Something fishy this way comes
So this winter I decided to do something a little different. I've been eating some really delicious tilapia dishes lately at a local restaurant, and I thought I'd try to grow my own. Tilapia --also called Nile perch, among other things-- are a freshwater fish originally from Africa. Fast growing, neutral tasting flesh, and willing to eat almost anything, including each other, they are an ideal fish for raising as a food source.
The only significant environmental limiting factor in growing them is temperature. They like warm water, and the ideal breeding temperature is 86 degrees. But, I live in North Florida and have two greenhouses, so even though it does sometimes get cold here in the winter (usually a dozen or fewer freezing nights), it nevertheless gets a decent amount of sun and is not too cold compared to most places.
I bought my breeding stock from a nice guy named Mike Sipe at www.cherrysnapper.com. I put them in a 60 gal. Wal Mart aquarium. Mike has a good guide on-line about raising tilapia and it's fairly easy to breed them.
I lost a few fish at first because...well, I didn't know what I was doing. But, I have rebounded. Basically, an aquarium needs to be "seasoned" by slowly adding fish over a period of weeks so colonies of nitrogen eating bacteria can grow and clean the water. I overloaded the tanks with fish at first and some died from excess nitrogen in the water. Now, the system is balanced and the fish are doing fine and frequently breeding.
To be continued....