Tilapia Farming in the Backyard pt 2

Like I mentioned before, this is all from earlier in the year. I just now got round to posting some of this stuf for my buddies.

The original six tilapia that had been housed in a 35 gallon aquarium inside were now relocated to the 650 gallon pool. The fish were netted and placed into plastic bags, much like regular tropical fish, and allowed to float in the pool in order to acclimate them to the water temperature of the pool. After about a half hour, the fish were released into their new home. These fish were about two inches long when they were released into the clear pool water.

That night one of the tilapia was lost after it jumped out of the pool, so now 5 fish remained. They seemed right at home with the school of little minnows that had occupied the pool during the prior week. Things were going along just fine with the older fish in the pool and the new babies that were occupying the 35 gallon tank inside the house. We figured the current stock would be edible some time around the end of the year.

The babies (I will call them the 2nd generation) were growing rapidly in the 35 gallon tank. They seemed to have bottomless pits for stomachs and would eat just about anything offered. Romaine lettuce seemed to be their favorite. We would simply place a few leaves into the tank and the little guys would chow. They would eat just about any type of fruit, vegetables and even meat.

The 2nd generation behaved differently than the tilapia originally purchased from the farm. They always moved in schools, where as the originals were far more independent. They also were far more aggressive in their feeding habits. These little guys attacked food placed in the tank as if they were never going to eat again. The 2nd
generation fish were being fed 3 to 4 times daily, and they were growing like weeds.

As the 2nd generation was growing inside, changes were taking place within the outside pool. Although there were only 5 originals and the minnows in the outside pool, the water was quickly becoming dark green. The original filter that came with the pool could not handle the strain of the algae growing in the pool and subsequently burned up. It was replaced with a spare Magnum salt water tank pump. This pump is currently what is filtering the water today, but the water is still dark green with very limited visibility. A few natural barley solutions have been used in an attempt to clear the water, but they have had minimal results.

After a few weeks of feeding and observing the originals in the outdoor pool, we noticed that the fish were coning to the surface and what appeared to be getting air. We deduced that this was an oxygen issue, potentially caused by the algae within the pool. Knowing the algae were very difficult to control we turned to aerating the pool. A pond fountain was purchased and placed into the pool. That fountain is shown in the picture. This really seemed to do the trick and the fish were no longer surfacing, with the exception of feeding time.

After just a few weeks, and a few adjustments, everything seemed to be functioning properly and then it happened…the pond was full of more baby tilapia! We now had three generations of fish and our total stock was increasing at a rapid place. We were now well over 60 fish in a matter of a few months, at least that is what we could account for, we had no idea how many more were located in the darker depths of the pool.

The 2nd generation remained in the home, while the originals and 3rd generation were growing in the pool.
The indoor tank of 2nd gen’s was becoming very cloudy as the occupants grew larger. The decision was made to relocate half of the 2nd generation to the outdoor pool and keep the other half indoors for breeding purposes.
After moving half of the 2nd gen’s to the pool, we decided to net some of the very small 3rd generation babies and
relocate them to the indoor tank. This turned out to be a bad idea. The 2nd generation tilapia ate all five of the
babies within 10 minutes…lesson learned.

These fish do not stop breeding. By the end of July we lost track of the original 3 generations as all the fish were growing rapidly. Babies were constantly being netted and relocated. In all we probably have at least 100 tilapias…all started with the 5 originals. We are certain that by now the 2nd generation fish are reproducing and we are currently experimenting with different methods of keeping the baby fish away from the older ones.

As I mentioned before, these fish can really produce and they grow very fast. We have not yet eaten any of the stock, but that day is fast approaching. Stay tuned for part 3…