Originally Posted by Kev
You're really lucky. I would love to raise tilapia but the winter time is too cold for them and am not interested in supplemental heating or wintering them indoors etc. Plus the severe CA drought....
I thought they had pretty good heat tolerance? I've seen in a documentary or??? where they were raised in concrete troughs in blazing full sun and they were stocked extremely high.
I discovered an Asian grocery store out close to a friend I visit regularly.. they have live tilapia, catfish and another fish I'm blanking on right now. Liking the idea of a source of super fresh fish but then they generally look pretty stressed..... should I try them out? Any precautions or...?
The Tilapia definitely prefer warmer water. Mine are happy when the temp in the tank finally reaches 75 and rather sluggish when it's cooler. I do have aquarium heaters in their tank, but the water warms the most when I open the roll-up door and let the sun heat up the lava rock and water in the fourth growing bed. We're planning on eventually installing a dedicated solar panel to power the sump, air pump and heaters.
The main problem that most people have with Tilapia, or any "farmed" fish in my opinion, is over-crowding. My IBC tank is roughly 300 gallons and I only have 16 Tilapia and what remains of the feeder goldfish in there. I was told I could have up to 60 fish in that tank, but that seems like way too many. Each fish will reach 1-2 feet in length, and that's the size I keep in mind when stocking my tank. I don't think I'd want to go over 35, and they would have to be of varying sizes...though with none small enough to be cannibalized. I put large clay flower pots in the bottom so the fish have a place to hide if they want and they take turns using them. They are definitely NOT stressed and already come to the surface when they see my face, knowing it's feeding time. My biggest recommendation is to avoid over-populating. Since they only take 6-9 months to mature, you could raise them during the warmer months and harvest them before it gets too cold, minimizing the need for supplemental heating. Once my tank maintains a minimum temp of 75 I'll be shutting my heaters off and removing them.
The one thing I don't like about the setup is the amount of water that evaporates and requires replacement, every 1-2 days. When it's really dry here I'll have to add as much as 8 gallons per day.
EDIT: I just realized you were asking about eating the fish at the Asian market. Sorry...one track and very tired mind.
My first recommendation is to ask about their feed. It's common practice in China to feed the Tilapia animal fecies instead of fish food and I know of some people in this country who do it too, making the fish downright unhealthy to consume. After that, just use your senses. Alive or dead, any fish that smells really fishy should be avoided, and any live fish with slime, cottony spots, etc. on its scales is sickly.
As far as them looking stressed....it could be overcrowding, or simply a reaction from so many humans walking by and staring at them.
Edited by DesertChic - 1/26/16 at 9:11pm