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Last summer I discovered the abundance of young tilapia in our local lakes and the ease of catching them. This gave me the idea of raising some of these fingerlings in our aquaponics system. My plan is to introduce the fingerlings (+/- 2") into a half IBC. That would give them 125 gallons and about 18" deep to start with. Then as they get bigger I could move them into the main 275 gal IBC. Assuming they can reach sexual maturity around 6 months, I have designed a netting for the bottom of the main FT to curb their reproduction. I don't think it would be a good idea to put more than maybe 30 to 40 tilapia in either tank. Am I off my rocker? 

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I would find a way to test them for toxins first.

Probably easier to test the water you are catching them from for toxins.  I don't think you can test a live fish for toxins in it's flesh and still expect to have it live, grow and re-produce.

Now while you might be able to collect fish from the wild easily enough, you may find you need a fishing license or aquaculture certificate to do it legally.  If you plan to sell fish, you definitely need the proper permits and you would also need to get the fish checked to make sure they are pure blue tilapia.

I have eaten fish caught in these lakes. If they were toxic I am sure we would have gotten ill.

A fishing license is required to use a cast net. I don't believe any special permit is needed to raise the tilapia that have  already populated these local lakes and ponds. If we were going to try selling our harvest we would no doubt need some sort of permitting.

Surely I am not the 1st to try this.

Just don't get caught transporting the live tilapia and I expect you are all good.

From the FWC website:

Aquatic species for aquaponics systems

Blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus)

  • Pure blue tilapia (not hybrids) can be used in commercial aquaponics systems,  and home aquaponics in the South, Southwest and Northeast FWC regions, and in Citrus County in the North Central region
  • Permit requirements for blue tilapia vary by FWC region
    • No permit is needed to possess blue tilapia in the South, Southwest and Northeast FWC regions, and in Citrus County in the North Central region

    Fishing Tips and Facts:

    Special Note: Possession and transport of live tilapia in Florida is illegal without a special permit (except blue tilapia); can only be possessed if dead, so anglers wanting to eat this fish should immediately place them on ice.

Also: In central Florida, anglers can assume every tilapia they observe in fresh water is a blue, and any tilapia over 3 pounds is also likely a blue tilapia.

John ,How do you catch them?

I have seen them caught on a hook using live worms, but I use a cast net. Most do not make the transition from the wild to the tank. It is very stressful to the small fish, plus the pH shift causes problems. I have a few that are doing well in the tank, but next year I plan to find us a some tank raised fingerlings.

How big in inches is a 1.5 pound tilapia?


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