Friday, March 2, 2012

Blue Tilapia 101

Well, the 100 Blue Tilapia fingerlings are now enjoying their wide open pond at the Compound.   We should see the results of this effort in around 5-6 months, when they will  be around 2lbs, or "market size", per the fish farmer we bought them from.  They consider a "big catch" to be around 18 inches or 3-1/2 - 4 pounds, with records around 10lbs.  Since they typically live around 5 years, I guess over time they just keep growing.

Tilapia are native to Africa, but through some poor management at  aquaculture operations, they were "accidentally" released into the waters of Texas and Florida.  I guess it's better than having pythons floating around in our waterways, like South Florida.   Could you even imagine coming across one of those creepy crawlers?!
Picture found at (cool site):

They can also handle temperatures down to around 50 degrees, but their appetites and growth will slow down.  We purchased some floating fish food, primarily protein, as a supplement  from their typical herbivore diet.  Good buy algae!  A 50 pound bag was around $18.00.  This food will also help the other tiny fish that magically appeared last summer all on their own.  By the way, they number in the thousands now!

The female Blue Tilapia are mouth brooders.  Not all species of Tilapia are mouth brooders.   Once the eggs are fertilized she collects the eggs and holds them in her mouth for 3-5 days until they hatch.  Then the fry's are let out to feed, until they are large enough to be on their own, in about 8-10 days.   The fingerlings  we deposited into the pond were no more than 3/4" to 1" in length.   We were told they are good breeders, and our initial purchase will likely be our only purchase.  Our pond is around 40 feet long by 30 feet wide by 4 feet deep.   That's around 35,000 gallons of water.  The calculation on how many Tilapia we could fit into our pond, is 1 fish per 2.5 - 3 gallons.   That's around 10,000 to 14,000 fish!  We are in no way committed to growing that many, but just knowing the number is staggering.  I also wouldn't crowd them to such a small personal space, I'm just a bit more humane.   A full grown female Blue Tilapia will spawn 3 or more times per year with 1500 to 4500 eggs produced each year.   Their reproduction skills outrank rabbits!

We'll let you know how good our first fish fry turns out!

Here are a couple of sites I visited to learn this information and more.

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