Thursday, 20 October 2011

Tilapia Fish Farming

Tilapia is a popular food fish which is among the easiest and most profitable fish to farm. Tilapia farming requires low input and the fish is tolerant to a wide range of environmental factors, in addition to breeding easily and growing fast.

Site selection
Tilapia pond should be situated in a place where water is accessible throughout the year.The pond should be well exposed to sunlight which favours growth and multiplication of small aquatic plants like  algae which tilapia feeds on. The pond should not flood during the rainy season.

Systems of fish farming
Extensive system: This is where the fish feeds on aquatic plants, and periodic application of fertilizer is done to promote growth of natural food.
Semi-intensive system: The fish feeds on tilapia feed in addition to natural food.
Intensive systems: The fish solely feeds on tilapia feeds.
Pond preparation
Earthen ponds are commonly used and the size is determined by the number of fish to be to be raised. Pond sizes range from 100 m2-10,000 m2 with a depth varying from 1.0-1.5 m. Continuous flow of water through the pond should be maintained. To avoid escape of fish, ponds that are connected to canals or outside waterways should be fenced with fine mesh, and water inlets and outlets should be screened.
Pond fertilization
Dry out the pond bottom until it cracks, then refill with fresh water and fertilize the pond one week before stocking. Allow water depth of 6 centimeters then apply livestock or compost manure on the pond bottom at the rate of 1 kilo per 10 square meters. In absence of manure use ½ kg urea and ½ kg 15-15-15 fertilizers per 100 square meters of water surface.
Sourcing for fingerlings
Get the 1st supply of fingerlings [young fish] from a trustworthy pond owner. If fingerlings are unavailable get 20-30 pairs of breeders to introduce in a breeding pond measuring 3.5x7.0m (10 x 20ft) meters.
Stocking the pond
Drain the pond thoroughly and clean it of weeds and unwanted fish that may be present.
A stocking rate of 5-6 fingerlings per square meter of water surface area is a good guideline.
 Stock the pond when water temperatures are low, early in the morning or in the evening.
Mix the pond water in the fish container and gradually put the fish into the pond to avoid stress.
Care and maintenance
Feed fingerlings with tilapia feeds daily, the same portion of the pond in the morning and in the afternoon, at 5% of total bodyweight of the fish in the pond. Suspend sacks of manure at every corner of the pond to maintain growth of natural fish food and maintain a water depth of 1-1.5 meters. After the third week of stocking gradually reduce fingerlings to maintain 6 fingerlings per square meter.

Introduce floating vegetation like water lilies to shade the fish from hot weather. Avoid covering the pod totally as this would interfere with natural fish food production. Clear the pond dykes of weeds and patch leakages and seepages with mud. Check the inlets and outlets occasionally to prevent entry of other fish species and avoid loss of stock. Keep mud fish out of tilapia pond as it is a predator of tilapia fingerlings. Place stones on top of the dykes for easily flooding areas to prevent water overflow, which may lead to loss of fish. Plant trees on the dykes and within water sources to control soil erosion, and maintain the water flow respectively.
Tilapias are harvested when they reach the weight of 150-300 grams at the age of 4-6 months, by the use of dip or lift net. Lower the net down to the bottom of the pod, and sprinkle a small amount of feed on the water above the net. Lift the net as fast as possible to prevent escape of the fish. After harvesting, stock the pond again.Read