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I had my first harvest of fish last night (yea!), but I was not satisfied with the taste or the process.

First, it was not easy to clean the fish. For me, tilapia are really bony and hard to work with. This will probably become less of a problem with practice and a better knife. Tips would be appreciated.

But the taste -- that was bothersome. The smell and finish had a bite, almost like a kitchen cleaner. My wife noted no such thing. She said they tasted "light" and noted that they had almost no flavor at all.

I tested for ammonia in the water, and there is almost none. I've had spikes in the past, but not recently.

It might have been my wife's cooking -- she did a pan fry with salt, pepper, and lemon, a lot of lemon, which I don't think is very special -- but before I go there I thought I might ask if I did something incorrectly system-wise. It might have just been an overpowering smell of cooked lemon that bothered me.

I didn't purge them like you might with lake-caught fish because I assumed that my water was clean and this was unnecessary.

If it doesn't seem like there's anything wrong fish-wise I'll just try deep fry next time.

Any reply is appreciated.

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I had never gutted fish before and found this link very helpful.  My first fish did not turn out as well as I would have liked, but the second was just fine.

Also definitely get a fillet knife.  Sporting goods stores have them pretty cheap

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA4xSRIxvAE

I'm going to guess the lemon was too much for you

From my training at Nelson and Pade they recommended placing them in a separate salted tank and not feeding for a day, the bad taste is not from the water quality but from the fish food. They filleted the Tilapia (If i remember right they didn't gut it) and I had a piece of sashimi. It was tough and chewy but no flavor good or bad. Flavor for Tilapia is the seasoning. By the way the way they killed it was just to put in a 5 gallon bucket of ice water and it died within minutes with no struggle.

These are really great tips. Thanks.

The video linked above was super. He talked about purging the fish by putting them in a separate tank and not feeding them for 3 or even 4 days. Does that sound right to anyone?

What does the salt in the purge water do? I know these fish are salt tolerant and a lot of other stuff in the water isn't.

BTW, fooling around with my tanks I was able to place the noxious smell. When I switched out an airstone it hit me square in the face. I still smell it on my hands. It smells like an algae maybe but also perhaps anaerobic -- which would be strange because it was a green slime all over the airstone. Perhaps putting the fish to be eaten in a clean tank without any of that other stuff is the trick?

i just harvested 50 fish (15 tilapia and 35 yp), and put 90 fillets in the freezer, 10 yp fillets used for dinner last night, and we've eaten quite a few fish, never purged any of them, just maintain good water quality and the fish will be fine

 

Just a side note from a cook.  Freezing any meat decreases it's flavor by 10 to 20 percent.  It is always best to serve fish fresh instead of freezing it.   Commercial flash freezers have much less impact on flavor and texture.  You may not have a choice if it's the end of the growing season.  But, fresh is always better.

Would it help to season the fillets before freezing? IF you had to freeze? Each person in my family likes them seasoned differently but each fillet would go into its own Ziploc bag. Just wondering...
 
Jim Joy said:

Just a side note from a cook.  Freezing any meat decreases it's flavor by 10 to 20 percent.  It is always best to serve fish fresh instead of freezing it.   Commercial flash freezers have much less impact on flavor and texture.  You may not have a choice if it's the end of the growing season.  But, fresh is always better.

We just moved from central California to Washington and had to disassemble our aquaponics (<sad face>) that had only been operation about a year. My cousin asked if we were bringing our fish up north and we said "yes, in the freezer." Taught the kids how to fillet the fish and we processed over 50 tilapia. Just tried some recently and they taste fine (no pre-spicing). Sad that we cannot afford to keep tilapia up north, too expensive to heat during the winter. So, we are looking for a suitable replacement for the new system we hope to build this spring.

Sue McL said:

Would it help to season the fillets before freezing? IF you had to freeze? Each person in my family likes them seasoned differently but each fillet would go into its own Ziploc bag. Just wondering...
 
Jim Joy said:

Just a side note from a cook.  Freezing any meat decreases it's flavor by 10 to 20 percent.  It is always best to serve fish fresh instead of freezing it.   Commercial flash freezers have much less impact on flavor and texture.  You may not have a choice if it's the end of the growing season.  But, fresh is always better.

Thanks for that feedback on the spicing.

I'm in Southern Oregon (zone 7) and still thinking about using Tilapia in my greenhouse. Looking at super-insulating the greenhouse and plumbing, using a climate battery to help maintain the temps during the winter and having submersible fish tank heaters and an auxiliary propane heater to help it all survive. From what I'm reading, it "should" work... Looking for feedback on my thoughts...
 
Jeff Hillendahl said:

We just moved from central California to Washington and had to disassemble our aquaponics (<sad face>) that had only been operation about a year. My cousin asked if we were bringing our fish up north and we said "yes, in the freezer." Taught the kids how to fillet the fish and we processed over 50 tilapia. Just tried some recently and they taste fine (no pre-spicing). Sad that we cannot afford to keep tilapia up north, too expensive to heat during the winter. So, we are looking for a suitable replacement for the new system we hope to build this spring.

Sue McL said:

Would it help to season the fillets before freezing? IF you had to freeze? Each person in my family likes them seasoned differently but each fillet would go into its own Ziploc bag. Just wondering...
 
Jim Joy said:

Just a side note from a cook.  Freezing any meat decreases it's flavor by 10 to 20 percent.  It is always best to serve fish fresh instead of freezing it.   Commercial flash freezers have much less impact on flavor and texture.  You may not have a choice if it's the end of the growing season.  But, fresh is always better.

I've froze fish in a zip lock bag filled with water...it works really well.

Hi Keith, what size tank do you have? I have 54 gallon and wondering what fish I should start off with in a new system?

Thanks,

Rick

Keith Rowan said:

i just harvested 50 fish (15 tilapia and 35 yp), and put 90 fillets in the freezer, 10 yp fillets used for dinner last night, and we've eaten quite a few fish, never purged any of them, just maintain good water quality and the fish will be fine

 

We have an 800 gallon tank that maintained 50 tilapia and about 50 goldfish. Use goldfish to start you biology. They are more readily available and very much less expensive. You will lose some. I know we didn't overtax our tank, but the plants loved the tilapia contribution to the system. Water quality is the key. If you have murky water you will have to put the fish in a separate tank with clean water for a few days to purge them prior to harvesting.

Rick Linet said:

Hi Keith, what size tank do you have? I have 54 gallon and wondering what fish I should start off with in a new system?

Thanks,

Rick

Keith Rowan said:

i just harvested 50 fish (15 tilapia and 35 yp), and put 90 fillets in the freezer, 10 yp fillets used for dinner last night, and we've eaten quite a few fish, never purged any of them, just maintain good water quality and the fish will be fine

 

my big tank is about 700 gallons,

i have a half tote system thats about 125 gallons

i have four 55 gallon tanks, one 40 gallon, two 20's and a 10 - i raise marmokrebs, gammarus and fathead minnows as supplemental feed in the glass tanks

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