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Posts posted by Cecil

  1. Hey All,


    I am a middle school teacher in Ohio and am working on a project with the local boy scouts.  We would like to get some game fish at the fry stage in the fall and raise them in a 55 gallon tank.  Then take them and release them in their pond in the spring.  I have done this with a trout in the classroom project, but it has become more of problem with meeting the states requirement for where we have to release them.  I have talked with fish and game about the type of fish, they suggested Bluegill, Redear Sunfish or Catfish for the pond.  Here are my questions:



    How many fish should I get for a 55 gallon tank assuming I get them in the fry stage like 2-4 inches in length?


    I wouldn’t go over about 20 as I’m sure you’re aware it’s the ultimate size just before harvest that you have to consider. 


    Can I raise more than one breed at a time or should I just stick with one for now?


    Bluegill, redear, and catfish are compatible. I would’t put any bass in with those species.  Even if the bass are pellet trained, and don’t eat the other species because of their size, they will stress them. Redear won’t come trained to feed on pellets. They can be trained but it’s very difficult. I wouldn’t consider redear. And I wold get fish you can feed pellets as live feed is inefficient and can be costly. It takes about 10 lbs. of live feed to grow 1 lb. of fish. It only takes 2 lbs. or less of the pellets to do the same thing.  


    Should we get something like crayfish to help clean up the tank naturally?


    I wouldn’t. If you have sufficient mechanical filtration and biological filtration you should be fine. If you don’t you will run into problems.  


    Types of plants we should have?


    I would not add plants

    I have a website with several teachers with aquaculture and aquaponic producers at the below link. Also Ohio fish producers etc  Would live to have you and you could make valuable contacts in Ohio. 




    wilsonmj likes this

  2. Great Job Brian! 

    Not to take away from this site, but I have over 50 active members and growing at the below link if you're interested -- including Gary McDonald and Kellen Weissebach from this site. Sure would love to have you.  Very easy to post pictures on my site. One step process right from your browser.

    Sadly not much activity here anymore. :(





  3. I was wrong! Feed training success with the crappies was more like 50 percent. Once I graduated up another feed size to floating feed it was apparent not all of the 559 fish were feeding, although the ones that were feeding were feeding enthusiastically. So the other day I removed all fish that either looked like they were emaciated or not to full form of what I expect of a crappie. Ended up pitching about half. 

    I'm not sad that it is 50 percent as that's still enough fish for what I want to do. I do know if they had been smaller initially I probably could have had a much higher success in feed training.  I may get some black and white crappies this spring and see if I can produce some of my own. The blacks are easy to catch in a nearby lake but the whites will take a drive to a reservoir farther south about an hour and a half away. 

    Here are two crappies from the tank. The one that is not feed trained or not feed training optimally is obvious. The skinnier one was not only narrow from the side but thin looking down from the top with a compressed lower abdomen. Notice the eye appears larger in the skinnier fish too. This is common in stunted fish. 


    ande likes this

  4. If anyone's interested, I started a group on facebook geared toward small scale fish rearing systems and ponds where much of the equipment is DIY. Would love to have people share pictures and provide advice. Aquaponics is also invited. 



  5. It depends on your bio filter type size, mechanical filtration, and aeration. Can you tell us more about those?

    For commercial systems they really up the load rate with pure oxygen and ozone, and of course large capacity biofilters and solids removing capability. I'm guessing yours is not one of those? 




  6. I do wonder if I would even need need a cabinet if I only need one tray. Seems to me I could set the tray up above a trough and just let the flow drop into the trough.  I seem to remember hearing the fry can leave a tray once they swim off into a trough. Maybe if the top screen is removed and they leave with the overflow? Or was a different set up? 

    I wonder what shipping would be from Australia the slowest way possible? Might still be less than the cost of buying them? OTOH it might not be as they would probably have to go by air vs. boat. 

  7. I think I can built the cabinet out of square stock aluminum with snap in connectors and a few bolts. I'm all for a company making money but $346.69 plus shipping from Washington State for just an aluminum frame is a little much IMHO. I can even order the aluminum stock with wings on it to slide the egg trays on. 

    I would weld but I have no experience in welding. Could also hire someone to weld it but with the snap ins and a few bolts there is no need. 

    By building the cabinet I can just order the egg trays. I actually think I only need one judging by the low number of eggs I hatch. 




  8. Thanks Phri. Actually they are not difficult to build. Takes a little more then 30 minutes to cut out the pieces and cut the mesh material. Then siliconing in the mesh is easy. That said, may spring for a set of four of these for next year. Then place the fish into the rectangular tank as alevins if I can't find the trip warp material. 





    ande likes this

  9. Note: I have the nitrates under control now by the simple flip of an electrical switch on the wall.  

    I turn the mag drive pump off that is in my sump tank that runs the system by flipping the switch on the wall. This causes the water from the up flow sand filter to drain back into the sump tank. An overflow is attached to the sump tank which drains into the floor drain. About 30 gallons of water is drained off via gravity into a floor drain (the volume of the up flow sand filter). I do this once in the morning and once in the evening (30 gallons X 2 = 60 gallons which is 20 percent of the system volume). So a 20 percent water change per day to keep nitrates low. 

    I then run fresh well water into the sump tank via a garden hose clamped to the sump tank . Once water started overflowing in the sump tank to the floor drain I know I am back to the the previous level. 

  10. I'm was getting some clogging of the screen in the baskets with the fry so I consolidated both the brook, tigers, and browns into a larger basket. The larger basket also has a slightly bigger mesh size of a fiberglass screen I found at the same hardware store. The smaller mesh is nylon. 

    The one on the left is the original basket where two of them were used to separate the species.  The one on he right has the larger fiberglass mesh screen where all three species have been consolidated. I had no success getting a close up to show the size differences with my camera. The browns are little larger than the other species as they hatched a little earlier, but I don't believe the size difference is enough to be an issue. And if past experience is any indication the brooks actually grown faster and are more aggressive than the browns. Contrary to most literature but it is what it is. The rainbows are still in one of the smaller egg baskets where 5 so far have swam up looking for feed. I plan on gently swapping out baskets as they clog, with a fresh clean one, by simply directing them into the fresh clean basket. Baskets are easily cleaned once removed with a garden hose and nozzle in a bathroom bathtub in my basement. 


    The plan next year is go with with a poly trough tank like this one (AES Pentair has one for under $300.00 with free shipping for orders over $50.00) and keep the system an RAS but instead of a circular tank this trough tank. The tank in the AES/Pentair catalog has the same volume as my circular tank. 






    I may see if I can get the triple thick weave that according to texts allows the alevins to drop through, but the eggs and egg shells stay in the basket.The mesh is available in different sizes depending on the species and egg size.  Looks like they can easily be built to custom fit the tank with wood tops. Like the following: 


  11. Brian,

    Obviously the advantage I have over you with Scott picking the fish up is he gets the right after they are removed from the pond.  Sorry to see you have such issues getting fresh healthy fish. Another advantage in hatching a rearing my fish is the water chemistry is essentially the same from the pond to the tank. All comes from the same ground water. 


  12. Sorry to hear that.  I rarely have someone else haul my fish as I don't trust fish haulers. Also one of the reasons I try and produce all my own fish other than the fact that I hate hauling fish. I've heard of some that don't even use salt in their hauling tanks!  

    Scott Schillig (Esshup) fortunately knows his stuff and is very conscientious about hauling fish. We both not only use salt but we also use a compound that neutralizes ammonia. 

  13. I hope it works for you. I'm guessing you're going to have to feed the fry after they use their yolk sac up with brine shrimp/artemia or something until they can be trained on fry powder? 

    Scott Schillig (Esshup) brought my hybrids up from Malone and Sons in Arkansas. They actually survived pretty well as I had no morts unti much later when I removed the tilapia from the same tank. As I indicated earlier those dozen or so fish were weak and emaciated. 


  14. They are aggressive feeders! Look healthy. I forget -- are they hybrids or black crappies? Sounds good Brian! What feed are you using? 

    Thanks for the kind words.

    The things that I have found make successful feed training more likely:

    1. Crowding to elicit a more competitive response. (I put 500 in about 140 gallons of water) 

    2.  Hit them heavy with the sinking feed several times a day. I think the term is blizzarding. You will waste some feed and you need to keep your clarifier clean with more partial water changes than normal but it's worth it. 

    4. Sinking feed.  Contrary to what is typical these fish had no interest in freeze dried krill at first. But at some point I added it to the tank and they ate it. So I fed them exclusively freeze dried krill until I used up the bag (2 lbs.) and then it was back to the sinking feed. They also preferred it more whole and not crushed vs. very small pieces and powder. 

    5. Start them out as small as possible (Didn't happen with these hybrids as they were purchased 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches.) 

    6. Putting some similar sized feed trained fish in with that to help them learn ( in this case it was tilapia). But if the teaching fish get much larger than the fish you are feed training, it's probably a good idea to remove them as they may aggressively hoard the feed. I did this and the crappie are feeding even better now. 

    7. Add salt to help with stress. Knowing from experience how easily crappie are stressed, fungal and bacteria issues prone, and die from simply handling them, I added 0.5 percent salt I to the system for a couple of months. That's what's recommended for hauling and I figured it couldn't hurt as the bio filters don't have issues with salt at low levels. I've since dropped it down to 0.2 percent. Not sure what you can get away with in an aquaponics system before you have issues with the plants. 

    8. I suspect but can't verify it, I believe the low light conditions of my basement (I use a dimmer switch in conjunction with an incandescent bulb) may help at least keep the stress down which should make feeding more likely.  

    If these guys are like the black crappies I hatched and feed trained myself, they will probably lose interest in pellets once released into the pond. I put my previous black crappies into a cage and they stopped feeding on pellets. There may have been fathead minnows that strayed into the cage, and crappies are know to feed on zooplankton. They seemed healthy when I checked on them so they must have been eating something. If I do it again I would also make the water depth in the cage shallower as it seemed they had to come up a ways to the floating feed. (You need to make it easy for fish to reach the goal you have set for them). 

    My plan it to release a certain number into the pond (not sure if I will use a cage this time),  and keep some in the tank longer in hopes they will be less likely to go off pellets once released into the pond. Once I plant the tilapia that are now in another tank in the basement, back into the pond for algae and weed control,  to produce bass forage, and sell the excess, I will spread out the remaining crappies in both tanks and keep them until at least late summer. 

  15. Yes crossing two different species as in the tiger trout causes high mortalities. 

    One of the problems I have with with illustrating this step by step is the eggs through the alevin stage are very light sensitive. A camera flash is as bright as it gets. Could cause injuries. 

    I sure hope I didn't screw up. I've been monitoring ammonia and nitrites and they've been reading as zero. Finally got around to checking nitrates and they were at least 160 mg/l! I did a massive water change right away.  I hope I didn't so any harm to the eggs, alevins, or fry! 

  16. A couple of the baskets floating in the circular tank. If you look closely you can see a black water tubing and plastic mesh zip tied to it. I have built a circular cage with 1/8th inch mesh and essentially lined the tank with it. When the fry are large enough, I tip the baskets and liberate the trout fry into the cage, which has its bottom above the cone shaped bottom of the tank. One problem I had last time around with the fry, was most went to the bottom when liberated into the tank, and didn't evenly space themselves like other species I've reared. This way I can adjust the cage up or down to put them at whatever depth I want. Probably lower the cage as the size and density increase. 

    Once it's time to liberate them into the pond I will move the cage to the pond and put them back into it. A larger cage with larger mesh will be around that cage and one more around that. As the trout size increases the trout will be released into the successively larger cages with larger mesh. This protects the trout from predation of the larger free swimming trout in the pond and allows me to cull out the females in the fall, which don't sell as well as the males to my taxidermy market. The females also become egg bound if kept for another year, which ends up killing them. The females will be sold for other pond stocking in the fall for recreational fishing, through winter into the spring into ponds that get too warm in the summer. Most will be caught before they succumb to warm temps in those the ponds. My remaining males that are kept in my pond will be partially harvested and the rest allowed to grow another year. 


     A brown and brook trout that were hatched December 2016 in the basement that were harvested November 2018. Just under 2 years of age in the photo. Fish are moved to a flow through outdoor pond in the spring at 4 to 5 inches in length. 10 to 14 inches by fall, average 16 to 17 inches the second fall. Should be 20 to 22 with some smaller and some bigger by the third fall. 


    Brook, brown, and tiger trout eggs were Fedexed from the state of Utah USA overnight to Indiana USA. I am adding two more species the year: Rainbow/steelhead, and cutthroat trout. The rainbow eggs are presently incubating while the cutthroat eggs will arrive in April. 

    ande likes this

  17. My 150 gallon circular fish tank in the basement uses a sieve screen mounted in a plastic tote, two sock filters, and an up flow sand filter for mechanical filtration. Biofiltration is two 55 gallon blue drums with plastic media that mix constantly via an 80 lpm air pump that also supplies air to the fish tank. A 1/2 hp chiller fed with a 10 gpm mag drive water pump keeps the water temp cold enough which can be digitally set. The entire system's water moves by gravity and a 15 gpm mag drive pump. 

    This is my second year hatching trout eggs in floating laundry baskets. As you can see by the picture the laundry baskets have the bottom and sides cut out and nylon screen siliconed in. 


    Some hatched fry in one of the baskets. For some reason the photo makes it seem like much less than there are. 


    ande likes this

  18. It's verified. I was able to feed train 97.6 percent of the hybrid crappie in my basement tank on artificial feed. I was concerned as these fish were a little large for optimum feed training.

    Yesterday I drained down the crappie tank and moved the tilapia I had moved in with the crappies -- to help them feed train -- back to the tilapia tank. I was concerned the tilapia could start bullying the crappies as they were growing faster and had definitely become larger. I also wanted to make a better assessment of how the crappie were feeding in the tank, as in how many feeding fish were actually crappie vs. tilapia etc. 

    1. All the crappies seem to be in good condition except for about a dozen which I discarded. That dozen looked emaciated and were weak enough not to be able to endure handling very well. Apparently they never took to the feed which happens with some fish.

    2. Once back in their tank I fed this morning, and it appears all are feeding -- including a few that struck the feed aggressively on the surface. Lots of flashes and movement under the water feeding on the sinking feed. Obviously if they haven't fed all this time they would looked and act like the dozen or so I discarded. (500 three to four inch crappie were planted into the tank I believe in November). 

    3. I suspect once I progress to a floating feed they will feed even more aggressively.

    ande and bcotton like this

  19. Joe,

    Thanks for the reply. It's definitely a possibility that oxygen goes down as the fish load increases. 

    The system I use for the fish other than the trout hatching and rearing consists of a circular tank with a bottom center drain that I can pull a knife gate valve on the floor to flush any wastes around it due to the diffuser mounted above the bottom drain that pushes water up and down the sides of the circular tank and back to the drain area. My solids filter consists of a 55 gallon blue drum packed with netting that captures solids via a 2 inch PVC siphon into it from the fish tank which of course runs continuously. A small mag drive pump that sits on top of the filler material pumps water to another 55 gallon blue drum (moving bed  biofilter), which consists of a membrane diffuser in the bottom center that constantly moves plastic media up the center of the drum back down the sides. This overflows back into the fish tank to complete the cycle. 

    I change about 50 gallons of water whenever I drain the solids filter drum to facilitate hosing off fish wastes off of the netting. Depending on the fish load and size his can be as little as once a week to once every few days. 

    Joe likes this