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PostPosted: Oct 25th, '16, 06:47 
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I know some of you are keeping Channel Cats and Bluegill in the same tank. I was wondering if this would work with Bullhead cats and bluegills as well. While Channel cats can be found in the region they don't grow real well up here. Bullheads seem like a better fit even though they are smaller. Bluegill will be sourced from nearby since I need Northern living stock to make sure they can survive. The other option that might work is carp, though I personally am not a huge fan of their flavor.

Anyone tried them together or will I be the first?


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PostPosted: Oct 25th, '16, 06:58 
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i wouldnt put channel cats and bluegill in the same tank for longer than 5 or 6 months.. (i also try not to put channel cats in smaller than 600 gallon tanks) the channel cats outgrow the bluegill by a lot and bluegill will become food once the size disparity changes enough.

I am not familiar enough will bullheads to answer your question directly but its all relative. If they are or get big enough to fit a bluegill into their mouth.. they will start eating them

carp should be fine, . I have put goldfish with bluegill and i wouldnt hesitate to put similarly sized carp or koi in the same tank. The carp/koi will grow faster but i doubt they will ever grow big enough to eat your bluegill except for maybe a few stunted/runts.

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PostPosted: Oct 25th, '16, 08:54 
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Well after looking at the species of Bullhead catfish that are available here I am going to go with a big no for aquaponics. The Black Bullhead, which is all over here, tends to not grow much above 8 inches here. They also tend to take up to 3 years to reach that size.
So may come down to trying channel cats.

It is difficult to find much info on native species up here for aquaponics since very few are doing it in the area. There are an abundance of trout species to choose from, but I am not really a big fan of the super fishy flavor. Much more a fan of the various sunfish of which none are native (all introduced) and also they tend to be slow growing this far north.
Yellow perch are tasty but long grow out as well and are predatory. I really would prefer an omnivore for better feed conversion.

Sauger might be an option but also predatory. Also out in the area I will be in there is Freshwater Drum which is super tasty. Pretty sure I would have to catch wild with drum though as no one stocks them that I have seen.

Carp is hard to cook and usually the only way it's any good is to deep fry it.

I suppose I could go Mountain Whitefish, but that would necessitate smoking the fish as that is the ONLY way I have ever found to make them palatable. Same goes for the 8ish species of Suckers here. Though the Buffalo suckers might work.


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PostPosted: Oct 25th, '16, 10:26 
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Depends a bit on the carp species. Cannot comment first hand as they are illegal here and thus not available as aquaculture species (same for tilapia). We are mostly overwhelmed by European and Common Carp in Australia.

My understanding is that grass carp and silver carp may be better food options for taste and plate - both are omnivores that are predominately herbivores. Both are targeted aquaculture species in parts of world that eat tilapia. But I am only aware of that from some internet research I did a while ago. Google says both are present in North America.

Definitely the common carp are crap unless you have an acquired taste for them or are European.
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PostPosted: Oct 25th, '16, 10:52 
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Common Carp are the only carp that I could source here. All of the other species are illegal to bring into Montana. Common carp are invasive here as well but there isn't a way to eradicate them without killing everything.

I know there is a aquaponics farm on the other side of the state growing Blue Tilapia. They shut down over the winter and get new fingerlings in the spring. I don't really want to bother with the extra heating that would entail in spring and fall.

My plan is to run year round in a greenhouse if possible but I know it will require less heat if I use fish that can live here.


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PostPosted: Oct 25th, '16, 23:53 
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squabnrabbit wrote:
Well after looking at the species of Bullhead catfish that are available here I am going to go with a big no for aquaponics. The Black Bullhead, which is all over here, tends to not grow much above 8 inches here. They also tend to take up to 3 years to reach that size.
So may come down to trying channel cats.

It is difficult to find much info on native species up here for aquaponics since very few are doing it in the area. There are an abundance of trout species to choose from, but I am not really a big fan of the super fishy flavor. Much more a fan of the various sunfish of which none are native (all introduced) and also they tend to be slow growing this far north.
Yellow perch are tasty but long grow out as well and are predatory. I really would prefer an omnivore for better feed conversion.

Sauger might be an option but also predatory. Also out in the area I will be in there is Freshwater Drum which is super tasty. Pretty sure I would have to catch wild with drum though as no one stocks them that I have seen.

Carp is hard to cook and usually the only way it's any good is to deep fry it.

I suppose I could go Mountain Whitefish, but that would necessitate smoking the fish as that is the ONLY way I have ever found to make them palatable. Same goes for the 8ish species of Suckers here. Though the Buffalo suckers might work.


is your aquaponics indoor? most sunfish species grow slowly and in montana i hunch it will take 3-4 years to reach pan/plate size. The bluegill here in texas get to plate size in roughly 2 years. Remember that yish are cold blooded animals. Their metabolism and thus growth slows down for much more of the year than here in the south. You have a very different situation than i do

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PostPosted: Oct 26th, '16, 00:46 
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I have not even built the system. From what i have been researching 2 year grow outs are pretty much the norm around here. Trout, perch catfish no matter what i choose. Which is why i am viewing the fish as bonus protein on occasion but mostly plant feeders.
As to my system design. I plan to house the AP in a passive solar/earthsheltered greenhouse. Provided i can build a rocket mass heater and some winter grow lights added in i think i can keep the fieh from going completely dormant all winter. At least i hope. If it doesnt work out that way i will still have an extended growing season of close to 9 months as opposed to 75 days hopefully it will at least keep the fish from freezing out.

I am also toying with building a smaller scale system in the house and running some warm water species. This system will have the benefit of helping moderate the heating of one room in the house. This one may be the first system i buiod. Get some experience before working the big system.


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PostPosted: Nov 6th, '16, 02:57 
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I have been reading up on some common native fish in my region in hopes of finding a good omnivorous or herbivorous species that will grow well in Montana.
Here's some of what I have learned.
Carnivores: Trout, Perch, most sunfish species, pike, sauger, catfish, Drum, gar and burbot
Omnivores skewed towards Carnivores: Certain sunfish species Bluegills esp., some catfish, sturgeon (shovel nosed sturgeon)
Omnivores skewed towards hebivorous: Suckers (very common largely algae eating but also invertebrates bottom feeders) Common carp
Full herbivores: paddlefish, asian carp. These are out for various reasons for AP. They are filter feeders which grow very large but would be impossible to feed in an AP system. Also they grow to large and can easily jump out. Asian carp are sadly here to stay even though they are very destructive of native species.

There are smaller herbivores in the minnow category, but they are not really worth eating. Great for those who want to grow their own bait, but I am a fly fisher so bait is not needed.

From my research it is looking like Suckers may be the best option. Feed could be duckweed, algae, sinking pellets, and any and all invertebrates. Some of these things I could grow on my own for supplemental feed.

Looks like I will be researching alternate ways to cook sucker.


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PostPosted: Nov 6th, '16, 03:28 
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If you want to grow them for supplemental feed Fathead Minnows might be a good choice.


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PostPosted: Nov 6th, '16, 04:38 
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scotty435 wrote:
If you want to grow them for supplemental feed Fathead Minnows might be a good choice.


I may go that route if I decide on a more predatory fish species. It is also quite possible to gather them from the wild here since there are many rivers and lakes where they are quite common.

What I am wanting to raise is a fish that tends more towards plant foods. Most native fish are predatory so there aren't really a lot of good options. Feed conversion for predatory fish is pretty low, but the Suckers are largely algae eaters and therefore will have a much better feed conversion than the predators.

I looked at Blue Tilapia that I could grow out before winter and shut the system down after, but they require a special license and to me that just sounds like a big PITA as well as extra money.


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PostPosted: Nov 6th, '16, 04:51 
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Yep if it's easy to grow there's probably a restriction on growing it because if it got lose in the right conditions, it could take over.

As far as the Tilapia are concerned, their ability to breed in system might save you enough money that it's worth the license hassles. On the other hand their temperature requirements might cause you to hemorrage money if you have to heat the tank too much.


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PostPosted: Nov 6th, '16, 07:05 
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scotty435 wrote:
Yep if it's easy to grow there's probably a restriction on growing it because if it got lose in the right conditions, it could take over.

As far as the Tilapia are concerned, their ability to breed in system might save you enough money that it's worth the license hassles. On the other hand their temperature requirements might cause you to hemorrage money if you have to heat the tank too much.



As I understand it there are no types of tilapia that could survive through the winters here so I am not really sure why Montana FWP has that rule. And heating the tanks would be hugely expensive. Any fish that can't survive the winters here aren't worth bothering with. I live in what was just recently upgraded to zone 4b. It was previously zone 3a. It will get down to -30-40 F for several weeks here in the winter on a normalish winter at least. Not so much in the last ten years or so, but it could get there. It is expensive to heat your house much less a giant tank of water for tropical fish.


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PostPosted: Nov 6th, '16, 07:31 
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That's why running the system as a Recirculating Aquaculture System inside during the winter and then connecting to outdoor grow beds when it gets warmer makes lots of sense in some areas. Just too darn cold.


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PostPosted: Nov 6th, '16, 08:14 
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I will have to look into that more. Haven't read much about RAS. I have mostly been looking at the flood and drains and Chift Piste systems. The cold factor is why I am planning to build a passive solar greenhouse to house the "outdoor" system. Montana only has about 75 days of growing season. It's possible to extend this a bit by planting spring veggies but it is pretty common to have snow anywhere from Sept to May. The last frost is often the beginning of June. It is a challenging region to garden. It's also often dry as a bone. 12-20 inches of rain a year. Where I grew up it was 11 inches in a really wet year, most years though home was classified as a desert.


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