Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Five (5) Basic Needs of Tilapia Fish Farming Business

Raising tilapia fishes can be very easy and profitable if done properly. Below are the basic needs when setting up your tilapia fish farming business to enhance maximum productivity and encourage higher profit.

1. Water Requirements (Clean Water)

Providing your tilapia with clean water can be split into two parts: new water introduction and existing water maintenance.

1. New Water Introduction

First, make sure that you are willing to drink from your water source before you give it to your tilapia.

Whenever you introduce new water into your pond or aquarium, it needs to be of the same quality that you would drink yourself.

If you aren’t willing to drink the water that you are introducing to your tilapia, then you need to stop giving it to them until you are. Your water should only come from a safe source or a clean private well.

You also need to make sure that newly introduced water is at the ideal pH level, and that it is at the same pH level as the water already in your pond.

Now the obvious question is: What is the ideal pH level for tilapia? The easy answer is 8.0, but some common situations make 8.0 impossible.

Many plants, in an aquaponic system, prefer a pH closer to 6.0, and since the fish and plants share the same water, a pH level of 6 or 7 (point) something becomes ideal.

2. Existing Water Maintenance

The water that your tilapia fishes are swimming in, will never be cleaner than when you first introduce it into their pond.

From that point forward, your pond water will continue to get more and more toxic, until it kills your tilapia, unless you intervene by removing the old dirty water, and introducing new clean water into their pond.

Read Also: 6 Factors to Consider before Growing Tilapia Fish for Profit

2. Oxygen Requirements

The air that you breathe is a mix of gasses, consisting of 20.95 percent oxygen (O2), and 78.09 percent nitrogen (N2). The remaining .93 percent is made up of other gasses (Ar, CO2, Ne, He, CH4, Kr, H2, and Xe).

Most people know that water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O), so they assume that fish get their oxygen from the water molecules themselves. However, a fish’s gills do not have the capability of separating the molecular bonds of water, so the oxygen in an H2O molecule is unavailable for respiration.

Surprisingly, the oxygen that fish breathe, is the same oxygen gas that you breathe. On land, your oxygen is delivered to your lungs “suspended” in an inert nitrogen gas; under the water, a fish’s oxygen is delivered to its gills suspended in a hydrogen/oxygen liquid.

It is mixed in with the water on a molecular scale and is called dissolved oxygen.

Don’t confuse dissolved oxygen with bubbles of any size, even the smallest bubble is millions of times larger than the oxygen molecules that fish use for respiration.

Since the oxygen, that is dissolved in water, is the same oxygen that is “dissolved” in the air, it would be logical to assume that oxygen can travel freely between air and water.

Unless of course, we’re talking about a calm body of water. Because you see, on a calm body of water, such as a pond, the water molecules near the surface act differently than the rest. Because they don’t have any H2O molecules above them, to exert an attractive force, the top few layers of water molecules line up, pole to pole, and form stronger bonds with each other.

This force is known as the surface tension layer, and it dramatically slows the transfer of oxygen entering, and waste gases escaping, the water. An easy way to visualize the surface tension layer, is as a big sheet of plastic wrap, on top of the water, suffocating everything underneath.

Adding supplemental oxygen

Adding supplemental oxygen requires an oxygen source and a method to dissolve the oxygen into the water.

There are only three oxygen sources to choose from, and as you probably suspected, each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Bottled oxygen gas is the simplest to deploy and is the cheapest source of short-term oxygen. Make sure that it’s medical-grade oxygen, not oxygen intended for welding.

Liquid oxygen is cheaper in bulk than oxygen gas, but it is a fire hazard, requires special training to handle, and may require special permits to be on your property. In addition, liquid oxygen requires special equipment to make it suitable for use.

Generated oxygen has the highest up-front costs, but over time, can save money over the other two oxygen sources.

Read Also: 6 Factors to Consider Before Setting Up a Tilapia Fish Farm for Profits

The Five (5) Basic Needs of Tilapia Fish Farming Business
Tilapia fishes

3. Food and Feeding Requirements

Tilapia fishes are omnivores, but they have very strong tendencies toward being vegetarian. The tooth and jaw structure of a tilapia is designed to graze on algae and other aquatic plants.

If you want to observe accelerated growth in tilapia fry, put them in an algae-covered aquarium, next to a sunlit window.

They will devour the algae, growing much faster than fry that is only given commercial omnivorous fish food.

One thing that catches new tilapia farmers by surprise, is the practice of using less food to slow growth. The main reason for slowing growth, especially in large juveniles, is to hit a target harvest date.

Nothing contributes to tilapia health more than good nutrition. The proper diet will boost their immune system and help them resist disease.

To determine how much food to feed tilapia, you need to know three things: The water temperature, the average weight of each tilapia, and the biomass; which is just a fancy word for the total weight of the living organisms per cubic foot of water, or for our purposes, just the total weight of all of the tilapia.

As the water gets colder, tilapia metabolize food slower and grow slower so they need less food. The opposite is also true as the water gets warmer.

During the early stages of growth, up to about 2 ounces, tilapia are little eating machines that can devour a much higher percentage of their body weight per day.

But as they grow, that percentage goes down. Since you don’t feed tilapia individually, it’s helpful to know the total weight of all of the tilapia in your pond, so that everyone gets to eat their fill.

Read Also: The Concept of Animal Energy Balance in the Physical Environment

4. Tilapia Fish Farming Light Requirements

In tilapia fish farming, Tilapia need light to survive and without light, they won’t move or eat, and they will die. So, the question is, how much light is needed?

In aquariums, tilapia can be observed hovering in the path of a beam of sunlight, as it shines through their water. In aquaculture ponds where there is a mix of direct sun and shade, tilapia seems to prefer the sunny side over the shaded side.

There are several explanations for this behavior; many of them plausible. But whichever theory you are inclined to believe, it’s obvious that tilapia prefer a bright, pond-filling, light.

Meanwhile, the best light that you can give to your tilapia comes directly from the sun. In addition to being a very powerful source of light, sunlight can be directed with the use of solar tubes and mirrors, to create pond-filling illumination. In outdoor ponds, brightly illuminated shade is just about right.

The kind of light found inside a plastic-covered cold frame greenhouse is another great example. If you can provide partial direct sunlight for your tilapia, that’s even better.

On top of everything, sunlight is completely free, automatically making it the best choice for commercial tilapia farming. The only downside to sunlight, is the unwanted wavelengths of light that come with it, such as Ultra Violet and Infrared.

The second-best lighting source for any pond, commercial or residential, delivers photosynthetically active radiation or “PAR”. These are the lights used by hydroponic and aquaponic growers because they deliver the full spectrum of light used by plants for photosynthesis.

They do not emit the photons (light) that can be damaging to cells and tissues as shorter wavelength lights can; and for the most part, the entire PAR spectrum is within the visible range of the human eye.

In other words, they’re pretty safe for humans and fish. These are also the preferred lights to use for “extending the day” for fish activity. In addition, they work perfectly to grow plants, if that is part of your tilapia farming operation.

PAR lighting comes in many different forms. Some of the most popular is High-Intensity Discharge (HID) types, such as High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Metal Halide (MH) For commercial tilapia farming, HID lights are preferable, due to their intensity, which allows the light source to be placed farther from the water. Other options, such as PAR spectrum fluorescent lights are inexpensive.

However, their relatively low output, requires that they be placed closer to the water surface than HID lighting. Newer technologies, such as LED and Plasma, use much less energy and produce very little heat. Unfortunately, they also come with a very high price tag.

As a last resort, you can use single-wavelength fluorescent lighting, provided that they are daylight balanced to between 5,000 and 5,500 degrees Kelvin. In case you didn’t already know, Kelvin is a color temperature, not a measure of heat, or wavelength, as previously mentioned.

It’s comparable to the hue of a light source if that helps you understand it better. Sunlight has a color temperature of between 5,000 and 5,400 degrees Kelvin, and overcast skies are 5,500 to 6,000 degrees Kelvin.

You can get daylight-balanced fluorescent bulbs at any home center store; you do not need to buy expensive aquarium lighting. Just as important as the color temperature is the actual wattage.

Your bulbs need to have enough power to cut through the water and light the bottom of your pond. Even still, fluorescent lighting pales in comparison to direct or indirect sunlight and HID lighting.

Read Also: Complete Guide on How to Prepare Pineapple Coconut Rum Punch

5. Provision of Adequate Space and Enough Room to Swim

Tilapia tolerate crowded conditions better than most species of fish, but they do have their limits. Increased numbers of tilapia can easily deplete the shared oxygen supply faster than it is being replaced.

The oxygen that hovers at barely survivable minimums can cause damage to organs and other sensitive tissues, leading to illness. Overcrowding causes stress that leads to slower immune system response and poor disease resistance. In addition, lowered oxygen levels also reduce the Redox potential of water, making tilapia even more susceptible to pathogens.

The triple whammy of stress, reduced oxygen, and lowered Redox, are an open invitation for diseases like Streptococcus, Aeromonas, or Columnaris, none of which can be cured economically.

In a clean water pond, normal surface aeration will support a density of two pounds of tilapia for every cubic foot of water. That’s a one-pound tilapia for every 3.74 gallons of water.

With the use of supplemental oxygen, a density of five pounds per cubic foot can be achieved. The highest documented tilapia farming density that we have found, was seven pounds per cubic foot. However, this was an experimental system, that utilized liquid oxygen to raise the O2 levels above 150 ppm.

It’s important to distinguish between the volume of water in a system, and the area of water available to the tilapia. While the volume of water plays a role in the available dissolved oxygen, it does not affect the stresses caused by the close quarters of an overcrowded environment.

Even in open water tilapia farming, where the tilapia are raised in suspended nets (farm raising tilapia fishes using nets), with potentially endless dissolved oxygen, overcrowding can lead to disease, food suppression, and slowed growth.

Read Also: The Best Stage to Start Raising your Catfishes (Fingerlings or Juveniles)


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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