(ON A BUDGET)
Member of the American Aquatics Growers Association & Cooperative
So, now you have a breeding colony set up and the females are having babies like crazy. You need to make a decision about what your goals are going to be.....raising and selling fingerlings, raising and selling breeding colonies and fingerlings, raising the fish to size and selling them or keeping them for yourself or any combination of these things. I, personally, decided to fill a niche of selling fingerlings and holding back a percentage of the fry to grow up to 3-5 inches and then setting up young breeder colonies and selling those. I may at some point set up a grow out tank to produce some protein for my family in the form of Tilapia filets but it is very rewarding to see the babies of your first breeder colony producing babies of their own.
This is a photo of the first breeder colony I set up with babies from my original breeder colony.
I have some vision problems which make sexing a 4 inch Tilapia nearly impossible so I simply
put 7 random fish together. By the next day, the male was obvious and at 7 days, 2 of the females
were carrying eggs. I sold this breeder colony and harvested the fry on the day my customers
showed up to pick them up. They were really happy going home to North Carolina with a male,
6 females and 500 or so baby fish!! I even threw in an extra female..they will end up with so
many babies they won't know what to do. The second photo is of the male of this young breeder
colony. Notice the difference in coloration......he is in breeding mode!
In the video of my fish house, you can see what I needed to have in place to do things the way I
wanted to do them. Your facility could be larger or smaller depending upon what you want to
accomplish. There is no right or wrong answer, your system will keep evolving as you zero in on
what works best. My suggestion is to leave some room to expand because as you get more and more
fish you will need too. TRUST ME!!
Let's Talk Tilapia Food
Feeding your fish will become one your most time consuming duties. You want your fish to grow quickly and be healthy and strong so you need to feed them a high quality feed. This is what works for me.. Beginning with my breeding colony, these guys are treated a little differently than all the other fish. I don't feed them as much or as often because I don't want them to outgrow their tank (my breeder colony is in a 55 gallon aquarium). I feed all my fish a diet of Spirulina/Veggie Algae Discs as Fry then once they are a fingerling (1 inch) they are changed over to a diet of Purina AquaMax.
Now, when your fry are harvested and you have them in a fry tank, they will not begin to forage for food until about the third day, so just let them get use to their surroundings and use to you walking around your fry room and staring at them.. On the third day, drop about half an algae disc in the tank and see how they react. If they start nibbling on the disc, they are ready to begin eating. Ok, once the first half algae disc is eaten, throw in another. You will have to determine how many discs to put in the tank based on the number of fry and the size of the fry. If I have a brood of 500 fry, I will throw in two algae discs on the third day and see how long it takes for the fry to eat it. I only feed the fry twice a day, so make sure you are putting in enough to keep them busy eating until the next meal. Algae discs do not foul the water nearly as quickly as using fry powder (which is really easy to overfeed). The babies will eat this until you graduate them up to AquaMax 300 (about an inch long).
Once your fry become fingerlings, you can change their feed to AquaMax 300. AquaMax 300 and 400 both contain 50% protein and all the vitamins and minerals for fast and continuous growth. AquaMax 300 should be fed to your fish between 1 inch and 5 inches at 5 inches you can change them over to Aquamax 400 for a while. Once the fish get to between 6 and 7 inches, I start feeding them Aquamax Pond Fish 4000 that contains just the right formulation to finish growing your fish to harvest size. At this stage they will start to thicken up and put on weight......You will be surprised how much they will change in both shape and size over the next few months, they will become deep from top to bottom, thick from side to side and put on another 6 to 9 inches in length. Stand back when you throw in a hand full of 4000 or you will have to change your wet shirt!
All the Tilapia Food mentioned above is on the Products Page!
A word about another product I use
Because I want my fish to be all natural and free of all chemicals, I also use a product called AquaLife Complete. This product is made right here in East Tennessee and is approved by the FDA for use with food fishes. This product has been an absolute life saver on many occasions. It is helpful in a lot of different ways and by using this product, I have saved my fish many times. Here are some of the listed benefits of this product.
Promotes Healing Relieves Stress Replaces Slime Coat Removes Chlorine, Ammonia, & Chloramines
Detoxifies Nitrite & Heavy Metals Adds Essential Electrolytes Boosts Alkalinity Works Instantly
And I am hear to tell you that everything this product advertises, it does!!!
Aqualife Complete is for sale on the Products Page
Be a Mentor, and a Teacher
Of all the things I can tell you in this small web page, this is the most important. First, be a Mentor! If you are lucky enough to have a son or daughter, a friend, a customer, or as in my case a grandson (or daughter) that expresses an interest in your new enterprise, teach them what you have learned, show them and explain the whys and hows of what you do. It will be a pleasure that not many people get to experience when you have (or want) to leave and you don't have to worry about your facility because you know that it will be taken care of when they say " go ahead, I got it covered" and you know that they do....
Second, be a teacher! A lot of people who want to raise Tilapia don't know a lot about it, or have never even kept fish before. Teach them what you know!! It is in your best interest as a supplier of these fish for these folks to have a working knowledge of what is to come. As an example, I always tell my customers who are buying these fish to grow out for food that once these little guys get large enough to breed, they are going to breed. And. that though most of the fry will be eaten in a community tank setting, the fry are resourceful and if there is a way to stay alive, they will find it and stay hidden and grow large enough that they can "join the herd" in a very short time resulting in overpopulation. Never assume that anyone has even the slightest idea of how to keep a tropical fish alive.......you will find that a lot of them don't. Give your customers a card and tell them to tell their friends about what they are doing and who to call to get their fish. Word of mouth is the best advertising you can possibly get...
Check out my Youtube Channel & Facebook page "Mineral Springs Tilapia" for lots more instructional videos!
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