How to Raise Tilapia at Home to Eat
Raising tilapia at home can be a profitable exercise. Home grown tilapia are absolutely fresh and have not been exposed to preservatives, sex reversal hormones, or antibiotics. You can be sure that the tilapia have been fed a high quality food and through diet and good water quality you can manipulate their growth. It is certainly more convenient to harvest tilapia from home ponds than from lakes and rivers and your fish will be fresher than the most expensive commercial fillet. Although tilapia can be raised in aquariums, they will not grow as quickly as those raised in ponds.
Dig a pond at least 2.5 feet deep by 12 feet square. Ponds that are less than 2.5 feet deep can both cool down and heat up quickly, which makes for unnecessary temperature fluctuations.
Install a pump and filter in the pond. Ponds that are heavily stocked will contain a considerable amount of metabolic waste, particularly as the young tilapia mature, and need to be well filtered.
Install a heater if you are raising tilapia outside of the tropics. Tilapia reproduce and grow best in water that is between 82 and 86 degrees F. Temperatures below 55 degrees F will impair the immune system of the fish.
Install an aerator, particularly if the pond is heavily stocked. The aerator will be most beneficial during the summer months and as large numbers of juvenile tilapia begin to reach adult size.
Feed your tilapia on a regular basis each day. Tilapia, particularly young ones, that have access to food on an ongoing basis throughout the day grow considerably quicker than those that are only fed once or twice per day. Tilapia that are cultured in ponds will also feed on naturally occurring food, such as insect larvae and algae.
Install an automatic feeder over the pond if you are not able to feed the tilapia throughout the day. Add fertilizer or manure to the pond to increase the natural production of plankton, on which the tilapia will also feed.
Move the tilapia that are to be eaten to a container of fresh water for a few days prior to slaughter. The clean water allows the tilapia time to purge themselves of any dirt and detritus that the fish have ingested.