If you're a regular subscriber to our newsletter, you may have enjoyed the "Lemon Butter Fish" recipe from April 4th.
For many people who grew up in the 70's and 80's like I did, the idea of fish is usually the ubiquitous fish sticks or as my friends across the pond say, fish fingers. Many times these were inadvertently frozen, partially thawed and re-frozen, giving them an off-putting taste and smell, but due to their affordability and ease of cooking, they remained a staple in many homes.
I never thought much about fish as a young adult. I would fix the occasional tuna salad, or order the square fish sandwich from the fast food joint, but never "real" fish. However, as I started to learn more about Aquaponics and sustainable farming methods, the thought of fish came back to me since these floppy water dwellers are the engines that drive Aquaponics.
You can use almost any kind of fish from your pet store gold fish, to Bluegill, Trout, and Walleye, but the preferred fish for aquaponics is the Tilapia. Why would this matter? It doesn't, if you're not planning on eating or selling the fish, but if the production of a clean, wholesome, meat source is important to you, then you need to treat the raising of fish (aquaculture) as any other farm production method.
Tilapia are like the Chickens of the Fish world
While Charlie Tuna may think he's the chicken of the sea, pound for pound the Tilapia beats out most every other fish. The Feed Conversion Ratio for Tilapia is 1.5, that is for every pound of feed you provide to the fish, you can expect 1.5 pounds of fish. As I said, this is very comparable to the average broiler chicken with a FCR of 1.6.
There are Pro's and Con's To Tilapia
The con's to raising Tilapia is that they are a tropical warm water fish. Anytime your water gets below 68 degrees the fishes metabolism slows down and they aren't eating, and anytime you get below 40 degrees, you are in danger of loosing fish, and there is nothing more devastating than loosing all your fish and having to start over again. This is why some people have chosen to use cold water fish like Walleye, but even with the cold water fish, you must keep your water warm so their metabolism is active and they continue to eat. If fish stop eating, then they stop excreting, and there will not be enough Nitrogen and other nutrients to keep the plants growing.
The pro's, however, far outweigh the few con's with Tilapia. From a consumers standpoint the pro's are
They are beneficial for weight loss
Reduce the symptoms of aging
Boost brain health
Boost immune system
Reduce the risks of some types of cancer
improves bone health and prevents osteoporosis
improves muscle health and cellular repair
Helps lower unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Not All Tilapia Are Equal
You might be wondering, why should I pay $4.00 a pound for Aquaponics Tilapia when I can get a bag of frozen Tilapia grown and shipped from China for $3 a pound at my local supermarket? I guess you have to ask yourself, do I want to eat fish that are fed an exclusive diet of human and animal feces, or for a dollar more have fish that are fed a scientifically regulated diet produced by Purina or other reputable feed dealers?
Maybe this is just me, but I don't really feel like paying $3 a pound to have my foreign neighbors take a dump on my fish sandwich do you? While fish can grow by eating many different things like bugs, duckweed, other fish, and excremental waste, they do best by having a regulated diet in an optimally controlled environment.
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