and suffering.  The way the land-animals are harvested that would go into these fish feeds is horrific.  Fish harvesting may not be the best (for the fishmeal), but i believe it is better(not best but better). This is because at least they weren't born to suffer and their feed conversion ratio is much more efficient than land-animals thus making better use of the limited food supply on the earth. Suffering is prolonged and accentuated in these land-animals lives.  I dont want anything to do with that disrespect for life.

Below are a couple of links to some graphs from two separate research studies over the same period of time. Interesting how they line up...

Food for thought...

HELL NO GMO!! This stuff is poison.

Hi guys, every weekend I come back to civilization (internet access) I feel I miss out on so much going on here.

I like reading this thread very much! I am glad there are so many of you that ARE concerned about all these topics of GMO, diet and the diets of our food. For the past two decades and more, I have been studying the practice of growing/ raising REAL foods (vs the facsimile they call food, produced by factory farms). My conclusion is that it is indeed possible for each one of us to produce real food...provided we are less concerned about profit and are willing to be uncompromising to the point of being labeled purist and/ or fanatic.

I'll not use my fish as an example at this time as I work with people that are concerned more about profit than the wholesomeness of the product they produce. So I will again (although not AP) will use my chicken and eggs as my example because I do have 100% control over how they live and eat. I am lucky here in China because I literally have no competition and can charge almost as much as I want. Regular eggs cost around five yuan per pound of eggs. I charge two to three yuan each or thirty yuan per pound and my CSA members/ friends think it very reasonably priced. I charge about the same as so called organic/ free-range eggs. My sales technique is simple. By word of mouth, my friends invite their close friends to buy the best egg they can, from any source they can and come visit me at my farm. There, I first crack open one of their eggs on a white plate. I then crack open one of my eggs and ask them which they prefer. My tag line is” Real food doesn’t have to cost more”, “Fake food will end up costing you much more in bad health. Then I relate the “Super-size me” story. Instant converts!

But wait, there's more.

My friends see what goes into producing my eggs and chicken. They can see the extra labor and expense involved in my production. They see the special pasture mix. They see the land it requires compared to so called free-range production. They see my bug house and hydroponic sprouts I grow to feed my chooks (esp in winter). They notice the difference between my clean smelling coops verses those typical ammonia filled coops the peasants and factory farms operate. They also notice I don’t have feeders full of chicken "enhanced" feed laying around all over the place. After the tour, I could pretty easily charge up to eighty yuan ($12 USD) per pound.

My chooks (Australian slang for chicken) are truly special. I use natural selection. That means I NEVER use antibiotics or pharmaceutical medication. If any chicken gets sick, they get quarantined immediately. If they survive and recover, they go back into the general populace and hand down their immunity to their offspring. Dead chicken gets cremated. For every one chook you see of my original flock, six to ten chooks have died in their place. It took me three years to train and develop my flock to do what should be natural for chicken to do: to scratch and peck for food on their own. Out of two hundred hens only two still had the innate ability to brood chicks. I I make my own scratch and never use any hormones so it takes longer for my chooks to mature to marketable size. 

This year my focus has been on increasing my flock and experimenting on how to use my secrete weapon in raising my animals and bio-intensive garden, in AP. My secrete weapon is probiotics/ microorganism: to enhance the materialization process, which I hope to provide to all you folks by the end of next year.

Last year I worked with and tried to convince a feed manufacture to produce truly wholesome (grainless) tilapia feed. We did succeed in making a very nice feed but due to lack of commitment, I was unable to convince them to make enough to ship a container to the states as sample for you folks to try. So as my contract with them has expired, I’m afraid that ship (for the time being) has sailed. I will try again as soon as I can but it sure would help, if more of you would be as committed as I am in producing REAL sustainable food vs. worrying about your bottom line.


PS The formula we developed is proprietary and I had to agree not to be in competition for the next three years, so I cannot give you their formulas. Sorry. But if you go through my writings here, I know I listed the ingredients we used, just not the portions, so if you are really interested, you may take that as a base and develop your own feed formula which we can ask stateside manufacturers to produce for us.

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