Aquaponic Gardening

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I'm one that is in info stage and building, the picture is on paper and in the mind. Now the fish part is now needing to be fed. (no pun intended) I like trout, salmon, steelhead. Now the salmon and steelhead are out, I will have no way to let them travel to the ocean and back. I'm native to the NW so bass catfish blue gill are... well lets just say icky. Now a lot of people seem to grow with Tilopia. Why is this? I have eaten them and find that it is a bland fish. The taste is so delicate the flavor is overridden by spices, butter or any thing put on it that it ends up just protein in the dish. The population is clamoring over this fish. I see it in restaurants, magazines and AP. Why?   

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A lot of people like the taste of tilapia. Can't say personally, I have yet to eat one that has been raised with good flavor in mind. Kind of like a garden tomato. People ask how good our garden tomatoes are, but I never really know what to say. A good garden tomato is the poster child of why you should grow your own fresh garden vegetables at home. It's hard to say whether or not my tomatoes are delicious, but they are assuredly much better than what you might find in your average storefront. Anyway, point is, if you haven't had something fresh and properly raised, you might not be experiencing the full potential of how good that thing can taste.

I gotta say, tilapia are grown first and foremost for their extreme hardiness. These buggers can survive no end of abuse from their owners, so they are a great choice for beginners. My tilapia fingerlings only started slowly dying off when my nitrate levels were off the charts (it took three or four partial water changes to bring the levels to a point where they would even register on a test. A result of too much maxicrop in the system. I was losing one fingerling a week and my estimated levels were above 250ppm) The internet is scattered with the renown of their ability to hold up under extreme circumstances.

Also, tilapia are one of the fastest and most efficient fish as far as fillets are concerned. Under the best of conditions, I've known some people to get plate size tilapia in 6-7months. I think their feed to weight conversion ratio is 2:1.

I gotta say, I'm a big fan of the taste of fresh tilapia straight out of the system. As Alex was saying, it's kind of like the difference between a store bought tomato and a garden tomato when you get away from the frozen tilapia.  The image here is from our company Thanksgiving dinner - grilled straight from the tanks.  Mmmm.

And crazy hardy.  Much more resistant to adverse conditions than other fish. More than once I"ve found them on the floor, drying, and thrown them back in the tank and they've been fine.

Not sure about the 6 - 7 months, though.  Maybe 9 if everything is perfect for them and they are fed a few times a day.  If you are a casual "throw food in the tank when I think about it" kind of gardener you are looking at a year.  But still faster than a lot of other fish.

I can see what you are saying Alex the food I forage, catch, and hunt testes better then store bought. Sometimes I think the only reason for that is I put the work into it. I feel strongly that the fish I catch (the native fish) taste much better then farmed fish. The feeds just cant put the flavor in the muscles the fight to stay alive in the wild give the muscles a firmness that I can feel on the palate. A fish with less oils has less flavor, thus the reason that pollock is used for surimi and scallops. Halibut has a delicate flavor as well it can be manipulated to taste like other things. A good chef can made the fish taste good on the plate. I have tasted fish in culinary school we took meats and just cooked them with nothing else we did this with a chicken, beef, pork, salmon, trout, tilopia, white fish. This gave us the base line flavors to build upon. I found that had very little flavor of its own meaning delicate. This we found to be a tricky one to cook at an elevated level, to bring the fish to the forefront with out over riding it's delicate flavor. Now as you said the ability to take the ups and downs of the novice like me would be a good reason to raise them. My son thinks I should raise koi fish, he thinks this is were the real money is. I have not made up my mind but it may change as I go through is new fascinating world of AP  

Sorry to step on the toes of Tilapia lovers. This fish from what I have see came into the lime light and took the people of America by storm. To me it's like this little fish did a Justin Bieber. I have read articles, menus, and listen to interviews on this fish. (yes I should know how to spell tilapia after reading so much, but oops my brain likes the o.) I guess I'm missing something. I do see that the fish that can take the abuse from the small tank novice like me, that in the AP world this would be a star contender. I do get the satisfaction of raising your food and how this seems to taste better, I do really I do. That’s not what I'm trying for here. The fish how did it get so popular on the plate? What is it that brings it to be the fish of fish. OK 1. for AP the forgiving to water concerns, 2. the ability to be in large densities, 3. Why. As a fish that go's to market it must have a draw to it to make a mark as big as it has. I'm not trying to poo poo the fish or the people that like them. Help me understand this little fish that came from Africa to America and took the peoples palates.  

LOL - no toes being stepped on here!  This is an interesting discussion you have started, Anthony.  While I"m a fan of tilapia for the reasons already stated (easy, tasty, fast) one of the cool things about AP is the ability to grow a wide variety of species...even in the same tank if the are compatible.  

My bet as to why they have become so popular with the eating public is that they are a relatively inexpensive either coming from China (I've heard up to 90% of the tilapia in this country is imported from China) or through local production (their lack of fussiness makes them relatively inexpensive to breed and grow out).  Plus, from a marketing perspective they are not too exotic (so somewhat familiar as a "white fish") so it wasn't a stretch to sell them, vs. something like, say, mackerel which is incredibly delicious and prized by many cultures, but is a stronger taste and a harder sell.  Do you agree?

Fresh aquaponics tillapia has great flavor!  Like a lot of meats the massive scale farm grown stuff doesn't have the same flavor as higher quality organic meat like you get from an AP system. 

Antony, My personal favorite fish is salmon. But it is getting more and more expensive. I personally like the stronger flavor, but I have talked to many who do not like it because of that.

Tilapia is a fish that tastes according to how it is cooked. if you boiled it in water, it would be tasteless and without texture. But anything else and it takes on many flavors and textures.

And like others said, you almost can't kill them. I couldn't until the temperature dropped and then I discovered just how many fish I had that were approaching eating size and in 7 months or so.. (I started with 50 about an inch long..)

If I have any survivors, I'm going to have to try alternate ways of cleaning and cooking.  I was not ready to try to fillet them so I cleaned them like a panfish....scaled, gutted, head and fins cut off. I'm going to have to try them the way Sylvia showed in her pictures. I did not eat fish looking at me even when i lived in Colorado (like sylvia) and ate trout.. but I'm open to try new.

Yeah, if you're trying to make money then you may have more luck with koi then tilapia. Depends on what your market is. If you develop a good stock of koi, they can potentially fetch quite a hefty sum :) But, you don't make money on what you grow, only what you sell. So, check to see who's interested in what products first.

Anthony Payne said:

I can see what you are saying Alex the food I forage, catch, and hunt testes better then store bought. Sometimes I think the only reason for that is I put the work into it. I feel strongly that the fish I catch (the native fish) taste much better then farmed fish. The feeds just cant put the flavor in the muscles the fight to stay alive in the wild give the muscles a firmness that I can feel on the palate. A fish with less oils has less flavor, thus the reason that pollock is used for surimi and scallops. Halibut has a delicate flavor as well it can be manipulated to taste like other things. A good chef can made the fish taste good on the plate. I have tasted fish in culinary school we took meats and just cooked them with nothing else we did this with a chicken, beef, pork, salmon, trout, tilopia, white fish. This gave us the base line flavors to build upon. I found that had very little flavor of its own meaning delicate. This we found to be a tricky one to cook at an elevated level, to bring the fish to the forefront with out over riding it's delicate flavor. Now as you said the ability to take the ups and downs of the novice like me would be a good reason to raise them. My son thinks I should raise koi fish, he thinks this is were the real money is. I have not made up my mind but it may change as I go through is new fascinating world of AP  

Sylvia I think your on to something marketing, that the culinary is always trying to find an edge over the competitor. Given the name of the fish and the price, you can put the slightly exotic fish with a low food cost on the menu sell it for a good profit. It could be a fad fish since it's mark in the restaurants is within the last 5-10 years, time will tell. I have been reading up on tilapia and the omega 3 fatty acids are very low and higher in omega 6 long chain fatty acids making them not a healthy choice for people with heart problems. This news could put a damper on the restaurants putting on the menu. Then again eggs were bad then good then bad. Can this omega 3s be increased with diet of the fish. I would not check it of my list as I can't see a life without bacon, butter or even doughnuts. I may raise some to see if Steve is right on how much more flavor there is compared to the store purchased. I better get this system up and running. I want to taste the foods I grow head to head with the store. I know that hot house tomatoes lacks taste compared to the tomatoes grown in season in dirt. So I'm looking foreword in this next spring if all gos well site prep and build. The plan is to be completed by tax day.   

Yes, I have read you can increase the omega 3s by changing the diet....And you know, there's been a rumor flying around that bacon is really quite good for you. Better eat a lot. You know, just in case ;)

Anthony Payne said:

Sylvia I think your on to something marketing, that the culinary is always trying to find an edge over the competitor. Given the name of the fish and the price, you can put the slightly exotic fish with a low food cost on the menu sell it for a good profit. It could be a fad fish since it's mark in the restaurants is within the last 5-10 years, time will tell. I have been reading up on tilapia and the omega 3 fatty acids are very low and higher in omega 6 long chain fatty acids making them not a healthy choice for people with heart problems. This news could put a damper on the restaurants putting on the menu. Then again eggs were bad then good then bad. Can this omega 3s be increased with diet of the fish. I would not check it of my list as I can't see a life without bacon, butter or even doughnuts. I may raise some to see if Steve is right on how much more flavor there is compared to the store purchased. I better get this system up and running. I want to taste the foods I grow head to head with the store. I know that hot house tomatoes lacks taste compared to the tomatoes grown in season in dirt. So I'm looking foreword in this next spring if all gos well site prep and build. The plan is to be completed by tax day.   

Bacon is by far the best lubricant for your arteries i always say! If you keep them lubed up nothing will stick thats how it works right? :P

Alex Veidel said:

Yes, I have read you can increase the omega 3s by changing the diet....And you know, there's been a rumor flying around that bacon is really quite good for you. Better eat a lot. You know, just in case ;)

Anthony Payne said:

Sylvia I think your on to something marketing, that the culinary is always trying to find an edge over the competitor. Given the name of the fish and the price, you can put the slightly exotic fish with a low food cost on the menu sell it for a good profit. It could be a fad fish since it's mark in the restaurants is within the last 5-10 years, time will tell. I have been reading up on tilapia and the omega 3 fatty acids are very low and higher in omega 6 long chain fatty acids making them not a healthy choice for people with heart problems. This news could put a damper on the restaurants putting on the menu. Then again eggs were bad then good then bad. Can this omega 3s be increased with diet of the fish. I would not check it of my list as I can't see a life without bacon, butter or even doughnuts. I may raise some to see if Steve is right on how much more flavor there is compared to the store purchased. I better get this system up and running. I want to taste the foods I grow head to head with the store. I know that hot house tomatoes lacks taste compared to the tomatoes grown in season in dirt. So I'm looking foreword in this next spring if all gos well site prep and build. The plan is to be completed by tax day.   

Anthony, "Hothouse" tomatoes get a bad rap. Last year I grew all mine in the regular garden but the year before I kept a group as long as I could until it just got too hot in the greenhouse. I could tell no difference from those I grew in my garden. Alot of the problem with store bought tomatoes is they are picked when they are still green and have not had the chance to ripen.;; Even the advertised "vine tomatoes' sold here are picked green, I'm sure. I tested a few my parents bought to compare...I have not bought a store tomato for at least 8 years.

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