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I was almost in the midst of hijacking Bob Lusk's request for new topics for the upcoming Conference and realized that was a very bad idea...so I thought it best to begin a new thread.

I've been fascinated by the potential benefit Tilapia present to watershed managers - especially for Meisters like myself where water temps reach lethal levels annually and prevent establishing a permanent population.

I'd like to learn a lot more from anyone who has already attempted this - or ideas from any and all of you. These are TP benefits might be appealing to Meisters as I've learned from Condello and PB sources, and some ideas I'd like some evidence to back up:

1. Serve as good forage base - also high fecundity - accelerate gamefish growth rates

2. Helps relieve BG, YP, RES ect. from being relied upon as forage, accelerating their growth rates and population also?

3. Control vegetation far better than Grass Carp [?] - especially filamentous algae - which GC ignore[?]

4. Improve water clarity?

5. Self controlling population due to annual winter kill

6. Great table fare!!

7. No need to pellet feed - cheap to maintain

More important things to learn:

1. Ideal water temps, size, and quantity of TP for initial stocking

2. Multiple species exist - what are defining characteristics of each making them most suitable for different watersheds [cold tolerance, fecundity, size, etc.

3. Would it be a feasible idea to seine watersheds nearing the mid 50's to rescue some breeding pairs, over winter them in tanks, and have your own replenishing supply annually? Would they reproduce in an aquarium? At what age/size are they sexually mature?

I'm eager to learn as much as possible for a potential stocking attempt this Spring into my ponds. Seems like a miracle fish - or maybe I just have Condello-itus/Cabin Fever.

Thanks in advance for your patience, I hope this thread goes somewhere - I realize it's a little scatterbrained.

TJ





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TJ, here is some reading to start you off with.

http://www.ca.uky.edu/wkrec/BassTilapiaPolyculture.htm

The fish I raise and ship are all spawned in a 55 gallon aquarium.



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Thanks Rainman;

Blue Tilapia are mouth breeders I assume?


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We're definitely breaking new ground, here.

Anybody as far north as Nebraska, or further, might be interested in various lethal temps for blues, niles and mozambiques.

Could a person do a pond with the following three species?

1. Tilapia
2. Smallmouth bass
3. Rainbow trout

The rainbows could be stocked as 8 inchers (cheap) every October, and the tilapia could be stocked as 7 inchers (too big for smallies to eat) every May.

I would think that this would be smallienirvana.
I'm not even aware of any of the legal issues in regards to tilapia. Obviously I wouldn't recommend stocking them to anybody unless they had thorougly checked their state's regulations.

Are they available through the aquarium trade as breeding adults?

Last edited by Bruce Condello; 01/12/09 01:06 AM. Reason: Had to make up a word for a pond that had really, really happy smallmouth bass.

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 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
Thanks Rainman;

Blue Tilapia are mouth breeders I assume?



Yes, they are mouth brooders. I just posted some video links on some of my breeders pre-spawn and spawn on the thread just before this one.



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Since I don't stock my pond with the T, I can't speak of actual seining, but they are a real SOB to net and it's reported that the T will lay flat and push into the mud so the seine will go over them. Most asian tilapia farms use lift nets because of this. When temps drop and they becom lethargic seining may not be as iffy then.



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Nile Tilapia are probably the most cold tollerant.

They are sold as live food fish here in Ohio at select grocery stores. One problem I see with going the grocery store route is that it is likely they are all males.

Here's my thread on tilapia in my Ohio pond
http://www.pondboss.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=14101&fpart=1




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 Originally Posted By: Bruce Condello
Could a person do a pond with the following three species?

1. Tilapia
2. Smallmouth bass
3. Rainbow trout

The rainbows could be stocked as 8 inchers (cheap) every October, and the tilapia could be stocked as 7 inchers (too big for smallies to eat) every May.

I would think that this would be smallienirvana.

Bruce, would it perhaps be beneficial to have some cold-water forage for the SMB (and even the trout), say, FHM? They might have to be retocked each Spring, but maybe they could breed "under the radar" with the millions of baby tilapia taking the heat off of them all Summer long. Then, after the tilapia die, there are FHM for the predators to munch on all Winter long (or until the are depeleted).


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 Originally Posted By: Ryan Freeze
Nile Tilapia are probably the most cold tollerant.

They are sold as live food fish here in Ohio at select grocery stores. One problem I see with going the grocery store route is that it is likely they are all males.

Here's my thread on tilapia in my Ohio pond
http://www.pondboss.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=14101&fpart=1


Ryan - thanks for the thread - that was WAY before I was a pondmeister and glad to see you apparently already employ what we're trying to figure out...so - how are things working out for you? Please enlighten me!

Thanks!

TJ


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 Originally Posted By: Theo Gallus
 Originally Posted By: Bruce Condello
Could a person do a pond with the following three species?

1. Tilapia
2. Smallmouth bass
3. Rainbow trout

The rainbows could be stocked as 8 inchers (cheap) every October, and the tilapia could be stocked as 7 inchers (too big for smallies to eat) every May.

I would think that this would be smallienirvana.

Bruce, would it perhaps be beneficial to have some cold-water forage for the SMB (and even the trout), say, FHM? They might have to be retocked each Spring, but maybe they could breed "under the radar" with the millions of baby tilapia taking the heat off of them all Summer long. Then, after the tilapia die, there are FHM for the predators to munch on all Winter long (or until the are depeleted).


Question for the two of you: Do you think the SMB would benefit from the presence of TP as much as LMB? Unless a big population of crayfish exist - the SMB would HAVE little choice but to target the TP I'm thinking...


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 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
Do you think the SMB would benefit from the presence of TP as much as LMB? Unless a big population of crayfish exist - the SMB would HAVE little choice but to target the TP I'm thinking...

Not AS MUCH as LMB - smaller mouth size even if the bass are the same size would prevent SMB from eating the same range of Tilapia sizes that LMB can. This might be most apparent at the end of the season when the tilapia get sluggish with cold - "Mother Nature's Cleanup Crew" would have to deal with (a few) more dead tilapia in a SMB pond, IMHO.

SMB seem to have the reputation of not being quite as aggressive at eating fish than LMB; if true, this might also lower SMB utilization of tilapia when compared to LMB. I have no personal experience to judge this facet with, though. Yet.

Last edited by Theo Gallus; 01/12/09 11:47 AM. Reason: spelilng

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Of course - this makes sense. Thanks Theo.

I will have a very few Female LMB and about 50 HSB to help clean up the floaters - so this still appears a sound project.


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2006 was the first year I stocked them. Water temps were unusually high at the end of April and we were having water quality issues in the grow out tank so I stocked on the 21st of April. I was lucky it was warm enough and that they survived. End of May is a safer bet in my area so figure on 5 months of algae control. I think the USDA has both Lincoln, NE and my area in the same zone now so we likely have similar climates. Nile tilapia don't feed much in temps below 65 degrees so stocking them too early doesn't have much benefit. Water temps in our zone reaches into the 80s for only a couple of months which is where tilapia prefer to spawn however I did experience at least two successful spawns each of the two years I stocked them.

In 2006 I stocked a large quantity, roughly 750 fish ranging in size from a couple of inches up to 8". The results as far as algae control go were dramatic but stocking coincided with a toad tadpole hatch which may likely aided in the immediate reduction of filamentous algae. No chemicals were used in 2006 and the pond remained algae free. The tilapia died off in late October.

In 2007, I wasn't able to stock the tilapia until late June. I treated once with Cutrine plus a couple of weeks prior to stocking. 20 female and 2 male tilapia at about 1/4lb each were stocked and no further chemical treatments were required for my 1/2 acre pond. I found around a dozen dead tilapia in late October.

I did not stock tilapia last year. My pond required 3 treatments of Cutrine plus throughout the season to keep the filamentous algae knocked back but not as weed free as with tilapia.

Keep in mind tilapia will eat pellets too and this may reduce their effectiveness controlling algae. I was feeding both years I stocked them. They are nearly impossible seine in a farm pond setting but can be taken by rod and reel on doughballs made from pellets. The seining I did in 2006 yielded zero tilapia. My minnow trap baited with pellets did not yield any tilapia as well. They're dorsal fin is about 5 times as likely to stick you as a bluegill IMO. Also, aeration may delay the pond reaching the ideal stocking temperature in spring.




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 Originally Posted By: Ryan Freeze
Nile Tilapia are probably the most cold tollerant.

They are sold as live food fish here in Ohio at select grocery stores. One problem I see with going the grocery store route is that it is likely they are all males.

Here's my thread on tilapia in my Ohio pond
http://www.pondboss.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=14101&fpart=1


Wow, thanks Ryan, Meadowlark, Theo, Ewest, Cecil....this thread really does cover everything. Guess I'm rather late to class - yet again! I will study it and limit my questions to items that need a little more defining. One theme that resonates is that TP stocking seems a natural, logical solution to many problems facing the Meister...it's a wonder more guys haven't latched onto this and sprinted with it?

Exciting stuff!

TJ


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It's probably just not worth the trouble for most folks since they're pretty hard to get ahold of up North.




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Ryan

It seems some posts in the thread you provided talked about stirring up the bottom sediments when TP spawned - I'm thinking mouth brooding species [Blue] might alleviate that issue if you indeed noticed one?

So, after all was said and done....WAS IT WORTH IT?

Thanks Ryan

TJ


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 Originally Posted By: Ryan Freeze
Nile Tilapia are probably the most cold tollerant.

They are sold as live food fish here in Ohio at select grocery stores. One problem I see with going the grocery store route is that it is likely they are all males.

Here's my thread on tilapia in my Ohio pond
http://www.pondboss.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=14101&fpart=1


From all the research I have found on cold tolerance, Blues handle the lowest temps, followed closely by Hybrid Reds, and then about 5 degree higher is the nile. The red hybrid of blue and nile has the most marketable meat but slower growth than the fastest growing nile but still not as fast as the blue and not as cold tolerant as the blue.

This was the reason I chose to go with the Blues to raise as pond forage--although not as rapid growth as the nile, it is close and the lower cold tolerance could increase the life expectancy in colder waters by a month or more.



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 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
Ryan

It seems some posts in the thread you provided talked about stirring up the bottom sediments when TP spawned - I'm thinking mouth brooding species [Blue] might alleviate that issue if you indeed noticed one?

TJ

I think all the tilapia in question are mouth brooders. I suspect they will stir up the bottom foraging once food gets scarce. I only suspect this is the reason because I returned from vacation once and found the pond muddy for no other cause and once I started feeding again it cleared up.

 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
Ryan


So, after all was said and done....WAS IT WORTH IT?


TJ


I'm on the fence. I have to drive 50 miles and haul the fish myself plus I wasn't buying the fish, they were donated which complicates things a bit. I'm also suspect of how much pellets they consume vs. how much of that added protein gets passed on to my predators and doesn't end up as dead fish on the bank. On the other other hand, I didn't have to apply chemicals which isn't a big deal labor wise but it does give you a sense that your doing something better for the pond, the fish and environment. Cost wise, including my time and travel, It's a wash. If tilapia were easily accessible and reasonably priced there is no question that I would stock them every year, at least at a low rate of approximately 5-10lbs per acre. I'm undecided if I'll stock this season.




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The males can stir up the bottom when prepping a nest. Laying several 8-16" flower pots on their sides 4-6 feet deep will give the males a "clean" place to attract the female and the females feel more protected.



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If they are legal in your state, I think they are worth it.

You will have a very difficult time finding truly purebred Tilapia. Most of them have been crossed many times over. The tilapia in the fish farm and stocking industries are more or less "mutts", making it quite hard to differentiate cold tolerance and growth rates from one group to another.


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Hey Weissguy - long time - good to hear from you. Thanks for your two cents...sounds like Rainman has purebed Blues tho?

I like the thought of having my algae controlled in each of my three little ponds and a stronger population going in the bigger watershed...but the jury is still out on this for sure. Ryan's thread 2-3 years ago has guys really ga-ga over the potential but not sure if the results really supported their hopes.

BTW-what's keeping you from adding HSB, WE, SMB, CP, RES? That would be one heckuva fishery!


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Added benefit of tilapia-

Bald eagle visited for two months while tilapia were dying off, had a pile of bones 6" high under his perch.

At the advice of Jeff Slipke, I had ~100 lbs of tilapia stocked last year and this in a ~3 acre pond that has a decent lmb population, and a bunch of voracious blue cats. Everything [except perhaps the tilapia] has really benefited from the combination of tilapia and very aggressive culling of the smaller lmb.

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I have been very pleased with the results of stocking Tilapia each spring when the water temmp gets near 60 degrees. Usually around May 1st in NE Texas. I have a two acre pond and put in 20 pounds. I have had better results starting off with fewer but larger fish since they are prolific spawners and fast growing.

Look forward to November when they start schooling around the surface. Have had good success with a cast net. By harvest time this year most were in the 3 pound range and mighty good eating.

The real value of the talapia of course is forage for the LMB and keep the algae under control which they do an excellent job at.

At about $7.00 a pound for fillets in the store I figure I more than double my initial Spring investment in great fillets to get me through till the following November.

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Poodrookie, I would like to know more about how you cast net harvest your tilapia. Can you get them any time of year (as in growing season)? and what size cast net do you use? Also what area of the pond are they in when you throw your net, shallow, grassy, around structure? Thanks for your info.

Jake

Last edited by jakeb; 01/13/09 01:13 PM.

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