It is possible to grow tilapia to eat in your back garden. It is possible to produce a lot of tilapia in a small pond and it is a cheap way to grow your own food. It can be a very good addition to your vegetable garden and can help you produce a larger percentage of your food at home. It is easy to grow a few hundred pounds of tilapia in your backyard each year. It is even possible to grow a lot more than that.
What is Tilapia
Tilapia is a name used for a number of different cichlid fish species. Some but not all of these species belong to the Genus Tilapia. All Tilapia species are native to Africa or the Arabian peninsula. Many species have been introduced to waters around the world. You can find several species of Tilapia in Florida and other parts of southern USA.
When talking about Tilapia as a food fish then we are usually talking about one of three species (or a manmade hybrid).
- The Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is the most commonly kept species.
- Blue Tilapia (Oreochromis aureus ) is another commonly kept species.
- Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) another popular species
Hybrids often grow faster than the natural species and are therefore preferred in aquaculture. They grow very fast and is often harvestable in less than 6 months.
Tilapia is very easy to breed. They are mouth brooders and the female will keep the eggs and fry in her mouth until they are ready to fend for themselves. Adult fish that are kept together will breed. You do not have to do anything special for them to breed. Please note that some hybrids are infertile (or a single sex). If you use one of these hybrids then you are going to need to buy new fingerlings to stock your pond after harvest. If you use a fertile strain then you can harvest fish regularly and allow them to replenish themselves. This is the most hands of low work solution. Keeping an aquarium with spawning pairs is a more efficient way to reproduce them and produce new fingerlings.
Tilapia will eat anything and they are very easy to keep. They can be fed food scraps, grains or specially made food. They type of food is less important as long as they get enough food to grow quickly.
You can not keep aquatic plants with Tilapia. They will get eaten. A few tilapia in a pond with a lot of plants can work since the plants will be able to grow quicker then they get eaten. Plants will never be able to survive in a heavily stocked pond.
It is possible to grow tilapia by feeding the tilapia the feces of other animals such as pics. This will produce a lot of algae that the tilapia will eat. Using feces to grow Tilapia is completely safe as long as they are moved to clean water and given another diet for the last two weeks before they are harvested. With this said. Using feces to feed them is not recommended in a garden since it looks unsightly and can produce unpleasant smells. IBut it can be a great way to increase your income if you have a farm and a lot of feces.
Building a tilapia pond
Tilapias are very hardy fish and will do well in almost any pond. If you are building a garden pond for esthetical reasons than you can make it look any way you want it and the Tilapia will like it as long as it is at least 2 ft deep. If your primary goal is to grow tilapia, not to have a beautiful pond, then there are things you can do to make the pond more efficient for that purpose. There are plenty of guides online that will help you do that. The most important things to consider if you want to grow tilapia as efficiently as possible is that the ponds should be easy to clean, easy to do water changes in and heavily aerated. The best option for efficient breeding is usually an above ground bare bottom pond.
A less efficient passive option is usually better for most back gardens. A pond where you can harvest fish when you need them without much work. These ponds will produce enough for you but will not have the same yield as an optimized breeding system.