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Tilapia Cleaning
#534325 04/23/21 02:36 PM
Joined: Feb 2021
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I am about to go get some Mozambique Tilapia next week to put in my half acre pond.
It has been a pasture watering hole for years, but has active fish population (catfish, green perch hybrid, and chain pickerel) and seems otherwise no worse for wear past lack of maintenance.

The big problem is a large amount of plant matter, leaves and pine straw as well as living algae PA and FA.

So I have mixed input from research and local pond guys on how effective Tilapia will be.
Some say they will binge and breed till they starve from eating ALL the algae or die of cold. And said they will eat the dead and living matter, preferring the live first.
Some say come end of the season I will not even notice they were there from vegetation control aspect, that drain and start over is the only real option.

Can someone with real experience in this area give me some realistic expectations.

Will I have a hungry army cleaning 24 hours a day, or am I just planning to raise a lot of fish and end up manually cleaning later?

Fish farm says 20# is twice what would be considered normal, should ensure I get a huge amount spawned over a summer, and that I could end up skimming and burying thousands come mid fall.

To grow that many fish, they have to be eating something, and that something is mostly water, so mass wise they would have to consume a LOT.
Question is will the algae grow faster than the fish?

Half acre average dept 5 feet.
Draining is not really an option or at least not a sound one as it would flood my neighbor.

I figure the predators will love it, and they should not be competing for any resource but oxygen.
And it will be at lest a couple more months before I can get power/aeration to the pond.

Before and after photos are proving hard to find.

Thoughts?

Re: Tilapia Cleaning
Quixotic #534327 04/23/21 04:17 PM
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I have had property near Victoria for about 3 years. Prior to that, I had property about an hour to the West. I do not live on either property. I have stocked Tilapia most years for the last 15 years or so. My current pond is about 3.5 acres and most of it is only about 4 feet deep.

I stocked TP each spring for the last 2 years. They have made the FA almost non existent for the last 2 years. I also have Chara in the pond. Conventional wisdom would have said that they all died off before the big freeze this year, as it seemed to get cold enough to kill them. However, after the freeze, I had 100's of dead TP wash up on the shoreline. Based on the size and number I believe that they overwintered the prior year. I thought that each of those years got cold enough to kill them off. When we returned 2 weeks after the freeze, all signs of the dead TP were gone. I believe the buzzards, Cara-cara, coyotes bobcats and raccoons feasted on them. I had never seen any sign of the die off in prior years. I believe that we just missed it based on the timing of our trips and the clean up crew working hard before we saw them.

I have put TP in a horse trough and they have cleaned all of the FA and all other plants/algae. We would put other aquatic plants from the pond (not Chara) in the trough, and it would all be gone by the time we returned. I think they will eat whatever is available, if there is no FA. Some turn into feed hogs and show up at the feeder each time it goes off. We caught and cleaned over 80 of them at the feeders in the fall before the die off.

My water has been very muddy for over a year. I am going to skip TP this year and see if it clears up.

I would certainly try them in your circumstance before I resorted to draining the pond.

Hope this helps.

Re: Tilapia Cleaning
Quixotic #534329 04/23/21 05:14 PM
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IMHO if Tilapia eat all your algae, they don't starve. They might go on a diet. They'll eat pellets if you feed.

I've never had to bury any dead ones at the end of the season, either. Mother Nature's sanitary crew (raccoons, et. al.) do a good job with the corpses.


"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
-S. M. Stirling
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Re: Tilapia Cleaning
Quixotic #534330 04/23/21 05:26 PM
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That is excellent news, thank you for input.

I treated the edges with copper sulfate a couple of weeks ago, it killed almost everything it touched.
And I have dragged it now for well over a month by hand (Hard work but strangely fun)
I had at one time the whole perimeter of the pond with at least a 2 foot high six foot wide pile of crap dragged out full of leaves, algae, and sweetgum balls.

In this case the bottom is clay and due to the growth of algae and out gassing of sediment, over a foot of squish before you hit anything solid.
Very very easily disturbed.
But it will settle clear overnight even if heavily disturbed...
I figured they would stir it like a cauldron, but I also figured that would be beneficial in a number of ways.

It should allow them to extract what was layered in that sediment from a decaying biomass perspective, it should also serve somewhat of an analogous function to a pond dye and by limiting sunlight slow the growth while it is being consumed. Stirring up all the sediment I would think would drive out critters and gasses hold up in it, both benefiting other fish and speeding up aerobic processes. I have been told they even eat some of the muck for the bacterial content, and then excrete cleaner muck! smirk

I planned on doubling down with some muck away as well, and just going for a summer of carnage if possible.

Last when it all settles the last time when they are finally all dead, I assume it should be layers of clay sediment which should settle deeper and little firmer than a rotting foam of plant matter and slime.

If i get 6 months of muddy pond that settles back to even 50% cleaner, I will call that an amazing year/round 1 win.

I was just hoping I was not expecting dramatic results to find out it will be a five year job.

We will not have the house built until likely December or later, and I will have aeration as soon as they get power to the guest house which is closer to the pond, so that could end up being late summer.

By the time I am living there, I *hope* to have it in a decent shape.

Re: Tilapia Cleaning
Quixotic #534359 04/24/21 08:29 PM
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First off, where in East Texas is the pond located? The water is different depending on location.

Secondly, I think the experts will tell you a 50% reduction in one year may not be possible.

Third, Nutrient comes out of a pond in several ways. How do you plan on removing the nutrient?

Forth, And really this should be first, what is the long term goal for the pond?


Brian

The one thing is the one thing
A dry fly catches no fish
Try not to be THAT 10%
Re: Tilapia Cleaning
Quixotic #534396 04/26/21 08:49 AM
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Winona (Central East)
That's why I was hoping to get some before and after of people actually around here, to see if results varied by where, or climate.

Nutrients I would assume have been mostly from it being a cow pasture for at least a couple decades, the pond was two smaller water holed bridged into one pond about 10-12 years ago, both fertilizer and cow dung running into pond with every rain. When we first purchased and got the cows off, the shoreline had cowpatties actually IN the water and all around the shallow side where they could walk up to it.

No more cows, and the only place that should be fertilized other than the portion that will be my yard, far from pond, should be out of reach of the pond.

The pond will eventually be used for fishing, Plan was to lillypad the shallow side for fish/shade algae/grass control, and cooling, install at least a bubbler, maybe a fountain if I can get the vegetation that would likely keep it clogged under control. I figured littlepads would be easier to control that that steel wire based weed we have been ripping out of it!

Between fish and frog songs at night, just a clean and pretty part of the view over the green rolling hills of east texas.

going to have a small section dug out some when they do the dirt work for the house, but dams on either side you can drive over, and it was once larger, a LOT of dirt went into it when the neighbors cleared there place and had 100 trucks of dirt brought in, I think two trucks alone washed into the pond. The way it is shaped I believe the dam on one side was built to be a dam, the rest of the way around it is essentially carved out of the surrounding terrain.

I do not see anyone ever trying to swim in it, pretty much a fish habitat and a peaceful place to catch a fish and a beer after work.

Re: Tilapia Cleaning
Quixotic #534584 04/29/21 06:45 PM
Joined: Feb 2021
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Well they are in, 20# fir Tyler fish farms, in Ben Wheeler.
Nice people, healthy looking fish! I have before photos, we will see how summer ends.
ETX is going to be warm water, plenty of food, so I will certainly post back photos and results for posterity.

Perch did not even seem to mind, and even joined their school a few times.

I do love how they circled the pond in a school, could always see where they were.

Re: Tilapia Cleaning
Quixotic #534589 04/29/21 08:09 PM
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Good to hear you got started on this project. Looking forward to the pics once in a while so we can watch the progress throughout the summer.


Brian

The one thing is the one thing
A dry fly catches no fish
Try not to be THAT 10%

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