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#11859 03/17/05 12:24 AM
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There's much talk about tilapia these days. Some folks thing they are going to save the world, some don't know how to pronounce the name of the fish. I also have an opinion or two about the fish. This bit focuses on stocking tilapia as a corrective measure. They can also be stocked as baitfish even if you aren't taking corrective measures.

In many ponds/lakes that have been left unmanaged for years, things happen and usually there is high cost for corrective measures. Be it vegetation issues of underweight/overpopulated bass, there is a significant problem to be solved. Tilapia can be the solution in the short-term and long term.

Here's a short-term example: You acquire a pond or lake or suddenly decide to take active management steps with one that has been neglected. The water has been clear, weeds grow like the plaque, no plankton production for years, overpopulation of small bass, and the big ones you still brag about or hear about are dead and gone or can't be caught. Bluegill are present and have the capability to rebound with the right conditions...a plankton bloom and reduced predation. But bass are overcrowded and may stand in the way of a bluegill rebound. Since tilapia reproduce as often as every 6 weeks, are mature at 3-4 inches, have the right body shape for easy consumption (as opposed to monster bluegill, and can produce 1000's of lbs of brood per acre per year , they are a miracle drug. Say you treat your weeds with sonar, they die and become a food source for filamentous algae...you are growing food for tilapia. Say you fertilize to create a bloom to get ahead of filamentous algae after a herbicide application...you are growing food for tilapia. Say you feed with artificial pellets...you are feeding tilapia. You are hence feeding your predators by having a fish that converts a nuisance into a fat bass.

Here's a long-term example: Our experience is that tilapia populations encourage growth of plankton by constantly consuming bottom growth and suspending nutrient rich organic matter. In all of our survey experience on ponds and lakes, those that had a natural plankton bloom, for whatever reason, had tremendous populations of both bass and bluegill. Tilapia stocking may increase production of plankton indirectly, which would create a very desireable condition. These forage fish should not be stocked just once, unless you flat out decide they are not what they are hyped up to be. If your results are desireable the first year, you should stock them every year. They'll build equity in your pond until fall then they will cash out like the lottery!

I welcome comments.


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Todd - How good are tilapia at eating filamentous algae? Lets assume you had 450 to 500 linear feet of filamentous algae (1/3 ac pond) that lines the banks down to a depth of 3ft deep. 1. How many tilapia at what size should be stocked to get the filamentous algae under control or at least make a good dent in the amount present?

2. Filamentous algae comes in several general types and no doubt they have several different flavors. I know for sure that the textures are different; some fine & slimey (Spirogyra, Oedogonium), some coarse like sheep's wool (Cladophora, Pithophora). In your experience are there types of filamentous alge that tilapia do not eat?


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I have kept blue tilapia (aurea) in a fish tank at my house.

I still have a small 2" juvenile.

I had a 13" adult in my 75 gallon.

It preferred to eat stuff other than the algae and elodea in the tank.

Now I had a 5" juvenile in an outdoor patio pond and it liked lettuce and duckweed. There was still algae in the container.

I think they eat more bugs, zooplankton and plants than algae.

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I catch my tilapia out of Lake Julian in Skyland, NC.

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Bill,

What you describe is what I had in a small pond that I reported on in the recent Pond Boss issue.

I stocked about three pounds of Tilapia (from Todd) in a completely algae covered pond which had high nutrients from cattle. Did it as a lark, so to speak. By summers end, the algae was completely gone. Absolutely remarkable.

I understand that many question or do not believe that Tilapia eat algae...and perhaps they don't in every situation.

However, I can tell you guys, question all you want, but meanwhile I've had my ponds cleaned out of algae by Tilapia...I've seen it first hand and I'm among the believers. No more chemicals, no more ugly mats of pond scum.

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I can't wait to play with tilapia this year but I am wanting to play with them as production fish/pets. I want to put them in troughs and three tiny ponds with the largest pond 1/4 acre. I'll feed them in one or two and the troughs. Any idea on how I can controll their numbers so they will grow big enough to eat?

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What species of tilapia did you stock?

Thanks

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Brian,

Based on my experience (one growing season in three ponds), you need predators if you want them to grow....LMB, HSB or something. In the one pond I stocked without predators, strangely the Tilapia did not grow out....they multiplied like crazy and when they died (see picture in Pond Boss magazine) they were all about 6 to 8 inches. In the ponds with predators, I caught many 2 pounders and one estimated at near 3 pounds. My unscientific conclusion was that the predators keep the numbers of small Tilapia fish down so that there is more food for those remaining.

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I have stocked the Mosambique tilapia and have watch them eat a variety of things.

The smaller ones like to suck the algea off the leaves and branches in the water.

The larger ones (over 12 inches) have been seen almost grazing like cattle on the chara. Tearing off large clumps and eating it.

All are easily pellet trained.

My 2 cents.

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Bill,

We had a 1 acre pond, covered with spirogyra after a herbicide application for arrowhead and primrose. Stocked 20 lbs tilapia then 20 of my best florida bass fingerlings in June. Filamentous algae was was gone in 2 months, bottom is sand, raised 900 lbs tilapia. I don't claim anything other that what I've seen. If you're in the mood to experiment then send me some samples, will see if they eat it.

Todd


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I have heard rumors that Mozambique tilapias will feed on blugill eggs and compete for nesting sites is this true?

What water temperature do you recommend to stock tilapia in a lake?

What is the lowest temperature they can handle before they completely die off?

Does the water temperature in a lake affect how often they reproduce?

My lake is currently at 62 degrees and warms to about the high 70's low 80's in the late summer it then cools off to approx. 55 degrees in the winter. The lake is approx. 100 acres in So. California.

I want to stock tilapia for all the reasons explained in the first post. How many adults should I stock say 1 -2 lb. tilapia?

How many 2 - 3" tilapia should I stock if I go with these smaller ones in lieu of big ones?

I have a bass population with the bulk of our bass between 12 - 16" currently, no shad, and a fair number of small bluegill with most better than 5" long.

Thanks - great info!!

Dave

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I have heard rumors that Mozambique tilapias will feed on blugill eggs and compete for nesting sites is this true? I don't know if they will eat bluegill eggs, but doubt it. Sure they compete for nesting sites.

What water temperature do you recommend to stock tilapia in a lake? It is safe at 63F stable.

What is the lowest temperature they can handle before they completely die off? 55F

Does the water temperature in a lake affect how often they reproduce? Yes.

My lake is currently at 62 degrees and warms to about the high 70's low 80's in the late summer it then cools off to approx. 55 degrees in the winter. The lake is approx. 100 acres in So. California.

I want to stock tilapia for all the reasons explained in the first post. How many adults should I stock say 1 -2 lb. tilapia? 5-10 fish per acre.

How many 2 - 3" tilapia should I stock if I go with these smaller ones in lieu of big ones? 10 lbs per acre at least.

I have a bass population with the bulk of our bass between 12 - 16" currently, no shad, and a fair number of small bluegill with most better than 5" long.

Thanks - great info!!

Dave


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One item that hasn't been asked or mentioned.......

If tilapia are successfully stocked and their population rapidly increases (as expected), and the predator population has a reactive population increase (in size and/or quantity): Assuming no harvest of the expanded predator population, what happens to these preditors during the winter when their primary prey (the tilapia) meet their Maker in the fall when water-temps fall below 55F?

I posed the above question to Bob Lusk today at the BASS 102 Conference in Conroe. His response (if I interpretted him correctly) was that maintaining a predator:prey equilibrium would become manditory if tilapia are introduced into the scheme (that means harvesting predators). Otherwise, one could end up with a predator population that could decimate the overwintering stock of bluegill after the tilapia have checked-out for the season.

Any comments on this line of thought?

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Kelly, I've been thinking that reducing predation on BG during the tilapia "season" would cause/allow them to expand their numbers sufficient to feed predators over the winter. It kinda begs the question about "season" two. Kicking smoking was a real character builder and I wonder about kicking the tilapia habit.

I also worry about biomass problems in an area of scant rainfall. If these guys spawn like they are reputed to, can they foul their nest?

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As a fisherman, I was always taught that in fall bass gorge themselves on baitfish whether it be tilapia or shad, or trout for that matter. In the winter feeding slows because of cooler temperatures and thus, reduced metabolism. This is why fishing is so much tougher in the winter... Just a thought, any comments.


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Maybe I'll do an experiment in a 1/2 acre pond this year with large bass, coppernose, and tilapia, to see what happens by winter. Seems there is a concern that the stocking of tilapia will indirectly lead to an unbalanced predator/prey relationship. This concern is valid if one chooses to stock tilapia only one year, but not valid if tilapia are stocked every spring. If bluegill aren't doing if for your bass, tilapia may, by consuming an alternative food source and spawning tremendously. Assuming tilapia are a better forage than bluegill (as asserted by Dr. Joe Lock in an aricle entitled "Trophy Bass Production in East Texas Ponds and Small Lakes"), we should stop worrying about the bluegill wellfare. I would be willing to bet that bass don't lose much weight in winter, with temps below 55, because their metabolism slows and they don't need much food. With tilapia consumption from November/December (in this part of Texas), they produce a very large egg mass and are actually more fecundative during spring spawning season.

To view the article by Dr. Lock, see my website...www.overtonfisheries.com. Look under the tilapia link or LMB link.


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Dave, Most of us are in the same boat as for "concerns", but at least we're talking concerns over a forage base. Threadfins are somewhat difficult to establish, fatheads get wiped out...and I seriously doubt the Bgill has it's reputation at stake with Tilapia. The Tilapia's life cycle will only change a feeding period for 1/2 year..hopefully we'll work together to manage the results. I'm sure we'll all learn a lot thru this forum, but for now, I simply want to use all phases of the food chain. I know fertilization hurt you in the past, I won't go that route for now, rainfall is too unpredictable in our area. But, look on the bright side, those hot summers allow us this new unconventional option. More trial and error...

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Amen! That's the concept I have in mind.


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Todd O', What are your thoughts about pressure being taken off the bluegill base and thus actually improving it? If that is true, and I don't see why not, it appears that even with enhanced predator growth, my bluegill base should be supportive of it; even without tilapia restocking. If it wouldn't really work, I may have to eat more fish or quickly get more tilapia. At least the damn bass should get easier to catch if they're hungry.

It sounds like my biggest concern should still be increased biomass coupled with evaporation caused drawdown and resulting DO problems.

Heck, I have 2 one acre ponds. I'll probably try one of them. If it doesn't work, it'll just be another of my experiments resulting in more character building.

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I think tilapia take predation pressure off of bluegill, but that doesn't necessary ensure improved bluegill spawning and recruitment, because tilapia will compete for bed-sites. Best if you are stocking tilapia is to feed your standing crop of bluegill and get what reproduction you can from them in addition to what tilapia will naturally do. I've seen coppernose spawn in early april on very warm days, which would be great if you haven't already stocked tilapia by that time.


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I'm just amazed at the number of folks who swear that Tilapia will not do what I have seen them do....and in every case those same folks do not have nor have ever had Tilapia

I have seen them thrive on algae and chara. I have seen them clean up 50 plus year old nutrient rich ponds. I have seen them increase the bluegill population in all ponds and most of all have seen them increase the weight on LMB and HSB.

I attended half of the Bass 102 conference this weekend and visited with more disbelievers...some professional. Why are people so ready to use chemicals on their ponds and so skeptical of Tilapia. Seems like the thought process should be reversed. Copper can stay in your pond for a long time, Tilapia only one season. Other chemicals can stay in our bodies a long time....unlike Tilapia.

Yes, you have to stock every year to gain and sustain the benefits...but what is wrong with that? You are in complete control of the situation that way. Is it money? I think not, when folks are willing to spend hundreds and even thousands of $ on chemicals and other forage fish annually.

So why all the skeptics on Tilapia?

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Meadowlark, everytime I neglect to renew my membership in the Flat Earth Society, my head gets handed to me.

I have seen my bluegill overpopulate, foul their water hole and then die off. I have fertilized and increased the carrying capacity resulting in a DO crash and a die off. Kinda sickening to watch 5 lb. catfish die. Each time it was all my fault.

I am in an area of sparse/questionable rainfall. Tilapia spawn like they were being injected with Viagra and Spanish Fly. Biomass problems are a yearly concern. My yearly concern is a one acre pond becoming a 1/2 to 2/3 acre mess.

Hey, I'm going to try it one one of my one acre ponds. BTW, did I understand that they had somehow improved the bottom sludge situation in one of your ponds? I think I remember something about that in the PB Magazine article. Or maybe I just thought that was what it said.

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Dave,

Every situation is different and there aren't any magic pond solutions to everyone's situation...and as you know, we get lots of rain in East Texas.

Having said that, I'm still amazed at the outright disbelief at what I have seen and actually experienced. It doesn't sell chemicals and doesn't necessarily confirm the great theories of Pond management, but for me and my ponds Tilapia works, big time.

Yes, I saw visible evidence of reduced pond bottom biomass. Better yet is the scientific study that showed in Egypt, that Tilapia reduced the bottom layers of silt by "2 to 3 inches per year".

I guess if I was selling these things or had a relationship with someone who is doing so, I could understand the disbelief...but it isn't so. I only wrote what I saw in hopes that others could also experience these benefits. If folks choose to not believe, then so be it. They are missing out on a great pond management tool.

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Have 20 lbs of Tilapia on order with one supplier and 40 lbs on order with another. Will stock in a 1 acre LMB-Coppernose pond; a 5 acre LMB-Coppernose pond; a 2 acre HSB-Coppernose pond. All ponds have protein feeders and algae problems. Hope to start stocking by mid April. Will keep posted on results.

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Meadowlark, I understand tilapia to be filter feeders. However, you report that you occasionally catch them on a fly rod. What do they eat other than filtered plankton and green plants? Do they ever take commercial pellets?

BTW, I have never seen a grass carp take a pellet but did catch one on a piece of nightcrawler. I'm wondering if the tilapia will starve out the grass carp. No problem; if the weeds come back, I will just get more tilapia.

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Dave,

Yes, they will eat pellet feed...but they don't seem to swarm on it like my BG. In fact, Dave, if you want Tilapia for algae/weed control, to get optimum benefit you should not artificially feed. I didn't feed in two of three ponds and the change was simply remarkable in those two ponds in terms of algae/weed control.

I have caught them occasionally on a grasshopper fly...target individual fish in shallow water. Also, one glorious time in the fall I was able to entice them into shallow water away from the BG and caught them on worms until I ran out of bait....caught over 30, many approaching 2 pounds. That was only one time, however. Never could repeat it. Maybe someone on here will figure out how to catch them, but first you have to get them away from the BG cause the BG will hit the bait quicker every time.

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Tentmaker Farm,

Let us all know how it goes for you. If you want optimum algae/weed control from the Tilapia do not artificially feed. I feel that I have to feed in my one pond with HSB but in other ponds with LMB, BG and Tilapia, I am not feeding at all this year. I believe the Tilapia will more than make up for the lack of feed with the forage they provide and the cleaning powers they invoke.

I'm striving for a pond which does not need any artificial feeders or chemicals and yet produces great Bass fishing....with Bass that are catchable.

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I am extremely interested in tilapia this year, but I'm a little far north (Kansas - OK border) and I haven't seen much on these fish up here. I have a 5 acre pond that is already having algae problems and the water isn't even 60 degrees yet. Right now I'm in the market for a supplier, doesn't seem to be anyone local that I can find yet. Any leads are welcome, I just don't want to double the price by shipping.


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Getting non-sterilized tilapia is difficult in my area. What do you guys think of stocking these sterile 1 - 2" tilapia as a feeder fish? I could then see the results and always do annual stocking of the sterile tilapia. They could then do all the good things tilapia do plus take pressure off the bluegill and not have any issues with the tilapia competing for bed sites with my bluegill population.

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Dave B,

Hmmm interesting question. If the price were right and the volume large enough it might be cost effective, but I rather doubt it. That size will be consumed quickly by predators and you would have to buy so many of them to get the benefits, I doubt it would be a positive cost/benefit ratio.

I haven't seen any studies to confirm this but I suspect it takes a lot of Tilapia to clean out the algae that was consumed in my ponds...a whole lot of Tilapia. Not many fertile reproducing ones , but very many sterile ones to do the job. They are just incredible at reproducing.

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Blue tilapia are not as big on feeding on algae as others.

I feed the one I have now pellets almost exclusively.

I kept one outdoors I fed lettuce and duckweed.

AND YES TILAPIA WILL EAT OTHER FISHES AND FISH EGGS, AT LEAST O. AUREA!

I would put small fish in with a 13" blue tilapia I kept in an aquarium and it would gobble them up- minnows, goldfish, danios, whatever.

They are VERY omnivorous fish.

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There are over forty different types of tilapia, not counting the hybreds and the misnamed ones. I am assumimg that, like most other species, there are good and bad in that forty odd group.

Pick one that will accomplish your goal. My limited experience says they are not all that fun to catch, say, compared to a bluegill of the same size, but they are better to eat.


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Rad,

How many 2 to 3 pound BG have you caught lately?

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Never, but I have never caught a tilapia that large either, my experience is about a pound, with most running half of that. What strain are you raising? I would like to try to find them in my neighborhood.


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Rad,

I'm not a fish scientist, but I am a very experienced fisher person. I can tell you without hesitation that a 2 pound Mozambique Tilapia will make even the most ardent BG lover forget about the BG.

They are great fighters for their size. The only problem I have with them is that they are extremely difficult to catch...especially in waters with BG present. The BG will steal just about any bait before the Tilapia can get to it. This year I'm going to try some strictly "vegetarian" baits in hopes of finding a way to catch these guys.

By the end of the growing season, I have many 2 pound Tilapia and I really would like to make efficient use of them, i.e. dinner table, before they expire. I hope some enterprising fisher person on the Forum comes up with a way to catch them, if I can't.

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Meadowlark, in the Fall, were the tilapia visible from the surface in areas of your ponds. It seems that being orange would make them stand out a little. I bow hunt for deer and have taken gar and carp from the water...could you get within 20 yards seeing them ? p.s. my 60 tilapia are about 1 1/2" now, I will be putting them in my pond very soon, the water is warming up nicely. One observation I already have about them is that they are eating machines ! If I fed them every 15 minutes, they would continue eating 24/7. Their rate of growth exceeds anything I have seen, with unlimited food, the sky is the limit. (2 lb. fish in 6 months) The trick will be like you said...getting them to the table.

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We've been able to seine approx. 50% of tilapia with a short seine while pumping fresh water to a pond end and cutting them off as they huddle up around it. I suspect that may be possible by just pumping out and back in with a gas water pump, spraying the water back in the pond. Then just cut them off with a seine when you can see them. This wouldn't be a size-selective measure. Also might try carp dough bait, as you can ball it up on a hook fairly large and select for larger fish.


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Meadowlark,
The fishing methods used here encumber the fish making it a ho hum fighter. The bait is bread based with many secret additives, from banana oil to strawberry soda. It is mixed into a sticky mass and pressed into a spring like affair with several hooks on short leaders (a carp rig). The hooks are pushed through small Styrofoam balls and embedded in the bait ball. The rig brings the caught fish to the surface pulling its head out of the water. I have tried small single baits with little success, I am still working on it. All of the ones I have caught and have seen caught have been on these types of baited rigs. Two lbs and over would nullify some of the rigs drag, however.


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Corn is an EXCELLENT bait for tilapia fishing.

It's about all I ever use.

\:\)

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From article "Catching Tilapia" in Southern Pond & Wildlife fall 2004. Tilapia are filter feeders, but will readily eat pelleted fish food as well as some aquatic insects. These fish can be caught on artifical lures or flies that closely resemble these food items. Don't forget crickets when all else fails!------If you miss fishing at the end of the summer, keep a close watch for the first week of really cold weather. Many of the adults will be swimming slowly near the surface and can easily be picked up with a dip net. Check the lake at night with a spotlight, during the first cold weather; many of these big fish will be nosed up to the bank and can be easily captured with a dip net.
Written by: Don C. Keller a "certified fisheries scientist" and co-owner of American Sportfish

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I hadn't tried corn. I've tried all sorts of other things and my redear seem to get to it before the tilapia. When I electroshock a couple of weeks ago we did dip net some 3-5 pounders so I could try them. Great table food.

My tilapia are spawning b ig time now. Up in the shallow on nests. Water temp 72 degrees.

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I hadn't tried corn. I've tried all sorts of other things and my redear seem to get to it before the tilapia. When I electroshock a couple of weeks ago we did dip net some 2-4 pounders so I could try them. Great table food.

My tilapia are spawning b ig time now. Up in the shallow on nests. Water temp 72 degrees.

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Good article on Talapia in April issue of Texas Fish and Game.

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Eastland,

Yes I could see them in the water...in fact see large schools of them...one school of over one hundred if you can believe that...it is true.

But catching is another story. Corn may be the answer. The BG probably won't mess with it and the Tilapia should....but then you might catch a grass carp like I did last fall...or I should say hook a grass carp, too large to land.

PomPoms may work also, but again the BG and HSB will be a problem.

You should see 2 pound Tilapia by fall if my experience holds true and the cold weather holds off. It was Christmas last year before mine started dying.

Just imagine what the LMB and HSB think when they see those perfectly shaped items of food trying to warm in the sun on the surface on a fall day...it was a sight to behold, I'm telling you.

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Meadolark - Thanks for all the info on Tilapia . You have sold me on this { Hopefully Great fish } I am stocking them 2nd week of april . Sorry Overton Fisheries , but your just to far from me to pick them up . But will be getting in touch with you about areaton for my 1.6 acre pond . Harvey .

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Harvey, where are you getting them?

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Hello gents,

I am picking up 50 lbs of Tilapia tomorrow. This will be my third year of stocking them. The only plants they haven't been able to fight back, are cattails.

If there are any negatives, that would be it. They completely clean out the pond of any vegetation. I am going to plant some water lilies this year, to provide some shade and cover. I hope they make it.

They ARE hard to catch, but excellent meat.

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What stocking rates are reccomended with Tilapia?

I have a one acre pond with bluegill and bass, the fish supplier I talked with is reccomending 60 lbs of Tilapia. The fish he has are about 1/2 pound each. Sounds like alot to me? What do ya'll think? I could not find a definitive answer while searching the forums, sorry if I over looked it.


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I must admit that I am not a fan of the Catfish \:\)
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Is there any other places to purchase tilapia other than texas, seems everyone in texas has them. I know in some states they are illeagal, but how about a supplier in ketucky, or tennasee?
Shipping them from texas would be expensive, but chemicals for alge control (6ac. pond) are not cheap either. They would live about 6 or 7 months in my area. Thanks for any help.

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Alabama Woody,

Did I read that right....60 pounds in 1 acre...and they are 1/2 pound fish?

I think that guy is trying to sell Tilapia. That's far more than you need...unless you are trying to feed Alabama. \:\) Based on my experience, 5 to 10 pounds per acre is plenty enough.

You will need to invite us all over to Ala. for a big fish fry at 60 pounds per...Hell, they might even mow your grass at that rate.

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Meadowlark. I am fixin to buy some from Henneke out of Halletsville the second sat in May and he was saying about 100 6-8 in. fish for a 1.5 acre tank. Now we do have some large bass in there up to 7 lb. , but only a few that size. Most are about 3 lb. and I have no idea of how many of those, but there is a good balance of blue gills and smaller bass. I think he is over selling but would like a second opnion. I have a scond tank I can put the excess in , but it does not need much attention. Also the price is about $1.50 for the larger Tilapia and $.55 for small boys. I just need a little advice so I don't get taken too bad. Profit is not a bad word but we all like fairness.

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Just in case ML if out of pocket, I'll chime in on this one since we are on the same page about tilapia stocking.

We both obtained tilapia from the same supplier that recommends 20 lb/acre @$10.00 /lb.
ML recommended to me 5 lb/acre but since I have heavy FA, I stocked 10 lbs/acre.

George Glazener
N.E. Texas 2 acre and ¼ acre ponds

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I guess my next question is , "How much do 200 6-8 in Tilaps weigh"? 40-50 lbs.?

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Dave .

I bought my Talapia in early April

from Boatcycle , in Henderson Tx. not to far from my pond .

They were very helpfull , they also advertise in the Pond Boss Mag.

I bought 15# of 3"er's for my 1.6 acre's for $150.00 .

Harvey

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casca,

I don't know the size per pound number for Tilapia, but let me give you this to think about.

I would prefer 2 four ounce Tilapia over 1 eight ounce Tilapia. Why? Because a 4 ounce Tilapia will begin spawning right away and 2 spawners are better than 1.

Now, if you are interested in growing them out for food, assuming you can catch them, then yes 8 ounce would be preferrable. I'm after forage fish and algae control and the more mouths out there the better.

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I follow this thread with great interest. Just today I mailed my application to Virginia Game & Inland Fisheries for permission to purchase and stock 50 3"-5" Mozambique tilapia into my 1/4 acre spring-fed pond.

I manage my pond primarily for rainbow trout, but I also have channel catfish, largemouth bass and "hybrid" (now mostly F2 green) sunfish [all stocked by previous owners].

I wouldn't say my pond is coldwater (despite its spring), nor warmwater. The bass don't do well, nor the channel catfish because the water is so cool, and the forage so sparse. The rainbows manage to struggle through the summer (I have an aeration system) even though surface temps can hit 78 degrees or more in August.

But what I have in great abundance is chara. My hope is that a May-to-October tilapia population will help crop that down and help feed three species of predators over a five month period.

If I get the official OK, I'll keep you all posted on how this little experiment works ... if I can find a supplier!

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I don't care how prolific you say they are, Meadowlark, I doubt 1 eight ounce tilapia could spawn at all. \:D


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Okay, Theo you got me there...maybe. I would not be surprised at anything these fish do...you know Nature finds a way...and I'll tell you, there isn't much out in Nature that I have seen thats better at finding a way than Tilapia.

I would not be surprised at all to learn that one day a Tilapia has learned to survive 50 degrees water temps and then breds that into other Tilapia...if that ever happens watch out...they will take over the free world! \:\)

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Funny you should mention temperature, work is already under way.
http://www.aquaculture.co.il/Services/41strain.html


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When I spoke with Todd Overton, he mentioned several lakes in the area where they already overwinter. (Power Plants) It wouldn't suprise me in the least to see them tolerate an additional degree or two each year as they adapt to the environment.

I would love to hear from someone who is successfully catching them in public waters...

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Meadowlark:
Alabama Woody,

Did I read that right....60 pounds in 1 acre...and they are 1/2 pound fish?

I think that guy is trying to sell Tilapia. That's far more than you need...unless you are trying to feed Alabama. \:\) Based on my experience, 5 to 10 pounds per acre is plenty enough.

You will need to invite us all over to Ala. for a big fish fry at 60 pounds per...Hell, they might even mow your grass at that rate.
I thought that was a lot of fish he was reccomending! Thanks for your input.

But.......if those jokers would mow the lawn as well........that would save me about 4 hours a week of hard labor!!!


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I must admit that I am not a fan of the Catfish \:\)
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Theo, why do you doubt that a 1/2 lb. tilapia can spawn? I don't know at what size or age they spawn but know a 3 to 4 inch bluegill can spawn. Is it due to being tropical?

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No Dave, it is due to it being alone.

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The Tilapia will begin spawning at 4 ounces once water reaches around 78 degrees F.

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I think the comment was in reference that a single fish is going to have a hard time spawning. Takes two to tango, you know!


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Dave, let me pass on a tip my wife likes to give people: "Anytime you can't figure out what he's talking about, your first assumption should be that he's being a SmartA**."


"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
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Dave, I would help you out if I could...but you're on your own with this one \:\)

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where in north tx can you get some of these miracle fish? im north of dallas in sherman area.

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I'm still trying to figure out why I was dumb enough to step into Theo's meadow muffins.

Regarding a North Texas tilapia source, contact Pond Medic in Prosper. Just down the road from you.

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I think they would be great to market in backyard watergardens that have frequent algae blooms. I know they sell tons of that algae fix at the local shops. Anyone heard of trying tilapia for that?

I went to a federal hatchery and met a research scientist that told me they were exploring the oils from tilapia as a vaccine for some forms of cancer.

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In my neighborhood we do catch tilapia on rod and reel. The bait used for them is the same bait used for almost all of the fish caught here. It's an over the counter bread mixture. It usually tends to be sweet and very sticky. The rig is a carp style rig, wire loops to hold a large amount of bait and 4 or 5 hooks. The hooks are pushed through a small foam ball then pushed into the bread mixture. I add ground food pellets and bananas for flavor and sticky rice to hold it together.


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Dave,

You've got to watch Theo...anyone with those pictures/graphics bears watching...and especially so since he says he is watching us.

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dave thanks for the reply will ck pond medic for tilapia thanks again

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"I'm just a victim of a bad reputation, I've got no chance to shake it."

-Joan Jett


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Fish at work.
I had a film of algae building up over the last several days. The algae then began to clump and the fish were ignoring it. I skipped feeding them for a day. Today the wind came up and concentrated the algae in one corner of the pond. The fish gathered and ate almost all. I am not sure whether it was the concentration caused by the wind, not feeding or both. But it was fun to watch.

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/allcladrad/detail?.dir=/114e&.dnm=12fb.jpg


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Larger pictures. These are the tilapia that do not respond to pellet feeding as well as a group at the other end of the pond, yet, they all came from the same place on the same day.

http://www.photodump.com/viewer/allcladrad/fish2.html
http://www.photodump.com/viewer/allcladrad/fish4.html


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Since we are near the end of tilapia production season, I thought I'd follow-up with this thread. I'd like to hear from my customers with their results from this year's tilapia stocking. I'd like observations like algae control, phytoplankton bloom status, predator growth, tilapia spawning success, etc. I may post a few of these "testimonials" on my website.

Thanks in advance for any feedback. And by the way, even if you didn't buy tilapia from me I'd still like your comments.


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Todd, I'd like to add a question. Do the water plants that tilapia consume return the previous year?

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And by the way, even if you didn't buy tilapia from me I'd still like your comments.
-----
I purchased Tilapia nilotica from Southeastern Pond Management, and they were stocked, 170 lb. averaging 1 lb each in my 13.5 acre pond, in early June. They seem to have thrived, although they became difficult to see once I got a good phytoplankton bloom in late June. I do see good numbers of little guys trapped in a small pool below my spillway.

I had a pretty big filamentous algae problem when the Tilapia were stocked, and they initially reduced it by about 90% in a matter of weeks. Since the phytoplankton bloom reached ideal levels (18-24" visibility), the amount of filamentous has stayed about the same at 10-20% of usual amounts for this time of year. Perhaps the Tilapia get a good deal of their caloric requirement from what they are filtering and don’t eat as much (?) I have no aquatic plants above the level of algae and below the level of buttonwoods, so I can’t comment on weed control.

I have found no dead Tilapia since they were stocked. A few have been caught on worms and crickets while fishing for BG. These were returned to the pond.

I will definitely want to be at the top of the list to stock them again next year.
Lou

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Mine were overwintered from last year. Heavy visibility in early to late spring. Heavy spawning then also. Once bloom kicked in less spotted. Throughout summer have seen the fruits of their spawns in big numbers.

Average LMB weights averaging a pound heavier than last years average.

Has lifted pressure off of other forage.

Chara didn't gett bad until that last couple of weeks but don't know if they were the only attribute to this.

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Todd, I only wish I were eloquent enough to give you something you could use on your website, but I'm way too much of a greenhorn with pond management! What I will say on the Tilapia is this: I picked up some from you in late May/early June to add to a couple of small ponds. I had a .25 acre lake that was getting a pretty severe problem with filamentatious algae matting on the surface. I added 3-4lbs of Tilapia and have seen a steady decline in it's presence. I would guess that easily 90% has been eliminated. Coincidence? I have no idea, but something surely changed for the better after the Tilapia addition. I will be seeing you again next year!!
As far as fish growth, I can't really speak to this. This 3 yr old lake has been hybrid bream only til this year. I added 25 4-6" LMB in March. These are the only LMB ever put in this lake. My son caught a 11.5" LMB that was as fat a butterball a week ago...needless to say I am pleased!


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Todd,

Have you shipped or stocked in Indiana? I am considering stocking next spring. I am not sure if they are legal to stock here yet but should have some info soon.


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We don't airfreight out of state at this time. Check with your state regulations and consider the short growing season for tilapia in Indiana. Sorry for the delay in my response to your question.


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Todd,
Tomorrow you are scheduled to deliver our super jumbo HSB, so I'm giving you a "heads up" so you will not be overly surprised at the excellent condition of our pond - in spite of low water due to our extreme drought conditions.

You recall the past spring when you stocked tilapia and grass carp, the nasty mess of algae embedded on heavy invasive bushy pondweed - the pond is clear of all pondweed and algae....!
\:\) \:\) \:\)

George Glazener
N.E. Texas 1/4 and 2 acre ponds whenever it rains again.. \:D

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That is great news. I'm getting my head together to start loading our truck at the moment with your fish. Good that the HSBs won't have a tangled mess to swim through on their way to open water.

I don't have a single customer with a complaint about tilapia....they all return the following year to buy more.


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Is anyone raising tilapia in Mississippi? Where can they be purchased? thanks


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Deaner :

Last I checked they were not allowed in Miss. without a permit and next to impossible to get one. Miss. had a bad experience with talapia from several aquaculture ponds getting into waterways along the coast and that resulted in the current status. ewest
















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Todd I'm going to double up on my order of Talapia this spring 10lbs plus an acre,but would like to know if you'll be carrying the larger fish say about 1 lb. a piece. I'm concern my bass will make a quick snack of them otherwise. By the way your 6-8 inch F1 Bass I got from you look great fat as footballs and some 16 inches plus long.

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Yes, LakeL, we have larger fish in the mix that we can grade off for you. Fish that are 1/3-1/2 lb are going to me large enough to escape predation, but we do have some 1 lb fish as well.

Lots of folks consider which is best...large fish or small fish. Who wants so few fish per lb, and who wants more fish per lb.

Bottom line....if you have a good plankton bloom you are better off with the small fish or the mix. However if you have clear water you'll have to have large fish and more lbs per acre as you can't count on much recruitment with lmb as predators.


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Thanks for your reply Todd. I'll contact you early next spring with my order. Hopefully by than my pond will finaly be full. The 1/3-1/2 lb. size fine to me.

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Haven't been on forum much lately,been busy helping son-in-law built new home all summer, but do check in once in awhile just to keep up with all the great info. Just wanted to inform how my niles tilapia stocking here in Indiana went for the year. Bought 170 1/4 pound fish at dollar apiece from AQUA-MANNA think was fist week of May,never added any cutrine plus after stocked them, after 2 weeks they had all of my filamentous algae cleaned up. They ate pellet feed right with the bluegill and really grew. Caught them on crickets. Probably stocked to many in my 1/2 acrer pond, but I had alot of filamentous algae and wanted to get rid of it fast(figured I could always catch some and remove them). The only problem I had was they would hang together and would roam shallow areas at times and stir the bottom up and pond was cloudy most of summer. Friends were always wanting a few for their ponds. Now here it is 3rd week of Nov and about 5 days ago they started to die off. Most of them looked to be about 2 lbs. Each day I would see a couple dead by shore. They never floated to surface to cause a nasty mess laid on bottom in about 1 foot of water, figure turtles will take care of the dead because always gone next day. Never ate any from the pond so don't know how the taste was for being pond raised (just couldn't kill the fish from pond) And as Meadowlark stated great fighting fish, fun to catch. I'll always stock them every year from now on (hate using any chemicals in pond grandkids love to swim in)just won't stock as many, but price was right. Sorry for the long story but hope it helps someone like this forum has helped me. PO

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Another Tilapia convert. \:\)

Sounds like the Nile are very similar to the Mozambique we have...except the price. The going rate in Texas is $10 per pound.

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Meadowlark, when do you break ground on the new Templar Shrine of the Sacred Tilapia? A humble 20,000 square foot structure with interconnected waterways and ponds, aquarium altars, youth education center, and senior's bingo hall should do the trick.

Of course you would have a monthly tithe of say $1,000,000.00 for founding members....non-profit of course!


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I was thinking of stocking some Tilapia in a small 1/2 acre pond in Mississippi. I was told by the people on the MS wildlife forum that they are illegal to stock in Mississippi. They say there is a $2,000.00 fine if they escape from your pond. And they said they will escape.
Any comments on this and is there any people from MS stocking them?
THANKS


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AMC :

A permit is required to stock tilapia in Miss. Almost impossible to get a permit as you have to prove no outlet to pond can ever get to a creek ot stream. A few years back commercial growers had a few escape down in your area and DWFP became concerned that they could over winter and cause problems. So now next to impossible to use tilapia in Miss. Last time I checked on this was about 1 yr. ago. ewest
















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 Quote:
Originally posted by Sunil:
Meadowlark, when do you break ground on the new Templar Shrine of the Sacred Tilapia? ...senior's bingo hall should do the trick.
Sunil,

A senior's bingo hall? ..ahhh, hit bingo and win free Tilapia for pond forage, for algae eating, for whatever ails your pond and your health...so many things to build and so little time.

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ML, I was going to suggest that the TSST serve a differently prepared tilapia dinner each evening. Then I thought that may go against the tilapia "worship" by-laws.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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 Quote:
Originally posted by ewest:
AMC :

A permit is required to stock tilapia in Miss. Almost impossible to get a permit as you have to prove no outlet to pond can ever get to a creek ot stream. A few years back commercial growers had a few escape down in your area and DWFP became concerned that they could over winter and cause problems. So now next to impossible to use tilapia in Miss. Last time I checked on this was about 1 yr. ago. ewest
No offense to the great state of Mississippi but from my experience your DFW is not very progressive or your state is into trade protectionism big time. I have been flatly told I cannot ship any of my frozen gamefish to taxidermists in Mississippi no way no how. I find this ridiculous.


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Agree, Cecil; but you can come set out all the yo-yo's you want in the great crappie lakes. \:\(


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Say folks! My wife mentioned that she always heard that the fish Jesus used to feed the five- thousand was probably tilapia. Has anyone else heard of this?


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CB1 :

Many of the Miss. administrative agencies have little to say about what can and can't be done as they are set by the Legis. For example almost every aspect of our deer hunting season is set by the Legis. not by the DWFP ( ie not set on biology but on politics). The Legis. is and has been about protectionism for a long time. \:\(
I don't know if either of the matters we are talking about are Legis. or agency results. If I had to guess one of each.Tilapia restriction by the DWFP and your taxi. problem from the Legis. as pressured by local taxis. to protect them from competition. ewest
















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mr willy wrote: "Say folks! My wife mentioned that she always heard that the fish Jesus used to feed the five- thousand was probably tilapia. Has anyone else heard of this"

mr. willy, these are exactly the types of questions you can gain answers to by joining the Templars Shrine of the Sacred Tilapia. Situated on the 150 plus acres of the picturesque Meadowlark Ranch, TSST provides the foundations for living the good life. For a meagerly sum of $1,000,000.00 per month, you can be a founders member.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Sunil:
mr willy wrote: "Say folks! My wife mentioned that she always heard that the fish Jesus used to feed the five- thousand was probably tilapia. Has anyone else heard of this"

mr. willy, these are exactly the types of questions you can gain answers to by joining the Templars Shrine of the Sacred Tilapia. Situated on the 150 plus acres of the picturesque Meadowlark Ranch, TSST provides the foundations for living the good life. For a meagerly sum of $1,000,000.00 per month, you can be a founders member.
:D \:D \:D \:D


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 Quote:
Originally posted by mr willy:
Say folks! My wife mentioned that she always heard that the fish Jesus used to feed the five- thousand was probably tilapia. Has anyone else heard of this?
"Nearly all the species of fish in the lake today are those caught by Peter and his fellow fishermen--carp, sardines, mullet and chichlid, or Tilapia galilaea, which is found on restaurant menus under the name "St. Peter's Fish."

http://www.ourfatherlutheran.net/biblehomelands/galilee/seagalilee.htm


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Down here in Texas the Tilapia are a great success so far. I have said before that ML is the one who got me to try them and I say thanks to him every time I see the results. I have not been thru a winter yet but algae is a done deal and my bluegill are thriving due to the Tilaps taking the pressure off of the BG. It is a lot cheaper than chemicals and any time I can go natural I will. Anyway, I would recommend trying them if you can.

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Here is an interesting observation from our farm:

The last cold front that blew through had me cancelling survey jobs in order to harvest before we lost fish. Our water temps dropped to 56 one morning, which is just borderline mozambique tilapia death sentence. Anyway, we harvested to our holding facility capacity and left the rest, hoping to find someone who wanted quick forage. We did not.

There were 2 ponds left unharvested...one green pond that we knew was full of fish and one clear pond that never accepted feed very well. We figured the clear pond did not produce many this year.

Fish in the green pond are dead...we are raising buzzards. But as I drove around the pond yesterday as the sun was lingering bright and warm I noticed 1000s of tilapia in the clear pond...all in great shape...no fungus.

Moral of the story...clear ponds warm up faster than muddy or green ponds in sunny weather. This hold true with ponds that are clear and dyed blue as well...they warm up more during the daylight hours.

Both of these ponds started out as bluegill ponds early in spring 2005, but algae got out of control and we decided to switch them to tilapia ponds. Both ponds cleaned up by midsummer...stocked with 40 lbs per acre.

I just wanted to state my observations here...not making management or stocking recommendations.


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Todd, I am in Hubbard this weekend and went out to feed the CC's in a couple of small ponds today. These are the 2 lakes I added Tilapia to this summer. I had a couple of tilapia floating in both tanks...One with just a little life left in him. Man, these ponds are as low as I have ever seen them. \:\(


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I frequent this site quite often but never read this thread b/c we can not stock in GA. Well I'm getting my license for SC and I have to fillout permit but appears not too difficult to get them they just want to know where they are going.

I read a few comments but want to know, Overton, Ml, etc. what is rec. stocking rate and Tiliapia sizes for a 45 acre lake and 5 acre lake? thanks


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Greg,

I will respond from my experience, and of course, Todd has a much broader base of experience and knowledge.

Stocking rate depends somewhat on objectives, as usual, for the pond. If the pond has a bad algae problem, then higher rates would be advised. If very clear, then also higher rates and possibly larger sizes would be advisable due to predation. I started with 10 to 20 pounds per acre the first year...smaller ponds at 10 pounds, larger ponds with larger bass at the higher end. I dropped down to 5 pounds per acre for small ponds this year(small being 2 or less acres) and received complete algae control and forage production. I think the previous years experience helped in regard to algae control. In my larger pond, I held to about 10 pounds per acre.

Its kind of like how much of a good thing do you want or can afford. A 45 acre pond/lake, even at 10 pounds per acre, is a bunch of Tilapia.

Size...this is really personal opinion based on experience. I believe, unless you are raising them for personal consumption, the smaller sizes are actually preferable (4 to 6 inch) over the 6 to 8 inch or larger size. A 4 inch Mozambique Tilapia is sexually mature, will begin reproducing immediately. To me, two 4 inch Tilapia are preferable over one 8 inch Tilapia for forage production and algae control. Of course, the other side of the equation is predation. In my experience, the reproductive capabilities of the Tilapia overcome predation limitations and larger sizes are not required. That may change for me now that LMB and HSB are getting to be very large in my largest pond.

My bottom line: first year 10 to 20 pounds per acre of 4 to 6 inch fish and 5 to 10 pounds in succeeding years depending on results. That's based on two years experience with 4 ponds stocked with Mozambique Tilapia.

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I hadn't thought of it, but the number of Tilapia to stock in succeeding years is definitely something the intelligent pond/lake owner/manager would want to adjust based on previous experience.


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ml, thanks for reply. This is first year under mgmt. He has a good populaiton of 2-5 lb bass already. At this time no real algae concerns and we will fertilize to acheive 18-24 inches of vis. I think 6-8 inches would be better than 4 inches but I can only find them so far 3/4-1 lb in size. They are quite a bit less expensive though about $3.50/lb. I'm thinking 10 lbs/acre so 450 lbs would be $1575. He has money but like everythig it is on budget. The other 5 acre pond is new we just put in bg, re, fh about 3 weeks ago. I thought I could use fewer here and smaller size if I could find them. Your thoughts? thanks


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Greg,

Yes, I agree with your analysis and at $3.50 per pound would do the same thing. I'll tell you, if you stock a 1 pounder in the spring, that fish will be huge the following fall...easily over 3 pounds. I caught a 2.9 pound Tilapia this fall from a 6 inch stocking this spring. It will be interesting to see what happens to his bass...I predict smiles all around next fall.

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10-4 glad to hear that will workout I will submit proposal to client. It will be hard to track why the bass are healthier though b/c we are also stocking threadfin shad and improving water quality. So yes he better be all smiles or I'm fired.

ML I will hopefully thank you in person Feb 4th for rec. Are you still planning on coming to GA?


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I think the stocking rate would depend entirely on the ratio of shoreline area:total surface area. Lakes with lots of shoreline habitat (including shallow water) will benefit from more than 30 lbs per acre. For larger lakes with mostly open water as few as 1 lb per acre water.

If you intend to stock tilapia as forage, the most important factor to influence their survival is a good plankton bloom. With clear water no matter what size tilapia you stock....recruitment to advantageous forage size will be close to null.

We were out on a survey yesterday...three lakes stocked with tilapia...they adhere to the shoreline and submerged vegetation like a bluegill, but are extremely difficult to catch with a shocking boat...even pulling 10 amps direct DC currrent.

Hope this helps, Greg


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 Quote:
Originally posted by Theo Gallus:
...the number of Tilapia to stock in succeeding years is definitely something the intelligent pond/lake owner/manager would want to adjust based on previous experience.
Theo,

Perhaps you have seen the theory that one should not stock Tilapia because they will make your numbers of LMB increase and will also increase their size requiring that you must restock Tilapia every year or have a problem with oversized bass.

Their are two big problems with that theory, at least two. First, what is wrong with having lots of large LMB? Second, Tilapia, without question, substantially increased the BG population in each pond I stocked them in. In ponds that clearly were BG difficient and a pond that already had substantial BG, both benefited from Tilapia stocking with increased BG populations.

More BG means more forage and lessens the need for supplemental Tilapia stocking each year (and I might add artificial feeding \:\) ). I don't know yet where that sustaining balance lies, but intend to find out.

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Greg Grimes:
ML I will hopefully thank you in person Feb 4th for rec. Are you still planning on coming to GA?
Greg,

It depends on how close the location is to Birmingham (free Southwest flight from Houston Hobby). If drivable from there, I'll come otherwise probably not. Thanks.

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ML :

From B'ham airport to north Atlanta depending on traffic 3 hours +-. I hope you can come , I hope I can also. ewest
















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ToOdd thanks for extra reply it is pretty open on big lake so I will tak that into consideration. Lots of shoreline for smaller one. You do not have to worry preaching to the choir on being fertilie enough. I have to get it more fertile for shad I'm stocking as well.

ML, it takes right at 2.5 hrs from B-ham to the clubhouse where the meeting will take place.


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 Quote:
Second, Tilapia, without question, substantially increased the BG population in each pond I stocked them in. In ponds that clearly were BG difficient and a pond that already had substantial BG, both benefited from Tilapia stocking with increased BG populations.
Have we ever discussed why the presence of Tilapia improves the condition of BG in a pond? If so, I don't remember it. If it was just the number of BG being higher, that would be pretty easy to understand - LMB preying on Tilapia instead of BG.

My assumption for the reasons behind improved BG condition is that the Tilapia are consuming food (e.g. FA) which is NOT readily usable by BG, so (1) Tilapia do not directly compete with BG for resources. (2) BG may prey on Tilapia fry, directly converting some of the previously unusable food into BG mass. (3) By converting FA back into nutrients to grow plankton, the Tilapia indirectly contribute to the BG food supply.

Does that make sense to anyone?


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First of all, the addition of tilapia improving bluegill condition doesn't intuitively make a lot of sense to me, but it's likely because of my very poor understanding of what it is exactly that tilapia do. I'm really uneducated about them.

Your reasoniong seems sound, in particular #2, but my opinion on this matter probably doesn't hold much weight. Sounds like a good Overton/Grimes/ML/Lusk type question.


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I was going to stock tilapia last spring to take pressure off bluegill as the number one bass prey. With their extreme reproduction I hoped for bass to prey mostly on them instead of bluegills. I believe that is what ML and others refer to.

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Dave agree with you. Is this what your'e saying ML? Because you wrote"Tilapia, without question, substantially increased the BG population in each pond I stocked them in." This is what I question and think theo and BC feel the sameway. I do not see a way they can increase populaiton. I can see as stated how tilapia take pressure off bluegill from bass predation. THis my in turn lead to more successful recuritment into the system. This would appear as increased population but I feel it is a shift in bluegill populaiton size class. See the diff?

I don't really care however I think the tiliapia compete somewhat with bluegill but overall add to the forage base of bass. I also feel this way about threadfin shad. By stocking these species you are supplying more bass food that should result in increased bass growth rates and a higher carrying capacity and that is what many of my clients want.

I'll now step off the soap box, next up?


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 Quote:
Originally posted by Greg Grimes:
. I do not see a way they can increase populaiton. I can see as stated how tilapia take pressure off bluegill from bass predation.
I don't claim to understand all the mechanisms at work with the introduction of Tilapia into an existing LMB/BG pond. I doubt anyone does. I can reliably report actual observations and can theorize as to the cause of those observations, but there are many complex factors at work.

BG populations increased in all ponds. That is a fact. It was not expected, either. I would attribute that result primarily to significantly reduced predation on BG. I also attribute that to making better use of the resources available in your ponds. Algae can be a positive resource...it can feed Tilapia which then turn algae into usable forage...all without taking any resources at all away from other fish such as BG.

Think of it this way...if you could introduce a cow to a ranch that would only eat the weeds that other cows would not, then you make everyone happier...the existing cows, the new cows, the rancher, and those that no longer have to look at the weeds. \:\)

Under this reasoning, one could also postulate that the dependence on artificial feeding to raise LMB could be significantly reduced or perhaps even eliminated without any adverse effects...why? because Tilapia reproduction and high protein content(fact Tilapia highest protein content of any pond forage) may very well equal or at least partially offset the total protein content of artificial feeding. One could also postulate that the dependence on chemicals to control algae could be reduced or even eliminated.

Since I'm on a roll, one could even postulate, if he were a mad scientist, that predators that are feeding on natural forage, that have to hunt/stalk for their food every day, may be just somewhat more aggressive as a result.

Tilapia are a magic fish for my ponds. They are enabling me to achieve my pond objectives of high catch rates of fat predator fish without dependence on artificial substances in the pond management. It's working for me...and thats not to say it would work for everyone or even anyone else.

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ok, I understand what you are saying but can you be more specific? In what regards did you see a increase in your bluegill population? IN other words did you see more small bluegill, more intermediate, or more large bluegill?

I may be on to something here.... if you see more small bluegill... it is likely due to conversion from filamentous algae taking up nutrients to greater produciton in phytoplankton bloom. That would in turn increase the number of bluegill surving from increased food reaching them (zoo's and insects). This is especiallly true since you do not fertilize.

If you see large bluegill it is possible I guess they can fed on tiny tiliapia?

I do not see why you insist on not feeding however? :rolleyes: Maybe this should be on another thread. You state increased growth of fat bass. I thought your theory was fat bass do not bite as well, or was it bass do not feed as well b/c of supplemental feeding. Not saying you do not have fatter bass I believe you :p I just will be fertilzing and supplementally feeding both bluegill and tilapia b/c IMHO it creates a cost effective means to grow more bass food, start another thread for this thought if you like.


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The population of BG increased the most at the small sizes in all ponds. Increase in intermediate sizes was also noted, but primarily in ponds which were low in BG population to begin with. I already had very large BG in my main pond (can routinely catch 10 inch BG in spring and summer) and did not observe any increase in that class there nor in the other ponds as yet. I attribute the very large BG to artificial feeding.

I've no interest in starting a new thread nor in continued arguing with anyone over effects of artificial feeding on the aggressiveness (or lack thereof) of LMB. We've been there and done that, sometimes painfully. A predator that hunts and stalks for its food is likely to be more aggressive than one that has its feed handed to them twice daily. That's my opinion, borne out by considerable personal observation. I don't believe I've been inconsistent in that belief.

I will assert and discuss, however, the possibility that Tilapia can reduce the need for artificial feeding. In fact, in my experimental pond, they are completely replacing artificial feeding without any observed degration in weight gains from the predators, in this case F1 LMB. If you add more usable protein to the pond mix, use the resources (algae) that otherwise go unused, take pressure off BG and thereby increase their numbers...why wouldn't it be possible and even reasonable to see results comparable to or even exceeding artificial feeding? My assertion is that you can, and in fact for one growing season, the results indicate they exceed a pond with artificial feeding and without Tilapia. The journey continues.

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I'm sure Todd will address this subject when he takes a break from backlog of surveys in progress.

I do know that he grew-out his 8-10+ inch HSB in one of his tilapia ponds - with supplemental feeding.

George Glazener

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The article abstracted below should , based on web search results , include a comparison/analysis of a pond with BG and tilapia mosb. and LMB. I don't have access to the paper and did not want to buy it.

Not much on these points in US research (or it is hard to find) but I will keep looking. Have been checking on this off and on for 6 mths.

My 2 cents worth based on what I have found so far. Read the abstract below --it sets out how to determine the answer from a biological factor method .

One article (not a scientific study) by very respected fisheries scientists who happen to run a hatchery and write and cousult on southern ponds concludes that tilapia (so long as they are subject to winter die off) do help improve greatly the BG forage base because they reduce predation of BG by LMB . This was not a long term study or conclusion but I would rely and have on these authors. There are other articles that draw this conclusion also. What they seem to be reporting is that both quantity and quality of BG 3 in. and over are easily seen. After all that is what is visible ( it is hard to see very small BG). Other info from FishBase and studies on what juiv. ( less tha 3in. BG and Tilapia eat clearly indicate that juiv. BG and tilapia eat some (? how much) of the same things including the range of zoo/planktonic diets. There is no indication they both eat FA (BG don't-- tilapia do) but they do compete for some food at this life stage. BG also eat small tilapia. In the long run this may help or hurt with the recruitment of BG -- who knows. Even if BG rect. is reduced and it causes a negative effect it can easily be managed around. One thing I am sure of is that once you start a program of increased forage base whether by feeding or fert. or stocking ( no matter what type of forage fish BG , TS, tilapia etc, )you will get an increase in predator biomass which to remain healthy must continue to get the increased forage unless you intend to remove a lot of predators. But that is ok -- it is one of the recognized facts and advantages (? disadvantages) of an active pond management approach. If I find more I will repost. ewest


Article

Hydrobiologia (Historical Archive)
Publisher: Springer Science+Business Media B.V., Formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V.
ISSN: 0018-8158 (Paper) 1573-5117 (Online)
DOI: 10.1007/BF00018201
Issue: Volume 231, Number 3

Date: April 1992
Pages: 177 - 186
Ecological aspects of fish species interactions in polyculture ponds
Ana Milstein1

(1) Fish & Aquaculture Research Station, Dor M.P., 30820 Hof HaCarmel, Israel

Received: 12 December 1990 Revised: 19 June 1991 Accepted: 3 July 1991

Abstract The relationships between cultivated fish species and their environment is largely dependent on the biological characteristics of the fish and the degree of intensification of the culture. In extensive and semi-intensive systems, based on natural production, stocking fish species of different feeding habits together enables a more efficient utilization of pond resources. In polyculture systems only a proper combination of ecologically different species at adequate densities will utilize the available resources efficiently, maximize the synergistic fish-fish and fish-environment relationships and minimize the antagonistic ones. Synergistic interactions among fish species may be explained on the basis of two interrelated processes: increase of food resources and improvement of environmental conditions. Antagonistic interactions occur between incompatible species combinations and when the stocking rates are balanced; in this case, the way the system is affected depends on the food chain level were the imbalance occurs. Several examples of synergism and antagonism at different levels of the food chain are analyzed in this paper. The knowledge of fish-fish and fish-environment quantitative relationships enables choosing adequate combinations of fish species, stocking rates, input types and rates, and other management decisions according to the specific local conditions: climate, quality of water supply and pond fertility, availability of fish fry and fingerlings, availability of feeds and fertilizers, and market requirements.
















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About a month ago I had e-mailed ML and had commented that since I had stocked the Tilpia in the early spring evry time I throw the cast net now that I see many more BG of various sizes. So for what it is worth I see the big improvement in BG production or survival. And all the algae and chara are gone. This was the first year that I have tried the Tilapia. Very satisfied so far. Thanks again ML. Spent approx. $200 on three tanks (ponds).

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Ewest very well stated agree 100%.

ML, not trying to argue with you. Wanted another thread b/c it is a little of topic. I guess I can agree to disagree about somethings. I just wanted to clarify b/c I thought you said helathy bass are less likely to chase a lure? You state "A predator that hunts and stalks for its food is likely to be more aggressive than one that has its feed handed to them twice daily." The bass I'm talking about do not eat the feed so he has to chase the bluegill around the feeder. How does feeding create a diff situation than tons of tilapia in the water column. If tilipia and now bluegill are numerous the bass do not have to chase them as much. Sorry do not see how you argue the bass are less agressive with a feeder.

I once again state by feeding and growing more bluegill/tilapia I'm making more bass food thus helathier bass thus more of them to catch and b/c they are healthy has nothing to do with the fact they bite a lure the same as well as if we were not feeding. Ok that sentence was way to long but hope it made sense.

Ok, back to tilapia, you think you have more small bluegill. Cool do you think your water was more green than in years past? If so this is great news b/c the tilapia should help me with fertilization program. thanks for info.


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 Quote:
Originally posted by Greg Grimes:
I just wanted to clarify b/c I thought you said helathy bass are less likely to chase a lure?
Greg,

I never said that, thought it, or even dreamed it.

However, I'm sure someone will research the archives in an attempt to prove otherwise.

What I have said is that pure strain Florida LMB in small ponds with high fishing pressure and artificial feeding become lure shy. I said that because I've observed it repeatedly.

In solving any problem that has complex variables, it is common practice to attempt to isolate one variable and hold all the others constant. I once tried to explain this by saying that "all other things being equal" a LMB that has to hunt for its forage rather than lie in wait at the feeder is likely to be more aggressive than the LMB fed to satiation at the feeders. Yes, I still believe that.

Thanks EWEST for providing the studies and to Casca for providing his experience.

Perhaps now most of us can agree that the introduction of Tilapia can indeed increase BG populations. If we can agree on that, then it should not be a diffficult extension of logic to say that yes, indeed if the BG populations increase with the addition of Tilapia, especially in the small BG class size, then yes it is possible that the introduction of Tilapia could indeed provide results comparable to artificial feeding. By results, I'm referring to the weight and health of the LMB predators.

If I can get comparable weight gains from LMB in a pond with Tilapia vs a pond with artificial feeding (and I have demonstrated that to myself in one year on an experimental F1 pond), I know which method I'm going to follow. In addition, on the far out chance that the hypothesis I advanced on a negative correlation of artificial feeding to LMB aggressiveness (all other things being equal, remember) has any merit whatsoever, then I'm also inclined to pursue the approach that eliminates that possibility without adverse impacts (The only impact I can see is that I may not be able to raise 10 inch plus BG in a short time like I can in an artificially fed pond).

I see no unmitigated risks in terms of weight gain in LMB. Tilapia cost less than artificial feed...even at $10 per pound. Tilapia do not introduce the large amounts of waste created by artificial feeding and further, they utilize algae which is otherwise wasted, or worse, treated with chemicals to kill and add mass to pond bottoms. Yes, I am an unabashed fan of Tilapia. I prefer them greatly over chemicals and/or other artificial substances.

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ML and Greg,
I’m changing to strictly BG/Tilapia natural feeding program for our HSB/BG pond by necessity, and based as well on Todd’s successful “grow-out” HSB/Tilapia experience, and ML's ongoing LMB/Tilapia/BG experiment.
.
By necessity rather that design – the goats knocked down the feeder pole and the raccoons finished by destroying the Native Feeder impeller for the second time…!

My thoughts are to manage the predator/prey relationship by put and take HSB from – or to – main pond with large HSB.

Pond is presently stocked with one year old HSB, RES, and 8-10 inch CNBG breeding pairs stocked late summer
No LMB or CC allowed in this pond – only HSB, CNBG, RES and Tilapia…. !

The two year old pond will be ¼ acre and 12 ft deep if ever full - probably no more than 4-5 ft presently.

You thoughts?
George Glazener

N.E. Texas ¼ acre and 2 acre ponds if it ever rains

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George,

I'm very interested in how the HSB perform without artificial feeding. I've been afraid to "turn off" the feeders in the HSB pond because HSB are primarily an open water fish. Tilapia and to some extent BG are basically shoreline fish...not really that complementary to HSB. On the other hand, I believe that Tilapia and BG are very complementary to LMB and can completely replace artificial feeding.

If you had threadfin shad also in your HSB pond, then I would say your chances with the HSB without feeding would be increased considerably.

Todd has agreed to try to establish threadfins in my HSB pond this spring. If we can get them established, then I will join you in a completely natural forage based system in all ponds.

I've tried twice before to get them established(threadfins) and also have gizzard shad, but neither have been able to survive the foracious predation of the HSB. Todd believes that if we try his larger threadfins that are spawning ready, they will establish. I hope so.

p.s. man, you have some aggressive goats \:\)

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I guess I'll chime in on this. I have tilapia now for about 18 months. They survive the winter at my place so I have only done one stocking of 100 6-8".

What I have seen so far in the forage population. The BG have gone from a few large and medium ones to alot of small and medium ones in this time. Not much increase in larger size. Redears have come back with a vengance. I have gone from very few to hundreds weighing up to 1.5lbs.

Average LMB weight has increased .25-1lbs pending on length. I don't think that it is all directly related to tilapia but I'm sure that the indirect relationship is there.

On cold days like today, 25 degrees this morning, you can see hundreds of tilapia stacked in there where the warm well water runs in.

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Ml said: “HSB are primarily an open water fish.”

Do you believe this to be factual based on your experience, or because it is a “tried and true” assumption?

Before I stocked HSB, the little pond was full of year old fathead minnows.
The smaller fatheads disappeared quickly but took time for HSB to grow large enough to completely eliminate the larger minnows, which were observed mainly along the shoreline.

I have always been told that HSB are open water feeders similar to their striped bass parents. I believe this to be true, but only during the hottest weather months.

You will find that striped bass follow the food, into shallow shoreline structure most of the year. They will chase shad out on the bank at times.

I have only 3 years experience with HSB, but more than 20 years with the stripes – it will be interesting.

I believe they will follow the food.

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George :

I believe with active management you can be successful with what you are planning with your small pond. The trick will be to keep all the factors in balance. Here are the questions I see. One -- will there be enough zoo/planktonic , FA and natural food for the pery species BG/RE/tilapia. Two -- will the water quality support their number and growth along with the HSB. Three -- Assuming 1 & 2 can be done can the HSB control/balance the pery enough to keep them from over populating to the point of first stunting and second reaching to high a biomass with the resultant loss of water quality. In a pond that small (assuming there is not a bunch of brush/trees in there) the HSB will follow the food ( they may be able to see or sense them from the other side of the pond) and will only be limited by gape size (size of mouth opening). ewest
















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 Quote:
Originally posted by TEXAS715:
Redears have come back with a vengance. I have gone from very few to hundreds weighing up to 1.5lbs.
Now that's dang interesting. I haven't seen that, but I probably don't have enough readears to be effected. Interesting.

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TEXAS715,

Do you have the means to post a photo of a 1.5 pound redear sometime? Your situation is particularly interesting to me, and actually I'd just like to see what a redear that big looks like.

Thanks,

Bruce


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 Quote:
Originally posted by george:
Ml said: “HSB are primarily an open water fish.”

Do you believe this to be factual based on your experience, or because it is a “tried and true” assumption?
George,

You should know me better than that. \:\)

Nothing I ever post is influenced by any so called "tried and true". I only post from my own personal eyes and hands on observations....never what someone else may have written or said or called tried and true.

In my HSB pond, which also has Florida LMB, the HSB take the open areas and the LMB take the shallows and shorelines. Yes, on occasion, I have observed HSB in shallows but very rarely and only briefly. They are extremely nervous when in shallow water. Also, I've never caught a HSB in anything but the deeper open areas of the pond. That is what I based my comments on and why I think threadfin shad and/or gizzard shad would be a wise choice if no artificial feeding. I'm not saying the HSB won't do just fine with a Tilapia/ BG forage, cause I think they will. I just think they will grow better, in the presence of LMB, with an open water forage.

I don't know about a "pure" HSB pond, i.e. one that does not have any other predator other than HSB. I would venture a guess that they might indeed follow the food in that case, including into more shallow areas. I've observed that in the presence of some large Florida LMB, the HSB do not "follow the food" into shallow structured areas. They avoid those situations.

I recall a couple or more occasions where I've sat on my shallow water pier and thrown a steady small amount of pellet food out. The HSB will come in and check it out, but at the first sign of a big LMB, they don't come back.

That's my experience...tried and true notwithstanding. \:\)

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Just kind of a side note, FYI...

I've fished for HSB in reservoirs in size from 100 acres to 30,000 acres for the last twenty years. I even take two and a half days off of work per week during the months of April and May specifically to fish for these characters.

When water temperatures approach ideal spawning range, i.e. 60-65 degrees F., HSB are oriented to the shallowest, most oxygenated water they can find. When the wind blows to a shallow point they will be THICK in the shallows. During the rest of the year HSB can be found foraging in shallows usually in low light hours, and in clear water will feed on crayfish right on the rocks of the dam at midnight. They're known as a pelagic species which means essentially that that will cruise open waters in pursuit of prey, but that only applies, of course, to times when the prey are actually in open waters.

I would estimate HSB occupation of shallow vs. deep water in reservoirs as follows:

Spring/pre-spawn and spawn--75% shallow, 25% deep

Summer and fall--90% deep, 10% shallow

One reason for HSB occupation of deeper waters in summer is their need for well oxygenated water that is, preferably, under 84 degrees F.

That being said...these are reservoir observations and may have little or no validity when talking about ponds, where the forage type and availability are entirely different.


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ML, my disagreement is based on my feeling as an “amateur”, is that I should not make statements of fact without qualification, however well intended, that casual forum readers may accept as fact. \:\) \:\) \:\)

Ml said: “HSB are primarily an open water fish.”

If your definition of open water is beyond the weed line, I may agree with you, otherwise not.

Bruce said:
“I would estimate HSB occupation of shallow vs. deep water in reservoirs as follows:
Spring/pre-spawn and spawn--75% shallow, 25% deep

Bruce, I agree with you on this, but gender must be taken into effect with pure striped bass:

“Males begin their spawning run 1 to 3 weeks before the females when water temperature is less than 15 C.
Females striped bass begin their spawning migration when water temperature is around 15C.” (SRAC - Hybrid Striped Bass, Hatchery Phase – R.G. Hodson and M. Hayes)

I presume HSB attempts to spawn will follow the same pattern?

Bruce said:
“That being said...these are reservoir observations and may have little or no validity when talking about ponds, where the forage type and availability are entirely different.”

Agree emphatically!!!!!!!!

ML I believe that our HSB, BG, and Tilapia program has been pretty much parallel, but our fishing methods may different.
We may be observing different things.

I must qualify my statements by an “amateur, I must be careful mot to confuse 3+ years HSB experience with one year experience three times…… \:D

George Glazener

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George,

Was your question in relation to your 1/4 acre pond or 2 acre pond or both? I was trying to answer thinking it was your 2 acre pond, but looking back maybe you were only talking about the 1/4 acre pond.

HSB as an open water fish has little or no meaning in most 1/4 acre ponds. There just isn't any significant "open water" in my 1/4 acre pond. Also, I doubt threadfin shad would have any chance at all in a 1/4 acre pond filled with HSB.

However, a 2 acre pond is diffferent. By open water, I meant several feet (at least 5 or 6) away from the shoreline in areas generally greater than 6 feet deep and containing little structure where the HSB has long "runways" where it can herd and attack bait fish.

I repeat, I have never caught a HSB in my larger pond outside of that open water zone. If you routinely see them and catch them outside that zone in your 2 acre pond, then yes our situations are very different.

Bruce, I would be interested in your experience with HSB in ponds. The behavior in large reservoirs may or may not be indicative of the behavior in small ponds. Do you also, apparently like George, catch HSB routinely in those areas outside of what I have described as "open water", i.e. in what most would describe as LMB shallow structure water? If so, then I must have an aberrant situation. I guess it wouldn't be the first time. \:\)

At any rate, the question from George was how we felt his HSB would do in the absence of artificial feeding with a Tilapia/BG forage base.

In the 1/4 acre pond, I don't have experience and don't know. In the 2 acre size pond, I believe they will do fine, but would greatly benefit from a threadfin shad forage base, in addition, because, in my ponds, both HSB and shad prefer open waters. Thanks.

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George is right about the sex difference. I failed to mention that during the spring the male HSB are shallow every chance they get, and the females are more hit and miss.

One of the most remarkable things I've ever seen in a pond was spring of 2001 when I was walking around my 1.25 acre rec. pond. As I approached the pond I could see that my water was extremely muddy in the SW corner. When I got closer saw at least 100 of my HSB spinning around in circles, with the biggest fish right in the center (presumably females) going through a false spawn. Pretty impressive. When the fish were stocked I assumed that there wouldn't be any spawning activity, but I was dead wrong.

ML, during the summer I could catch fish in 2 feet of water at first light. The HSB were herding BG YOY into the shallows. During the day, however, the fish were almost always deep and usually inactive.


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Ml, you did not answer do you think the pond was greener, les vis, than prior to tilapia?, thanks

I understand you point...I just have never, not even once, seen a bass feed to satiation at a feeder. So I will be stocking tilapia and feeding.

You mention feeder and fishing pressure, yet in your experiment you stopped both and have reported better catches, right? I think it is the fishing pressure that makes the diff not the feeding.

On HSB when we shock them from ponds they have always been near the deeper water.


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 Quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Condello:
ML, during the summer I could catch fish in 2 feet of water at first light. The HSB were herding BG YOY into the shallows. During the day, however, the fish were almost always deep and usually inactive.
Bruce,

The entire frame of reference for my statements about HSB as an open water fish was in a pond with relatively small HSB and relatively large (in excess of 5 pounds, Florida LMB). In that setting, in my pond, HSB may occasionally go shallow, but not more than once or twice. \:\)

I tried to state in my response to George that the presence of large LMB may cause different behavior patterns. LMB dominate the shorelines and HSB take the open areas in my pond. Without LMB, the HSB may very well exhibit different behavior.

So, in an effort to determine if my situation is aberrant, do you also have LMB in those ponds in which you routinely see HSB frequent the shallow areas?

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My position is/was that HSB will follow the food (Tilapia & BG) – if they are in the presence of big LMB – they are the food.

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Greg Grimes:
Ml, you did not answer do you think the pond was greener, les vis, than prior to tilapia?, thanks
Greg,

My apology...got caught up in a side discussion on HSB. You asked an interesting question and after my answer, I'm most interested in your thoughts, please.

In the experimental pond that was renovated within the past two years and restocked, I do not have a baseline before and after Tilapia on the 'Green" factor. However, I will say that I have observed it to be remarkably green even without fertilizers or the presence of livestock. It is an isolated pond, completely alone most of the time....receives no runoff fertilizers either from any source I know of. It is limed, as are all my ponds. Why it is "green" (18 inches all summer and even until just recently) has been a mystery to me, but you may have very well explained it.

My other 4 acre pond has always had a green tint to it. I have always assumed that was becasue of the heavy livestock presence in the areas that drain into that pond. I must say, now that you have questioned me, it has had a slightly greener tint in the last two years with Tilapia. I wish I had exact measurements to give you on water clarity, but do not. Okay, your turn. Thanks.

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Greg, ML, Bruce and others, when fishing Lake Texoma in cooler weather months, if I run my big motor into shallow water the stripers, as well as white bass, will be spooked.
If I ease into casting distance on my trolling motor, I will often catch them in 5 ft of water or less, stripes up to 20 pounds……

I am not convinced that HSB do not inherit the genetic traits of their parents.
Indeed HSB are spooky fish – but - they follow the food.

Appreciate all the input guys – if you return my original post you will find that my query addressed strictly a BG/RES/Tilapia/HSB pond with no LMB or CC present.
George

ps: If it doesn’t rain soon this conversation will be totally academic….

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Here is some photos that I took this past spring of the bream that I caught.



This was a month later.



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Those are gorgeous fish! Who wouldn't like to have a pond with awesome panfishing and big ones to boot?! Good job. I'd appreciate any future chances for updates on the condition of the redear fishery. Thanks.


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ML, with that kind of water, that explains alot. We rarely if ever see water very green less than 18 inches visibility unless we fertilize. You have some great water quality and I thnk the tilapia only help keep it that way. You have a great combo going and I see how heavy feeding it could cause a problem. Here if you want to get close to maximum carrying capacity we need to lime/fertilie and feed. thanks for reply.

Nice Redear!


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ML :

Here is what I have been trying to find (sort of) for you , another early xmas gift. See below which involved tilapia (blue). I assume no pratical difference. This was very hard to find . \:\) ewest

Effects of Cover and Prey Size on Preferences of Juvenile
Largemouth Bass for Blue Tilapias and Bluegills in Tanks !
HAROLD L. SCHRAMM, JR.
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
School of Forest Resources and Conservation
ALEXANDER V. ZALE
Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
School of Forest Resources and Conservation
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611

Abstract
The effects of vegetative cover and relative size of prey were tested on the forage preference of
juvenile largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides offered blue tilapias Tilapia aurea and bluegills
Lepomis macrochirus in laboratory electivity experiments. When offered forage at or near the
maximum consumable size in tanks without vegetative cover, largemouth bass preferred bluegills,
but consumed blue tilapias in the presence of vegetation. When offered forage smaller than the
maximum consumable size in tanks without vegetation, largemouth bass selected blue tilapias.
Differences between the forage species in body morphology and effective use of protective cover
apparently caused the changes in prey selection. Our results suggest blue tilapias may be a suitable
forage for largemouth bass, but that habitat characteristics and relative size distributions of other
available forage may affect their use.

Quote :

The increased consumption of blue tilapias by
largemouth bass in the vegetated tanks suggest
that blue tilapias did not use vegetative cover to
escape predation as effectively as bluegills.

However, our casual observations of blue
tilapias in aquaria indicate they are not as in-
clined to enter cover when frightened as bluegills.

Juvenile
largemouth bass selectively foraging on blue ti-
lapias when vegetation is present may further
reduce predation on bluegills. Shaftand et al.
(1983) found an increase in the abundance of
small bluegills in a vegetated lake containing
largemouth bass and an expanding population of
blue tilapias.

SHAFLAND, P. L., R. J. WATTENDORF, R. S. ANDERSON,
AND R. J. METZGER. 1983. Annual report for
non-native fish research 1982. Florida Game and
Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee, FL,
USA.
















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EWEST,

Thanks again. You are truely the master at research and we are all lucky you post it here on the Forum!

Seems like everything points to the very real probability that BG do indeed increase with the stocking of Tilapia...our Pond Boss' experiences support that finding and the research does as well. Just another bonus from a marvelous pond fish.

I look forward to the study that compares the effects on LMB weight from stocking a LMB/BG pond with Tilapia vs artificial feeding. A lot of complex variables there at work and difficult to have a controlled comparison, but a great study for some enterprising researcher, nonetheless. Based on my meager experiments in my limited ponds, the tilapia are going to either win or very much hold their own in that contest.

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Gosh this thread is sprinting! I've been busy...but will take some time to address a few issues.

I believe that HSB-Tilapia ponds could be very productive but success depends on several factors.

1. HSB size structure: Since HSB have relatively small mouths reative to their body size, I am of the opinion that tilapia fry COULD grow fast enough to find themselves safe from predation in short time in presence of small HSBs. Optimum HSB size may have to be 2#+ to make tilapia forage work consistently.

2. HSB population: I wouldn't expect success in situations where HSB population was more than 100/acre without supplemental feeding.

3. Tilapia food availability: Young tilapia need plankton or algae for fast growth. Fertilizer is recommended....and if you are opposed to inorganic I would recommend organic fertilizers like cottonseed meal to encourage plankton production.

4. Alternative forage: Since HSBs feed during cold months, an alternative food source would be necessary to maintain proper nutritional needs. Bluegill...threadfin shad...minnows.

My experience with HSBs at high density in small shallow farm ponds (3/4 acre and below) has shown that fish will feed in very shallow water as long as DO is at desirable levels.

Tilapia fry and fingerling survival rate in our HSB grow out pond was relatively good when HSBs were say less than 5", but we've seen that tilapia population dwindle since the HSBs grew past that point. Tilapia fry and small fingerlings were extremely abundant through the summer and early fall...streaming down the shoreline with fear in their eyes. We slowed the artificial feeding program after first cold front in October. At that time our max HSB size was 10", after being stocked at a 2" size in late June. Harvest with seine 2 weeks ago revealed a few HSBs over 12". Keep in mind we stocked HSBs at a rate of 10000/acre for fingerling production.

There has been some discussion addressing bluegill and redear population and size increase associated with tilapia. We have learned for a fact that perch will eat large numbers of tilapia fry.

Results of our fall surveys reveal that tilapia don't appear to have any negative impact on bluegill/redear population size, just some very happy LMBs.


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Eastland's 2005 abstract : Pro's - All my fish are fat, bgill can be caught a dime a dozen from the shoreline, fathead minnows still exist. HSB & Catfish stocked at 3-4" mid-April are now 12". LMB seem to prefer Tilapia over bgill, I tried to get a pic of a big LMB trying to position a 8" tilapia for a meal, but couldn't get close enough. I hand feed, only twice a month...with a good turnout. Tilapia numbers must have been extremely low by Fall, only a few larger ones sighted when water was 54 degrees. I did not witness a fish kill due to absense during our drop in temps. Con's - Do not plan on catching them unless you have dynamite...I fished regulary and failed to accidentally foul hook one...tried bread, worms, and live crickets, cabbage, etc. They did not devour all vegetation...I had thick brushy pondweed before the cooler temps in shallow areas...no algae though.

2006 - I held back 7 breeding adults, they are currently in my 90 gallon aquarium, I will be transferring their offspring into a standby 48 gallon aquarium as they arrive. By Mid April, I will have hundreds available to begin the cycle all over again. I prefer the Hybrid orange Moz. Tilapia...they are easily seen in the shallows and make extremely easy prey.



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They spawn in your aquarium? What do you have to do to get them to spawn? The more details the better.

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ML did you get any of this really cold weather last week? I had sleet and it didn't get over freezing for over a day. I lost a bunch of tilapia, I guess they couldn't get in the warm current of the well. The dead ones can be seen from the dock. I don't think it was really a bad thing since most of them are large, over 15", and there are plenty left in the warm water to repopulate. I will try posting some pictures of them so you get a better idea of size I had. I did weight a coupld and they came in between 3.5 and 4.25lbs.

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Texas715,

Yes, we did...unfortunately the danged raccoons chewed up my pond thermometer and I couldn't get good readings on the water temps...but the Tilapia are all dead, I believe. Just like last year there were very few visible dead fish, less than half dozen large ones, no small ones. Once again it appears that most all were consumed by the LMB and HSB, which again shows that even in death Tilapia contribute to the pond.

I'd bet you have some approaching 5 pounds. If you are into records, you should file for the Texas private waters record for Tilapia. You would set a record that might never be broken.

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ML :

A little off topic but of interest wrt the coons. Ours like yours are aggressive . Last spring when I had to be at the pond at night to get a beaver out (no traps just lead) several coons would come to the fish feeder at dark and stick their paws in the opening to dig out food and eat that which was on the ground at waters edge. So the next day I set the timer to go off an extra time 10 min. after dark. Well one of the bandits was right in front of the opening of the feeder eating a couple of pellets with its nose about 12 in. away when dark + 10 arrived. He got a suprise nose job . Nither the noise or the beaver search light mattered to them . They come back often but do not fool with the front food shoot of the feeder.
















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EWEST,

That's both interesting and surprising...East Texas coons would have been back with a bucket to catch the feed and pass it around to all family and friends. Pellets for everyone! \:\)

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\:D \:D
















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Eastland,
I stocked 100 of the orange tilapia sometime back and there are probably more of them, now, than any other fish in my pond. I have conditioned the tilapia to eat all manner of veggies, I feed fruit or vegetables almost everyday. I can catch every other tilapia except the orange. Out of almost 200 caught one was orange and that was just bad luck on it's part. The tilapia appear to be cross breeding so it will be interesting to see if they all bite or all ignore the bait. How do you get a hook into the dynamite, it crumbles when I try.


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Heck Rad, I couldn't even get the ones I bought from Overton's Hatchery to bite...there was just too much room and too much vegetation in my pond for them to bother with bait.

BrianH, getting the tilapia to breed in my aquarium is a no-brainer...feed them well, clean the filters once a week, and keep the water temp around 78 degrees. They grow over an inch a month, and when they are 3", they breed like clockwork every 6 weeks or so. At that rate, little ones now an inch long, should begin breeding in Feb. with their first offspring entering the spring stocking as adults. It's a fun hobby and I can stock them at different intervals as they grow.

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Thanks but you don't manipulate light at all? If I ever get me any I will have them in a shop/shed and will have to give them some light.

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ML

I saw one mid size talapia on it's side in the shallow last weekend(East Texas). The Talapia in my water garden in the backyard didn't make it either. The weekend before I was able to catch more than a dozen over a pound on powerbait pellets while throwing out feed. The water was cool enough that the bluegill weren't biting so the only problem was the HB. As an added bonus I've got a pair of Bald Eagles hanging out there.............a first for me. I'm loading up on Talapia next spring as my LB f-1s are like footballs..........

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Brian, I keep a 48" 40w flourecent light on them at all times. Here are 4 of the youngsters, they need cichlid food, most other high protein feed is too high in fat and will kill them.



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I was kicking around an idea and would appreciate some feed back. First is there a way to identify and seperate out the (6-8") size male from the female(6-8") Talapia. Than perhaps a way to jump start you reproduction forage in the first generation of fish might be to stock 3 females to every male. I'd certainly be willing to pay more per pound for a stocking program like this. Any hatcheries willing to consider the idea ?

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We tried it this spring for our own production in one pond. We stocked large select 1#+ males and much smaller females at equal weights per acre. This resulted in probably a 5 to ratio of females to males. Please keep in mind that males grow faster and larger than females, since females devote significant energy to raise babies and males need fast growth for competition. Results were tremendous....notably higher numbers produced. It would work in most ponds, but I doubt anyone (including myself) would go to the trouble to sex and split the fish at $8-$10 per lb...especially since nobody seems to be complaining about traditional tilapia stocking success.


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Assuming the tilapia will be subject to winter die off and they are being stocked for extra forage then it seems it would be good to stock them 50/50 or in their normal % mix. The males with fast growth would use energy to produce more lbs. of forage per unit of pond capicity/energy , while the females are creating new recruits. With one growing season only I would think that a mix would optimize the growth potential of the pond and create a mix of forage sizes for all sizes and types of predators. Does a tilapia spawn generally result in equal numbers of male and female ? I don't know much about tilapia but with most forage fish you want a mix of sizes if you have a mix of predator sizes. If one size class of either prey or predator is to big it can cause imbalance in the fish size dynamics of the pond. For example to many small LMB in a bass crowded pond or to many small BG in a stunted BG pond. Do tilapia work that much differently than BG ? What am I missing ?
















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 Quote:
Originally posted by LakeL:
ML

I saw one mid size talapia on it's side in the shallow last weekend(East Texas). The weekend before I was able to catch more than a dozen over a pound on powerbait pellets while throwing out feed. The water was cool enough that the bluegill weren't biting so the only problem was the HB. As an added bonus I've got a pair of Bald Eagles hanging out there.............a first for me. I'm loading up on Talapia next spring as my LB f-1s are like footballs..........
LakeL,

Identical thing happened to me last year. I caught about 30 Tilapia, and caught them one after the other until I ran out of bait. The key is getting them away from the BG, just like you did.

Amazingly, I also had a pair of Bald Eagles at my place last year feeding on dead/dieing Tilapia in a pond which didn't have any LMB predators. I wonder if it is the same pair of Eagles? I wrote about it last year as a side benefit of Tilapia. \:\)

I expect they come from Lake Livingston where they do have a winter colony of them. That is one of the neatest sights in nature. I'd really love to know if it is the same pair. One was much smaller than the other..sound right?

p.s. my F1's are also like footballs, with extended stomachs from eating so much Tilapia. Not a single pellet of artificial feed either.

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Update on my Tilapia die off. As I mentioned before it finally got cold enough for Tilapia to die. The good news is that the ones that I have seen dead are of the larger sizes only, between 17" - 25". I still have seen plenty of smaller ones in the shallow warm water near the well and now that the weather has warmed backup, temps lately have been in the mid 70's and tomorrow is supposed to be in the low 80's (gotta luv Texas), schools have been seen in the shallows near cover.

The smell of the dead fish was starting to get bad that I had to go out and pick up the ones near the dock. In a 50 yard shoreline I picked up 175 of them. This filled up the front loader on my tractor but was able to relocate them to a remote corner of my property for the buzzards to feast. I must have the entire population of buzzards in Texas stopping here to eat.

I did manage to weigh and measure most of the none eaten ones and the sizes are amazing. Remember I only stocked 100 of them just over 18 months ago. Biggest one so far comes in at 25" and 6.75lbs. I don't know if death and bloating are any factor but I was supprised how large they can get. Besides the buzzards I do believe it was a good thing in the long run. A LMB couldn't eat these that I have seen so I look at it as natures way of controlling my population. There are survivors so I won't have to be restocking.

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don't count your chickens yet. TX715 here it has been an early winter as well. But max low water temps usually occur in Feb. so if similiar you might still have another dieoff b/f it is over, but hope your well water keeps the others thru the winter. Keep me informed b/c a client gettig them next year has a big well water source. thanks


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Texas715,

Thanks for that interesting update...I'm really not surprised by the size you are seeing. Just in one growing season, I've had them reach almost three pounds. It's probably a good thing that you are getting some winter kill.

By the way, no, you don't have the entire population of Texas buzzards...there's still many in East Texas. \:\)

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Calais,

Does your offer extend to East Texas guys? \:\) \:\)

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If I had a trailor and was closer, I'd offer to bring my dozer and see if we couldn't help clean out your pond in exchange for some Tilapia in the future...it would be well worth it to me.

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PO's post back in November inspired me to give the tilapia another chance since I am in about the same climate as he. While researching the subject I came across a professor at a University about 15 miles from me that has a tilapia program already in place. I pitched the idea of stocking tilapia in Ohio ponds for their obvious benefits. I also acknowledged the drawbacks of our short season here. He is willing to give me "several hundred" 2" fish. The only condition is I have to take them in the next two weeks!

I obviously can't stock them now (ice on the pond Saturday) so the problem was overwintering them until the water temp is 62 deg.=late May or early June. The tilapia will need enough time to grow large enough to escape bass predation as well. I was considering constructing a "rubbermaid" system similar to one Bruce Condello is using for perch or even setting up several aquariums like Eastland. The wife already shot down the trout stream in the basement idea so I knew a project of this size would be a hard sell.

The local tech school has a greenhouse so I asked them if they would be interested in housing such a project if I provide the tank, feed, fish. The program that is using the greenhouse is a combination of landscape mgmt., pond mgmt., and horticulture and I thought this would fit in nicely. It just so happens that they have a 4000 gallon tank not being used but they do not have a heater or filtration and they do not have room in their greenhouse. They do however have room in one of their classrooms. The room is kept between 65 and 70 deg. They estimated that a heater and filtration system will likely cost about $750. The heater alone about $500 and they are not sure if they can secure enough funds.

So, here are my questions:
#1 What size heater will we need to keep the water temp. at 75 deg.?
#2 How big will they grow to, starting from 2"now, by Early June? I think I read something like .02 percent per day but I hoped someone could give me a round-a-bout estimate.
#3 Given the size scenario in #2 will filtration be need for 400 fish in a 4000 gal. tank if aerated?
#4 Anyone know where to get a cheap heater or will it even be needed?




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Ryan :

Can't answer them all but here is some info on heaters.

As noted it is a cost issue. See the link below for a temp. controller for a heater at about $100. The link in post above has quite a few options including pond heaters which may work well for a small RAS but most inexpensive heaters are usualy set for a bottom temp. of 40 and only adjustable above that temp. ewest

http://www.aquaticeco.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/product.detail/iid/9207/cid/2214

pond heaters:

http://www.aquaticeco.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/listings.categories/ssid/378
















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Calais,

How do you intend to get your tilapia established in order to provide them within a reasonable time frame to members? Usually we don't see tilapia fry until May/June, then it is several months until they are large enough to stock. You'd have to overwinter to be able to provide advanced size fish in April.

Just my thoughts.


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Ryan-
#1 What size heater will we need to keep the water temp. at 75 deg.? If the temperature in the greenhouse stays above 65 I think you could get by with 10,000 watts although 3-5 watts per gallon is recommended with more volatile temperature fluctuation.
3 Given the size scenario in #2 will filtration be need for 400 fish in a 4000 gal. tank if aerated? Yes a good pump and filtration is mandatory to keep the ammonia levels in control. The answer as to size of the filter depends on how much you plan to feed. Question #2 also depends on how much food and filtration you will use. About 6% of the food you add will end up as nitrogenous waste in a few hours. The amount of ammonia produced by 400 active fish will be enormous. If there is any way you could get 40 3-4 inch fish they will produce a lot of fry and fingerling's in their long overwinter. If you want my opinion, you would be much better off ordering from the nearest hatchery that will provide them when your water temperature hits 60 degrees. This is a huge project to keep that many fish healthy for 7 months of the year. You will need to learn every aspect of aquarium keeping: Preparing your filter to receive the huge amount of fish by adding ammonia and niter bacteria to the aquarium before they arrive, Monthly 25% water changes to keep the nitrates in check, chemical filtration, fresh water for evaporation losses, aeration, testing, backup pumps, diseases-- just to name a few of the problems you will face.


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I have one question. Is there a well water source and if so what is the water temperature? Answers to your specific questions can be addressed by the technical folks at aquatic ecosystems out of Florida. I don't have the number on me right now but it is easy to find with a search.


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Hi guys! I'm in South Africa where tilapia (kurper) are indigenous and bass are not. There are many common species of tilapia here but not all are compatible with bass. We find that the Vlei Kurper or Banded Tilapia (Tilapia sparrmanii)or the Dwarf Kurper or Southern Mouthbrooder (Hemihaplochromis philander)work very well but the Blue Kurper or Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus)often refered to here as the "Blue Tilapia" compete with the bass and quickly decrease the bass population. Try this link for more info - http://www.bigbass.0catch.com/id8a.htm


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AlAfrica- Most of us do not have the problem you are describing because we only have a 7-8 month growing season for the Mozambique Tilapia and then a complete die-off due to water temperatures. The Tilapia will only compete with bass if the grow to a very large size. There are some ponds in south Texas and Florida that should keep this in mind. Thank You for the information and keep it coming! \:\)


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Thanks, Al. Very interesting information and great photos!
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Ryan,
Mine ran about 12 3/4" and 2 pounds at 6 months, in a pond.


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I really haven't seen any evidence in my pond. I can see where they might be a problem during spawning but I have seen the bass chase them away from nests. I have reached sizes that would have caused problems.

Just another reason for me to keep trying to catch them.

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Lou, wasn't it you that had some bad water coming from an upstream developer? How did that go?


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

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Haven't posted for awile, here's the update on the tilapia tank: We had several problems. The tank was set up and filled with water to give the chlorine time to dissipate. After setting up the tank (old hopper tank ring)I measured it and calculated that it is only about 700 gallons. We returned the next morning to find the tank half empty. A new liner was donated and the heater was resized and ordered. Only $140 for 2500watt heater, controller, and cables. There were 205v plugs in the roof so we just added a GFCI an plugged it in. When hooking up the heater we accidentally burned a hole in the new liner but we were able to patch it. The water pump they had turned out to be an air pump, 25CFM. I decided to use this for moving water through the filter. The filter was built out of a large trash can. Three 3" holes were drilled in the bottom. 1/4" mesh was used to cover the bottom except for one 3" hole. A 4'with many 1/2" holes drilled in it and a 2-1/2' piece of salvaged plastic pipe were joined at an elbow. The 2 1/2' piece was passed through the bottom of the trash can. The trash can was then set on a couple of concrete blocks, filled with media and topped with filter fabric. 4 airstones connected to the air pump were placed about 2/3 down inside the verical pipe coming through the bottom of the trash can. Works similar to an undergravel filter in an aquarium but rather than pulling the water down through the gravel in the bottom of the tank it lifts it and spills it over the filter fabric before trickling through the bacteria housing pea gravel media. The advantage is that the piece of fabric catches most of the solid waste and it can be easily removed and cleaned as needed. 300 2" to 3" nile tilapia were added on Friday. My newest problem is that these tilapia are 98% female according to the supplier. If this is true, how many males would be needed to promote successful spawning in my pond this summer for bass growth?




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Ryan, That sounds worthy of it's own thread. Can we start a new one, and maybe get a photo?

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Ryan- Watch out for the ammonia that is sure to cause you problems. It could kill every last one of the tilapia if not kept in check. Have plenty of water ready to change if you do have a problem. Ammonia levels will top out at about 6 days if your filter is large enough to carry the load of 300 fish. If not it will last much longer. Neutralizing nitrosomonas bacteria grow quickly and lead to high nitrite levels which are also toxic and take up to 18 days to peak and establish the nitrobacter needed to change these to non-toxic nitrates.


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I misunderstood, only 1 tank out of 5 was 98% female. Actually 30% are male which is a good ratio for reproduction. Thanks Ponds, for the heads up on ammonia and nitrite levels, they will be checked periodically. I transported the fish in the water they grew in, hopefully bringing a good seed of bacteria with them. Pictures will follow and I start a new thread soon. I'll try to find the instructions for posting pics to the thread.




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I have had a friend buy one of those inflatable swimming pools from Walmart and put a water trough heater in it and had Tilapia survive with little care. The water put in it was from a well and then aerated.

Good luck

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