Tilapia fish are loved in Africa. This makes them ideal for aquaculture. Just like African catfish, Tilapia is a very popular dish in many parts of Africa. Nile Tilapia has been cultured in Kenya since the 1920s. Here is everything you need to know about tilapia farming:
- Tilapia is a Great Choice
Tilapia is a great choice for fish farming because it matures quickly, it is relatively low maintenance and most importantly, it is popular with consumers.
- Tilapia Tolerance to different Temperatures
Tilapia fish thrive at water temperatures between 20-30°C. There are different types of Nile tilapia which all have different thresholds of resistance to cold and heat. A tilapia fish farm has to provide these conditions.
- Tilapia Tolerance to different Concentration of Dissolved Oxygen (DO)
Tilapia is a warm water species. This means that it can live in water that has a low level of dissolved oxygen i.e. still water. Small fingerlings need less dissolved oxygen compared to mature tilapia, which have a greater metabolic demand. Watch out for algae, they consume oxygen from water in your fish farm.
- Tilapia Maturation
Tilapia can reproduce once they are two months old when they are usually 10cm long. They can weigh half a kilogram within eight months. Tilapia that is cultured in ponds matures at a smaller size and a younger age than wild tilapia.
- Tilapia Feeding habits
Feeds for tilapia farming include detritus, zooplankton and phytoplankton, although detritus and zooplankton are eaten mostly by young fish. Nile tilapias are omnivores. They rely on the phytoplankton, macrophytes, water insects and zooplankton – the lower part of the food chain – for food.
- Tilapia Breeding Habits
Once mature, tilapia can spawn once a month throughout the year as long as temperatures are conducive (above 22°C). The trick with tilapia is to limit breeding because they can over multiply, leaving the fish farmer with fish that are too many but too small.
During breeding, females grow more slowly than males because they use energy in production of eggs and brooding.
- Tilapia Fish Husbandry
For semi intensive fish farming, prepare an earthen pond. Buy fingerlings, which cost on average 10 to 20 grams and use them to stock the pond. Usually, there should be two to six fingerlings for every one m2.
Stock the pond with male tilapia only. This will ensure that they grow faster and are ready to sell earlier. This is referred to as a monosex culture. This helps the fish farmer to make more money.
After fish are big enough to sell, it is important to partially drain the pond, and then use a seine to harvest most of the fish. Finally, the pond is completely drained and the last fish are removed.
- Proper Care of Tilapia Fish
Create a safe and conducive environment for the fish. Send water samples to a lab for analysis to check for water pollution. Provide enough food for fish to grow at a healthy rate. Too much feed will change the environment in the pond, so do not provide more than they can eat. Clear bushes around the pond because they are a great hideout for snakes and birds that prey on fish. Water should not be so clear as to make fish vulnerable to predator birds. Fence the pond for security reasons and apply some lime at the bottom of the pond before stocking to keep leeches away. Let the pond be shallow – no more than one and a half meters so that it is easier for you to harvest. Stay away from rivers prone to floods which can wash your fish away.
Other Article of Interest
- Tilapia Farming in Africa
- Making Money in Fish Farming in Africa
- Fish Farm Design
- Fish Farming in Ponds
- Fish Farm Equipment
- Fish Farm Hatcheries
- Fish Farm Feed
- Fish Care, Management, and Disease Prevention