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Has anyone found a source of feed for their tilapia that doesn't have fish meal in it?  I"m not having any luck finding anything I consider sustainable so far, and I'm too busy / lazy right now to start up a duckweed system.  Thoughts?

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Well as Sylvia mentioned, a lot of the protein in pellets is fish meal. I think there is one point that we haven't really discussed and that is raising our own feeder fish. I would stay away from the goldfish you get at the pet stores, they are a sickly lot. Why not raise guppy's, Black Molly's, Swordtails, Platty's or any of those other fast breeding live bearers in their own tank. You could take a tall trash can and put a bunch of them in there and float plants on the surface for the babies to hide in. A friend of mine raised thousands in a 100 gallon tank to feed to his Oscars and Shovelnosed catfish, he happened to buy them at Halloween and bought Black Mollies and Orange Swordtails, looked really strange to say the least! I don't know if Tilapia would eat the small fish, but I know the Catfish would just love it since they feed on shad and minnows in the wild! You could grow the duckweed on top of these guys and get a good mix, plus the small fish would supply the nutrients for the duckweed!
The question then becomes, what do you feed the feeder fish?

No I don't think adult tilapia would be all that good for eating small fish but baby tialpia will happily eat anything smaller than themselves and sometimes even not that much smaller.
I actually have plans in the works to raise cherry shrimp in my 20 gallon, and maybe feeder guppies. I've been reading that you can keep the fry and baby shrimp safer by placing pantyhose over the intake for your filter, and keeping plant cover does help ensure more survive than would otherwise.

A plus for the cherry shrimp is that I can feed them fruit and things grown in the garden. Full cycle eco system.
Keep in mind that the finer the screen over the pump intake, the more often you need to clean it!!!!
Fascinating idea, Jeff. I like to think of my tilapia as more veggie-vores, but could be interesting for catfish and trout. TC, are catfish considered more carnivorous? I've started hurling plant waste from the greenhouse and veggie scraps from our house into the tilapia tanks and they seem to love it...especially slimy lettuce. Makes me feel like I"m not completely relying on commercial feed, and that is what they say they are doing at Growing Power. They feed their tilapia greenhouse waste during the week and only switch to commercial feed on the weekends when they aren't processing.
The tialpia will happily browse on veggies. The catfish not so much but they will often take a taste to see what that thing is floating in the tank but they are not really eating it. It is interesting though that catfish require less protein in their feed than the tialpia do (when speaking of appropriate feeds for max growth speed.)

I will note that veggie feed to the tilapia can cause the need for some extra cleaning of filters or screens because the bits of leaves and such can block up stuff more quickly.
Catfish are definitely meat eaters, in the wild they feed on shad and minnows! My Koi go nuts over Romain lettuce and other types, but especially Romain! I have enough natural gnats in the air I think that would feed the feeder fish, could always do bread crumbs too!
So I took my own advice and came home with ten feeder guppies and 6 cherry shrimp to begin breeding... However, it was too late for my poor pleco. I believe my leopard ctenopoma tried to eat him, as she had been stalking him for some time. I'm not really surprised as I should have done more research on their eating habits sooner. Turns out she's a full carnivore. Explains why she wasn't eating the flake food.
I set up a 'pretty easy' way to grow duckweed. I just used a 'kiddie pool'. I ran 3/4 inch line, coming from my swirl filter. On the end of the pipe, going in the pool. I added a slip cap with a couple small holes drilled in it. I just wanted a small flow of water.
The drain, turns down to the bottom of the pool, so I don't lose any duckweed.
My bulkhead for the drain, is a male and female adapter, gray pvc conduit( electric).The threads are straight, plumbing pvc fittings are tapered. I used a little silicone for a seal.
The overall cost is pretty low for this set up.
If you use gravel grow beds, you could run water to the duckweed... 'after' it goes through the beds. That way you don't have solids collecting in the pool.



How many fish are you feeding with this and how long would it take them to go through it?


David Hart said:
I set up a 'pretty easy' way to grow duckweed. I just used a 'kiddie pool'. I ran 3/4 inch line, coming from my swirl filter. On the end of the pipe, going in the pool. I added a slip cap with a couple small holes drilled in it. I just wanted a small flow of water.
The drain, turns down to the bottom of the pool, so I don't lose any duckweed.
My bulkhead for the drain, is a male and female adapter, gray pvc conduit( electric).The threads are straight, plumbing pvc fittings are tapered. I used a little silicone for a seal.
The overall cost is pretty low for this set up.
If you use gravel grow beds, you could run water to the duckweed... 'after' it goes through the beds. That way you don't have solids collecting in the pool.



If you didn't want to hook it up to your gravel bed system could you just start it with fish water, aerate it and throw in some fish water or compost tea occasionally? How big of a nutrient feeder is duckweed?

Thanks for sharing, David! I really want to try duckweed this summer and you're getting my thinking going!
Jeff and Sylvia both asked some good questions...
Jeff, I'm pretty new to aquaponics my self. Right now I have aprox 50 large tilapia fingerlings. So I can't really say how fast they 'could' go through it.
I believe you'd have to have a lot of adult fish to use up that pool. The pool is about 5 feet across. If I harvest 1/2 of it at one time, under ideal conditions, it would replace it's self in a few days.

Sylvia, From what I've read, it does like it's nutrients. You could try your idea. If you have an indoor aquarium, most people are doing a water changes anyway. Dump the 'dirty' water into the DW pool.

I learned it doesn't want the water moving (much). Also, duckweed doesn't want full sun, all the time.
I need to get some shade cloth over mine pretty soon



Here's a short article by Fishfarming.com on duckweed....
http://www.fishfarming.com/duckweed.html


Here's an idea, that one of the guys over at DIY Aquaponics is doing...water fleas.
info on water fleas..
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fa024
post at DIY....
http://diyaquaponics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=72&t=345&p=2...

I hope this gives you some.... food for thought... lol

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