Farm-raised food. There’s simply nothing that compares to it. As preppers or homesteaders like you and me keep saying, “You can’t trust frozen food from the grocery. You have no idea how it was raised.” In addition, Being able to grow or raise your own food is just one of the many rewards of being self-sufficient.
It is interesting to note that fish farming is very affordable and easy to do. You would also be glad to know that you can make raise more compared to maintaining cattle for beef. You can keep them in a backyard pond or in tanks. Later on, you have the option to turn it into a source of income.
Here are some tips to get you started:
John Tavern, writing in 1600, recommends making big shallow ponds, keeping the ponds flooded one year and dry the next. When dry, plough and seed their beds with clover and then graze with cattle: “their dung and stale together with the natural force of the Sunne . . . will breed flies and bodes of divers kindes and sortes”, which the subsequent fish will fatten on.
Look for some basic features to turn an existing farm pond into a fish pond. The pond should be at least 1 acre in size. Smaller ponds can work, but pose some difficulties in managing the fish population.
Fish ponds should be at least 6 feet deep, but no more than 12 to 15 feet deep. The water level should have a mechanism of control, such as a sleeved standpipe fitted with a cut-off valve at the bottom. The pipe and cut-off valve control water levels by allowing you to remove lower, unoxygenated water.
Although there is no “perfect” fish for farming, the following are desirable biological and economic attributes when selecting the best fish to farm. The fish species should:
1. be capable of reproducing in captivity;
2. produce numerous and hardy eggs and larvae (young);
3. have well-known culture requirements;
4. be adaptable to many types of culture systems;
5. be adaptable to multi-species farming (polyculture);
6. exhibit rapid growth to a large maximum size;
7. readily adapt to artificial feeds;
8. be tolerant of crowding and high density conditions;
9. exhibit high survival (low mortality) rates;
10. be easy to handle, harvest, and transport;
11. be resistant to disease and parasite infestations;
12. not be cannibalistic or territorial;
13. be readily available as eggs, fingerlings, and adults;
14. have a high market demand;
15. exhibit high feed conversion rates;
16. have good dress-out weight values;
17. have a long shelf life;
18. be easy to process;
19. have a healthy appearance and color;
20. have good eating qualities;
21. have highly regarded fighting abilities;
22. be catchable.
While every effort should be made to complete your grow out during the warmer months, this may not always be feasible. Since this is the case, some provision to heat the water should be made.
One good idea, if you can swing it, is to put your fish tank in a green house. This will allow you to fully capitalize on any sunlight (in Missouri, it is mandatory that Tilapia be raised in an enclosure of some sort anyway to prevent “escape”. Other states have similar regulations).
When the time to dig arrives, consider what is the best tool for the process of making your new backyard fish farming setup? If you have the room and plan to make a very large pond, or series of very large ponds then it may be best to use heavy machinery such a bobcat or back-hoe.
Unless you are very experienced with earthworks, it is probably best to hire an experienced contractor. It can be very helpful to set aside the topsoil, and replace it around the edge of the pond at the end to help encourage more rapid recovery of plant life. Turf can be used in the same way, and can be helpful later on in the process to cover your liner edge.
All fish require oxygen, as air passes across the water, oxygen is infused. Pumps that create splashing or spraying will assist with this process. Running an air pump with air stones is not critical, but it is definitely helpful, especially if you are using a flood and drain method or if your pond is sheltered, covered, indoors or heavily stocked.
If you want to maximize the production of your backyard fish farming pond, you may have to feed your fish. There are a variety of commercially available feeds. Keep unused food frozen to maintain quality. Also, limit your feeding significantly during periods of cold weather as fish tend to be much less active.
You can also consider creating habitat for the prey of your chosen fish species, so that there is a continuous supply of wild feed. In larger, well-designed backyard fish farming ponds, wild foods can provide much or all of the food needs of your fish. This kind of setup does not, however, allow for a large amount of annual harvest.
Excluding bore water, concrete or earthen based ponds, PH levels will rise and fall over the course of the day and night, sunlight, fish, plants, fish food etc. all have a bearing on the PH levels. Checking and trying to adjust the PH artificially is almost impossible.
If you are unsure about this suggestion, take a PH reading in the morning before the sun hits to water, for 5 consecutive days and calculate the average reading, this is your baseline PH for your system. If the reading is in the normal range you can confidently stop testing and worrying. In the end you want to be growing fish that are suited to the environment you can offer, rather than fighting it all the time.
Monitor your fish health regularly. See how much they are eating and their growth ratio. If they seem to eat less than usual, it could be caused due to pathogens or parasites. Separate any fish that looks sick visually. Adding salt (roughly one tablespoon of salt per gallon of water) and keeping your water slightly alkaline will discourage parasites and pathogens like bacteria and fungus from your pond. Follow the basic rules of pond maintenance given below.
- maintain good fish nutrition
- avoid over-crowding
- maintain good personal hygiene
- hand-washing with antibacterial soaps
- disinfectant foot baths
- live-haul truck disinfection
- limit visitors
Do you have any fish raising tips of your own? Scroll down to the comments and share!
A true homesteader knows how to be entirely self-sufficient, and that means raising your own food. Along with fish, cows, goats and pigs are great animals to raise for food and profit. Learn more at the links below.
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