Introduction to Tilapia Fish Farming
Commercial Tilapia fish farming is becoming popular day by day as demand growing for this fish in Asia. Basically, Tilapia is the second most farmed fish in world. In countries like China, Egypt, Philippines, Brazil, Thailand and Bangladesh Tilapia fish contributed substantially to the Food Security. The world aquaculture production of Tilapia fish is 4.2 million tonnes with an estimated value of around 3 to $ 3.5 billion. When it comes to potential of Tilapia fish farming, generally, low-laying areas with water stagnation are suitable for agricultural activities. Tilapia fish is among the easiest and most profitable fish to farm due to their omnivorous diet, mode of reproduction. Tilapia fish farming in tanks or channels are considered safe for the environment, since their waste and disease is contained and not spread to the wild.
Tilapia Fish Health Benefits:
It is good source of protein, good for bone health, immune system and thyroid function, brain health and weight loss, preventing prostate cancer and premature ageing. Tilapia is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, hence good for heart.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Selection of Pond:- Select the pond or tank with minimum water depth of 1.5 to 2 meter. Make sure that the water level never falls down below 1 meter. The main criterion to be kept in mind is that the selected pond soil should be water retentive and sufficient water supply is assured. Avoid flood prone areas, industrial areas and chemically impacted soils. If you are selecting old ponds, they can be renovated for fish culture by dewatering, repairing of the embankments and provision of inlet and outlet. In either case of ponds (new or old), the following should be done for the development of the pond.
Excavation/Digging of new ponds should be carried out.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Pond Management:- Pond management plays critical role before and after stocking the fish. Various measures should be carried out as part of pond management. The following are the fish pond management activities.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Pre stocking:- In case of new ponds, pre-stocking starts with liming and filling the water.
In case of existing ponds, any unwanted weeds and fish should be cleared by manual, mechanical or chemical means.
Unwanted and predatory fishes and other animals should be removed by repeated netting or by sun drying the pond bed for couple of days.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Liming:- The fish ponds which are acidic in nature are less productive than alkaline ponds. However, lime is used to bring the pH to the desired level for better production. Apart from this, lime has other benefits as mentioned below.
Lime increases the pH level.
Lime acts as buffer and avoids fluctuations of pH.
Lime increases the resistance of soil to parasites.
Lime toxic effect kills the parasites and lime speeds up organic decomposition.
If you are planning to go for commercial fish farming, soil test should be tested. On an average, 225 to 250 kg/ha lime is required to cover the 1 hectare pond. However, actual dose depends on pH of the soil and water.
In case of new pond, the pond should be filled with water after liming application.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Fertilisation:- Fertilization should be carried out depending on the soil quality in the pond. A combination of both organic and inorganic fertilizers may be used for best results. The fertilization schedule has to be prepared and can be modified depending on the growth of the fish.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Organic Application:
Organic manure to be applied after a gap of 3 days from the date of liming.
Cow-dung @ 5000 kg/ha may be applied.
Requirement of nitrogenous and phosphate fertilizers would vary as per the nature of the soil fertility indicated below.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Inorganic Application:inorganic application
Tilapia Fish Farming - Stocking:- The fish pond will be ready for stocking after 2 weeks of application of fertilizers. Tilapia fry (small fish) can be procured from the approved hatcheries.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Nursery Rearing:- The Tilapia fry should be reared in nursery ponds at least a month before they come to actual pond.
The nursery rearing can be done in nylon meshed hapas suspended in grow out ponds. 50 - 80 fry may be reared in one square meter.
Feeding can be done using small floating pellets and the feeding can be reduced from 30% -20% of the body weight as the fish grows and moved into the grow out pond.
Special feeds can be bought from the market. The Tilapia fry's should be fed at least 3 - 4 times a day based on the demand for feed to get good survival and growth.
The 'hapa' should be cleaned regularly to facilitate water flow.
After rearing one month in nursery ponds, Tilapia fry's can be released into actual growing pond with a stocking density of 3-6 No's /sq. meter for better development and survival.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Supplementary Feeding: Generally, any fish needs much more feed than what is available in the pond or tank. However, Tilapia fish can be fed with artificial feed and floating pelleted feed. A commercial feed with Feed Conversion Rate of 1.25 to 1.5 is ideally preferred.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Manuring: Organic Manuring may be applied in monthly installments @ 900-1000 kg/ha and inorganic fertilization may be applied at monthly intervals alternating with organic Manuring. However, the monthly rate of fertilization will depend on pond productivity and the growth of the Tilapia fish. Make sure that excess fertilization does not take place which may result in eutrophication.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Monitoring: Periodical monitoring of the fish to be carried out for disease incidence and growth. Records for day to day management of the pond to be kept for inspection.
Tilapia Fish Farming - Harvest: Harvesting of the Tilapia fish is generally done at the end of 5 to 6 months, when the fish attains an average weight of 500 to 600 grams in 5-6 months. A production of 8 - 10 tons/ha can be obtained in one crop of 6 months.
Harvesting should be done by partial dewatering and repeated netting. Based on the market demand fish farmers can sell the live fish to market or can be frozen and export to international markets.