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#11749 - 02/23/05 05:24 PM fish cages
steve22 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/30/05
Posts: 10
Loc: iowa
how do I build one or where can I buy one?How big should it be what kind of fish and how many can you put in one?I have a source for walleye fry could I grow them to a decent size in a cage.What about catfish?ANY HELP WOULD BE APRECIATED.

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#11750 - 02/23/05 09:05 PM Re: fish cages
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12412
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
steve - do a search here using- fish cage - as your search words in many of the headings. I'm not sure where the topics were listed. You asked a lot of questions I will address a few briefly here. Maybe I can get the PBoss magazine editor to do a detailed story on fish cages; subscribe and stay tuned.

1. Fish cage fittings and kits are available from several supply houses. Internet search will no doubt give plenty of results. I think a website also may have been cited here too earlier. For kits and parts see www.aquaticeco.com and www.stoneycreekequip.com. Buying a cage, expect to pay $150-$450; build your own, depends on size, small one $30-40 (resourcefull minimum) probably closer to $50-80.

2. I build all my own cages which is much cheaper than a kit. I think this site has a pdf file that shows how to build a cage http://aquanic.org It may take some looking to find the info.

3. Cage size can be highly varible from small 2ft diax3'deep to large net pens. I use small cages abt thesize of a 55g barrel whereas Cecil uses big cages 4'x8'x4' deep.

4. Most any kind of fish can be raised in a cage. I have raised numerous types of fish in a cage. The main thing for a novice is to buy fish that are already trained to eat fish food. Training fish in a cage to eat artificial food can be tricky or frustrating without some experience. Expect to kill fish in your learning curve. Some fish adapt to cage life easier than others. Some fish have to be crowded at high density (8-12/cuft) to prevent them from fighting. I prefer to work with fish at lower density (3-5/cuft) in the cage to minimize health problems from crowding and water quality.

5. Walleye in a cage for a novice is very risky and difficult. Firstly you will need to find walleye fingerling trained on artificial food. Without knowledge and experience you will have much difficulty trying to raise this species esp starting with fry. Fry to "decent" size in a cage - 3 yrs to 13"-15".

6. Do your cage learning with an easy to raise fish like trout (fall winter) or bgill. Then move on to more difficult species.

7. Catfish can be tricky and are vulnerable to fungal disease esp when cage stocked in water below 68F. They are reported to fight at low densities.
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#11751 - 03/02/05 01:19 PM Re: fish cages
Rowly Offline
Member

Registered: 07/09/02
Posts: 257
Loc: London, Ontario, Canada
Bill and others:

How would you rate hybrid stripped bass for raising in terms of difficulty to raise from fingerling in a cage culture from small fingerling in the spring to release in the fall to a larger body of water and established fishery? Shortly, I will be constructing a 8'L x 4'W x 4' Deep cage to float at the end of my dock in the open lake water near shore. Can I expect 6" HSB by the fall for release if fed daily on a high protein pellet food? Any suggestion on food type and protein content etc.... Thanks.

Rowly

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#11752 - 03/02/05 01:41 PM Re: fish cages
Rowly Offline
Member

Registered: 07/09/02
Posts: 257
Loc: London, Ontario, Canada
Steve22:

From the research I've done....this is how I'm going to build my floating cage. I will be using either 1/4 " or 1/2" plastic netting from a roll that measures 49" W x50'L @ approx $1.55 ft for 1/4' mesh. In making the cage I will use 8- 3 way corner fittings and 4- 8' L of PVC pipe for the frame length and 7- 4' lengths for the width and depth of the cage and cross top piece for the top. Resulting in a 8' L x 4'W x 4' Deep cage. Use plastic electrical ties to attach the plastic netting to the sides and bottom/top of the 1 1/2" diameter PVC piping. I'm not sure if this sealed frame will float...but I may have to add some rigid insulation or something else to help it float a little above the surface water of my lake. Any possible suggestion on floating this cage is very welcome. Lastly, 2/3 of the top will be secured to the frame with the last 1/3 of the top hinged to open for feeding and fish removal. I will also, secure a floating feeding ring inside the cage to help keep the floating pellets in a defined area and easy monitoring of food intake. The hinged top will use 2 - "T" fitting and 4 elbows to frame the hinged lid. I hope this is of some help. Has anyone else built a cage similar to this and is it working good....regards

Rowly

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#11753 - 03/02/05 02:37 PM Re: fish cages
Theo Gallus Offline
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Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12373
Loc: Central Ohio
Rowly, I have very similar plans for a cage (which did not come to fruition last year due to lack of time). I plan to flood the tubing and use "noodles," flexible closed-cell plastic foam cylinders about 3" in diameter and about 6" long(swimming pool accessories), to float the cage. You could attach the noodles around the perimeter of the cage to the netting "skin" at whatever height you wanted, using the same cable ties you use to attach the skin to the frame. I think the noodles would also serve as your feed ring, if you want it to encompass the whole cage. You can pick up noodles (during pool season) around here for $1 to $2 at Walmart, etc.
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#11754 - 03/02/05 08:55 PM Re: fish cages
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12412
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
I have used the swimming "noodles" to help float my cages. Noodles come in two sizes 2" and 3" diameter. They work but they are not real durable compared to other things that I have used. It seems the ultraviolet light accelerates the rate of their decompostion which in my case; they last about 2 yrs. If you don't keep the cage in water all-year-round swim noodles may last longer than 2 yrs before they slowly start getting smaller.

I have had the best luck so far with 2 liter pop/soda bottles or clear plastic juice bottles or rectangular vegetable oil bottles. I wrap 2 loops of twine around the bottle; 1 at front end (neck) and 1 at back end. I put the twine/cord ends through the mesh of the cage at just below where I want the water line to be and cinch it tight with a good knot. Often the bottle is very close to the cage top and just below the top frame. The floats are not too pretty but they are very cheap and the plastic is very durable. Recycling centers have lots of bottle shapes to chose from. These will last 3 to 4+ years, yr-round in the water. Actually the bottle caps will always deteriorate faster than the plastic bottle. I have also used fabric softner and detergent bottles; they seem crack easily and leak after about 2yrs.

I have also used commercial, large sized, hard, foam, net floats. These are durable but costly. I like my plastic bottles just as well. Block foam pieces can be used as floats but may not be too durable depending on foam firmness. Muskrats will also chew on foam pieces.

On my cages, I usually have some sort of hard solid 1/2 top for shade for the fish. I suspect it may get intense in that shallow water during mid-summer. I bought a 4x4x4 commercial cage (INQUA Corp) one time and it had a solid hindged aluminum lid which is where my idea originated.

Also be aware that as the cage ages in the water it will get quite a bit heavier due to mostly algae growth build up on the cage. This weight will cause the cage to float deeper in the water so the amount of floatation should compensate for this added weight. Cecil has to routinely clean his cages. I "usually" do not have to clean cages for two reasons. I do not feed as much food&fish in each cage as Cecil. My rooted plants in the pond absorb lots of the nutrients from the caged fish and algae does not develop a heavy build up as rapidly as it does for Cecil. Every one usually needs to periodically clean the outside walls of the fish cage.

Large cages are harder to manage and work with esp when they are loaded with algae.

I may talk the PBoss editor (B.Lusk) about me writing a article about building fish cages. Send me pictures of your fish cages. Thanks.
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#11755 - 03/02/05 09:13 PM Re: fish cages
Bill Cody Offline
Moderator
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Field Correspondent

Lunker

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12412
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Rowly - HSB in a cage. I did this several times, the first time I started with 6"-7" fish (May) and they were 11"-12" by October. Last batch in a cage was 2 yrs ago (spring 2003). Started with 12 fish (4") in a slightly bigger than barrel sized cage. By 1st fall they were around 8". Stayed in cage all winter and this summer and by fall 2004, they were 12"-13". Lost one fish. Did not feed intensively but never had to clean the cage once. The HSB cage batch before the 2003 crop was also in the cage for 2 yrs but they grew to 14". Some of them figured how to jump out of the low riding cage.

I have a couple of cages built of each mesh size from 1/8" to 3/4" mesh. I use the largest mesh possible for the size of fish stocked for the reasons given by Cecil below.
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#11756 - 03/02/05 09:23 PM Re: fish cages
Cecil Baird1 Offline
Hall of Fame

Lunker

Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 20043
Loc: Northeastern Indiana
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rowly:
Steve22:

From the research I've done....this is how I'm going to build my floating cage. I will be using either 1/4 " or 1/2" plastic netting from a roll that measures 49" W x50'L @ approx $1.55 ft for 1/4' mesh. In making the cage I will use 8- 3 way corner fittings and 4- 8' L of PVC pipe for the frame length and 7- 4' lengths for the width and depth of the cage and cross top piece for the top. Resulting in a 8' L x 4'W x 4' Deep cage. Use plastic electrical ties to attach the plastic netting to the sides and bottom/top of the 1 1/2" diameter PVC piping. I'm not sure if this sealed frame will float...but I may have to add some rigid insulation or something else to help it float a little above the surface water of my lake. Any possible suggestion on floating this cage is very welcome. Lastly, 2/3 of the top will be secured to the frame with the last 1/3 of the top hinged to open for feeding and fish removal. I will also, secure a floating feeding ring inside the cage to help keep the floating pellets in a defined area and easy monitoring of food intake. The hinged top will use 2 - "T" fitting and 4 elbows to frame the hinged lid. I hope this is of some help. Has anyone else built a cage similar to this and is it working good....regards

Rowly
I use the 3/4 inch size of the same plastic and it works well with 5 to 7 inch bass with no problems with escape. Go with as large of openings as you can to promote circulation

My cages are built as a cube with 1 1/2 inch PVC and three way connectors. I don't glue my connections I use duck tape on them. I make either a 7 foot by 7 foot by 4 feet deep or a 10 foot by 10 foot by 4 feet deep.

I acutally drill holes in my PVC frame to allow it to fill with water and get it to sink evenly. Then I tie on orange juice jugs, mineral sprits jugs, or detergent jugs on each side to float the cage at the depth I want. I use these because they are solid colors and last longer in the water. I think I could get away with only one jug per side but I use two per side. The handles make very handle places to run the electrical ties through and in the mesh of the cage.

I don't use a feeding ring as the way I see it if the fish don't eat it right away something is wrong or you are throwing too much in. If some of it floats out of the cage I have other fish outside of the cage that will eat it.

To keep herons out I stretch netting over a frame made with 1 X 2's joined by bolts and nuts in the corners, and fastened to the 1 by 2's with electrical ties. I just lay this on top of the cage and fasten one in each corner to thecage with electrical ties. The mesh is big enough that it allows the feed to go through the mesh and is high enough off the water the fish stay out of it.

For shade I cut a square of brown plastic tarp about 7 feet by 2 feet and attache it the top and one corner of the mesh cover. The fish are less stressed if they can go under this tarp during the day.

I have my cages attached to my pier and also run diffusers off the bottom between each pair to promote circulation. Additionally I take the covers off once a week and brush the algae build up off of both the INSIDE and OUTSIDE of the cage rotating the cage as I go. I do this with a push broom with an extended alluminum handle. My cages get clogged with algae very rapidly due to the fertility of the water. I don't want to take any chances with stagnation and oxygen depletion in the cages.
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#11757 - 03/03/05 10:35 AM Re: fish cages
Rowly Offline
Member

Registered: 07/09/02
Posts: 257
Loc: London, Ontario, Canada
Bill and Cecil:

Great info and thanks Cecil for your in depth construction methods. Yes..indeed Bill, I will take a few pics and post the cage when I build it as well as the lake still under renovation. Bill, I will start a new post on my cage culture experiment for this spring, please refer there for added questions under the new heading. Thanks all...and looking forward to your cage building article in the future pondboss mag.

Rowly

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