Raising Tilapia – Nugget 1 – by John Musser

Everywhere I go people want to either learn aquaponics or how to breed and raise Tilapia fish. Having raised tens of thousands of these delicious and interesting fish here is a nugget or two.


In the coming new year we are starting “online training” on all the above. If you are on our mailing list or rss feed, we will let everyone know when we have our courses developed.


In the meantime I want to share some NUGGETS that I hope you will like.


Today’s nugget is on:


All living things take in water. If a living thing becomes dehydrated, sickness and even death may occur.


Tilapia not only need water but for them water is their natural environment.  They are perfectly designed to get all they need from it, to move through it and live, breed, and grow.


Tilapia are very adaptable fish and they can survive a wide range of water conditions  but pollutants and poisons in the water are a serious threat to Tilapia.



Take care to keep pesticides and herbicides away from the water. I don’t allow anything in my greenhouse, not even bug spray. I only have one thing, very mild dawn soap, that’s it!


Be careful with buckets. Mark them, as someone may have been used for something else. Always look and smell first. Don’t spray pesticides where your fish are, it can make them sick.


Be careful what you use for clamps in the water, use stainless steel. It will cost more but cheap stuff will rust fast.  Don’t use pipe dope or any substance that you don’t understand  inside tanks especially if you breeding!



If you use plastic tanks or liners be sure that the manufacturer has guaranteed that they are fish safe. Poisonous materials, such as too much lead or zinc, can come from metal tanks and harm your fish.


Backyard fish farmers must remember that chlorine from your city water system will kill Tilapia rapidly. We delivered two batches of Tilapia to a friend and they died within three hours, both times. It shocked me to hear what caused this. Come to find out the city has a high water table and the water is heavily chlorinated.


You can use your city water, but first let it sit out for 24 hours so that all of the dissolved chlorine will dissipate.  If you forget to do this you will find many dead fish in your tanks. I like to put a bubblier in also.



In addition to having clean water, you must be sure that your fish have enough water.


We recommend, as a general rule of thumb.  that you have eight gallons of water for every pound of fish if you are a beginner.


As you become more experienced and have more sophisticated equipment or have constructed degassing units you may be able to have 2 gallons for every pound of fish or more. You will know when they are not happy. Sometimes they will just all jump out in the night. In the morning you will have a surprise waiting you!



Another very important aspect of the water you use is the temperature.  Tilapia are warm water fish.  They live and grow best when the temperature is between 82 and 86 degrees, although they can live in water that is below 60 and above 90.


We have learned that temperature is a very important factor for both growth and reproduction so do all you can to keep it in the best temperature range. Tilapia that are cold are much more subject to sickness and disease.

If the temperatures rise too high there will also be problems.  Hot water cannot hold as much dissolved oxygen as cold water can.  You may see the same responses in hot water that you see in low oxygen conditions.  If the water gets to 102 degrees the Tilapia will die.  If you live in an area with cold winters, you will have to raise your fish indoors and have a heater for your tanks.


For a long time I thought the above was not true until one day my greenhouse fan broke down and the heat got up to 105 and some of my prize fish did not make it.


Have fun with your Tilapia fish!


Yours for sustainability,

John Musser


P.S.  IF you like this and would like more NUGGETS then please comment below. Your private e-mail will always be safe with AESL. You may also visit our Facebook Page to join the fun converstations and ask your questions there!

You may copy and paste this for your notes. If you use this material online please give proper credit and then let us know,  so no one else tells us first.  You can simply tell us if you choose to use our material (online) below in the feedback section.

Copyright  AESL  2012


Share your thoughts