Way back in June I wrote a blog about starting a tilapia pond in my backyard. http://whatifitistoday.blogspot.com/2012/06/more-on-tilapia-farming.html I have been down in San Diego since that time but didn't have the opportunity to actually pick up any fish. I am heading down to San Diego on Friday and on Saturday I'm going to pick up some tilapia.
I don't know how many I am going to get, probably between 10 and 20. We have a 10 gallon fish tank in the kitchen that would be a good place to raise the fingerlings until they get big enough to go into the pool. The instructions say you can raise 12 fish in a 55 gallon barrel and my pool (Rubbermaid stock pond) is 625 gallons. This means I should be able to raise over 100 fish at a time.
Instead, I'm going to try my hand at raising the smaller amount and trying to breed them on my own. There was another site http://bornactivist.com/archives/esondido-tilapia-farm/ which said if you put 5 or 6 females and a male into a 55 gallon tank with some 3" PVC pipe to hide in they will breed. I think I have a 55 gallon aquarium in my barn. When my Oklahoma friend picked up her stuff that she was storing here for 3 years some things were left. I'm pretty sure the fish tank is one of the items still in the barn. (That's terrible that I can't remember).
Some of the things I'm reading say to put chicken manure into the water a week or two before the fish are put in. Other sites don't mention that at all. Some sites also state that you can add salt to the water since the fish can live in either salt or fresh water. The higher the salinity, the less fry you will have. Since I want them to reproduce I won't put salt in the water. If I have too many fry I will scoop them up and put them into the ducks swimming pools. That should make for some very happy ducks.
My biggest problem will be keeping the pool warm enough. During the winter we get days where the animal's water containers get a layer of ice forming. That certainly is a lot colder than the 70s-80s that tilapia would prefer. They can have cooler water, they will just not grow as quickly. I can put plastic on top of the pool to help heat up the water during the day. I wonder if I put hay around the sides of the pool if that will help keep it warmer during the night. I know I can dig a hole and sink it partially into the ground. The 50+ temp of the soil would keep the water from freezing. The problem with that is my pool has a faucet and hose attached to the side of the pool about two inches from the bottom of the pool. I put this in to make it easy to remove water. I just open the faucet and the water will drain into my garden bed, providing lots of fertilizer water for the garden. I then refill the pool with well water. If the pool gets partially buried I won't be able to use the faucet and hose.
I'm really excited about finally starting my fish farm adventure. I know some of the local schools raise tilapia. I just haven't had time to check out what they are doing. So I'll go into this semi-blindly. At least the fish aren't expensive, just in case I make a fatal error in this trial. I'm sure it will go well enough, unless my ducks discover my fishpond!