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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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I have only done it in the Fall because it seems like they are hanging out in the warmest part of the pond which is about 3-5 feet deep at the narrow end of the pond. Mornings and evenings seem best. Not sure but think it is an 6-8ft cast net.

This year I had them feeding on pellets a little which helps lure them in. They are quick though so try and keep the throw low as possible.

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I just spoke with my Tilapia supplier, who is a fisheries biologist, and he informed me that Tilapia in the 4-6" range actually reproduce more off spring than older, larger ones due to spawning much more often.

Also FWIW smaller Tilapia will eat a much more varied diet of zooplankton other fry, and phytoplankton. Once a size of around 10" is reached growth and spawns are dramatically reduced and they start to feed primarily on detritus and algae.

So for forage AND algae control it is best to stock several 5-7" fish. For forage only stock 3-5" and for algae control stock 8" plus sizes.

He also assured me that the fish he sent me are pure strin Oreochromis Aurea, Blue tilapia.



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 Originally Posted By: Rainman
I just spoke with my Tilapia supplier, who is a fisheries biologist, and he informed me that Tilapia in the 4-6" range actually reproduce more off spring than older, larger ones due to spawning much more often.

Also FWIW smaller Tilapia will eat a much more varied diet of zooplankton other fry, and phytoplankton. Once a size of around 10" is reached growth and spawns are dramatically reduced and they start to feed primarily on detritus and algae.

So for forage AND algae control it is best to stock several 5-7" fish. For forage only stock 3-5" and for algae control stock 8" plus sizes.

He also assured me that the fish he sent me are pure strin Oreochromis Aurea, Blue tilapia.


Great info Rainman - especially regarding sizes and what functions they will typically perform. Don't suppose you know good safe water temperature ideal for initial stocking?


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On the negative side of tilapia, has anyone ever had a fish kill that they thought they could relate directly to the extra biomass tilapia adds. Im sure it would be hard to relate it to one factor. But a hot dry summer with all those extra fish is my biggest worry. Perhaps different stocking rates/times could help to ease this problem, and still get the benefits from this fish.


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Agree. By large I meant 4-7 inchs. Water need to be 60 degrees with no more nights where there is a chance near freezing temps.

I have purchased Tilapia from two sources in Texas. Overton Fisheries and Boatcycle. Good results from both.

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 Originally Posted By: jakeb
On the negative side of tilapia, has anyone ever had a fish kill that they thought they could relate directly to the extra biomass tilapia adds. Im sure it would be hard to relate it to one factor. But a hot dry summer with all those extra fish is my biggest worry. Perhaps different stocking rates/times could help to ease this problem, and still get the benefits from this fish.

I had the same concern until Overton advised stocking same sex tilapia in 1/4 acre pond.
Sucessful prosgram for past three summers.
Total algae control with NO reproduction.



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George thanks and that makes sense, however the main reason I am attracted to tilapia is the forage potential and not control of algae. I want to have my cake and eat it too

Correction I want to have tilapia and me and my bass eat them too.

Last edited by jakeb; 01/13/09 08:34 PM. Reason: attempt at humor

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 Originally Posted By: jakeb
George thanks and that makes sense, however the main reason I am attracted to tilapia is the forage potential and not control of algae. I want to have my cake and eat it too

Correction I want to have tilapia and me and my bass eat them too.


Jakeb - thats a really good point - I also want benefits of algae control and for TP to serve as forage. I'm wondering if one stocked the mid sized 5-7 inchers they would control the algae and their offspring could serve as the forage. Guess I need to figure out:

1. How many spawns I could count upon during a season
2. If aeration would affect getting water temps to the 80's which appears the temp they need to acheive for spawn - so one might need to be mindful of shutting down aeration a few times a season to achieve the desired temps?
3. Growth rate for YOY TP - if they don't grow quickly they won't serve as much of a meal - no matter how many exist in a pond.

Rainman? George? Ryan? Anyone?

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Yes hopefully sooner rather than later these question can be answered. I could make a large list about the different size, number, and time of year to stock, in order to get desired result (algae control, forage, and both).

Regardless these fish fascinate me.


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Agreed - these fish are potentially very useful from many different perspectives. I'm hooked. Problem is my season in NE is short - especially compared to yours and our TX friends who may even be able to overwinter their population - that's why I have to jerry-rig this solution in so many ways.


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 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57

3. Growth rate for YOY TP - if they don't grow quickly they won't serve as much of a meal - no matter how many exist in a pond.



Yes and no.

Lots of one inch fish may not directly feed 18 inch bass, but it will satiate the 4-5 inchers and speed their growth rates. This in turn could provide lots of forage for the 18 inchers in the form of rapidly growing, high Wr 5 inch bass.


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Apt riposte Dr. Condello! Makes perfect sense.


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Here are some facts I've learned about tilapia in ponds:

Don't stock them until water temps stabilize in the 70s. For us in east/central Texas this is late April/early May. Two years ago it snowed on Easter and I know of several pondmeisters who had already stocked tilapia in the area. Doesn't make much sense to me to stock them before spawning temps. Higher temps = higher metabolism = faster tilapia, and so tilapia stocking success may hinge on a high temp advantage when being stocked in a predator-heavy pond.

Stocking tilapia for algae control is most effective if you control the vegetation first before stocking tilapia, then stock tilapia at a rate of 30lbs per acre.

The ideal stocking size for existing ponds with predator pressure is 1/4lb fish, give or take, but not size graded. Grading the small fish off a batch of tilapia likely results in a male-heavy stock, when in fact, you'll get better reproduction out of female-heavy stocks.

The existence of a plankton bloom when stocking tilapia will greatly improve your probability of success.

In my experience the small 1"-3" tilapia eat more detritus than adults. You can watch them along the shoreline, flashing as they munch plankton and detritus from a pond bottom.

The daily Dissolved Oxygen curve for tilapia production ponds seems to be more stable, with less severe spikes and depletions than other productive ponds.

We raised 4000+ lbs of tilapia in a 1/2 acre production pond, starting with 20 lbs of broodstock, without having to aerate a single time during the 2008 season. Please note that we do check our oxygen daily and we don't advise this biomass load for rec ponds.

Tilapia are the most efficient agent available (possible 1-1 feed conversion ratio in ponds plus planktonic in nature) for channeling nutrients from their basic form all the way to the top of the food chain, almost guaranteed (due to low cold tolerance), within a single season.

I've had 2 bald eagles and an osprey for the past 3 years on my farm for winter tilapia clean-up.


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 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
 Originally Posted By: jakeb
George thanks and that makes sense, however the main reason I am attracted to tilapia is the forage potential and not control of algae. I want to have my cake and eat it too

Correction I want to have tilapia and me and my bass eat them too.


Jakeb - thats a really good point - I also want benefits of algae control and for TP to serve as forage. I'm wondering if one stocked the mid sized 5-7 inchers they would control the algae and their offspring could serve as the forage. Guess I need to figure out:

1. How many spawns I could count upon during a season
2. If aeration would affect getting water temps to the 80's which appears the temp they need to acheive for spawn - so one might need to be mindful of shutting down aeration a few times a season to achieve the desired temps?
3. Growth rate for YOY TP - if they don't grow quickly they won't serve as much of a meal - no matter how many exist in a pond.

Rainman? George? Ryan? Anyone?



TJ, I'll respond to what I know and have researched on the Blues.

You can safely add the T at 60 degrees--(spawning rarely occurs below 70) and if a few cold nights occur the T will most likely find warm pockets of refuge even in aerated ponds and survive. They will even dig into the substrate to survive. I watched this when I lowered the temp in a tank with ice to 40 degrees for 30 minutes and all 8 3 inch "test" fish survived.

Blues (and Mozambique) sexually mature at 4 inches and/or 2-4 months. Assuming you have at least a 4 month spawning season (water above 70) AND you stock 2 month old 4"+ fish you will get 2-4 spawns from each originally stocked female producing an average of 200 surviving offspring. Of the first YOY spawn, you will get at least one spawn from each of those females and a possible spawn from the second YOY.

Assume you have a 4 month growing season (water temp above 70) and stock 100 three month 4" fish, 50 male, 50 female. Let's use an example of only 10 females spawning within a week of stocking and each producing the average 200 (50% male/female ratio) surviving fry and all other spawn from all other females falling to predation. Those original 10 will produce at least 4000 offspring (2 spawns)and the fist spawned females will produce another 200,000 fish that will be an average size of 3" by the end of your 4 month season.

Please check my math.---I'm old!



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Critical information - this helps immensely - fills in a lot of gaps for many of us managing Northern ponds. Thank you!

 Originally Posted By: overtonfisheries
Here are some facts I've learned about tilapia in ponds:

Don't stock them until water temps stabilize in the 70s. For us in east/central Texas this is late April/early May. Two years ago it snowed on Easter and I know of several pondmeisters who had already stocked tilapia in the area. Doesn't make much sense to me to stock them before spawning temps. Higher temps = higher metabolism = faster tilapia, and so tilapia stocking success may hinge on a high temp advantage when being stocked in a predator-heavy pond.

Stocking tilapia for algae control is most effective if you control the vegetation first before stocking tilapia, then stock tilapia at a rate of 30lbs per acre.

The ideal stocking size for existing ponds with predator pressure is 1/4lb fish, give or take, but not size graded. Grading the small fish off a batch of tilapia likely results in a male-heavy stock, when in fact, you'll get better reproduction out of female-heavy stocks.

The existence of a plankton bloom when stocking tilapia will greatly improve your probability of success.

In my experience the small 1"-3" tilapia eat more detritus than adults. You can watch them along the shoreline, flashing as they munch plankton and detritus from a pond bottom.

The daily Dissolved Oxygen curve for tilapia production ponds seems to be more stable, with less severe spikes and depletions than other productive ponds.

We raised 4000+ lbs of tilapia in a 1/2 acre production pond, starting with 20 lbs of broodstock, without having to aerate a single time during the 2008 season. Please note that we do check our oxygen daily and we don't advise this biomass load for rec ponds.

Tilapia are the most efficient agent available (possible 1-1 feed conversion ratio in ponds plus planktonic in nature) for channeling nutrients from their basic form all the way to the top of the food chain, almost guaranteed (due to low cold tolerance), within a single season.

I've had 2 bald eagles and an osprey for the past 3 years on my farm for winter tilapia clean-up.




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Thank you RM - this addresses everything I think I needed to learn prior to launching a stocking program. I'm ready to compile all the info and put it into action....now I just need to source 4-6" Blues and Niles for stocking this June and I'm set! Hmmm...Yellow Pages in Lincoln NE has nothing for Tilapia farms. What the~!

 Originally Posted By: Rainman
 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
 Originally Posted By: jakeb
George thanks and that makes sense, however the main reason I am attracted to tilapia is the forage potential and not control of algae. I want to have my cake and eat it too

Correction I want to have tilapia and me and my bass eat them too.


Jakeb - thats a really good point - I also want benefits of algae control and for TP to serve as forage. I'm wondering if one stocked the mid sized 5-7 inchers they would control the algae and their offspring could serve as the forage. Guess I need to figure out:

1. How many spawns I could count upon during a season
2. If aeration would affect getting water temps to the 80's which appears the temp they need to acheive for spawn - so one might need to be mindful of shutting down aeration a few times a season to achieve the desired temps?
3. Growth rate for YOY TP - if they don't grow quickly they won't serve as much of a meal - no matter how many exist in a pond.

Rainman? George? Ryan? Anyone?



TJ, I'll respond to what I know and have researched on the Blues.

You can safely add the T at 60 degrees--(spawning rarely occurs below 70) and if a few cold nights occur the T will most likely find warm pockets of refuge even in aerated ponds and survive. They will even dig into the substrate to survive. I watched this when I lowered the temp in a tank with ice to 40 degrees for 30 minutes and all 8 3 inch "test" fish survived.

Blues (and Niles) sexually mature at 4 inches and/or 2-4 months. Assuming you have at least a 4 month spawning season (water above 70) AND you stock 2 month old 4"+ fish you will get 2-4 spawns from each originally stocked female producing an average of 200 surviving offspring. Of the first YOY spawn, you will get at least one spawn from each of those females and a possible spawn from the second YOY.

Assume you have a 4 month growing season (water temp above 70) and stock 100 three month 4" fish, 50 male, 50 female. Let's use an example of only 10 females spawning within a week of stocking and each producing the average 200 (50% male/female ratio) surviving fry and all other spawn from all other females falling to predation. Those original 10 will produce at least 4000 offspring (2 spawns)and the fist spawned females will produce another 200,000 fish that will be an average size of 3" by the end of your 4 month season.

Please check my math.---I'm old!



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Great info thanks Todd and Rainman.


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Thanks Todd, this addresses a lot of "real world" questions I've had!



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 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
Hey Weissguy - long time - good to hear from you. Thanks for your two cents...sounds like Rainman has purebed Blues tho?


Hey teehjaeh57! I've been around, but lurking mostly. I'm quite busy this time of year due to end of year stuff for my business. ICK! Rainman has some quality fish in my opinion. If he says they are purebred Blues, that's enough for me. His work with T has already added a lot of valuable info to this site on the subject, and it has helped me a great deal. My tilapia are mostly a blue/nile mix. They have proven extremely cold tolerant so far. I had a holding tank sitting on my basement floor with no backup heat dip down to 59 degrees for 3 days. The fish slowed a bit but still ate well. I also recently received a shipment of 2 inch fish via UPS and when they arrived (two days late!) the water was ICE cold and absolutely filthy. You could hardly see the fish in the poop/water mud mixture they were in. The fish were lively, and I haven't had a single one die. They are about 4 inches now after a month and a half. I have kept aquariums for most of my life, and I have never encountered a tropical that is so hardy! It's amazing.

 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
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.


We are really just starting to touch on the subject. I would really like to see Missouri change their stance on the subject of Tilapia in ponds here as I would like to use them and study them in a pond environment as well, but I don't hold out a great deal of hope on that. I do intend to setup a fairly large RAS for them when we complete our new house at the pond. I already have about 320 gallons dedicated to them now, but no more room to grow in my current house (I'm worried it might freak out people looking to buy the house... hehe). I've seen some excellent info added to this thread since this post of yours, and it goes right along with everything I've read and researched. This is going to get fun I think.

 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
BTW-what's keeping you from adding HSB, WE, SMB, CP, RES? That would be one heckuva fishery!


Time has really been the only thing preventing me from adding them. This year I'm hoping to add a lot of these, in small quantity. It will be done in conjunction with removing a large number of 12-14 inch LMB. I would like to keep the predator/prey ratio to a reasonable level. I can't wait though. I have had an extremely difficult time finding GP, and they are really the fish I'm most anxious to add. Imagine fishing for those in the shallows during the early morning with a fly rod. I used to do this up in MN for NP, and it was a blast! \:\)


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I would like to see a study comparing growth rates in LMB under the following conditions:
- Pond stocked LMB with Tilapia as the exclusive forage source and no pellet feeding.
- Pond stocked with only LMB and Tilapia and fed pellets.
- Pond stocked with ONLY LMB, no forage fish and exclusively pellet fed.
- Pond stocked with traditional LMB/BG mix. No pellet feeding.
- Pond stocked with traditional LMB/BG mix and pellet fed.

What might be the results? Would a Tilapia only forage source potentially score similar to a pellet only food source? Would it be close enough to make economic sense to raise these two in a fish farm situation? Would we see any dramatic improvement in a pond with tilapia versus one without? What about one with both BG and Tilapia? Also, would we find a significantly diminished or increased return on pellet feeding in the presence of tilapia?

That would be quite an interesting study I think!


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Weissguy, a good example of tilapia as the only forage would be many of the lakes in Mexico. I have fished Lake El Salto, and with the year long growing season, Florida bass, and no danger of the tilapia getting too cold, the results are a great trophy largemouth bass lake. However, commercial fisherman net a quota of tilapia out of it every year to keep the numbers in order. I have been told that without the commercial removal of tilapia the bass fishing would be much different.

If tilapia were the only source, it would have to be in a region that you felt confident they would not die from the cold. Maybe in the butter zone where they dont die but also dont reproduce, for say 3 months a year. That would give the bass time to catch up with overpopulation of tilapia. I dont know if such a place exists?


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Thanks Weissguy - this is good stuff. I would like to chat RE your aquarium setup sometime if you're open to it.

Also, refresh my memory...what are "CP"?

 Originally Posted By: Weissguy
 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
Hey Weissguy - long time - good to hear from you. Thanks for your two cents...sounds like Rainman has purebed Blues tho?


Hey teehjaeh57! I've been around, but lurking mostly. I'm quite busy this time of year due to end of year stuff for my business. ICK! Rainman has some quality fish in my opinion. If he says they are purebred Blues, that's enough for me. His work with T has already added a lot of valuable info to this site on the subject, and it has helped me a great deal. My tilapia are mostly a blue/nile mix. They have proven extremely cold tolerant so far. I had a holding tank sitting on my basement floor with no backup heat dip down to 59 degrees for 3 days. The fish slowed a bit but still ate well. I also recently received a shipment of 2 inch fish via UPS and when they arrived (two days late!) the water was ICE cold and absolutely filthy. You could hardly see the fish in the poop/water mud mixture they were in. The fish were lively, and I haven't had a single one die. They are about 4 inches now after a month and a half. I have kept aquariums for most of my life, and I have never encountered a tropical that is so hardy! It's amazing.

 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
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.


We are really just starting to touch on the subject. I would really like to see Missouri change their stance on the subject of Tilapia in ponds here as I would like to use them and study them in a pond environment as well, but I don't hold out a great deal of hope on that. I do intend to setup a fairly large RAS for them when we complete our new house at the pond. I already have about 320 gallons dedicated to them now, but no more room to grow in my current house (I'm worried it might freak out people looking to buy the house... hehe). I've seen some excellent info added to this thread since this post of yours, and it goes right along with everything I've read and researched. This is going to get fun I think.

 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
BTW-what's keeping you from adding HSB, WE, SMB, CP, RES? That would be one heckuva fishery!


Time has really been the only thing preventing me from adding them. This year I'm hoping to add a lot of these, in small quantity. It will be done in conjunction with removing a large number of 12-14 inch LMB. I would like to keep the predator/prey ratio to a reasonable level. I can't wait though. I have had an extremely difficult time finding GP, and they are really the fish I'm most anxious to add. Imagine fishing for those in the shallows during the early morning with a fly rod. I used to do this up in MN for NP, and it was a blast! \:\)



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Weiss, I posted a link to a polyculture study with bass and tilapia at differant stocking rates and the results in the first reply of this thread.

I have no doubt a web search will bring up hundreds of studies involving LMB/BG and pellets.



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I cant add anything scientific or possibly even intelligent to this thread but I have been stocking Tilapia for the last three years and the quality of my Bass has gone up dramatically. I should have taken some pictures of the Bass I caught last fall. All, regardless of length, were like footballs and one was pushing the 8lb mark. I believe this was all because of Tilapia. My pond is 1 1/2 acre and I put 20lbs in each spring. I also have a good base of bream and I do feed. My pond looks better than ever because of the little scum eaters.


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Sgt, that's the best addition in this thread---real experiance from a fellow pond meister!



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 Originally Posted By: Rainman
Weiss, I posted a link to a polyculture study with bass and tilapia at differant stocking rates and the results in the first reply of this thread.

I have no doubt a web search will bring up hundreds of studies involving LMB/BG and pellets.


I saw that link. A good read. What I would actually like to see in such a study is ponds in the same location, studied for the exact same time period, with ponds with the same initial water quality and chemistry and using the same size and genetics in the fish. This way you could really compare results side by side and get some tangible and meaningfull comparison data. Even slight differences in the above variables make comparison difficult to impossible and cause the end results to be somewhat meaningless.



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 Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
Thanks Weissguy - this is good stuff. I would like to chat RE your aquarium setup sometime if you're open to it.

Also, refresh my memory...what are "CP"?


Sure, I'd be glad to talk about my current setup. It's really not all that interesting though. You'd probably be more interested in my RAS plans. What you might find interesting is that I kept 100 3-4 inch Tilapia in 30 gallons of water for 2 months without any issues. Water quality would go from excellent to quite terrible and the Tilapia didn't seem to care either way. I recently bought a 45 gallon sterilite tub/tote and have roughly 80 3-5 inch Tilapia in that using a cheap canister filter, and the water quality has remained quite high with no water changes, just water replacement as needed.

CP = Chain Pickerel (like a mini Northern Pike basically)


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 Originally Posted By: Weissguy
 Originally Posted By: Rainman
Weiss, I posted a link to a polyculture study with bass and tilapia at differant stocking rates and the results in the first reply of this thread.

I have no doubt a web search will bring up hundreds of studies involving LMB/BG and pellets.


I saw that link. A good read. What I would actually like to see in such a study is ponds in the same location, studied for the exact same time period, with ponds with the same initial water quality and chemistry and using the same size and genetics in the fish. This way you could really compare results side by side and get some tangible and meaningfull comparison data. Even slight differences in the above variables make comparison difficult to impossible and cause the end results to be somewhat meaningless.


I can reccommend a heck of a 12 acre pond about 30 minutes north of KC with some concrete growing/sorting runs very close by that would be perfect for experimentation!



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Weissguy,

If youre serious about your design study, I've got 10 "pits" (8'x 25'X 2') that each hold 2250 gallons. We could easily pull a few LMB out of the lake and I would assume you have a few Tilapia to experiment with. My only concern is the fact that the pits are covered and would have very little productivity (but would also isolate any outside variable-predation). My other concern is the issue of getting LMB to take to pelleted feed. We always had a hard time at the hatchery.

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Moryan -

I think it would be a great study. I worry that the indoor pits would cause issues though, due to lack of a bloom. The pits with no supplemental feeding would not give "outdoor pond" results. Plankton/zooplankton would be lacking in them which I assume would drastically reduce the value of the tilapia as forage.

I think the study would have to be done outside over the summer months with small side by side earthen raceway ponds with protective netting covering them. I suspect though that it would require about 8 or 9 months of operation to obtain any significant data. Can't get that here in MO without going the heated greenhouse route. That would get pretty costly, but it could possibly be a valuable study for a university with the facilities in place to do such a thing.

On the other hand, I could see those pits being a great place to grow some pellet fed trout from fall to spring.


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Actually, shawn was by the other day and I think I can flood the lower barn (without a roof) and even pump water from the lagoon (nutrient loaded and an instant bloom). There are about 40 pens and each could be used to isolate a unique variable as well as being subject to the same environmental conditions (WQ, light...). I'm not sure why you would want to provide "supplental feed".
Let me know the next time you'll be at the lake and we can take a look at it.

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