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PostPosted: May 5th, '13, 03:18 
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I'm looking to start up my first aquaponics system soon, and I'm trying to figure out where to actually get my tilapia from. I live in a relatively small town, so I don't really have much of a community to talk to about this.

- What kinds of places should I start looking at to find some tilapia fingerlings? Local Game and Parks? Pet shops? Online retailers?
- How much should I expect to pay for fingerlings? I'm looking for about 20 fingerlings, as my grow beds are made from two 55 gal drums.


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PostPosted: May 5th, '13, 13:18 
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You need to contact your nebraska fish and game department to determine if the species are permitted and they can also tell you where/if there are any suppliers near you.

They may be legal because they wont live year round, anyway. For the same reason they may be hard to find in your state.

is your system going to be in a heated greenhouse or indoors? Tilapia begin to be mortal at water temps of 55 degrees and your growing season will be relatively short if you are trying to grow fingerlings to plat size in 1 season. Why not chose a native fish that will thrive in your climate?


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PostPosted: May 5th, '13, 22:32 
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Just about every online source I've found seems to say that tilapia is the most popular and most recommended species to go with, but that's about all I know. I have no idea what species are native that I could grow to plate size over the summer :S

I was planning to have the system outdoors.


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PostPosted: May 6th, '13, 17:19 
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In texas i grow bluegill and catfish outdoors. Sometimes the top of my fish tanks freeze but it doesnt freeze at the bottom. I turn my pumps off and they just chill at the bottom until the top water thaws.

I dont know much about nebraska fish or nebraska weather but if it can survive year round in a smallish stock pond i expect it could live year round aquaponics. (just need a large enough fish tank that it doesnt freeze all the way through)

For even the most vigorous tilapia you would need about a 7 month growing season. Do you have that? In texas, we barely get that if we go april to october wish is kind of pushing it.


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PostPosted: May 6th, '13, 20:24 
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Outside in Nebraska I don't believe you will be able to raise tilapia. Even in Texas I am having a hard time getting any through a winter. I am hoping once my greenhouse is up I can.

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PostPosted: May 6th, '13, 23:55 
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You'll need a heck of a lot of heat to raise tilapia outdoors in NE. I'm running two 500 watt heaters to keep them going in my shop, which is heated to 45-50F. I got my fish from White Brook in Smithville, MO.

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PostPosted: May 7th, '13, 09:11 
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Tilapia is not legal for sale in Nebraska. Me and my friend are growing yellow perch and he is also doing channel catfish which can be purchased in NE. All tilapia would have to be purchased from outside of Nebraska. It is legal to have them but just not legal for sale.


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PostPosted: May 7th, '13, 09:43 
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Dang, now I really have no idea what fish to get :S I'll drop by my local Game and Parks office tomorrow and starting asking questions.

I found a spot to put my system today, and the place gets very, very hot. It is a fenced in piece of concrete next to a brick building, with large glass windows, that is used for glassblowing and investment casting :P I may need to find a fish that is OK with warm water!

Last summer was a scorcher - at or over 100F every day. It was really unpleasant, and I have no idea if it will do the same this year.

Right now I'm looking at catfish and bass, so I'll go chat with the Game and Parks people about them. Thanks for the help!


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PostPosted: May 7th, '13, 11:38 
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Zen welcome to the board. Some of the best fish to raise in nebraska are blue gill yellow perch cat fish but most NE fish don't like it too hot. You will need to keep them shaded I got my perch and cats from a guy in Lincoln but they are back in the ponds growing out. How many fish are you looking for? How soon are you planning on building?

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PostPosted: May 7th, '13, 12:08 
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Thank you so much for the fish suggestions, I will go and learn about each of them :)

I probably won't be able to keep the system running after August, so I'm looking for a species that I can raise to plate size just in this summer.

I am planning to use a covered 100 gal stock tank, then use a couple 55 gal drums (cut in half) directly above it for the grow beds. I can certainly add a canopy or umbrella above that, giving lots of shade to the fish.

Last summer was super hot, how did your fish do? Did you have to take any extra measures to cool down your fish in the summer?

Since my FT and GBs will be about 100 gal each, I'm thinking that 15-20 fish would be good (correct me if I'm wrong). I'd like to build the system and get it working by the middle of this month, then add fish.


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PostPosted: May 7th, '13, 20:21 
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Zenwebb, I've only had a system running since early December (fish since early January), so I'm by no means an expert, but I think you have some challenges there. Getting they system working well, let alone raising edible fish, in 3 months will be difficult - if not impossible. A 100 gallon stock tank (most are dark, so it's worse), sitting on concrete, against a wall, is going to run very hot. Tilapia would probably handle it but I'm not sure about anything else. If that's the timeframe you're working with, maybe you'd be better off with some tropical fish like goldies or koi.

My tilapia were 1.5-2" fingerlings when I got them the first week of January and they have been in pretty much ideal conditions - low to mid 80s for temp, good water, low stress, etc. The biggest ones are just now pushing 7" and most are in the 5-6" range - not a lot of meat yet.

Is there any way that you could move the system indoors for the winter? What part of Nebraska are you in?

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PostPosted: May 7th, '13, 23:43 
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Dang, there go my plans :( I didn't think it'd be that hard to fill a tank with water and stick a pump in it.

I really wanted to use edible fish, because the plants aren't really the interesting part to me.

I can't really move it indoors, because the space available to me in the summer is part of an art studio on my university's campus. My home is old and wooden, and likely wouldn't support the weight / humidity from a 100 gal tank.

Can I buy adolescent or somewhat mature catfish that are already close to harvest size, then just feed them for 3 months in my system?


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PostPosted: May 7th, '13, 23:51 
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Gold fish are edible :-P

You might be able to buy (or catch) some larger fish to use. If you get something that hasn't been pellet-fed you may need to feed worms, minnows, etc.

Do you have a basement in your house that you could use to keep things going through the winter? Generally around here in the winter most houses could use a bit more humidity and if you keep the tank covered you shouldn't have issues. A couple of shop lights would help with the lighting issue.

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PostPosted: May 8th, '13, 00:05 
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I rent a small apartment, and the basement isn't really part of the deal. I don't have high hopes for my landlord agreeing to it. It's in horrible condition - no lights, 100% covered in cobwebs from floor to ceiling, etc. Not even sure if there are electrical outlets, actually.


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PostPosted: May 8th, '13, 00:13 
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Where in Nebraska are you? Lincoln, Omaha or Kearney? Can't think of anywhere else with a University.. Milford I guess also?

Anyway you will be better off getting fish that have been pellet fed. Check with fish and game as they grow out blue gill etc to mature size and pellet feed them. Problem is getting small quantities of them for an AP system.


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