Aquaponic Gardening

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I'd love to know what everyone is using for their feed.  I'm at the end of my last giant bag of AquaMax and would like to try something else, plus sell something very high quality on our website.  What do you use?  What have you tried in the past and stopped using?  Thanks!

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I am currently using Premium Fish Food from Kansas City. My first time doing this so nothing to compare , but the fish like it :)
I'm currently using Aqua Max, the Dense 4000 for the grow out and Grower 400 for small fingerlings.

In the past I tried a few different things. The "pond diet" from tractor supply isn't so good, it is meant for feeding fish in a natural earthen pond where the feed is only a supplement and the fish are eating natural stuff as well. I found that it wasn't so great in a recirculating situation.

We also once got a bag of Catfish feed from another feed store and the pellets were huge. I had about the same opinion of it as I did the pond diet. Not really meant for recirculating aquaculture.

I'll stick with the Aqua Max for now. Being a Purina Mills product there are plenty of dealers who can get it in most areas so at least it is fairly easily available to most people.

I might be interested if anyone comes up with a fish feed that doesn't use so much corn and soy or perhaps an "organic feed" but I don't think I am willing to pay more than $30 a bag so I doubt it will change what I'm using.
I haven't tried anything yet but have been advised that Nelson and Sons in Utah have the best food available and that Purina and Cargill make a good product. I am trying to get more information on what is in the feed and how that relates to a healthy fish.
Does anyone here use ONLY home-grown fish food (worms, BSF larvae, duckweed, watercress etc) to feed their fish? I'm planning to start with commercial feed (probably AquaMax) but want to be off it as soon as possible. I'm wondering if anyone here has been able to do that 100% though...
If you don't mind slower growth, you might be able to manage it on a small scale. I don't personally know of anyone who has managed it for more than a few fish though.

Greener said:
Does anyone here use ONLY home-grown fish food (worms, BSF larvae, duckweed, watercress etc) to feed their fish? I'm planning to start with commercial feed (probably AquaMax) but want to be off it as soon as possible. I'm wondering if anyone here has been able to do that 100% though...
I just received an email from a fish feed company that is pretty relevant to what we have been talking about here, and that I thought was an outstanding explanation as to why I would recommend always using a feed at least as a supplement for your tilapia. I was asking him about the addition of Poultry Meal, Dried Animal Blood Cells, and Porcine Animal Fat. I'm usually a purist when it comes to these kinds of things, but I'm also a pragmatist and he managed to convince me. I'd love to know if you agree.. Please let me know what you think about what he says
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Our foods have been specifically formulated for maximum nutrition, and each ingredient represents an important piece of that formula. The ingredients you mentioned exist in varying amounts in virtually all commercial fish foods, as well as a large number of food items for human consumption. It is important to note that no ruminant protein or bone meal is used in our foods. The ingredients you mentioned provide important amino acids, minerals and other nutrients that a fish in the wild would have in their normal diet, but in a recirculating system are lacking. An aquaponics system or recirculating system fish tank is essentially a wet desert, void of life, so we have to provide appropriate substitutes/inputs for fish and plants to thrive. For healthy fish, and in turn healthy food for people, these missing nutrients must be supplemented. Poultry meal provides about 65% protein and 6% calcium by weight. It also supplies about 4% phosphorus by weight and 19 important amino acids that tilapia and most other fish require for proper growth and reproductive functions. It is poultry bone and meat that is cooked at extremely high temperatures before being added to the food mix. It is basically the equivalent of a ground chicken patty. Dried animal blood cells is just another way for saying hemoglobin. It is a highly nutritious non-bovine ingredient that provides iron, phosphorus and many micronutrients that aid in oxygen absorption and gill health for the fish. Porcine Animal Fat is simply cooking lard (what makes pastries so "puffy" and flaky). It serves as a binder, a source of important fatty acids and aids in digestion.

Without these nutrients, the fish would have higher "bad" omega fatty acids and lower "good" omega fatty acids. A diet consisting primarily of soy, corn, rice and/or wheat will produce a fish that has significantly diminished health benefits for human consumption. This is actually a big reason why the nutritional value of store bought tilapia from overseas has been questioned so much recently by the media. Properly fed tilapia is a very healthy protein source.
I think it is important to point out that a huge component of US commercial fish feed is primarily corn and spy. I don't know that the ingredients their explanation spent so much time on really change that much since most chicken and pork in this country are fed mostly corn and soy as well so their omegas are out of sync too.

It is important to note that it isn't just the overseas tilapia that have the poor Omega 3 to omega 6 ratios. Farmed tilapia and catfish grown in this country score kinda poorly there too. (I still figure growing my own makes for healthier fresher food but if their primary feed has poor omega 3 to omega 6 ratio, the fish will too.) (This is why grass fed animals are better for us to eat than their grain fed counterparts.)

But as they say, a recirculating aquaculture tank is not a diverse enough ecosystem to provide the normal natural foods of our fish and throwing them some defrosted frozen peas, a hand full of worms or BSF and a few leaves of lettuce won't guarantee a balanced diet. Fish nutrition is actually a heavily studied field and if you start doing some research on the internet there is quite a bit of info you can find. Unfortunately most of the recipes I've seen are a bit more complex than the average home owner is likely to want to get into for more than a small aquarium hobby. (as in it isn't so hard to cook up your own feed for say less than half a dozen small fish and freeze a few months supply in a quart size zip lock, but quite a different story to to try and produce 50 lb of feed and keep it fresh for that same time period.)
No I don't know of specific studies with flax enriched feed for tilapia. Beware that flax (depending on how it's processed) causes some interesting things with vitamin B I think so other supplementation may need to be added to balance that.

I've tried grinding some flax seed to feed to the fish. I find it very hard to grind the stuff since it's so oily and because it is oily, it doesn't keep well once it is ground.

I've sometimes thought about trying to formulate feed with cow peas, flax, sweet potato, and perhaps some rendered BSF larva and a vitamin admixture but I don't think the cook is willing to let me do such things in his kitchen.
I didn't save the sources. It was stuff I found while researching using flax seed as a supplement in chicken feed. I'm not trying to generate any fear, I'm just hoping people do some of their own research since I know there is info about it out there. In my reading (of some university studies about supplementing chicken feed with flax probably) they noted that some compound in the flax could if not processed a certain way cause some vitamin deficiency. I'm running from memory here of something I read last fall sometime and I would have to go searching the internet again to see if I could find anything about it again (no guarantee I would remember the exact reference.)

Here is one reference
Flaxseed as poultry feedstuff
Again, it is more to do with chickens. I never found anything fish specific.

ernie.j said:
Sorry, but 'interesting things' and 'I think' are way too vague to generate fear or even caution.
Please provide your data as to the efficacy of Flax meal, or similar omega-3 sources, and any interactions w/ vitamin b, in either commercial or home brew feeds. Please include the good and bad processing details you refer to also. thanks in advance

TCLynx said:
Beware that flax (depending on how it's processed) causes some interesting things with vitamin B so other supplementation may need to be added to balance that.
ok wow, I clearly didn't think the food problem through...

Is there such a thing as affordable organic commercial fish feed (jn the US)?

I suppose going the commercial feed route would save me a LOT of trouble (worm farm, BSF harvesters, duckweed etc..). Probably well worth it in the long run.
I feel your pain, Greener! Sure would be great if there was an organic feed that we could all feel great about, but we also have to be conscious of the fact that we are completely responsible for replicating these little guys worlds in a way that is best for them. These feeds come out of a lot of research by very smart people who have dedicated their lives to raising fish in aquaculture. I've personally come full circle through the same journey you seem to be on and have decided to just find a feed purveyor that I trust, buy their feed, and work to optimize the rest of the system (temp, O2, plants, etc.)....and give the fishies treats of greens, worms, duckweed, etc. because they love it and it makes me feel good ;-)
I don't believe there is a truly "organic" commercial fish feed available. If there was, Friendlies would be required to use it in their system which is certified Organic and they are allowed to use non Organic fish feed since there is no organic choice available.

They are certified organic but that might just be for the veggies they sell, the tilapia might not be labeled as Organic I suspect.

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