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Cecil

97.6 percent success feed training hybrid crappies

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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.

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thats really awesome.. I will have to go back and reread your thread for ideas on how to improve my results.

 

As of now i have 20 that made it to 5-7" and now i am going to see if i can breed them in my tanks and aquariums like i did with bluegill and res

 

 

 

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)

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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. 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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These are black crappie. They are eating optimal blue gill or bluegill jr or a mix i cant remember but i pretty much only use optimal now.

 

Salt can be ok in aquaponics. People do salt when fish are stressed.. different plants have different tolerances to salt levels. But when i feed train its in a garage nuresery system which s only aquaculture so its not a problem for me. And now that i think i about it i am pretty sure i salted the day i got them. so i think i do all of the same things..

I still struggle to find healthy fish.. they all come from fish farms in arkansas swhich means inconvenient and long travel.. And since the crappie dont eat anything you dont really know how long ago they were taken from the pond and how ling they were sitting in a holding tank at the hatchery before it even sits in a truck or another holding tank at the pond stocking place.. so yah.. i hope i can get these guys to reproduce and i dont have to mess with that anymore.. 

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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. 

 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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i have met malone and sons truck in shreveport, LA  twice (its a 3+ hour drive each way).. the first time it was the healthiest fish i ever started with.. the second time they were unhealthy, emaciated had obv been sitting in holding tank for week+ and i lost all of them within a few days of transport. 

The only other place i get fish from now is a pond stocking reseller in north texas named pond king who gets their fish from wherever , but every time i have asked the crappie have been from  malone and sons too.  

 

The only time i have gotten fish that i dont think originated from malone and sons was when i met an Oklahoma fish truck that delivers to suburbs around dallas. I wont mention the name because this post would sound slanderous.. I bought several types of fish not just crappie and they were all a total loss despite my leg of the transport only being about 15 mins plus the water acclimation process i always use.  In 10+ years of this hobby, the only time i have ever lost non-crappie fish due to  transport/handling was that Oklahoma hatchery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)

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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. 

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I dunno about the OK truck.. it could have been a bad batch or it occurs to me most (all?) of their customers are ponds and people dont really see or documentt the mortality rate (since sometimes fish are terminal but still swimming when they are released) so they get away with it. 

 

As for the malone and sons.. i do try to get their crappie.. i just try really hard to get them as close to the time they were pulled from the pond as possible.. I just call and bother my pond stocking place on when they are planning their shipments.. the usually get their deliveries in the middle of the week and i  go pickup my fish the same weekend after. Its not 100% but its all a numbers game and giving yourself the best chance. And through those conversations you hear things like "they arent ready yet" and you guess at weather or not that means the next shipment will be the best one t o try to grab

 

for people not cecil reading the thread.. the reason its so important to have strong healthy fish is because when you  are feed training they dont necessarily start eating right away and the longer they go without eating eventually they get to a point where they just shut down and filter feed and will never feed train.. so starting with the healthiest fish possible is super important.

 

 

 

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)

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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. 

 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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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. 

P4jiHkM.jpg

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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