Tilapia is a highly appreciated fish classified under the genus Oreochromis, and is the third most popular fish in aquaculture. It is omnivorous and grows very fast in warm water. The demand for this large-sized fish is very high in the United States. In fact, more than 90 percent of the global production is imported to U.S. If you are interested in its small-scale farming, all you need is a pond and basic fish keeping skills.
As expected, commercial farming of this fish calls for special settings and sophisticated techniques. Nevertheless, small-scale rearing is very simple and requires less manpower. Every enthusiast who has succeeded in maintaining aquarium fish, can consider this. This will help you enjoy a continuous supply of fresh, organic fish.
There is no specific technique as such. You can rear it in cages, tanks, or ponds. A major drawback with this breed is the high rate of reproduction. Hence, to overcome this issue, keeping only the male fish is a practical solution. However, you can introduce a few female fish to breed your own fish stock.
Setting Up the Pond
Firstly, take a note of the capacity of the pond. The ideal ratio is: 1 pound tilapia biomass per half cubic foot of water. In a thousand gallon pond, you can rear 264 fish, each weighing 1 pound. Likewise, determine the pond size according to the quantity of fish you will be rearing.
Check the Parameters
Just like in any type of fish farming, aquaculture of tilapia also requires optimal levels of dissolved oxygen, temperature, carbon dioxide, nitrogenous compounds, and so on. Natural processes help in maintaining these parameters, especially when the fish is in the fingerling stage. As the fish grow larger, regular water exchange and aeration system are required to maintain water quality.
In small-scale rearing, the common pond inhabitants serve as a biological filter system. For example; algae, aquatic plants, plankton, and flora together help in converting the fish wastes into simpler substances. Thus, the water chemistry remains in a nearly balanced state, which is tolerable by the fish.
In aquaculture, three species of tilapia are commonly kept. They are: Blue (O. aureus), Nile (O. niloticus), and Mozambique (O. aureus). Out of these, the Nile variant is considered the best choice for farming at home.
This fish is very versatile in terms of its food. It can thrive solely on fish pellets. However, to ensure optimal growth, you should provide seaweed, vegetables, and meat. A stringent control over the fish's nutrition is crucial for higher production rate. After all, the growth of the fish depends on the type of foods and the amount you feed them.
Regarding pond maintenance, the fish food input, population of fish, and capacity of the pond should be monitored properly. In short, the quality of water is negatively affected by fish food and wastes generated by the fish. Hence, feeding in correct quantities is essential. For cleaning fish wastes, aeration system and water exchange are beneficial.
Precisely speaking, the thumb rules for optimal growth and high yields are maintaining water quality and ensuring good nutrition. If you are well-acquainted with these factors, you will definitely grow a good farm.