Aquaponic Gardening

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Just thought this group should have a discussion specifically about breeding these fish, since they are the easy ones to breed your own.

What works?

What doesn't?

How to deal with fish domestic violence.

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I have harvested my fry for this year and have plenty of fry. I set up breeders in 3 different ways - 1) I put two males and four females in a 65 gal aquarium in my greenhouse. 2) I put two males and 5 females in a 250 gal outdoors horse watering tank. 3) I had 80 or so large tilapia and 200 catfish in my 3,000 gal fish tank.
 
I had fry from all 3 colonies the 65 gal group was the most trouble and produced the fewest fry, the 250 gal produced a few hundred fry from what looked like 2 spawns, but I got the most fry from my big FT where there were several spawns all at the same time these fry were all at the top(avoiding the catfish I think). Next year I will forget about aquarium breeding and just let them do their own thing outside, I have 2 different strains of blues that I will maintain. I have several hundred fry of each strain right now that I will need to cull down to 200 in each strain.
Last weekend after we harvested the fry we caught 50 large blues and put them in two coolers filled with ice in order to kill  and then clean them for the freezer. We put them in the coolers at 11:00 am and started cleaning them at 2:00 pm as many of them were still alive. Those that were still living we returned to coolers which still had plenty of ice in them, my son got tired of cleaning and waiting at 4:00 pm. There were still 11 barely alive so I put them in a kiddy pool, within an hour they were right-side up and slowly swimming. The next day they were acting normal and chasing one another so I put these back in the large FT in a floating cage to use them next year as breeders. Five hours in ice water confirmed to me that these tilapia are the most forgiving and hardest to kill fish that I have kept in my 60 years of fish raising.

I'm hoping I can get some help here with my domestic violence problem.  And my fighting females.  What do you do if your fish don't get along?  And does anyone out there have a peaceful tank? 

A week ago I began separating my fish into different tanks and I separated a colony with 1 male and 4 females.  It's a 55 gallon tank.  Two of the females are already holding eggs in their mouths but it sure is NOT a peaceful tank.  I put a divider in so that the 2 females holding eggs would be a little safer, but even they are chasing each other around in there.  The male is going at one of the females and she is getting injuries.  Her fin is getting tattered and she's getting marks on her.  Is this because she isn't submitting?  Should I remove her?  There is a flower pot and a PVC pipe on each side. 

Any advice would be great.  Maybe I just need to add more PVC pipes.  Or maybe I should just divorce this little family apart and try another male.

At what length should they start breeding?

I maintain a 20 gallon aquarium and a 40 gallon aquarium, plus I have a hand built 330 gallon tank,  a 100 gallon stock watering tank and 3  275 gallon metal framed polly tanks. In July 2011,  I purchased 220 fingerlings.  It is a learning experience,  from July until Nov I lost 12 to 18 fish in my aquariums due to ammonia and over crowding.  In November a disaster hit killing all the fish but about 30 survivors over 3 tanks.  What had happened, was I had over looked that the fish were growing.  When I started all 220 fish were put in my 330 gallon tank.  Because the 100 gallon tank is plumbed into the same system as the 330 gallon tank and used to feed 4 of my 4x8 ft grow troughts, my concern was the need for about 40 lbs of fish to feed my plants.  In October I aquired my 275 gallon polly tanks and move a half a dozen fish into one of them. I also became consumed with maintaining water tempature and buying water heaters, as the night time tempatures became cooler.

What was happening was uneaten food was accumalateing in the bottom of my 330 gallon tank and fermenting. Suddenly there was a major ammonia bloom killing the majority of the fish in the 330 gallon tank.  After draining the tank and cleaning it and salvaging less than a dozen fish, I purchased several 70 GPH fountain pumps from LOWES at about $20 each.  These pumps have built in spunge filters.  These pumps are suspended about 18 inches from the bottom  of the tanks and discharged directly into the grow troughts. They do an execelent job of removing suspended uneaten fish food. Keeping the water clear.  I make a point of cleaning the filters every 3 days.

The claim is tilapia need 5 gallons of water per mature fish.  I feel better with 7 gallons minimum and as much as 10 gallons per fish.

In March the half a dozen fish in my polly tank began to reproduce.  I caught the new fry and move them to my 20 gallon aquarium. However when these guys grew to about 1 inch, when I added additional fry, the older ones immediately attacked the new little ones eating them.  So I then moved  these month to 6 week old fingerlings to the 40 gallon aquarium.  Freeing up the 20 gallon aquairum for new fry.

Last week I moved 109  3 month old fingerlings from my 40 gallon aquarium into my 3rd and last 275 gallon polly tank.  The last two days I have harvested about 60 new fry from my 330 gallon tank and moved them to the 20 gallon aquarium.  Point here is I believe fry and fingerlings need to be seperated until at least 3 months old.  At which point the fingerlings seem to ignore the new fry.  But for survial of the fry they ned to be keep seprate for their first 6 weeks.

I am planning on start selling the fingerlings via a local co-op in about another month. I am also planning on adding 2 more of the 275 gallon polly tanks.  I have a 550 gallon Kiddie pool, I will look to erect and use to wharehouse fingerlings I have for sale. This fall I will start to harvest some of the mature fish for my own use.  

 

This has been a crazy winter here in central Florida, my tilapia start spawning right after Christmas. Its my third year with them in an above ground pool outside and unheated. This cycling of warm days and cold days my water stayed above 50 degrees. The fry are almost an inch right now, they aren't growing as fast in the cooler water. I'm going to put some sunfish in the tank since I've already got enough for this year. If this keeps up it should be a banner year for growing tilapia.



Larry Reinhardt said:

This has been a crazy winter here in central Florida, my tilapia start spawning right after Christmas. Its my third year with them in an above ground pool outside and unheated. This cycling of warm days and cold days my water stayed above 50 degrees. The fry are almost an inch right now, they aren't growing as fast in the cooler water. I'm going to put some sunfish in the tank since I've already got enough for this year. If this keeps up it should be a banner year for growing tilapia.

Guess I dropped my message... I was going to ask about the 50 degree temperature. I thought that was far below the fish' tolerance.

Read my post on June 24 and you will see that they are much more tolerant than advertised. The ones that spawned are from the 11 survivors.

As you can see Blue tilapia have been living in central Florida waters for 50 years.Through some very cold winters I personally raised them on my commercial fish farm from mid 1980's to 1990's in above ground unheated swimming pools.

Clips from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and USGS- United States Geological Survey fact sheet.

Widespread and abundant in Florida; found in fertile lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and canals. It is tolerant of saltwater and found in some near shore marine habitats, such as Tampa Bay.

 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.

In Florida  3,000 fish stocked in a series of phosphate pits for aquatic plant control experiments at the Pleasant Grove Research Station in Hillsborough County in August 1961 (Crittenden 1965; Courtenay et al. 1974; Courtenay and Hensley 1979a). The tilapia later spread and reproduced, and subsequent attempts to eradicate it failed (Langford et al. 1978; Hale et al. 1995). The species is now considered the most widespread foreign species in Florida. It has been reported or collected in more than 20 Florida counties, and is established in most of these (Buntz and Manooch 1969; Courtenay et al. 1974, 1984, 1986, 1991; Burgess et al. 1977; Foote 1977; Langford et al. 1978; Courtenay and Hensley 1979a; Kushlan 1986; Loftus and Kushlan 1987; Zale 1987; museum specimens; Nico 2005; Charlotte Harbor NEP; International Game Fishing Association 2000). The northernmost established population in Florida is in Lake Alice in Gainesville, Alachua County, where the fish has been present since about 1969 or perhaps earlier (Burgess et al. 1977). This species also is reproducing in saline waters of Tampa Bay (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Courtenay et al. 1986).  It has also been collected in Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park (Tilmant 1999; Loftus 2004).  It was collected from a pond at Musgrove Plantation on St. Simons Island, Glynn County,

Good Day - my two cents here.  All of my spawns have been by acciddent.  The norms, there have been none.  I think water temperature is the most consistent parameter.  I have had them spawn in overcrowded sitations, many males to 1 female it seems, different water qualities, salinities, etc..  My biggest limitation is sourcing the females.  I have a mixture of blues and reds that have interbred somewhat - you get some cool colorings by the way.  If anyone has a good and tried way to sex these fish I would be grateful.

Something to keep in mind is not all blue tilapia are created equal. The fish you get from central Florida waters are able to survive colder temperatures than the ones from south Florida, mother nature has been culling them for decades. I've always promoted survival of the fittest so I didn't pamper them with heated water so naturally the more cold tolerant survived and spawned.

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