Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Well, I am about 2 weeks away from getting the first fish for my first AP system.  I have done some research on fish feed options, and it seems that the consensus is that there is no organic feed in the US (which completely sucks).  If anyone does know of a OG feed plz speak up! Looking at standard feed, they all have alot of corn and soy in them.  Most likely these are GMO (genetically modified organisms).  If there is GMO in the fish feed, then it is entirely possible that all the organisms grown within the AP system are contaminated :(  We do not know for sure how the GMO's assimilate into the surrounding organisms and what their effects are. I feel that this is a hughe bottleneck in the AP community.  How the hell can the AP produce be "organic" if GMO's were put into the system (which they are in the feed)???  The organic label has turned into a sham for big corporations to make money, which destroys the original vision of the small, local, and earth-friendly farmers who originated the idea of OG certification. Most small farmers cant even afford the certification process (like me and my peers lol).  Sorry, enough rambling...  So does anyone know of a non-GMO feed available? It is really important to mine and the worlds health, to avoid GMO's if at all possible.  We need to put pressure on these companies to make non-GMO or even better organic fish feeds. I have already emailed 3 feed companies stating how important this issue is.  This transition to organic fish feed by the feed companies will have to be powered by the will to make the earth a better place, not by money. Commercial aquaculturists are the main group who supports these feed companies, and large aquaculture facilities may not be able to or want to pay a premium for Organic feed.  This would make  producing organic fish feeds for the feed companies non-profitable. AP growers need to send more emails, and make it better know to these companies that Organic Feed is a MUST HAVE!  We must also let them know that while the number of small scale AP growers is low now, that wont last for long.  The demand for the organic feed will grow larger everyday, in my opinion, and any feed company that does end up creating organic fish feed will be pioneers of the health food movement. This is due to AP's feasibility in producing healthy local food with little H20, space, and other inputs.  Let me here what you guys think about this, or even better if some1 has found non-GMO feed share some info on it.

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I've been growing my tilapia fingerlings in aquariums through the winter waiting for spring to put them in an AP setup.  I've studied them while they have been there.  One thing I found, is that they will eat almost anything organic.  They did shun beet stems though, but ate them too.
Anyway, I found that "Cream of Wheat" is readily eaten up by them. Due to its ease of cooking and that it makes a good semi-solid structure, I believe it is a good base for a home-made feed.  Any adventurers want to try some recipes and share with the group experiences?  I will also.  Example, adding some dried seaweed to the mix.  Maybe some cooked chick peas.  These will add protean.
I used the 2.5minute cooking variety that has disodium phosphate for quick cooking.  Could start with the non-quick variety also.
I have not yet really gotten to test out the minnow idea yet, been too busy with other things so far.

The primary reason why "organic" fish food is not readily available is because the input costs are quite high and it tends to spoil quickly.  We're talking about taking a commodity item (fish food) and removing commodity ingredients, replacing them with premium ingredients, and then further, not protecting those premium ingredients with any type of reliable preservative.  It would be far more cost effective (and better for the environment) for you to just eat those premium ingredients yourself rather than feed them to the fish.

 

Many Aquaponic growers take issue with "traditional" fish food costing $1-2/lb, which is often a driving factor for those wishing to produce their own homebrew fish foods or at least provide supplemental food items.  Expect an organic food to cost somewhere between 3-5 times the cost of traditional food, potentially up to TEN TIMES.  Add to that, you likely won't be able to take advantage of larger bulk purchasing discounts because organic food usually has a shelf life of only about a month or two.

 

Many companies have tried producing organic fish food.  Virtually all of them have failed at it, to date.

Wolfenhawke, ..maybe I'll try it sometime, focusing on getting the BSF and duckweed going for now, but interesting and curious..Mine wouldn't eat basil, maybe it was too strong.

Wolfenhawke said:
I've been growing my tilapia fingerlings in aquariums through the winter waiting for spring to put them in an AP setup.  I've studied them while they have been there.  One thing I found, is that they will eat almost anything organic.  They did shun beet stems though, but ate them too.
Anyway, I found that "Cream of Wheat" is readily eaten up by them. Due to its ease of cooking and that it makes a good semi-solid structure, I believe it is a good base for a home-made feed.  Any adventurers want to try some recipes and share with the group experiences?  I will also.  Example, adding some dried seaweed to the mix.  Maybe some cooked chick peas.  These will add protean.
I used the 2.5minute cooking variety that has disodium phosphate for quick cooking.  Could start with the non-quick variety also.
Harold, the OG koi feed is a floating pellet. Also, good points Kellen.  " It would be far more cost effective (and better for the environment) for you to just eat those premium ingredients yourself rather than feed them to the fish." I do disagree with this one though, because i try to treat my animals as good or better than myself (thats just my style).  The main reason this statement is incorrect is because i will be able to grow a lot of produce with the fish waste in an indoor/urban setting. This isnt aquaculture, the main goal here is to grow healthy plants, fish are just a bonus. I treat the fish as a OG nutrient source which is far cheaper and better for the environment (even with OG fish feed) than what i am using now, hydroponic nutrients. And i beleive any experienced hydroponics grower would agree with me, that even the most evpensive organic fish feed would be cheaper and more efficient than pre-purchased hydroponic nutrients.  Also i believe that once i have some more experience with AP that a homemade feed is worth investigating into due to its earth-friendliness and self-reliability.  Also if Kellen is correct about Organic feeds, then at a minimum we should have non-GMO feeds, which i would support. (Organic just ensures that im not getting any GMO's, which is my main concern.)  Thanks again for all of your inputs; i really appreciate it :)
I agree with you.  I am also considering raising "feeder fish" in a separate system to feed walleye.  Now the kicker.....  Can I use guppies or feeder gold fish?  I am leaning towards guppies b/c growth rates are higher.  Any opinions?

TCLynx said:

I once had a thought that a mix of BSF Larva or Worm meal with duckweed and cow pea meal might make an acceptable combo if a good vitamin admixture were used along with it but I've not attempted any recipes.

 

Lately I'm thinking more along the lines of a separate system to culture algae and feed minnows and other small animals with it to provide a more natural feed for my catfish.

I've never tried to raise guppies but I've heard it's pretty easy.

Jay you can raise fathead minnows or mosquito fish. Both are hardy and prolific.

 

You can get fatheads here. http://www.sugarcreekfishery.com/fishindex1.html. Mosquito fish you can probably get from the Vector Control office in your area for free.


Jay Wolf said:

I agree with you.  I am also considering raising "feeder fish" in a separate system to feed walleye.  Now the kicker.....  Can I use guppies or feeder gold fish?  I am leaning towards guppies b/c growth rates are higher.  Any opinions?

TCLynx said:

I once had a thought that a mix of BSF Larva or Worm meal with duckweed and cow pea meal might make an acceptable combo if a good vitamin admixture were used along with it but I've not attempted any recipes.

 

Lately I'm thinking more along the lines of a separate system to culture algae and feed minnows and other small animals with it to provide a more natural feed for my catfish.

I would encourage buying some "rosy reds" at a pet store.  They are just a pink variety of the fathead minnow.  Much less expensive than having them shipped.


Gambusia affinis (Mosquito fish) are livebearers, closely related to the guppy.  They will reproduce quite readily in aquariums, but nowhere close to the same number that fatheads will.  However, fatheads are a little more difficult to breed (though not unreasonably so).  Fatheads will require some spawning structure.  In the wild, they typically lay their eggs under a ledge, in cave openings, overhanging tree branches and the bottoms of floating aquatic plants (i.e. lily pads).  Floating plastic plants work well for spawning structure.  Also, PVC pipe sections work pretty well too.

 

Now, with all that said, it's important to note that raising forage fish as fish food is an incredibly inefficient way to feed your  fish in virtually every situation except in nature ponds/lakes.  If you are seeking to cut feed costs by raising forage fish, it's highly unlikely that you will accomplish that goal.

I think that duckweed for 50% of the feed is that way to go. Thats what im planning on doing in due time. This article says 50-50 duckweed and commercial feed = higher growth rate, not to mention money savings and sustainability.

 

http://www.agribusinessweek.com/azolla-cheap-natural-feed-for-tilapia/

 

 

Thanks for the heads up Kellen.  I haven't put a pen down on the numbers as of yet, but the reason why I am considering live feed is that walleyes are very difficult to feed train.  Very high mortality rates.  So, I thought maybe use one system for food fish and another system for feed........  I'll do the math this week and I'll let you know what I come up with.  Thanks again!

Kellen Weissenbach said:
I would encourage buying some "rosy reds" at a pet store.  They are just a pink variety of the fathead minnow.  Much less expensive than having them shipped.


Gambusia affinis (Mosquito fish) are livebearers, closely related to the guppy.  They will reproduce quite readily in aquariums, but nowhere close to the same number that fatheads will.  However, fatheads are a little more difficult to breed (though not unreasonably so).  Fatheads will require some spawning structure.  In the wild, they typically lay their eggs under a ledge, in cave openings, overhanging tree branches and the bottoms of floating aquatic plants (i.e. lily pads).  Floating plastic plants work well for spawning structure.  Also, PVC pipe sections work pretty well too.

 

Now, with all that said, it's important to note that raising forage fish as fish food is an incredibly inefficient way to feed your  fish in virtually every situation except in nature ponds/lakes.  If you are seeking to cut feed costs by raising forage fish, it's highly unlikely that you will accomplish that goal.

Hi AJ

If you feel better about feeding an organic food to your fish, then it works for you.  That's all that really matters.  It's important that we keep in mind that different aquaponics growers have different goals in mind with their systems.  While you care primarily about plant production, there are others who consider fish production as a primary concern.  A large portion of the AP crowd considers both fish production and plant production equally important.  Some folks are trying to reduce their household food costs.  Others want to know "where their food comes from" and that it's free of hormones, pesticides, etc.  Still others just look at it as an enjoyable hobby that provides some tasty food as a byproduct of that hobby.



AJ Grottke said:
Harold, the OG koi feed is a floating pellet. Also, good points Kellen.  " It would be far more cost effective (and better for the environment) for you to just eat those premium ingredients yourself rather than feed them to the fish." I do disagree with this one though, because i try to treat my animals as good or better than myself (thats just my style).  The main reason this statement is incorrect is because i will be able to grow a lot of produce with the fish waste in an indoor/urban setting. This isnt aquaculture, the main goal here is to grow healthy plants, fish are just a bonus. I treat the fish as a OG nutrient source which is far cheaper and better for the environment (even with OG fish feed) than what i am using now, hydroponic nutrients. And i beleive any experienced hydroponics grower would agree with me, that even the most evpensive organic fish feed would be cheaper and more efficient than pre-purchased hydroponic nutrients.  Also i believe that once i have some more experience with AP that a homemade feed is worth investigating into due to its earth-friendliness and self-reliability.  Also if Kellen is correct about Organic feeds, then at a minimum we should have non-GMO feeds, which i would support. (Organic just ensures that im not getting any GMO's, which is my main concern.)  Thanks again for all of your inputs; i really appreciate it

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