Backyard Tilapia

The following article may be somewhat more advanced for the beginning prepper.  Please do not be discouraged in your preparedness journey by assuming you are not far along enough in your preps or that this is a must have.  What you are about to read is a really effective way to produce home-grown protein in the event of SHTF.  It also can provide a supplement to your daily food needs during calmer times.

I would also like to comment that I am in no way an expert in raising fish.  A lot of what we accomplished was through trial and error combined with internet research.  The intent of the article is to outline what we did, and to describe our successes and failures.

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According to Wikipedia  “Tilapia is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapia inhabit a variety of freshwaterhabitats, including shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Historically, they have been of major importance in artisan fishing in Africaand the Levant, and are of increasing importance in aquaculture.”

Tilapia really made it big on the scene here in the United States a few years ago.  A fish people never heard of suddenly was appearing on restaurant menus throughout the country.  Tilapia farms started popping up and all of a sudden this hardy little fish made quite a name for itself.


Tilapias are a very resilient fish and man can they reproduce. A female fish of birthing age can produce extremely large quantities of baby fish every few months.  Interestingly, the momma fish will protect the newly hatched fish by keeping them in her mouth (called mouth brooding).  This is necessary because the other fish in the pond will eat the babies.  Even once the mother releases the babies, they are fair game to more mature Tilapia. They have amazingly
big appetites and can survive through some really harsh conditions. I have even read articles where people in Haiti have begun raising Tilapia in little puddles that were dug by hand for the purpose of raising their own food.

In our neck of the woods invasive species are a very big concern to our local environment.  The warm waters
surrounding us are filled with a number of different and dangerous species that can wreak havoc on natural ecosystems.  Whether it is Burmese Pythons or Snakehead fish, all these foreign species need to be closely monitored.  The same holds true for the Tilapia.  Down here the only type of Tilapia that is allowed to be sold and raised is the Blue Tilapia.  This type of Tilapia is already present in Florida canals and waterways and they are not restricted.

Determined to try and raise our own, we decided to give it a try. If successful we could produce our own source of protein and eat fish that we know are not contaminated by any man-made substance.  Here’s how we did it…

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In March of this year one of our members celebrated her birthday by purchasing 7 small Tilapia from a local farmer.  These fish were bought for less than 10 bucks.  The newly acquired fish were brought home and put into a 35 gallon aquarium in the home.  One fish died overnight but 6 healthy Tilapia remained and thrived. These fish were small and we figured we had plenty of time to get their new home built and ready for them.

The time we had the fish inside their home, we had a good chance to watch their habits and learn what these fish liked and disliked.  When it came to food, there was very little they did not eat.  We gave them everything and anything from lettuce to cheerios.  As the fish grew bigger they became more of a stress on the water within the tank.  It was becoming much more difficult to keep the water clear.  We found out later that these guys don’t really care how dark the water is…as a matter of fact we believe they prefer the water like this.

Much to our surprise, after about one month, the 35 gallon aquarium was dotted with a few dozen babies.  Because of the ferocious appetite of the species, we expedited construction of the pond.


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The first step in the process was site selection.  Two of the members of the group decided to set up the project in their back yard.  An existing orchid / green house was modified to fit the pond.  The screened-in enclosure had to be modified and extended outward in order to fit the structure that would be the pond.  This required some moderate
building with pressure treated lumber and screen installation.

The floor of the house needed to be leveled out to accommodate the new pond.  Using several bags of playground sand, the ground beneath the pond was prepared and leveled.

A small swimming pool was purchased from the local Walmart. The pool holds 650 gallons of water and came packaged with a small filter.  The members paid 80 dollars for the pool / pump combo.  In our experience we learned that these fish would probably thrive in just about any size pool of this nature.  We elected to go with this pool because we wanted to raise many fish at one time.  The pool was assembled according to the instructions and filled with hose water.  The filter was turned on and allowed to sit for several days in order to make the water safe for the new inhabitants.


The first fishes released into the pool were a group of minnows purchased from the local pet store.  These little guys
didn’t realize it but they were the guinea pigs.  This was in March of this year, and I am happy to report that all of these minnows are alive and well (and huge).  With the water apparently safe, it was time to add some Tilapia.

The remaining adult Tilapia in the 35 gallon aquarium were netted and relocated to the backyard pool.  This is where
the adventure really began.

Keep an eye out for the second article on this topic.  I will be posting it soon.  As I metioned earlier, we are far from experts in this area, but so far we have had great success.  I you are interested at all in this type of self-sustainment activity please do not hesitate to ask questions in the blog or even drop us an e-mail.

Spe Labor Levis
GA