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#18484 11/14/04 02:22 PM
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I have a pond that is about 2/3 acre in size and we have bass that are in the four pound range but most are one or two pounds. We have blugill, reader, golden shiners,fathead minows, and tilapia that were stocked last spring and will probaly die from it bing to cold in the next few months down here in Texas. My guestion is should I stock gizzard shad this coming spring or tilapia or are the bass to small to controll a gizzard shad population and I should stock the shad next year?

#18485 11/14/04 07:22 PM
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This is what I would try if it were my pond in your location. Since your pond is small, I would for now and at least the next few years stay with the tilapia. Tilapia feed low on the food chain similar to gizard shad and provide numerous forage fish for predators. This way you have a fish that will not easily cause you too many problems due to geting too large and too abundant and taking up too much "space" or biomass in your pond. Your diversity in forage fish seems good to me and should be able to supply adequate forage fish for your bass if the bass do not become over abundant or out of balance. I see the tilapia a plus if you periodically loose them due to harsh winter. You can always restock if necessary. The cost should not be prohibitive. You will not have that option if you add gizzard shad which will be hard or practically impossible to remove unless you do complete fish eradiction. As your forage fish needs change or the tilapia are not meeting your expectations then rethink the use of g.shad. An added bonus is that larger tilapia are very good eating, at least the fresh ones are, that I get at a local food store. They are a very mild, good tasting and versatile fish for cooking. I don't think you will like eating g.shad too well no matter how you cook them.


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#18486 11/15/04 09:53 AM
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Mcdonald,

I have hands on experience with Tilapia and gizzard shad in my East Texas ponds. I have just stocked the gizzard shad, so my experience there is very limited. However I would refer you to the May/June issue of Pond Boss for a great article on gizzard shad. Also read the recent "gizzard shad" thread in which Bill Cody goes negative on gizzard shad.

Some say the gizzard shad will take over your pond and compete with Bluegill. The referenced article refutes that assertion however. In my own case, my worry isn't that they will take over, rather that they will be eliminated by the LMB and HSB before they ever get established. The LMB and HSB have been having an absolute field day, every day since stocking the gizzard shad. You can see the massacre going on in the open water areas of my pond (3.5 acres).

Regarding Tilapia, they are a must have for the southern pond owner, in my opinion. I was told bad things about them (by the so called experts) before stocking, none of which were true. Here's what I have learned first hand: they reproduce like rabbits, clean like a janitor, fight like a banshee, grow like weed, and taste great.

This is based on real, not theoretical, evidence of the value of Tilapia. In one summer growing season, they have transformed my old 1/2 acre "bass" pond from a dead weed, algae infested mess into a thriving system. The bass in that pond are fatter than they have ever been, the bluegill are far more numerous and larger than ever, the algea and weeds are gone. What more could one ask for?

The only unknown for me regarding Tilapia is the cold water die-off. Will that result in a massive fish kill and/or mess to clean up? I doubt it, but time will tell. My water temperature was 61 degrees this weekend. When it hits 50 degrees, I will know the answer.

#18487 11/15/04 09:08 PM
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I'm located in Mississippi about 10 miles south of I-20. Not sure how that relates to your location within east TX. I've been thinking about Catfish vs Tilapia to add to my existing LMB, coppernose bg, redear pond. I'm starting to lean towards the tilapia for the very reason that they will die off each winter. So the affect that they have in your pond is of very much interest to me.


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#18488 11/15/04 10:52 PM
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For the readers. See Meadowlark's and my discussion on gizzard shad pros and cons in Types of Fish To Chose: topic - gizzard shad.


aka Pond Doctor & Dr. Perca Read Pond Boss Magazine -
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#18489 11/16/04 09:21 AM
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I have a 5 acre pond that gets overrun with fil. algae in the summer, so this whole tilapia thing has me intrigued. I would love to be able to stock some of these fish, but being in N. Oklahoma I KNOW that I will have an annual fish kill. Then I would have one heckuva mess to clean up, not to mention a huge 'coon/skunk/badger feast on my hands. Would it be worthwile to stock a smaller number of these fish in order to get some benefits while at the same time minimizing the carnage clean-up in the winter? When is some enterprising fishery biologist going to work on a tilapia hybrid that can stand cold water?


Shawn

#18490 11/16/04 09:45 AM
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Shawn,

I put probably only about 1/2 dozen Tilapia in a 1/4 acre pond on April 1 ...in addition to stocking 7 or 8 pounds of Tilapia in two larger ponds which I've written about. This 1/4 acre pond was constantly covered over with aglae because it is a cattle hang-out with lots of nuturients provided. Now, it is completely algae free and has been for the last couple of months. It also has large numbers of small Tilapia. They reproduce like rabbits, literally.

In your area the growing/reproducing season would be shorter and thus less worry about the die-off.

An interesting thought on these fish is that old saying that nature always finds a way...meaning that it may be in the future that these fish will adapt to the relatively mild winters here in East Texas by selective evolution. All it would take would be for a couple of genetic freaks to make it. That would indeed be an interesting development.

#18491 11/16/04 12:13 PM
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Shawn, If talapia didn't die out every year I bet they wouldn't be allowed because they would be considered an invasive species. I'm pretty sure they only let one brand in Texas.

#18492 11/19/04 09:54 AM
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I understand that Tilapia have wiped out bass fishing in Florida phosphate pits where they have been introduced and where they survive year-round. However, I have a related question for which I would appreciate opinions.

My 45 year-old 13 acre pond in north-central Alabama is stocked with LMB, BG, and shellcrackers. The forage population is not quite able to bring the bass to optimum size because my friends just can't make themselves throw out every bass they catch when I am not looking. This is not a problem for me, for my grandchildren and I are primarily bluegill fishermen, but I would like for guests who don't know any better than to bass fish to catch good sized bass.

If I put in Tilapia at 5 lb/acre in May, just after the first BG spawn, would such a population be likely to help the bass gain weight without doing much harm to the BG? I suppose that my hope is that with a larger forage population, reduced predation pressure on the BG and shellcrackers might compensate for the increased competition for food. The Tilapia should be gone by late October or early November, I would think. I am also hoping that the Tilapia would eat the clumps of filamentous algae which float up in summer.
Thanks in advance,
Lou

#18493 11/19/04 10:54 AM
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Lou Heron,

I only have this current growing season as personnal experience with Tilapia but based on stocking Tilapia in three different ponds of different sizes, I can categorically say that 1) yes, there is no question that the bass in all three ponds have benefited significantly(as well as the Bluegill) from the Tilapia stocking and 2) my algae problems, which varied from mild to severe in the three ponds, is no longer a problem in any of the ponds.

After the die-off this year, I plan to write a "white" paper summarizing my Tilapia experience for anyone interested.

I would very much like to see real evidence of where Tilapia stocking has hurt the bass fishing...and an explaination of how that happened. Based on my experience, which granted is limited, that does not seem like a believable outcome.

#18494 11/19/04 11:05 AM
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It has been mentioend before but to let folks know it is illegal to stock Tilapia in GA. I wish we could believe me I have seen in AL what great forage they can be.


Greg Grimes
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#18495 11/19/04 11:12 AM
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Meadowlark, sounds like you plan on stocking them each spring and just writing them off at the end of the summer.?.?

Can the talipa be of that much benefit during one growing season? If so, it might be something many of us would consider.
Also, I would enjoy reading your paper.

#18496 11/19/04 11:15 AM
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Greg where does it say it is illegal to stock Tillapia in GA????? I was planning to grow Tilapia in Baskets and harvest them for eating...

#18497 11/19/04 01:37 PM
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LD,

I paid $10 per pound for 30 pounds of Tilapia....$300. Okay, I figure the chemicals alone to treat the algae and submerged weeds in the three ponds would have been at least $1000 and thats a conservative estimate...if you have ever priced SONAR. The forage value far surpassed the $700 I spent one year in ONE pond on threadfin shad. The fun of catching them...priceless...the fun of eating them, even better. The value of turning an unfishable pond mess into a vibrant system...priceless.

Yes, I will re-stock each year.

#18498 11/19/04 02:33 PM
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There is a cattle feed lot near me that I am told stocked tilapia in a catch pond. That is the downhill pond that all of the cattle waste runs to. I am told that the tilapia kept the pond clean. Once a year the pond is drained and the tilapia ground up for fertilizer or something. I have no personal knowledge of this but it sounds plausible. Not sure I'd want to eat the fish, though.

Curious about a couple of things. How do tilapia eat? Do they filter water or actually take bites of algae or both? Is there any downside to them? I would assume that the amount of manure they produce would foul the water but beign filter feeders maybe they can clean up after themselves.

#18499 11/19/04 04:55 PM
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Meadowlark, that sounds like a great idea.
Tilapia seem to be a well suited forage base for a pond with two predators and BG (if you are willing to restock each year). Couple of questions:
1. How many pounds per acre to you stock?
2. Did you see any down sides?
3. Are they easy to get a hold of, where and what size do you stock?
4. With an established predator base how do they spawn so quickly and how well do those initial fingerlings do? In other words -- how long until they reproduce?
5. How do you catch a filter feeder?
Okay, I'll stop cause it turned into a bunch of questions.
Thanks

#18500 11/19/04 06:29 PM
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$10.00/lb. sounds like a lot. This year's price from Southeastern Pond Mgmt. here in Alabama was $5.00/lb for Tilapia which were large enough to escape predation and to begin breeding right away. As I understand it, they are mouth incubators and do not expel the fry from their cheek pouches until the hatchlings are big enough to be good forage size. This means a high success rate from each large and frequent brood cycle.

So far as ruining bass fishing, I suspect that such can only occur if the Tilapia are in water warm enough to survive year-round. The problem is their astounding fecundity and high initial survival.
LOu

#18501 11/22/04 09:37 AM
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Little Dog,

My attempt at answers:

1. I probably averaged 7 or 8 pounds per acre but 5 would be plenty in my situation.
2. Not yet, but they havenít died off yet either.
3. Mine were 4 to 6 inches. Fortunately I have a dealer close by in Texas.
4. Not sure, but very quickly and very often it appears.
5. They are not easy to catch, very difficult. Small flies targeted to individual fish in shallow water worked sometimes. See my post on Tilapia Bonanza. In cold water, with an afternoon sun warming the shallows, you can entice them away from Bluegill into the shallows and catch them with worms. Thatís the only way I have found to catch large numbers of them.

As to the cost, they were a bargain at $10 per pound. They have paid for themselves many times over, and that is the definition of bargain in my book.

#18502 11/22/04 10:57 AM
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Thanks, sounds like an option many could attempt with little problems after the experiment. Heck, they would be gone by now for me.

#18503 11/22/04 05:59 PM
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Big pOnd I just saw your question. Tilapia are exotic fish and unlike other states GA is restrictive. They can only be raised in a closed system. This means not in ponds where water exits the pond. Basically indoors is the only option. I have asked if this will change in the near future answer was probably not.

Folks take advantge of this fish if trying to grow big bass if it is legal in your state. Big pond you could alway plead ignorance if you got caught. I feel it is ridiculous since they die in the winter in GA weather but can not risk stocking them in my line of work.


Greg Grimes
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#18504 11/29/04 10:22 PM
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I have been doing a good deal of additional reading up on Tilapia, and I just cannot find a single negative for ponds which cool enough in winter to kill them and where they are legal. I even found information which suggested that they are perfect for removing the sludge formed by vegetable debris. The following is a quote from one site: "the Aswan dam in Egypt was found to be losing 3 to 4 inches per year due to deposition of debris. Tilapia nilotica were stocked in the dam, and the amount of build-up actually began to go the other way. Up to 2-3 inches a year were being removed by the Tilapia."

That's pretty impressive to my eye. I suppose that if the stocked population were high enough, they might stir up enough bottom silt to make the water muddy, but I don't plan on stocking more than 7-8 lb/acre. I do wonder if the species makes any difference. Almost everything I can find either concerns commercial operations with all-male fish, something which would be next to useless in sport pond management, or with sport-fishing in natural or large reservoir waters. I have discussed stocking them with two of my neighbors and they plan on putting them in their 10 and 1.5 acre ponds.
Lou
Shelby county, Alabama, 13 acres, max depth 21 ft, constructed 1959

#18505 11/30/04 09:55 AM
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Lou,

In Texas, we can only stock the Mozambique Tilapia. I have testified here to their benefits from first hand, personal experience.

I just read a magazine article about flyfishing for bass in Mexico and the professionals there attribute their fantastic bass fishing to the Tilapia...but they also say that local commercial fishing (ie gill netting) is needed to keep the Tilapia population in check, because they do not die out in winter there and they will reportedly eat small bass fry when they (Tilapia) reach a larger size. I guess that is a possible down side.

If this winter is any indication....water temperature 62 degrees...even East Texas may in the future be able to carry these fish over in the winter.

#18506 11/30/04 10:29 AM
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I wonder if it is too far north in Oklahoma City area to stock tilapia on an annual basis. At what water temperature would you stock them?


Layton Runkle
#18507 11/30/04 11:17 AM
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LRunkle,

My advice would be to stock when your water temperature is reliably 60 degrees or above. In my area this year, that was April 1. Lower temperatures than that and you run the risk of a sudden cold front lowering your water temperature to the 55 to 50 degree killing zone.

I don't have any data yet on the other end, i.e the "unstocking" or die-off. My water temperature in East Texas has yet to fall below 61 or 62 degrees so far.

As a result of the "long" growing season, I've have weighted 2 pound fish and believe that 3 pounders are present from the original stockers. I can tell you a 2 pound Tilapia on light tackle is a blast...but also a very infrequent occurence unfortunately as they prefer vegetarian diets.

#18508 11/30/04 07:04 PM
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Tilapia are mouth breeding herbaviores and detritivoires.
Here is an interesting article
http://www.aquanet.com/features/tilapia/perfectfish.htm

They are able to digest cellulose, like a cow, and there fore can eat and digest detritus (aka loon shit). Most fish do not use this as a food source. Detritus is a very poor food source for pretty much everything. So when they have the oportunity to eat algae they probably do even better. Algae has a low c:n ratio and is good forage.

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