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PostPosted: May 18th, '14, 08:33 
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Its now mid may and no further updates to this experiment. I was really hoping for an update. Did the fish survive?

I'm in northwest Arkansas and have the same problem as the original poster in Dallas. My location is just too cold for crappie. My system is completely powered by solar as I am off grid. I don't have the energy ability to heat my system and being mid may, we just had three days in a row with lows of 39-40 degree temps.

So what fish can I grow? Crappie if can train them to eat fish food. Right now, I'm using gold fish.

I hope I will see an update here soon.


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PostPosted: May 21st, '14, 02:14 
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I apologize for the poor updates. I have a few projects going and i keep procrastinating posting new pictures of the progress

Overall the progress has not been as well as i expected but I have moved the fish twice.. and my feeding has been admittedly inconsistent. first outdoors to two IBC systems and this weekend i moved them into a new garage "hatchery" system i have been working on.


here is a video from mid april. At the time i had lost two fish total, 1 hybrid and 1 black


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PostPosted: May 21st, '14, 02:31 
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I just moved the crappie to this indoor system so they are still shy, so this isnt the best video. Some of the crappie do eat the pellets but greatly prefer the blood worms. Some days i only feed softened pellets and it's easier to see. I think the hybrids are taking to the commercial feed a little better. I if just stopped feeding blood worms today i think i would have maybe 20 hybrid crappie that wouldnt starve to death. Maybe 10 black crappie. The fish were all very well graded when i got them but there is some obvious size differences now. Some are growing and look healthy and some look emaciated and weak.

i lost 5-7 black and 5-7 hybrid crappie in the move from the outside system to the indoor. I attribute soe of he losses to rough handling but also just weak fish that havent been eating well. I still have over 50 black and over 60 hybrid



This video is from today




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PostPosted: May 21st, '14, 02:48 
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Thanks Brian. This is a very interesting thread. I threw some large white crappie and golden shiners into the systems I anglered last summer. After a very harsh winter for the area both are finally taking pellets and surface feeding like the sunfish and cats. I am watching with great interest as crappie are delicious!


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PostPosted: May 27th, '14, 09:25 
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nice JB. Me too, I believe crappie are the best tasting freshwater fish in north america. Also they can handle our year round temperatures outdoors. i believe if i can make them viable in aquaponics with taking commercial feed and being reproducible then it's a game changer for aquaponics in the states.


I am working on breeding bluegill and red ear sunfish in another thread. crappie will be very similar so those are a great trial run.

Anyway. The crappie have been indoors in their new 55 gallon barrel tanks for barely a week and they are taking to the commercial feed a lot more readily. I cant say for certain why. Maybe the aeration is moving the pellets enough to trigger their predatory instinct. Maybe the close quarters are increasing the competition improving feed aggression. Either way, this seems like the winning combo.




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PostPosted: May 27th, '14, 10:46 
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Looks like they are taking to the food pretty well, good so far anyway. Thanks for the update Brian.


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PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 08:33 
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great to see the crappie eating pellets.. they're absolutely one of the best tasting (the only fish that comes close to how good yellow perch tastes! :lol: )

i've got some pretty good sized perch, and thinking about doing a full harvest, now i'm leaning more towards crappie for next restock! thanks you b@%*#$rd! hehehe

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PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 22:25 
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I guess it's a matter of personal preference. I prefer walleye/sauger-perch-gills and then it's a tie between flathead cats, 2-3 lb channels and crappie. It could be that most all my fishing spots are over run with crappie and they are pretty much every cast. Right now the cottonwood is flying which signals the end of the crappie spawn and time to stock the freezer. After they spawn and the water temps go up they are mushy IMO. I still eat crappie more than any other fish simply because they are prolific spawners and it's the least eco damage to population. If I had to buy fish for AP and there wasn't good fishing nearby crappie would definitely be at the top of the list. Good job Brian! Keep the vids coming!

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PostPosted: May 29th, '14, 02:21 
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Definitely looking promising Brian. Nicely done mate. I wish i was allowed to keep stock tanks inside the house. The war office would see an end to if rather quickly though. :upset:

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PostPosted: Jun 30th, '14, 07:54 
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Starting may 26 i have been feeding the crappie only softened commercial feed. So it's been a month, I think it's time for a results report.

I should also mention there has been a new crappie paper posted on SRAC and it covers feed training hybrid crappie. This would have been good information a couple of months ago when i started this https://srac.tamu.edu/index.cfm/getFact ... sheet/277/
The article claim successful feed training in 7 days. That may be possible if i had crowded them from the beginning, it's hard to say and a worthy goal for next year. They also claim the hybrid crappie will not eat from the surface but in my experience neither black nor hybrid had problems eating pellet from the surface.


Since i have only been placing commercial feed into the fish tanks for a month it is easy to pick out which fish are eating commercial feed and which are not. Here's some pictures to show what i mean.


Image
It's easy to tell from above that a fish hasnt been eating commercial. He is emaciated. The body is thin and the head is much wider than the body.

Image
Here is a top view of the healthy/feed trained black crappy. The body width is at least as wide as the head.


Image
Top view of the feed trained/healthy hybrid crappie. Hybrid crappie are a lot more aggressive and the ones taking pellets are growing faster than the black.

Image
here's a side picture of 5 hybrid crappie. 4 healthy fish and 1 emaciated/starving fish.


*all counting was done by hand and subject to human error and forgetting what number i am on, heh. But reasonably accept that they could be inaccurate within + or - 3 to 4 fish on any count.

I started with
60 black
70 hybrid

Ended with
42 feed trained Black
40 feed trained hybrid
8 emaciated black
10 emaciated hybrid


Findings
1) using lighting to trigger feed aggression was not necessary. The fish got accustomed to seeing me and that is trigger enough
2) I thought the ciclid pellets would be a better transition feed because of the small diameter and high protein but the fish seemed to like the larger diameter aquamax 400 more than the expensive pet store bought alternative
3) Early on, when aggressive fish try commercial feed for the first time, the were much more likely to spit out hard/dry commercial pellets and to swallow softer/pre-soaked pellets. However, It's only necessary to soak the pellets enough to make them soft. They dont need to be falling apart. 5-10 minutes is ideal. If you soak them too long they seem to break up when the fish try to swallow them and they sometimes cough up food chunks.
4) Crowding the fish is very important to feed training.
5) Warm water temperature could help with feed aggression but inconclusive based on the nature of my process.
6) Surface agitation that moves the pellets seems to help identify the pellet as food.


Possible reasons for error:
1) I moved the fish twice into three different size/shape tanks which at a minimum delayed the feed training.
2) the black crappie were in an opaque blue container as opposed to the hybrid which were in a more translucent white container.

Other thoughts and ramblings:
1) Despite the final numbers The hybrid crappie took to feed training more than the black crappie. The healthy feed trained hybrids are bigger, plumper and healthier looking than the black. When i handled all of the fish to count them they became stresses and shy. Withing 24 hours the hyrbids were coming back to the surface of the barrel to take food but it took the black crappie a couple of days and they are still not attacking and consuming the volume of pellets the hybrids are.
2) Expanding on Findings #1 AND #6: I kept an air stone in each tank that provided good aeration and surface agitation. On a few occasions, i would drop a teaspoon of pellets into a tank. The fish would attack then and i would walk away. I would come back 10-15 minutes later to check for uneaten food and there would be a few pellets floating near the side not moving. But when the fish saw me, they would attack the pellets that were sitting there. Movement or the "trigger" can be a good way to initiate feed aggression.
3) i was surprised at how many non-feed trained crappie lived for a month without substantial food.. It was a new aquaponics system so there wasnt an established algae, snail or zooplankton colonies. I can only assume they were living off of filter feeding but overall truly amazing.


What now?
1) I moved both the hybrid and the black into white barrel tanks and i continue to feed them commercial feed. Over the next month i will move to only dry feed.
2) i moved the emaciated black and hybrid fish into a spare ibc tank and i have resumed feeding them blood worms and frozen krill. if i can get some of them to take pellets cool but i dont have high expectations since i dont have a "crowding" tank available. I had some leftover supplies but when they run out the untrained fish will become LMB and channel cat food in my outdoor aquaponics system.
3) Based on my article reading about crappie i am curious if white crappie may be a better option for aquaponics. They seem to prefer smaller bodies of water, turbid water (air stones!) and tolerate/like? less ideal water conditions. Again reproduction is not a problem in a 300-1000 gallon fish tank because fry cannot easily escape from predation.
4) i plan to do another feed train experiment next year. Hopefully I can find a source for white crappie to perform side by side comparison with black and hybrid.
5) my "bluegill spawn in 100 gallon aquarium" thread should be renamed "spawning sunfish in an aquarium" because next year(or the next) when the black crappie are mature, I will start working with spawning them using the technique(s) i am learning and developing reproducing bluegill and red eared sunfish.
6) if i am able to spawn and feed train any type of crappie in captivity, my aquaponics will become pretty much a monoculture for crappie. I may grow out a few channel cats or HSB as specialty, change of scenery but It will be mostly crappie.

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PostPosted: Jun 30th, '14, 13:45 
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bcotton wrote:
6) if i am able to spawn and feed train any type of crappie in captivity, my aquaponics will become pretty much a monoculture for crappie. I may grow out a few channel cats or HSB as specialty, change of scenery but It will be mostly crappie.


I think this is the right direction Brian. I'm going to give either the hybrids or the black crappie a try myself. Thanks for posting all the information about your progress.

How many tanks and what sizes do you think would be needed to complete the whole cycle?


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PostPosted: Jun 30th, '14, 14:56 
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I have a whole thread on reproducing bluegill and redear sunfish. The process isnt complete but i am having enough success to think it's going to be possible and not too difficult. Crappie (and largemouth bass) are in the same family and reproduce the same way. I can get eggs fertilized and fry to hatch in a 60 gallon aquarium. I think it would be possible with 2x 55 gallon aquariums and an ibc tank. A breeder aquarium, a fry a aquarium and an ibc for a greenwater tank

The sunfish fry are small and can only eat microscopic food. They will not immediately take to commercial feed. You have to start an algae bloom and feed them microorganisms (zooplankton) for a couple of months until they will start a diet of crushed up commercial feed. Dont let the extra steps discourage you, i am making this up as i go along, having good success and i am having a lot of fun with the project.

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PostPosted: Jun 30th, '14, 15:07 
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Brian,

I'm in Australia and don't know these species but, this was an excellent thread. Very much appreciated.

Thanks

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PostPosted: Jun 30th, '14, 16:29 
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I've been keeping an eye on the Bluegill thread as well. I figured they wouldn't be too difficult since they take to pellets and are aggressive eaters (I've got about 30 to 40 of these right now, they seem to be doing well in an IBC with no aeration at the moment).


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PostPosted: Jul 1st, '14, 00:29 
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Your breeding bluegill thread is awesome. I have some red breasts pushing 3/4lb that would make excellent brood stock, and given the rest of the season, may reach their full genetic potential of over a pound.

I may have missed it, but, what are the crappie hybridized with? A bass? Green sunfish like hybrid bluegill?

Your work here has the gears turning... I wonder what margin I could make if I was successfully able to apply this information to golden shiners for the bait industry. Talking to the locals bait species are wild caught and supply varies each year.

Keep the updates coming!


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