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 have to tell you all about my new alternative food for tilipia. My first batch of tilipia were the gold ones. We call them sunfish here in Hawaii. They will eat duckweed and lettuce and some wong bok. Well the next batch were orange and black spotted. The fellow I got them from call them koilapia. I thought he was joking. He said they ate more than the others. This is an understatment. They are ravinous all the time. The eat anything you put into the tank and eat very often. If you put your hand in they will try to feed off that. I call them piranas. I have been feeding them duckweed, lettuce, ung choy, and they rip it up. I think I told you that their water hyacynthis look like a buzzard had picked a dead animal clean. Well I am trying to grow duckweed and one of my WWOOFers was cleaning out the trough. She put a zillion guppies in the duckweed tank. Now no matter how much I feed the guppies they eat the duckweed. So I got the bright idea to throw them in the tank with the tilipia. I scooped out about 1/2 cup of guppies and put them in the tank with the piranas and in less than a minute there were no guppies. I put in 2 more scoops and the same thing happened. So now everyday I am adding at least one scoop of guppies to their diet. Guppies are easier to raise than worms. Just thought I would let you know what I have discouvered. I have to find out what type tilipia I am raising.
Aloha Kobus
It is amazing when you listen to all the people about the food their fish eat and the plants they grow. I was told early that tilipia only ate off the top. They never ate anything off the bottom. I put that myth to rest when I raised fry in glass aquariums. The fry spent the day eating off the bottom. most aquaculture people just want to know if the fish are eating so they use floating pellets. Here in Hawaii that is even what they feed catfish. Everyone knows catfish are bottom feeders. They will come to the top if they have to after floating pellets. I had to special order pellets that sank because I believe you should treat the fish as they would do in the wild. My tilipia eat at every level and most anything. I give them a commercial food but I am going to work to wean them off. If we are to sell this as a sustainable product we have to be able to make our own food. The expense of the food will turn many people off. I am going to try to let my piranas eat as many guppies as they will. I turned to some gravel beds because I wanted to grow some of the things other people grow. I can't believe how well the cucumber grows in the gravel bed. I use 3/4 in gravel because I can get it by the truck load. Other products are too expensive
Good morning, Raychel and Kobus. I wanted to add another example of tilapia feeding top, middle and bottom. I heard a story this week from someone who said that they had been a part of a recovery program for a lake that had been overtaken by duckweed. The solution was to stock it with tilapia, but it didn't seem to be working - the duckweed remained. Some of the researchers went out onto the lake in a boat to see if they could figure out why, and if the tilapia had all perished for some reason. When they dropped anchor, they discovered that they had to use an extra 18" of line! The tilapia were doing just fine. They were feeding on the dead duckweed as it dropped to the lake floor and lowering the level of the lake!
Definitely, the "rules" are for those just getting started. Once one understands the basics well enough, they can definitely experiment to see what will work for them.

I've never had much luck with cucumbers in my systems yet.

Tilapia and catfish happily take to floating pellets (which is definitely the easy way to keep track of NOT over Feeding.) Young tilapia will also happily eat other fish if they can since they have a huge protein hunger. It is terribly funny to watch a small tilapia fingerling trying to eat a pellet for a larger fish. Swimming around sucking the pellet larger than it's own head to it's mouth.

I know everyone calls catfish bottom feeders but that might be partially because they eat lots of crustations like "mud bugs" or crawdads that tend to be down in the mud. They also happily come to the surface to eat bugs and anything floating on the surface. My catfish search the sides of the tank eating snails too. Many people seem surprised by catfish jumping I guess because they think of them as "bottom feeders" but Catfish definitely can jump. I think from my personal observations of my catfish, they may be mostly "bottom dwellers" as in they will hang out on a bottom surface most of the time though I have some wall hangers that tend to pick a spot against the side of a tank to hang out but then they will definitely come up from below to eat. See their bellies are light colored but their backs and sides are dark so by placing them selves belly against a dark surface will help to hide them especially in the dark. They do tend to be scardy cats.
I gotta go with the "they feed anywhere's" guys ........ I live in Montana, so I have to keep and raise my Tilapia in aquariums or I am breaking the law :( :(. I feed them floating and sinking foods and they go where the food goes ...... they love to catch it on the way down or feed off the bottom once it starts to sink, (if it lasts that long) .... no worries about overfeeding, as I don't use gravel in the bottom (bare-bottom tanks show any excess), so I know when they're done eating ;) ...... as well, they love to eat Guppies too, but eventually, my Tilapia started ignoring the Guppies as the Tilapia grew to 4" or 5" long. Pretty soon, the Guppies were eating the Young Adult and Adult/Breeder sizes of food right beside the big Tilapia. Duckweed, Water Lettuce, Wolffia and Azolla (Carolinia) are also a favorite live green vegetable food for Tilapia if a person has access to them year round. They will also eat lawn grass and most garden greens as long as the grass and greens aren't sprayed with chemical fertilizers or weed killers (no chemicals of any kind AFAIAC!).
Love it, Jim. Never thought about hurling grass clippings into the tilapia tank. I've been using algae from our backyard decorative water feature on a regular basis - just went harvesting yesterday - and slimy lettuce and any kind of fruit, just to continue to fill out the wonderful list that is forming here.
We have a problem with that long, stringy green/brown algae growing in the power filters and the biofilters ..... when I clean either one of them, I just dump the algae right back into the FT and it's gone before I can get another scoop! Algae is a great food for Tilapia.

TCLynx said:
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.
You are correct. The fish are not organic.

Rebecca Branham said:

TCLynx said:
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.
A person 'could' feed his fish organic if he wanted to, and then get the organic certification, but who wants to go through the hassle? I read up on the USDA site and they want 24 hour/7day access to your place, and you have to pay for any tests that they do when they are there bothering you ..... I would just say they are "Naturally Raised" - (no drugs, no steroids, no hormones, no chemical ferts, no bug sprays .... well, you get the idea), and forget the 'Organic" label ...... as long as the small organizations were certifying, everything was fine, but then the government got into control of it .... now, if you will notice, all the big agricorps and grocery chains are being certified "organic" ..... Monsanto, Con-Agra, Albertsons, Safeway, etc. etc. etc.
Friendlys wrote a good discussion of this in one of their newsletters. In a nutshell, they couldn't find an organic fish food, and making their own is prohibitively expensive. The economics work at a large enough scale, but not for them or even a few small aquaponic farms on the Big Island. There might be enough people on the mainland to make it worth someone's while, though. If interested, email them and ask for a copy of the relevant newsletter (sorry, i don't have time to go through them.)
I Googled Friendly's and there are about 130.000 results ..... which one are you referring to ? (linky?)

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