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#566886 05/08/24 06:44 PM
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I was watching the Pond Boss live on FB yesterday and there was some discussion on Tilapia that got me thinking. Had a couple of questions but the feed got cut off before I could ask. Both side of the equation were discussed on Tilapia as supplemental forage and grazing of plants and each had varying stocking amount(s) recommended.

For FA control it sounds like smaller sized Tilapia are better at eating FA and stocking rates were a little higher.

For forage I suspect this somehow links to "preferred" food size compared to size of the predator fish, in my case LMB.

Not pulling a trigger on this in 2024 for sure. 2025 would be the soonest this could come into play. With the winterkill a virtual certainty on water temps for my area. What I'm curious about is what would be the stocking size on a FA vs Forage basis be?

Is the goal to stock fish that are large enough to spawn / not be eaten or stock a higher number of smaller fish that some may be eaten and some will grow eating FA until winter/predation takes them out?

Just me trying to learn. As I said....no intention of adding them to the pond this year for sure.


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You WANT them to die during the Fall. That allows the bass to gorge themselves on the slow swimming fish and the scavengers take out the bigger dead fish from the pond, removing nutrients.

Here in Indiana for FA control we stock at the rate of 40#/surface acre and use fish that are 6"-9" in length at stocking.


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I think I have seen this same confusion in other threads about using Tilapia for the control of FA.

Question for the tilapia experts:

When you stock tilapia that are 6-9" in length in the spring, is all of the FA control prior to the winter kill due to consumption by the broodstock, or do the tens of thousands of spawned Tilapia also eat a significant percentage of the FA?

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I believe all sizes eat FA. The little ones get big, and the big ones get bigger, on algae (and what fish food they can swipe from the fringes of the feeding area).

Every big Tilapia I have ever cleaned (I remove in mid-September onward) has had intestines full of FA. I have only cleaned a couple YOY; they were full of FA too.


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All of them eat FA and other stuff.
















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Originally Posted by FishinRod
I think I have seen this same confusion in other threads about using Tilapia for the control of FA.

Question for the tilapia experts:

When you stock tilapia that are 6-9" in length in the spring, is all of the FA control prior to the winter kill due to consumption by the broodstock, or do the tens of thousands of spawned Tilapia also eat a significant percentage of the FA?

All sizes eat the FA, BUT we've stocked tilapia that have been grown for food fish and are mostly male, then stocked tilapia that are 50/50 male/female. At the same stocking rate, the 50/50 mix will control a LOT more FA because of all the young ones that are produced. (last part is my thought).


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Thanks esshup, that is the closest answer to the question I was attempting to ask.

However, I still didn't ask my question clearly enough.

I have read several times on the forum where people have complained that they stocked tilapia, but they didn't even make a noticeable difference in their FA. However, they may have stocked too late for the next generation(s) to make any significant dent in the FA?

If the stockers eat 20% of the FA consumed in a given year, and the subsequent generations eat the other 80% consumed, then it is very important to facilitate the spawning of the stocked tilapia!

I would therefore conclude that it would be a management goal to stock the tilapia at the earliest "safe" date so they can more quickly initiate their subsequent breeding cycles.

I guess that leads me to three new questions:

1.) Any estimate of the % of FA consumed by the initial stockers versus the % consumed by the subsequent generations for "single-year" tilapia? (I know that is a nearly impossible question to answer. Did Rainman ever discuss that since I believe he delivered tilapia year after year to some more northerly ponds?)

2.) If the subsequent generations matter a lot, then is there anything a pond manager can do to aid spawning success of the tilapia?

3.) Has anyone observed a tilapia kill because they introduced them too early in the year and a cold front or cold rain wiped out their stockers?

(Even if the original stockers are responsible for eating 95% of the FA, then determining the earliest day to put them in would still be very important. Stockers getting more "eating days" and being much larger at the time of the winterkill would definitely provide much better FA control.)

P.S. I have read that tilapia can spawn year round, and that female tilapia can spawn every 17 days under ideal conditions! I assume that means a fish farm in equatorial Africa. Any ideas on observing tilapia spawning in the temperate zones of the U.S.?

P.P.S. Would it work to have a very shallow grow out pond to jump start your tilapia production? I am imagining a shallow pond that reaches a "safe" water temperature much earlier than the main pond. Create some good spawning beds and add some tilapia brood stock. Add a bunch of loose hay(?) to get a bunch of zooplankton going for the fry. After the fry hatch, move the parents to the main pond if the water is warm enough to avoid cannibalism. Move the 10,000 tilapia to the main pond as soon as they are beyond the mouth gape of the BG, or any other small, numerous fish in the main pond.


Just throwing out ideas for discussion since controlling FA and tilapia seem to draw a lot of questions from newbies and experienced pond managers on the forum.

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I'm glad you asked this question boondoggle as I'm almost 3hrs south of you and have interest in tilapia. Looking forward to where this discussion leads.

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From my reading they are sexually mature at about 4" and grow very quickly. Stocking 6-9" would likely put them out of range of all but the larger LMB.

It doesn't sound like there is a difference on stocking size for FA control or Forage.
.....I have however seen stocking ranges from 20-100lbs per acre depending on the severity of the FA.
.....I have seen/read stocking ranges from 5-20lbs per acre on the Forage side.

So far, I'm not having an issue with the FA and don't have LMB in the pond (yet) to worry about the forage. My goal was to do a little research early so that when I did need to find some I wasn't just buying the wrong sized fish.


Glad I could help Catscratch....I'm looking forward to giving these guys a try at some point. I suspect that as my water matures a little and the LMB get stocked....I'll have a use for these little fellas. Maybe in 2025 or 2026 when the LMB are able to eat them.


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Originally Posted by FishinRod
I have read several times on the forum where people have complained that they stocked tilapia, but they didn't even make a noticeable difference in their FA. However, they may have stocked too late for the next generation(s) to make any significant dent in the FA?
.

Rod I am short of time to answer the rest now but will try to get to them this evening. BUT to answer the above question, I have found out that you HAVE TO kill the FA 4-5 days prior to a week post stocking the tilapia or they CANNOT eat all the old algae AND the new growing crop. Even at 100#/acre they cannot eat both old and new. Been there, done that in my pond. I use my personal pond as a test pond that way the owner can't get that upset with me. wink

At 40# per acre 50/50 M/F if you kill the FA, they can keep up with eating the new stuff. If it's really, really bad you might have to treat it once or twice more that year, but that also depends on the water clarity and pond depth. If it's a 1 ac pond with <36" visibility (secchi disk) then they should be able to keep up with the new growth IF the tilapia stocked are 50/50 M/F.


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Thanks for the additional input, esshup.

I have noted your previous advice in my pond notes of: algaecide first then tilapia - if you are really fighting FA.

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Second guessing my plan a little after watching the pond develop a little over the past week or so.

We currently have YP, Northern BG, RES, GSH, FHM stocked in the pond. There was 1 5" SMB and 1 5-6" SAE stocked at the same time the YP came in early this spring. Have seen a few small frogs (no tadpoles) and one small turtle. LMB should be started this year.

Water clarity varies a little but generally not greater than 8" on the Secchi Disk. I have sent off samples for testing with Texas A&M on baseline and water clearing which will likely be back next week.

We are working to get some pond plants established - Iris, Pickerel Weed, Duck Potato, and adding some Detective Erika hopefully later this week.

A few pics attached. I think this is primarily planktonic in the pics. Not an expert here but there are no mats floating in the water to say it's FA.

This evening the wifey and I ventured out to the pond to watch the fish feed and relax a little after work walking around the property and the pond. Starting to see the riprap in a few of the areas being engulfed in FA. Which leads me to my second guessing of the plan of holding off on Tilapia until 2025.

We will likely be treating the water with something to help clear up the turbidity in the coming weeks. My guess is with the additional water clarity the FA will have additional room to grow as the sunlight is penetrating deeper in the pond.

Thoughts on a small stocking 3-5lbs (1.5 acre BoW) of Blue Tilapia now to manage the small foothold of FA and add a little forage on to the pond even if they outgrow the edible size of predators? We should get cold enough here for full mortality of the Tilapia this year.

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4.27.24.jpg 5.7.24.jpg 5.11.24.jpg 5.11.24b.jpg 5.12.24.jpg

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In my experience over the past 10+ years stocking Tilapia, its an all or nothing thing. Stock enough per surface acre to eat it all or save your $$ on Tilapia and spend it on Cutrine Plus. You don't want the stocker Tilapia to be eaten, you want them to spawn and the little ones can work on the FA and become food sources themselves.

People that don't listen invariably the next year say "I'm not going to stock them this year, I put some in last year and they didn't do what they were supposed to do." I've already told people this year that we wouldn't sell them Tilapia if they didn't want to listen to our recommendations, because we don't want people to give us a bad reputation. "We bought tilapia from them but they didn't work." They tend to forget that they didn't listen to our recommendations and didn't stock enough, so we are taking a different approach this year to limit any "bad reviews" that would be associated with us.


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Thanks esshup. I'm not thinking the FA is "all bad" due to our shortage of plants. Was hoping that the GSH may use a bit of it for spawning while we are working on the plants we really want to be there. Understood on the don't want bad reviews part. I don't think I would get stuck in that trap. Anything "you" do after seeking advice and then doing "your own thing" puts the responsibility back on the guy that made his own plan.

If we get the pond plants going however......would likely be much more aggressive on FA control methods.

My guess on the algae in the pics above look right (planktonic or phyto vs FA)? We aren't seeing mats floating "yet" but from 04.07.24 to 05.12.24 there seems to be more and more each time I'm out there. Not a bad thing either way....water is still new. Just want to make sure I'm on the right path with my observations.


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Boondoggle,

Can you just take a long stick with a little fork or small branches on the end and sample for FA below your secchi disk depth?

I would sweep it around down to about 3' deep where you have some firmer substrate on the bottom and maybe also sweep through the edges of your brushpile. If you get FA on those sampling efforts, then you know it is coming.

OTOH, even though everyone hates it in their fishing pond, you might just observe your FA cycle for a full year since you aren't fishing yet. Save your budget and time, and then go full bore next year if that is needed?

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Sounds like a good good reason to get the boat out! Good suggestion Rod. Might try to grab a pic of what I'm seeing on the rocks as well.

I agree on the cycle part....I think my efforts will be kind of a graze FA and bonus forage should the LMB get to where they can take out some of the Talapia spawn. We stocked 3-5" on the BG so hopefully get a spawn or two off this season and try to preserve the BG until later in the fall / winter with the early die off on the Talpia.


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3 years of experience with Tilapia . 1st 2 years couldn't find nearly enough, 3rd year at 15 lbs per acre , what an improvement. Either stock them, or don't , don't mess with less than 12 lbs per acre , I wish I could find at least 15 lbs per Acre, would prefer 20 -25 lbs . They have been wonderful, both forage and FA control


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Looks like these guys prefer some gravel, rock or sand to spawn in and they spawn at the same time the BG are on the beds. Does a separate spawning area need to be created for them or co-mingling with the BG is acceptable?

Most of the searches I've come up with on the internet are more aquarium based with pots and pvc tubes. This doesn't seem to be really needed for outdoor pond applications.

We do have a couple of areas in the pond in the 1-3' water ranges I could adapt if needed....figured I would check to see if they were more independent like LMB or more communal like BG on their spawning needs.


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Boondoggle, did you perform an exhaustive search of the forum?

In my (fuzzy) memory, there have been lots of threads on adding tilapia. There have been lots of threads on spawning habitat for BG, LMB, SMB, YP, CC, etc. However, I don't recall any threads on spawning habitat for tilapia!

It is kind of related to my question upthread about how much FA is consumed by the tilapia SPAWNED in the pond when the total population of tilapia are killed every winter. If you don't find any good info in the archives, perhaps you need to start a new thread specifically asking about creating good spawning conditions/outcomes for tilapia. I bet you would eventually get some good responses from the people that have introduced tilapia into their ponds over several years.

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I did try to check the archives on Tilapia and checked the university of google as well. My results on habitat for them on spawning in the forum were not very fruitful (might have missed it). Google returned some results mostly for aquarium type breeding where the fish were isolated one or two males with multiple females.

From Google: Reproduction - Just like many other African cichlids, the Blue tilapia is a maternal mouthbrooder. The male will build a nest and defend the territory. If his displays are not enough to fend of intruders, he can engage in mouth fighting.


I have the following so far:

Spawning Habitat: Rock, Sand or Gravel based and they are nest building
Spawning Temp: 68+ degrees

Looking like they need a separate area to me. Likely same or similar type application on spawning habitat as LMB.


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Tilapia have been spawning just fine on mud and silt in my ponds for 12+years.


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They are not colony nesters like BG. Once eggs are laid and fertilized, they are carried around in the mouth by the female.


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Originally Posted by esshup
They are not colony nesters like BG. Once eggs are laid and fertilized, they are carried around in the mouth by the female.

So what would a pond manager do to help the tilapia the most for that type of reproduction?

Water quality/chemistry? Pamper the broodstock tilapia so they can best make it through the stressful period of spawning and raising the young? Something (cover or food sources) that would increase the survival rate of the fry?

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
Originally Posted by esshup
They are not colony nesters like BG. Once eggs are laid and fertilized, they are carried around in the mouth by the female.

So what would a pond manager do to help the tilapia the most for that type of reproduction?

Water quality/chemistry? Pamper the broodstock tilapia so they can best make it through the stressful period of spawning and raising the young? Something (cover or food sources) that would increase the survival rate of the fry?

Good question, I just toss them into ponds.


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So what would a pond manager do to help the tilapia the most for that type of reproduction?

Very best way to help tilapia for the best reproduction is to have no bass or other aggressive larval / small fish eating predators in the pond. The fry once forming all their finage begin eating the smallest "sprout's of algae and forms of filamentous periphyton growth. Loss of high numbers of fry / larvae is a loss of one's algae eating army. Keep the foxes to a minimum or out of the tilapia chicken coop if your main interest is tilapia for algae consumption.

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