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Greebe

Fish for shorter seasons? (cooler climates)

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So while I am planning out my system, I am trying to decide which fish species to raise. I would like tilapia but can't find a breeder locally which would mean I would have to mail order. Most places that I have seen charge anywhere from $100- $150 for shipping on fingerlings which is not really an option right now. The other consideration with tilapia is that it might be hard to get an 8 month growing season here and keeping the water temp between 65F and 85F.

Here is what I can get in state. (West Virginia)

Trout (Rainbow?), Yellow Perch, Black Crappie, Grass Carp, Koi, Largemouth Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, Bluegill, Hybrid Bluegill, Red Ears, Catfish, Flathead, Channel Catfish

We are in US Zone 5, with weather that usually is mid 80's to 90F max in the day and 50's to 60's at night. Frost dates are mid April and mid October. So that is a definite 6 months frost free but more commonly we are around 7-8 months.

I know trout should be able to deal with the colder temps, but I am not a huge fan of trout for table fish. Would prefer a less fish tasting meat like tilapia and one with less bones that could be filleted out if possible. Seems like a lot of people raise perch in aquaponic systems. Would this be a better bet?

Let me know what fish you think would work best for my weather conditions and length of time to grow them to full size or at lease close to full size.

Thanks a lot,

Greebe

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If you are worried about cool weather, I would shoot for catfish easy to start outwith not so easy to kill them. If you want to deal with cold water fish then trout but they are not so easy to raise for starting out.. But I would talk to Kellen about getting Tilapia I'm sure he will be able to help you out..

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Thanks for the reply.

I talked to a local fishery yesterday and he was telling me to stay away from Tilapia for this area. He recommended that I stock the tank with Israeli Carp. Apparently they are very tolerant to water temps and as long as the water does not freeze solid I should be fine. He also said that hey would eat just about anything and can be stocked heavily up to a pound per gallon, which seems a little to dense to me but he has been raising them for 30 years now so must know something about them.

Any experience with these? How do they taste compared to tilapia?

Also I was originally thinking about using yellow perch, but the fishery guy was suggesting not to go with it. To be honest I forget why he suggested not going with yellow perch as I was on the phone with him for close to half an hour. Would yellow perch be as hardy for the colder climates? It can get pretty cold at night here. Sometimes we have been known to get close to freezing in the summer. I think the reason he was suggesting Israeli Carp was because of the hardiness. I would personally prefer a fish that is more mild like a tilapia. How would perch or carp compare?

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Greebe

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Oh yeah, as far as catfish go, it has been a long time since I have eaten it, but I kind of remember not linking it. Perhaps I should go to the store and buy a few of the species to see which ones my wife and I would like.

Thanks

Greebe

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Channel Catfish are wonderful, But if you tried eating a mud cat I am sure you would not enjoy it very much as it tastes like dirt.. Never heard of Israeli Carp, but the idea of eating carp doesn't sound very good to me. As for myself I am keeping Tilapia here in Taiwan as it is the easiest fish to get my hands on. But to keep Tilapia you need to keep the water warm, they die if it gets below 12c and below 20c their feeding slow way down.

So the best thing I can think of to try if you don't like catfish, would be Wipers or whiterock Bass (Aka Hybrid Striped Bass) Wipers are considered well suited for Aquaculture because they are more resilient to extremes of temperature and to low dissolved oxygen. Not that you want low oxygen in your system. but it does allow a higher fish density..

Edited by Pugo (see edit history)

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i think channel catfish might be too slow growthwise, especialy if you decide to breed them yourself. if i remember right (?) fry at one year old are only 4 inches.

in nature they reach 1 pound weight at between 2 to 4years old. farmed channel catfish can reach 1.25 lbs in 18 months

http://aqua.ucdavis.edu/DatabaseRoot/pdf/180FS.PDF

regards

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An advantage of catfish, bluegill, and carp is that they handle low winter temps. Unless you climate control your system, you are really looking at over a year to grow to eating size, especially if you plan to filet. How are you planning on overwintering the fish ie, harvest then shutdown, greenhouse, put in shed or barn, leave outside exposed?

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An advantage of catfish, bluegill, and carp is that they handle low winter temps. Unless you climate control your system, you are really looking at over a year to grow to eating size, especially if you plan to filet. How are you planning on overwintering the fish ie, harvest then shutdown, greenhouse, put in shed or barn, leave outside exposed?

That is a good question. Originally I was planning on putting one IBC in my greenhouse and going that route. It would still probably get below freezing in the winter however. I am going to look at some equipment from a guy who had a commercial aqauponics set up a few years back. He has since been out of business because people around here do not want fresh food but just cheap food from WalMart.

Anyways he has a few 1150 gallon (4353L)tanks. He is asking $200 for each but I guess they are a cone bottom and nearly 6 feet tall. That seems like it would make setting up my system a bit harder. I forgot to ask if they come with a stand. He did mention that it might be best to bury it so it would not be so tall, so who knows. Burying it would be a huge hassle as I would have to dig the hole by hand and we have very hard clay immediately below our grass.

I am going to see him today so will know more then. Apparently he has water pumps, air pumps, beds, and pretty much everything else I would need. Now if I could just get him to cut me a package deal.

If I were to buy one of those large tanks I would have to keep it outside. This is why the Isreali Carp would be good because the fishery I talked to said they would be fine outside year round. Apparently they are fine even if the water starts to freeze as long as you keep it oxygenated and open on top. I would much prefer to raise tilapia but the fishery guy I talked to in state said that is a no go unless I plan to keep the tank in a heated building. This is something I cannot afford to do thus the search for a fish such as carp than can survive in our cold climate.

I know that it would take longer to raise carp, catfish, or perch to eating size which is a bummer, but I do not think that I have much of a choice. Could I mix the three together and see which works best for me? Would they fight or cause each other problems?

Thanks,

Greebe

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If those tanks if in good shape are a steal at $200, The conical shape will really help keep the tanks clean. Stands can be purchased or made if needed. If in a greenhouse you just need to keep the temps above freezing for any of the fish I had listed as well as the carp. You just stop feeding once the water temperature falls below 55F. Dug into the ground will help stabilize temperature, but I can understand your problem with digging in the clay.

I had heated a system with tilapia in it keeping it at 72 with a tankless water heater, ran about 200-300 a month in propane. I am in zone 8 for comparison. Running it just to keep above freezing would greatly reduce the cost.

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I had heated a system with tilapia in it keeping it at 72 with a tankless water heater, ran about 200-300 a month in propane. I am in zone 8 for comparison. Running it just to keep above freezing would greatly reduce the cost.

What is the btu rating of your heater? What is your average ground temp?

I keep 300 gallons at 115F year round with 2 (4x8ft) solar panels. I run a 8 watt pump on a temp controller to circulate between the tank and the panels. I get 8 hours of sun producing about 845 btus an hour per panel. I could see my system running 1000 gallons at 75F, easy. Here's a good place to start: http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/WaterHeating/water_heating.htm

If you have/want a greenhouse, and want 75-80F year round, go with subterranean heat storage with greenhouse air. Very simple, cheap, and efficient. You store the greenhouse heat in the dirt below your growbeds and fish tanks. If you dig into the ground, just a few trenches, and drop drain pipe in there, connecting to a plenum (barrel) with a solar fan. It helps if you have high humidity and can get a phase change by condensing the humidity on the walls of your buried pipe. You can store a lot of heat in dense soil like clay. http://www.sunnyjohn.com/indexpages/shcs.htm

Combining those systems, I don't see you spending more than a light bulb for keeping a greenhouse with water tank around 75F year round.

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Have you thought about laying the tank on it's side? Does it have a top? I would think that would make it better to lay on it's side. I'm in NC so I understand your weather issue. I have purchased a submersible aquarium heater for my fish. They stay outside in a 55 gal drum that is above ground. When it gets really cold they hunker down to the bottom but they have been just fine!

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I know you guys like the solar water heating stuff (I love BuildItSolar), but the other link, http://www.sunnyjohn.com/indexpages/shcs.htm, is far more revolutionary for climate control. Imagine keeping your greenhouse in the 70's year round for the price of a few small fans (like 30 watts or less). This is basically a DIY heat pump (but using air as the working fluid), and is far more efficient than trying to heat air with electricity or a flame.

I use a similar system to keep my house constant at 18C, 65F year round. Dirt can be an amazing thermal battery.

I forgot to mention compost heat, too. We did a test 2 years ago, making a big compost pile against the north side of a bedroom. We kept the pile covered with a billboard tarp, and watered and aerated it every week. That north wall stayed around 80-90F (26-32C) the whole winter. And because the wall was made with bricks, even after the compost cooled down, the wall retained the heat. Something similar could easily be made in a greenhouse.

Anyway, the point is, it should NOT cost a lot of money or energy to keep a place warm. If your ground temps are above 16C, bringing that up to 25C or so should be no problem with a few of the systems mentioned, or a combination of those.

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Have you thought about laying the tank on it's side? Does it have a top? I would think that would make it better to lay on it's side. I'm in NC so I understand your weather issue. I have purchased a submersible aquarium heater for my fish. They stay outside in a 55 gal drum that is above ground. When it gets really cold they hunker down to the bottom but they have been just fine!

The 1150 gallon tank that I looked at yesterday is a cone bottom open top so setting it on its side would not be possible. This winter has been mild but the past few have been pretty cold staying below zero degrees F for many weeks on end and not getting above freezing for several months. As such I think the water might freeze up pretty good. Heating a tank this size I think might be difficult and require a lot of energy.

Thanks,

Greebe

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velacreations--

Thanks for your input. However since the ground is usually frozen here in winter I do not think that a the systems you are talking about are going to be very effective, especially when temps drop down to -10F (-23C). A greenhouse, having no insulation, is not going to be able to remain very warm even if it is heated with electric or gas heaters, let alone with passive solar or geothermal systems. It would be great if it was that simple, but it is not for the area that we are at. Where I live we have some of the coldest winters in state with the most snowfall as well.

Thanks,

Greebe

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I think that I might have confused some people in my first post. When I was talking about the temperatures, I was talking about the summer temperatures not the year round temperatures. In the winter it is usually well below freezing and often dips down into the 0 to -10 F (-18 to -23C) range. I should have been more clear about this as when I reread my post it was a little confusing. The outdoor gardening season is only about 6 months long free from frost. So it is relatively short. For instance, we are having somewhat of a blizzard outside right now.

Also I do not plan to heat the greenhouse because it would be far too costly to heat with our winter temperatures. Therefore this is where I get back to my original post about choosing fish for my specific climate. I think this is why the fishery has recommended Israeli Carp, as they can take living in a system even when the water has frozen on the top and sides as long as you punch a hole in the top and keep it oxygenated.

Mostly I am interested in what peoples opinions are about types of fish that can survive my conditions. I have been told that catfish may also be fine but I don't really know. So the quest continues.

Thanks again,

Greebe

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Look at what kind of fish survive naturally in the rivers and lakes. I'm not aware of any fish that will survive being frozen, but ground temps show to stay around 58F in your state. If you can bury the tank, might get you through the winter.

@Velacreations. The heater was 75000 btu tankless water heater. It is way more efficient to heat the water than to heat the air. I've looked into those solar setups, but the problem I had was that when I needed them the most was during a string of below freezing temps and series of cloudy days that would have rendered the solar system non functional when temps are 16f with highs in the 30F for a week at a time with no significant sunshine. I think a pellet stove or rocket mass heater might work to get through those types of cold periods.

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i also looked at solar heating, for overwintering, problem is the sun doesnt shine much here either in winter. when you need it! nowhere near youre temperatures though!

do you have outhouses where you keep animals? maybe the compost style might work? or a large black soldier fly colony (or similar) can produce a lot of heat? i am also contemplating a diy windvane running a electrical heater. but no wind no heat.. also not sure if they will work in freezing conditions.

maybe placing tanks or aquariums inside the heated home in winter? or wrapping pipework around woodburning stove chimney?

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you could pack tilapia high density in aquariums with megafiltration inside , using home heat as an aid, and transfer them outside later at a larger size. getting blue tilapia (the most cold tolerant) would also help. this is what i do at the moment.

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I'm not aware of any fish that will survive being frozen, but ground temps show to stay around 58F in your state. If you can bury the tank, might get you through the winter.

Hmmm... I would be curious to see where that data came from for zone 5 and at what depth that would be for? We are in the same zone as parts of Wisconsin and Maine so we have similar seasons. Also from having done some excavation work here, I can tell the ground is frozen a foot or so down during winter, this year excluded as we have had a very strange warm winter.

Here is the 2012 map which is warmer than previous maps. We are in the blue part which shows us at -15F to -10F in the winter.

wv.jpg

However I am sure that you are correct that if I was to bury the tank that it would definitely help to regulate the tanks more than being above ground. I suppose that even it it was to keep the tank from freezing that would help a lot.

Thanks for the comment,

Greebe

Edited by Greebe (see edit history)

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I had looked at geothermal maps and had dreamed of putting in a pit greenhouse as described in earth sheltered solar greenhouse, but my ground was expansive clay at my previous location which is fairly hard to dig in without access to a backhoe. There are several out there and here is one I found for the US. You can look at ithere

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