TILAPIA FISH FARMING
Tilapia fish farming has become one of the most important business today. Worldwide production is increasing. Because, it is very versatile and is tolerant of a variety of aquaculture environments; it can be farmed in brackish or saltwater and also in pond or cage systems. Tilapia don't ask for much. In fact, they only have five basic needs: clean water, oxygen, food, light and room to swim. Give your tilapia these things, and they will stay healthy and grow fast.
- Clean water: Never ever use 100% reverse osmosis water for tilapia farming purposes. Aside of the fact that RO water will destroy some testing equipment, like pH meter probes, it has no buffers for pH fluctuations. A carbonate hardness of between 150 and 350 ppm is recommended. Fish keepers tend to get into a bad habit of adjusting the pH level of their ponds to ideal, by introducing new water with a significantly higher or lower pH. Their hope is, that when the new water is added to the old water, the different pH levels will mix, and result in the target pH. This is the equivalent of throwing phosphoric acid and potassium carbonate at someone in the hopes that the two will cancel each other out, and achieve some perfect balance. Phosphoric acid and Citric acid should be used to lower pH and Potassium carbonate should be used to raise pH. Many acids and bases are dangerous to fish and humans. Always use food grade acids and bases. So the obvious question is: What is the ideal pH level for tilapia? The easy answer is 8.0, but there are some common situations that make 8.0 impossible. Many plants, in an aquaponic system, prefer a pH closer to 6.0, and since the fish and plants share the same water, a pH level of 6 or 7 (point) something becomes the ideal.
- Oxygen: Nile tilapia need water with a dissolved oxygen content above three parts per million (ppm) and Blue tilapia need their oxygen above seven ppm. In a pond with a biomass of one pound for every 3.74 gallons of water, surface aeration will normally keep the dissolved oxygen level within a healthy range. If the tilapia farming is being done in nets, suspended at the surface of a large body of water, such as a lake or very wide river, no surface aeration is normally necessary. However, if the suspended nets are floating in smaller bodies of water, such as ponds, surface aeration is still recommended. Biomass, water temperature and light; affects the oxygen content: For each cubic meter of water there should be a stock density of about two pounds tilapia. As the water heats up, the amount of dissolved oxygen decreases. When the water is illuminated, phytoplankton begins its photosynthesis, which gives oxygen. This oxygen is readily dissolved in water and can significantly increase the amount of oxygen supplied to the tilapa in the afternoon. However, this is only temporary and as soon as the sun goes down or the lights go out, the phytoplankton stops producing oxygen. The result may be an oxygen drop to levels lethal to tilapia.
- Food: Raising tilapia is profitable in terms of feed. because tilapia is a fish that can grow with lower feed quality than other fish. and because they contain high protein, they are growing fast. What does Tilapia eat? Tilapia show very strong tendencies towards becoming a vegetarian. The tooth and jaw structure of a tilapia is designed to graze in moss and other aquatic plants. To determine how much food to feed tilapia, you need to know three things: The water temperature, the average weight of each tilapia, and the the biomass; which is just a fancy word for the total weight of the living organisms per cubic foot of water, or for our purposes, just the total weight of all of the tilapia. As the water gets colder, tilapia metabolize food slower and grow slower so they need less food. The opposite is also true as the water gets warmer. During the early stages of growth, up to about 2 ounces, tilapia are little eating machines that can devour a much higher percentages of their body weight per day. But as they grow, that percentage goes down. Obviously, since you don’t feed tilapia individually, it’s helpful to know the total weight of all of the tilapia in your pond, so that everyone gets to eat their fill.
- Light: As for the light; For tilapia, 18 hours of light should be provided per day. Because the longer that tilapia have light, the longer they will stay active; the more they will eat, and the faster they will grow.
- Room to swim: Tilapia tolerate crowded conditions better than most species of fish, but they do have their limits. Increased numbers of tilapia can easily deplete the shared oxygen supply faster than it is being replaced. Oxygen that hovers at barely survivable minimums can cause damage to organs and other sensitive tissues, leading to illness. Production strategies for tilapia range from the simple to the very complex. Relatively simple tilapia farming strategies are characterized by little control over water quality and food supply and by low fish farm yields. As greater control over water quality and fish nutrition is imposed and fish stocking levels are increased, the fish yield per unit area increases. Across this wide range of fish farming methods, there is a progression from low to high management intensity. Commercially grown tilapia are almost exclusively male. Being prolific breeders, female tilapia in the ponds or tanks will result in large populations of small fish. Whole tilapia can be processed into skinless, boneless (PBO) fillets: the yield is from 30% to 37%, depending on fillet size and final trim.