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What are your favorite fish types? What are you growing with now?  What are the pros and cons you've discovered in working with different fish?

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Thanks so much, Emma! Can't wait to visit Sea of Green! I'm sure I'll be contacting you again soon for more Arizona advice!!

Emma Lysyk said:
Hi, Caroline!
Yay, another Arizonan!

The fish ponds I've seen in Arizona usually are on the south side of the house. This could just be because of the way the houses face, though. The really important thing is making sure that the direct sunlight is blocked. I know a guy in Union Hills who planted a bunch of papyrus in with his koi, and utilized a tree to block most of the sunlight. Phoenix Tropical had about 10 ponds outside that were also on the south side (it's a house converted into a fish store), and they had one of those slatted overhangs that are popular around here, but also lots of lily pads for the fish to hide under. Phoenix Zoo also has a koi flowing pond. I don't remember where it is cardinally, but I think they use moving water to help keep them cool. I should note that all of these places had their ponds in the ground.

On a side note, my great uncle in Dallas had a goldfish pond in his greenhouse. The things I remember him telling me were that he made it hard to see his fish so they wouldn't become "fish soup" (a term I learned later in life), and that the only way he could keep his greenhouse humid was to have those fish in there. Maybe it was preliminary aquaponics, I have no idea (this was 20 years ago).

Hopefully your HOA only has restrictions on the front of the house! I would suggest visiting the hydroponics store called Sea of Green for a lot of your supplies. I found their prices to be very easy on the wallet and their employees knowledgeable and very helpful. There's one in Glendale, but I have one closer to me in Tempe that has a mini aquaponics set-up with a bunch of goldfish. It's worth a look-see if nothing else.
I'm a huge fan of red variant Nile tilapia and common carp (where they're legal) although I've also used catfish, crayfish and goldfish. I think people need to figure out what they're enviro. conditions will be first though- you have to match the fish to the system. I've made a lot of headaches for myself with water temperature and greenhouse compatibility issues with some of my fish choices. Save yourself the headache and pick a fish that's right for your system, the first time around.
So true, Nate. I personally will never go near trout again, but my buddy here in Boulder loves them because they've been going strong outside all winter long. A real problem in my greenhouse, though. Why do you like the red variant Nile tilapia so much?
Hey Nate,
I looked at your profile to see where you were located, hoping that I would find somebody in Austin, but I have a connection to Laramie too (albiet a very weak one). I almost ended up in Laramie for 6 months working for the National Forest Service, but the job ended up falling through.

How was raising crawfish? Crawfish are native to TX, and I think it would be fun to have just a couple at least. Do they need a shallow tank? How big do they get in a safe environment like an aquaponics system?

Thanks,
David

Nate Storey said:
I'm a huge fan of red variant Nile tilapia and common carp (where they're legal) although I've also used catfish, crayfish and goldfish. I think people need to figure out what they're enviro. conditions will be first though- you have to match the fish to the system. I've made a lot of headaches for myself with water temperature and greenhouse compatibility issues with some of my fish choices. Save yourself the headache and pick a fish that's right for your system, the first time around.
Well, Red variant Nile tilapia are the best growing fish for my particular system (running high water temp.s) and they're pretty (people think red fish taste better than brown ones, even if they're the same fish. . .). They even do better than my Rocky Mountain Whites.

Sylvia Bernstein said:
So true, Nate. I personally will never go near trout again, but my buddy here in Boulder loves them because they've been going strong outside all winter long. A real problem in my greenhouse, though. Why do you like the red variant Nile tilapia so much?
Laramie's a great place, albeit cold and windy. Crayfish were more of an experiment for me, and although i still have a few (monsters) hanging out in my 2,500 gallon pure aquaculture system i'm currently not really doing anything with them aquaponics-wise. I used bundles of PVC pipe scrap tied into "bags" of bird netting, set in wire crates, and sunk to the bottom- collecting them was a simple matter of grabbing the crate and pulling them out. they ate fish waste and duckweed.

They're really territorial, so you need a lot of structural interpherance so you don't end up with one giant crayfish- PVC was what i used, although some folks are using folded fabric suspended from crossbars- seems to work the best. Be careful to make sure you're not breaking any of your state law with them though- rusty crayfish and and couple of other species are super destructive and the fines for having them are hefty!

David S. said:
Hey Nate,
I looked at your profile to see where you were located, hoping that I would find somebody in Austin, but I have a connection to Laramie too (albiet a very weak one). I almost ended up in Laramie for 6 months working for the National Forest Service, but the job ended up falling through.

How was raising crawfish? Crawfish are native to TX, and I think it would be fun to have just a couple at least. Do they need a shallow tank? How big do they get in a safe environment like an aquaponics system?

Thanks,
David

Nate Storey said:
I'm a huge fan of red variant Nile tilapia and common carp (where they're legal) although I've also used catfish, crayfish and goldfish. I think people need to figure out what they're enviro. conditions will be first though- you have to match the fish to the system. I've made a lot of headaches for myself with water temperature and greenhouse compatibility issues with some of my fish choices. Save yourself the headache and pick a fish that's right for your system, the first time around.
I've kept Blue Tilapia (they are sort of legal in Florida cause they already escaped from aquaculture back in the 1970's) and Channel Catfish. I'm in Central Florida and you might think that would be great for Tilapia but no.
In my situation, the Channel Catfish are a far better choice. They can handle pretty warm water (I know I have had them in water between 90 and 98 F. They do appreciate good water quality and a little better dissolved oxygen than Tilapia but they have done well for me.

So if you are dealing with water that gets below 70 F more than briefly during the year, tilapia might not be the best choice of fish. They might survive down to the low to mid 50's F but the won't be growing. Even in central Florida, I would have to heat my water for the Tilapia to survive over winter let alone grow. I don't have to heat the water for the catfish and they even keep eating some at lower temperatures.

We have compared the tilapia to the catfish for our personal tastes, we like the catfish a little better and cleaning/filleting the catfish is way easier (not to mention the fact that most of our catfish easily get twice the size of the tilapia in the time we have them.)

So my assessment in central Florida with a huge amount of flood and drain gravel and a large constant flow of water through my fish tank is that the Catfish are a better choice here.

Tilapia might be good if you intend to abuse them. The catfish do get stressed more by handling but with good water quality and a well designed system, the catfish will produce very well in comparison to mixed gender Tilapia.
Has anyone of "chocolate catfish"? I was talking to one of the local fish stores and they've had someone inquire about a pair of them, but the supplier sells in a minimum of 50. Now, I certainly don't want the full 50, but I said I would at least check on their edibility and growth patterns before I committed to going in on the order.
do they taste like chocolate? i could see quite a market for those. . . : )

Emma Lysyk said:
Has anyone of "chocolate catfish"? I was talking to one of the local fish stores and they've had someone inquire about a pair of them, but the supplier sells in a minimum of 50. Now, I certainly don't want the full 50, but I said I would at least check on their edibility and growth patterns before I committed to going in on the order.
Like you I have had aquariums all my life, currently I have a 135. I just love loaches, but they are always going to have problems with ich. I would stay away from the koi in a planted tank. They are like goats, they will eat any living plant plus they like to dig. I have 5 Silver Dollars that are fairly large, 2 large Bala Sharks, 1 large Angelfish, 1 large Rafel Cat and 3 Cory Cats. We have been talking of building some aquaponic beds onto this aquarium, but aren't sure yet. Congrats on your new tank!

Emma Lysyk said:
I'm a fish hobbyist moving into aquaponics. I've had bettas, black neon tetras, clown loaches, and otocincluses. I've had a lot of trouble keeping loaches as most of them have come with outbreaks of ich. I've found it to be important to carefully inspect pet store and fish store fish as well as inquire about their shipment dates because of this.

I'm getting my new 55 gallon tank on Saturday. It's an established tank with 4 silver dollars, a clown loach, a panda barb, a pleco, an African leaf fish, a kissing gourami, and 3 cory catfish. I'll be putting my current 3 black neons and 2 otos in the larger tank, and eventually I'll add some small koi, depending on how well the plants do (or just because I think they're pretty. My current 5 are enough to keep my well-planted 20 gallon aquascape alive).

The bottom feeders are great for keeping the particle waste under control, so I love having them around. I'm hoping that I won't have to worry as much about particle contamination with them around.

I'll keep you posted on how they work :)
Trout! and guppies. And koi.

I just had my first trout for dinner last weekend. Pan fried in corn meal. Yu-uh-uh-mmy. I have had great luck with the trout, which have lived in a 300 gallon stock tank in my backyard since September. I got them from a local hatchery as 3 inch fingerlings they are all over a foot long now. Since the pond was outdoors and uncovered, I didn't want to have to heat it so chose trout. I did put in a pond de-icer which maintains 40 degrees to keep the ice off, but that was it.

I have the water cycling in the pond, under the water, through a barrel of lava rocks. I figured the bacteria would stay active enough in there. The water is also cycling through three tubs with gravel outside the pond, but it was a cold enough winter that the lettuce, which I thought might over winter in the warm water and grow on warm days, did not. Grass is starting to green up in it now and I've planted lettuce.

I didn't know if there would be enough bacteria to take care of 25 large trout in the cold with no plants growing, but I didn't have a single fish kill, except for maybe a crawdad (it was hard to tell if he died or just shed his skin).

I'm looking forward to smoking a lot of trout in the next month before the water gets too warm and then I'll grow Tilapia over the summer. I was amazed the trout kept growing over the winter. Has anyone else had any luck over wintering fish in cold climates? What varieties? I think catfish might work too.
Man- I'd love to try trout and especially yellow perch. I'm checking into the possibility of shipment to Hawaii, but it may be tough. My pond is 58 degrees right now- and I'm trying to get it warmed up with the solar heated grow bed- but it's been raining every day!

For now, I've managed to capture 4 tilapia of an unknown variety. Can anyone here identify it?

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