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I’m trying to decide whether to grow Tilapia or Yellow Perch in my future AP system. I need a better understanding of the breeding and growing process (pros and cons) for both species to make my decision. I’m in New England where it gets pretty cold in the winter, would put insulated tanks in a greenhouse, and I’m open to heating the water enough for either species. The slightly lower temps of the Yellow Perch are appealing (low/mid 70s optimal but can tolerate much lower vs low 80s for Tilapia). On the other hand, Tilapia breeding seems to be more reliable and involve less time and labor. Below I’ve summarized my current understanding and posed some questions. Please correct my inaccuracies and provide answers to my questions where you can!

 

Summary & Questions:

Tilapia are more prolific breeders (up to every 5 weeks), whereas Yellow Perch breed once per year. To induce spawning in Tilapia requires the same temps as for grow out (low 80s); but to get Yellow Perch to spawn they need a prolonged period of cold (45 degrees) and then a change in photoperiod to simulate winter coming into spring.

For both species, you would move breeding pairs into a smaller, separate tank, probably with a substrate for putting eggs on, and let them breed. Female tilapia will put fertilized eggs in mouth, and after the eggs hatch and reach fry stage, they won’t need to be in her mouth anymore, at which point we can remove the female from the breeding tank. Yellow Perch females just deposit their eggs, so they can be removed from breeding tank once the eggs have been laid and fertilized. From there, the Tilapia seem a bit easier as the fry can eat commercial powdered food, but Yellow Perch fry need some live food (such as algae and zooplankton) and a controlled photoperiod. At some size (not sure what), Tilapia fry can be mixed back in main tank with adults because cannibalism is low. Is the same true with Yellow Perch?

And finally, Tilapia can grow faster and get larger than the Yellow Perch too. Tilapia can get up to 1.5-2lbs in a year; Yellow perch more like 1/3 of a pound.

Most of my research comes from:

Yellow Perch – North Central Regional Aquaculture Center: https://storage.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/2656376931?prof...

Tilapia – North Central Regional Aquaculture Center:  http://www.ncrac.org/oldfiles/NR/rdonlyres/574B353A-B11F-4DD7-8A87-...; the Aquaponic Source http://theaquaponicsource.com/2011/03/27/aquaponics-tilapia-breeding/; and Southern Regional Aquaculture Center http://ag.arizona.edu/azaqua/extension/flyers/Pond_Culture_Tilapia.pdf

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And I should note I'm asking this in relation to an AP system that is for home, personal production, not commercial.

i have yellow perch and tilapia (nile and blue) in a 600 (or so) gal ft, my system is indoors, as i'm in ohio... yesterday it was 63f, and last night 24f

anyways.. i've had a couple of hatches of blue tilapia when the water was in the low 60s, most became food for the yp, but a few made it to the sump, i have several glass tanks so i put the tilapia fry in a 55gal tank, they'll go into my single tote system as breeders - right now the single tote system has rosyred minnows... tilapia are easy to breed, and extras will be feed for the yp

yp lay "egg ribbons", about 30,000 eggs per ribbon.... might be a bit much for a backyarder... i buy good yp stock from a reputable dealer, in quantities fingerlings are less than $1 each, it would cost quite a bit more to raise your own, unless you have a couple nice ponds

Hi Keith, I didn't know you could grow the Tilapia and YP in the same tank. What temperature to do you keep the joint Tilapia-YP tank at? And is that relatively constant all year round or does it fluctuate between summer and winter?

When you get new YP fingerlings, do you put them in the same 600 gal tank as the adults? I'm wondering if you need to separate them to avoid fingerlings being cannibalized. Same quesiton for the Tilapia - when the fry grow up to fingerling size, just put them back in the main tank with adults?

Also, what does the "ft" in "600 gal ft" stand for?

600 gallon fish tank..

i started the big tank with minnows and crayfish, i had my oldest perch in a small system, i added 100 3" yp fingerlings to the big tank.. after they were acclimated (a couple weeks) i moved my large tilapia (10 blues) into the big tank, and my 20 or so large yp into the big tank

i bought 50 nile tilapia that were 1" in the spring last year, kept them in a single tote system until they were around 3-4" then they went in the pool..i haven't had problems with cannabalism adding fish that are 3-4" to the pool.. minnows don't last long, nor do the most of the tilapia babies.. but that was the whole point for me.. i feed the tilapia and the yp fish food, and there are lots of crayfish in the big tank (soon to be 100+ more crayfish) that reproduce.. i view the minnows, crayfish, and tilapia spawns as supplemental feed, and any tilapia fry that make it out of the pool will be used to breed my next generation

my systems are all in an unheated basement, in the winter the coldest the water has been (that i have noted) is 56f, in the summer i think the warmest was around 74 to 76f, i only heat 1 of my 55 gal glass tanks - the one with the tilapia fry

 

What size is your greenhouse?

What will you use for an energy source for water/air heat?

Are you allowed to use a small woodfired water heater?

Based on your post tilipia win hands down.  Even if your breed tank is indoors for cheaper heat cost that works out better than timing heat and light timing for YP.  Unless you like the meat of the YP better? 

For payback- go price a prime bouquet of head lettuce or tilipia fry (gotta watch selling fish in some states) (maybe sold live?).  And the reason I suggest a little sales is those $ can go toward heat.  I live in zone 6 and heat is a small concern because when the gh temp or water temp is mid or low,, the whole shebang slows down.  And there's not much worse than watching a plant grow extra slow.

jim

Jim:

Not sure on greenhouse size, but might be something like 300sqft. I haven't thought much about my specifc heat sources, but I know I'll need them. The woodfired heater is a good option, maybe a pellet stove. Also thinking about a thermophillic compost pile to provide some supplemental heat. That's all on my list to think on next.

Just back to the fish, do you grow Tilapia or YP? And do you breed them? Any tips? I'm also interested in how low you might let your water temp go.

 

Patrick

My aq system has been running 5mo.  It's in a greenhouse.  I have 2ea 250gl tanks and grow beds.  I've used local fish small mouth bass and bluegill.  I don't have heat up yet so I chose local cold temp fish. I'm grow zone 6 so my cold may be different than your cold.  So I'm just starting to scratch the surface.  I have to have some level of heat control to increase the fish/plants.

I'm almost done with a woodgas gasifier to run an engine.  Heat from that system will heat my aq water and gh air. 

The engine will run an electric gen to provide electric for part of our property.

That's what I'll be using for heat for my gh/aq.

For the winter you can double layer or triple layer if possible the gh.  Just sheet plastic for 3-4 months or so.  It cuts down on heat cost.

Insulate your tanks with at least 2" thick styro.  Sheet Styro on the water with plants also insulates heat loss.

For night time you can use a timer to reduce the water to grow bed cycle since winter night is the coldest .

My recommendation is no matter what, have something for water heating that you can throw at water temp.  Big temp swings or fast temp swings or low/high temps can drive you crazy with sick fish.  Loose allot or all fish and where with the grow side be?  So just a few watts to maintain temp isn't much.

I use a solar hot water heater for tank water now.  It's a line voltage thermostat set high in the rafter/hottest part of the gh .

When it's  warm enough it turns on a small pump that runs a black plastic line again up in the rafters where the gh is the hottest. That system gives just a little heat an the average solar day.  When it gets warmer it will have to be run through an aquastat which reads water temp.  That will avoid over temping the water.

jim

This is how  I Thought a System ought to Work...Would Love to See how things are Now, and pick your Brain a Bit...

Keith Rowan said:

600 gallon fish tank..

i started the big tank with minnows and crayfish, i had my oldest perch in a small system, i added 100 3" yp fingerlings to the big tank.. after they were acclimated (a couple weeks) i moved my large tilapia (10 blues) into the big tank, and my 20 or so large yp into the big tank

i bought 50 nile tilapia that were 1" in the spring last year, kept them in a single tote system until they were around 3-4" then they went in the pool..i haven't had problems with cannabalism adding fish that are 3-4" to the pool.. minnows don't last long, nor do the most of the tilapia babies.. but that was the whole point for me.. i feed the tilapia and the yp fish food, and there are lots of crayfish in the big tank (soon to be 100+ more crayfish) that reproduce.. i view the minnows, crayfish, and tilapia spawns as supplemental feed, and any tilapia fry that make it out of the pool will be used to breed my next generation

my systems are all in an unheated basement, in the winter the coldest the water has been (that i have noted) is 56f, in the summer i think the warmest was around 74 to 76f, i only heat 1 of my 55 gal glass tanks - the one with the tilapia fry

 

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