Golden Freshwater Clam

Before setting up a Tilapia farm

Before setting up a tilapia farm it is important to take all the pros and cons into account. You should also assess the specific situation in the region where you plan on setting up your farm when it comes to factors such as climate, water access and legislation. If you live in a part of the world where the average salary for farming personal is fairly high, you should be aware that it can be difficult to compete with producers in Asia and Latin America. There are however many successful tilapia farmers to be found in countries such as the United States, so it is far from impossible. 
Tilapia is a tropical fish that needs warm water to thrive. If you live outside the tropics, you must either limit the production season to the warmest months or use heated water. The ideal water temperature is 28-30 degrees C (82-86 degrees F), but lower temperature can be acceptable if you can agree to a slower growth rate. Temperatures below 20 degrees C (50 degrees F) will however cause a sharp decline in growth rate, and temperatures below 13 degrees C (55 degrees F) are known to de detrimental to the immune system of the fish. If you need to use heated water, it is important to carefully calculate the cost of such a project since it can prove quite pricey in the long run.

When male and female tilapia is kept together in a pond they will rapidly produce a lot of offspring and that offspring will compete with the adult fish for food. This can slow down the growth rate of adult fish and lead to stunting. One alternative is to grow tilapia in densely stocked cages or tanks, since this is known to disrupt breeding in tilapias. Another alternative is to raise male fish only. (Raising female fish only is seldom practised since female tilapias grow smaller than males.) If you need to obtain male fingerlings only you can purchase them from a producer or use hormones to change the sex of young tilapias. Before you make any decisions regarding your farm, it is important to keep in mind that the use of hormones is restricted or even prohibited in many parts of the world. In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (FDA) do not approve the sale of tilapia treated with hormones.    

Tilapia is often marketed as an exceptionally strong fish by fingerling producers, but this doesn’t mean that it is invincible. Tilapia is more resilient towards viruses, bacteria and parasites than many other popular fish species in aquacultures, but they can fall ill just like any other fish. It is therefore important to keep the water quality up in the growing unit, keep the water temperature in the recommended range, keep the levels of dissolved oxygen high, and feed the fish an adequate diet. Also keep in mind that tilapias in densely stocked growing units are more prone to disease. Crowded conditions causes stress in the fish which is detrimental to the immune system and it is also easier for pathogens to rapidly spread from fish to fish in such an environment.