Aquaponic Gardening

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anybody have a clue here?

 what is a quality food? does it make a difference ?

 how do you know good food?

 can you make your own food?

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Ellen Roelofs said:

I have a small system - for fun, not profit, so I'm not pinching the pennies as tight as a commercial operation.  That said, I really like to use angelsplus.com for all of my fish food; here's what I'm feeding the tilapia:

Floating Grower Pellet:  A 3mm higher protein pellet that grows young fish fast. Great for pond fish and for cichlids.

Protein Min 42%,  Fat Min 6%,  Fiber Max 3%, Moisture Max  11%, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C) Minimum 210 mg/kg
AAnalysis: Wheat, Fish Meal, Maize Gluten Meal, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Hydrolyzed Feather Meal, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Brewers Dried Yeast, Monosodium Phosphate, Fish Oil, Soy Lecithin, Spirulina, Salt, Choline Chloride, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Supplement), Vitamin B12, Vitamin/Mineral supplement, Canthaxanthin, Artificial Color

It's nice that they sell smaller quantites (the smallest package is 1.5 lbs).  The 5lb bag was $16.95.

Ellen-  You don't need that high of protein for tilapia.  A rate of 28% should be fine, and would cut down on the cost big time.  You can get a catfish feed at Tractor supply or southern states.  Those bags run 12-16 for 50lbs.

ive found the Nutrina (sportsmans choice) catfish food trashes the water. the dense 4000 works the best for me.

Randall-

Thanks for the comparison.  Most fish feed is going to be made at large hubs, especially in areas where fish culture is prevalent.  It does not make economic sense for most mills to manufacture fish feed due to the quantities in which they will be selling. 

There is a whole part of the world where fish feed is too expensive, poor quality, or not available.  In these places they use all sorts of "feed" (wheat bran, middlings, brewers waste, rabbit poo).  It is supplemental feed added to both give a little feed and to stimulate a bloom on the pond in which feeds the trophic system to feed the fish. 

I just want to remind people that in aquaponics, we should run these systems for the plants, not the fish.  The fish is a secondary crop, and therefore it makes sense to use inputs that will cause the least amount of grief in that section of production.

It should also be noted that there are many great feeds for fish in natural Ponds that are totally inappropriate to fish in recirculating aquaculture (and for the purpose of fish feed aquaponics could be thought of as recirculating aquaculture.)

See fish in natural ponds get some of their nutrition from nature and the feed is really just the supplement.

In recirculating aquaculture the fish don't have ready access to enough natural food and so we must make sure our feed is complete.  Also making sure our feed is complete tends to make sure there is enough nutrients in a close balance to what the plants need.  However, as we have seen, not all fish feeds are equal so some careful observation of the fish, the system, the plant growth, and the nature of the waste should give you clues about if your feed is giving you grief or not.

I will also note that many aquarium and ornamental pond feeds are designed to provide the bare minimum nutrition to keep the fish alive and pretty but to minimize the nutrient waste since most aquarium and pond keepers want to avoid extra maintenance of cleaning filters and doing water changes.  If you experience poor plant growth when using ornamental feeds, this could be the reason.

Now if your fish, plants and system are doing well, I'm not going to argue with something that is working well for you.

TC you nailed that first point!!!

Matthew, thanks for the heads up!  I also feed a lot of fresh veggie scraps and hornwort, so the pellets are only about half the diet and I wanted to be sure the fish were getting enough protein as they grow to adult size.  I have a small system with just 7 fish, so the 50lb bags wouldn't work for me.  As cheap as they are, I just don't go through enough.  (But someday I hope to! ;)

matthew ferrell said:



Ellen Roelofs said:

I have a small system - for fun, not profit, so I'm not pinching the pennies as tight as a commercial operation.  That said, I really like to use angelsplus.com for all of my fish food; here's what I'm feeding the tilapia:

Floating Grower Pellet:  A 3mm higher protein pellet that grows young fish fast. Great for pond fish and for cichlids.

Protein Min 42%,  Fat Min 6%,  Fiber Max 3%, Moisture Max  11%, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C) Minimum 210 mg/kg
AAnalysis: Wheat, Fish Meal, Maize Gluten Meal, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Hydrolyzed Feather Meal, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Brewers Dried Yeast, Monosodium Phosphate, Fish Oil, Soy Lecithin, Spirulina, Salt, Choline Chloride, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Supplement), Vitamin B12, Vitamin/Mineral supplement, Canthaxanthin, Artificial Color

It's nice that they sell smaller quantites (the smallest package is 1.5 lbs).  The 5lb bag was $16.95.

Ellen-  You don't need that high of protein for tilapia.  A rate of 28% should be fine, and would cut down on the cost big time.  You can get a catfish feed at Tractor supply or southern states.  Those bags run 12-16 for 50lbs.

How is the balance of nutrients compare to the other feeds mentioned in this thread? How long have you been using the rabbit feed?

And on the silly fun side ... does it make your fish jump more?

Jon Parr said:

I have found rabbit feed to be the best and cheapest food for tilapia and redclaws, and worms love the solids

Lol, they are a little jumpy, come to think of it. 

I've used rabbit feed for tilapia for about a year. I don't know how it compares to commercial feed, nutrient-wise, and it wouldn't really be comparing apples to apples anyway. Tilapia are primarily vegetarians, algae eaters. I've yet to find a commercial pellet actually formulated for tilapia. Pretty much every fish food includes tilapia as a target species, because they will eat whatever you throw at them. I have a pellet sold locally by Star Mills, that is for trout, bass, catfish, koi, tilapia, carp, and crawfish. How can one single feed fit the preferred diet of both carnivore and herbivore?  Even my AquaMax 500, for "carnivorous species", includes tilapia on the label.

Bob Vento said:

How is the balance of nutrients compare to the other feeds mentioned in this thread? How long have you been using the rabbit feed?

And on the silly fun side ... does it make your fish jump more?

Jon Parr said:

I have found rabbit feed to be the best and cheapest food for tilapia and redclaws, and worms love the solids

Well, Matthew, to each his own. If you are suggesting that human feces is the best feed for tilapia, and that GMO seeds and round-up is our sustainable future, then I guess we are at opposite ends of the "best feed" argument. 

I don't pretend to know much about the science of formulating fish food, or the nuances of commercial fish farming. I'm just throwing out there that that rabbit food is a complete food for a vegetarian animal, and it has worked well for my tilapia. As far as "solids", I should be more specific. The actual solids of a feed are listed as "ash" content. The ash content of AquaMax 500 is 11%, and from rabbit feed is 3.5-6.5%, so AquaMax has roughly double to triple the amount of solids than rabbit feed. However, there is quite a lot of mulm formed from rabbit feed, more than AquaMax. I assume this is from plant fiber, and the both tilapia and red claw leave it be. It is very simply pumped with the rest of fish waste to a swirl filter or media bed. No extra pump or filtration needed. Just a bit more volume is pumped to the worms. And worms make short work of finishing it off, netting less mineral solids than commercial feed, less fuss with dealing with those solids, and thus still "better" in my opinion. But like I said, to each his own. 

matthew ferrell said:

The "best" in my opinion is the happy medium of cost, sustainability, availability, locally sourced, nutritional, and liked by the fish. 


For fun I will come up with the best food for you based on your goals:  Your crap

happy medium of cost: You were going to throw it away, I guess it cost as much as your food budget
sustainability:great way to reuse your own was

avaiability: Right out your bum, lets say once a day

Localy source: depends on your shopping habits

Fish like it: guaranteed, this was done in parts of Asia for years

Jon I guess we all have are own goals.  Mine focus around efficiency, which leads to sustainability in my mind. A high quality complete feed should have almost all the nutrients that you seek.  My argument is not that you are doing something wrong, its just not the most efficient way and could lead some not so good at solid management folks the wrong way.  I have found that in aquaponics, there are so many ways to skin a cat, and so many agendas being pushed(anti GMO, aquaponics to save the world, ...).  My work focus is on commercial profitability, but my commercial influences often poke out in my backyard approaches.   

The problem with solids is that eventually you will have to increase filtration, and therefore electrical usage.  On a larger scale, there goes your sustainability argument.  The more you have to deal with the more overall cost, and effort is required.  That is why I personally use highly digestible foods, which by the way still put out 25% solids per unit input.

I also have no issue with GMO, and think a lot of the fear is unjustified.  The GMO corn we grew on the farm where I work required no pesticide last year, only one application of round up, and was watered less.  I believe you could call that more sustainable that the heirloom variety.

I also wonder how local rabbit food is.  Do you have a large rabbit industry in your town? 

I would mention that while adult tilapia can be fed a vegetarian diet, they are omnivores, NOT Herbivores, especially when young.

I'll be adding a new entry into my group "Making your own feed" soon so please check it out.

In the meantime I would like to congratulate Jon P on experimenting and sharing. I assume you are adding some worms to their diets.

I spent the last growing season working with a feed manufacture here testing out some Truly natural and organic feeds. All base ingredients came from my organic farm. No soy. Not grains. No fillers. Nothing with more than three syllables. 

The following is a brief of my feed report:

We used Alfalfa, sun-dried crickets, sun-dried blood worms, sun-dried earthworms, sun-dried Mealworms, sun-dried black solder flies, freeze-dried Blue- Green Algae (spirulina), freeze-dried duckweed, Wheatgerm, freeze-dried Seaweed, freeze-dried shrimp shells, sun-dried guppies and mosquito fish. Fresh garlic, and assortment of herbs and veggie scraps; leaves, roots and sprout extracts. Vitamin B-12 and wheatgerm-extracted vitamin A, D & E. were the only not on site produced additives.

Two independent labs report:

Crude Protein≥38.0%  to 62%

Crude Fat  ≥ 4.0%

Crude Fibre ≤ 4.0%

Crude Ash ≤ 10%

Moisture  ≤ 10.0%

Lysine ≥ 0.5%

Phosphorus ≥ 0.5%

Calclum ≤ 3.0%

NaCl ≤ 3.0% 

Cheers

Carey Ma, I am certainly looking forward to the day when you have time to do some "How To" books or videos on how you do stuff.  (Yea, I'm probably dreaming I know but your stuff always sounds soooooo interesting.)

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