Select a site where water is accessible throughout the year. It should be well exposed to sunlight, which hastens the growth and multiplication of small aquatic plants called algae (”lumot”), which serve as food for the tilapia. More important, it should not be flooded during rainy season.
Build an inexpensive geodesic dome which will house the pool for raising the tilapia. Tilapia is excellent and much revered tropical fish which will primarily eat the algae you grow right inside the pool. In order for the tilapia to grow to an edible size, which is about one-half pound, a growing season that's at least six-months long in water that is normally well above 70 degrees F. will be required. The dome provides these high temperatures by trapping the heat from the sun, which is stored in the pool and transformed into algae growth. The fish will die if the temperature drops much below 60 degrees F. Their vulnerability to cold is one of the reasons we chose this fish. The dome is a very effective heat trap and the pool is quite an efficient heat retainer.
If you want to use a fish pond instead of a pool, then do so. The size of the pond should be determined by the number of fish you want to raise. A good guide is 2-3 mature fish per square meter of water surface. The depth of the pond should be one meter with water not less than three-fourths meter deep. Manage the water so that it will not flow continuously through the pond.
Fill tank with warm, filtered water. Temperatures vary depending on the species of fish you are trying to grow, but 75 degrees F is an average comfortable temperature for many fish.
Run the water through a charcoal filter if you have chlorinated water. Water should have a pH level around 6.5 to 7. If water is too acidic, add lime; if too alkaline, add gypsum. Water should also be tested for heavy metals, as these can kill fish. If heavy metals are found, install a filter to reduce the levels. Install an aerator and be sure that it is working properly.
Have the pool, water and filters running for at least 2 weeks before adding fish. This will neutralize the bacteria and condition the water.
When the fish are delivered in their plastic bags, place the bags with the fish into the pool water to accustom them to the temperature change. After a few hours, release the fish into the water.
For best results, build or use a floating feed rack to feed the fish with little waste. (You may also feed by putting the food on top of the water.) Commercial fish feeds, tailored to the individual needs of specific fish breeds, are available, or some fish, such as Tilapia and Carp, may thrive on algae and grass clippings along with small doses of animal manure.
The main diet of the tilapia will be the algae which will grow within the pool. After the pool is filled in the spring, one-gallon samples of water from a number of local ponds should be added. This makes it possible to seed your pool with a variety of algae species.
You will also have to provide fertilization such as horse manure. Many of you will have cow, chicken or rabbit manure which can be used instead of horse manure. The weight and source of all fertilizer used must be recorded. It is very important not to over fertilize, as too many nutrients could deprive the water of its oxygen. Be careful!
Feed daily during morning and afternoon at one portion of the pond. Supplement feeds with fine rice bran, bread crumbs, earthworms, termites, and others at an initial rate of 5% of the total body weight of the fish. Feed the fish around the same time every day, and increase their feed as they grow. (They should eat around 3 percent of their weight daily.)
To harvest your fish, use a dip net for single fish or a drag net for multiple fish at a time.
If you liked this page, you might also be interested in this page about Raising Goats.
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