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SamBurton

Minnows and Other Bait Fish as Options For Commercial Microponics

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In another thread about commercial microponics, the discussion began to migrate from stocking density to types of fish that than might be profitable in a microponics (integrated agriculture) operation.  Kellen suggested minnows/shad, etc. as a possible alternative to goldfish for a non edible but profitable option for a commercial microponics (integrated agriculture) operation.

 

I am intrigued by this idea as I live in bass and crappie country and have both commercial and retail fish sellers license.  I'd love to learn more.

 

1 Do, minnows, shad, etc. breed well in tank conditions?

2. What are the feed requirements?

3. How well do they over winter?

5. What are some good resources for learning more?

 

I also see possibilities for supplemental feed for ducks and BSF.  Perhaps, even for composting for some soil crops like corn.

 

Are any of you already raising them?  If so, what?  How is the learning curve?  Tell me all. Suddenly, I'm more than Rain Man. I'm a sponge.

 

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Oh well, it's apparent this topic has not captured the imagination of very many :sleep: . As we say in baseball, 'swing, and a miss.'  I'm finding a few articles online and one or two things on youtube. I'll keep pursuing the topic. The overwintering is my big concern. What I'm seeing is 10 degrees c. I hope t hat's not correct, otherwise I'm thinking in many parts of the country there would be no minnows. Forging ahead.

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My first few systems were fathead     minnows.,   They supposedly breed well, but didn't get to find out as I moved onto a food fish of redear sunfish and tilapia and that was the last I saw of them.

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Fatheads will spawn like crazy in a fish tank, but you'll need to provide some structure for them to attach their eggs to.  They attach their eggs to the underside of suspended and floating structures.  Foam board would probably work really well actually.  Some people put a few in their DWC troughs for mosquito control, only to find out a few months later that a few have become thousands.  hehe...

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I was thinking of floating a raft in their tank, anyway, so Kellen's post kind of settles that. 

 

 

Kellen,

Do fatheads take to commercial feed right after they deplete their yolk sacs?

 

Good Question.

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Kellen,

Do fatheads take to commercial feed right after they deplete their yolk sacs?

 

I believe they are too small for commercial food when they are first born.. I think you are going to have to make greeenwater so they can feed off photoplankton and zooplankton for a few  weeks.

 

I keep minnows in my sumps and any rain catchment or standing water in my yard for mosquito control. The only time i have had a minnow spawn was on accident. I took some clay pots out of the sump and put them into 100gallon stock tank to be used as hides for crayfish. being a new tank/system, there was the imminent  algae bloom and when the algae bloom was over there were thousands of tiny minnows swimming around. The eggs must have been on the pots

 

There's a guy on another aquaponics forum that reproduces a lot of minnows to feed to his yp, bluegill  and tilapia

 

He has clay pots in his minnow tanks and when he sees eggs he moves the clay pot and the male to a separate tank. He also keeps greenwater cultures with daphnia to feed them.a

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)

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What about tadpoles?  Do you have a frog or non-toxic toad species that breeds prolifically?  We have cane toads here that produce hundreds of little toads at each spawning......and they'd be good fish food assuming that the little toads were not toxic - like grown ones are.

 

Gary

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Kellen,

Do fatheads take to commercial feed right after they deplete their yolk sacs?

 

Hi Cecil,

 

As bcotton has already mentioned, you really need greenwater and the accompanying phyto and zooplankton that result, for them, for the first maybe 2-3 weeks post hatch.  After that, a commercial fry powder works great.

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Hi Cecil,

As bcotton has already mentioned, you really need greenwater and the accompanying phyto and zooplankton that result, for them, for the first maybe 2-3 weeks post hatch. After that, a commercial fry powder works great.

Thats what I figured.

On a side note how many of you knew that baitfish command the highest profit per pound of any other commercial fish? That is except my taxidermy trophy fish supply business that gets even more per pound short of the prices recieved for high end koi.

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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Anyone here familiar with Redbelly Dace?

 

Phoxinus oreas (eastern, mountain)  http://web1.cnre.vt.edu/efish/families/mtnreddace.html

 


 

Best bait possible, other than possibly hellgrammites (Dobson Fly larvae), for smallmouth bass (IMO)

 

I've always thought them highly ornamental and wanted to try keeping some an aquarium.

- but they'd need be a 'special' (purpose built) aquarium - more of a stream habitat I'd suspect, very clean, cold water and high DO.

When 'shopping' (so to speak) for bait, I've typically found them in medium cobble and light riffles of very small streams - along side of the Hellgies

Main problems, I've assumed, would be 1)  feeding them, and 2) they may also not do well in groups.

 

Anyone have any ideas as to how these spp may fare in captivity or a similar species, ntm potentially breeding successfully?

I don't think they live more than a couple years at most, so in order to keep them I'd also have to breed them since I'm a long ways from ol' Virginny

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tX - new site to me - first aquarium related info I've seen for this spp. .  So, feed is not a problem or schools either-  The problem I see now is keeping the water cool enough esp. in summer,  Chillers are expensive (to me) and energy hogs too.  For some strange reason (even for me) I feel I owe "the minnows" as a group something, having killed thousands as bait ntm many thousands more feeding my pair of African Reticulated Knifefish (Papyrocanus afer) (for a decade.   I attempted to be the first to breed these in captivity and failed still hasn't been achieved - - although this pair seemed to adore each other, Inseparable night and day, brought stunned minnows to each other, 'danced' a lot  ( (swam in excited knots), cruised the LONG tank in unison, hunted as a team  etc. - quite the couple but no fry  after about 8 years togehter.   Never knew that fish could have such 'sparklling' personalities,    Male (dark bro-wn) got to about 28", female (marbled honey gold) to about 20"  They ate a dozen medium fatheads a day (or 100 tilapia fry, each)    Anyway, changed the way I looked at sushi, but then I got over it,   Hated to part with them, gave to another enthusiaat.    Probably the best thing I could do for the Mountain Redbelly is to leave them in their natural habitat.  Still, highly colorful critters.    The chillers i saw were $400 to $1400.. Ouch!

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I'd probably focus on one of these for bait sales:

Fathead minnow, bluntnose minnow, golden shiner, gizzard shad, threadfin shad, lake chubsucker

They're really the most popular ones for bait purposes and are all fairly easily to keep and breed.

I spoke to a fish biologist friend of mine yesterday (ran into him at the county fair). I ended up getting onto the subject of this thread during conversation. He corrected one of the statements I had made earlier in this thread. He said that the walleye hatchery he used to manage grew their own fathead minnows for feeding the walleye for the last month or so before release/stocking (to train them to target "natural" food sources). He said they used only fry powder for the freshly hatched fathead minnow fry, and that greenwater was not necessary. He did say, "It would probably be highly beneficial though, if you could keep the bloom consistent, which ain't easy."

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What about tadpoles? Do you have a frog or non-toxic toad species that breeds prolifically? We have cane toads here that produce hundreds of little toads at each spawning......and they'd be good fish food assuming that the little toads were not toxic - like grown ones are.

Gary

Used to be a nice side profit for fish farms selling bullfrog tadpoles for a dollar a piece here in the U.S. As those of us know that seine ponds their isn't any shortage of them. Last I heard the feds put a stop to it citing they are a threat to native species in the spread of disease. Never mind that horse got out of the barn years ago but that won't stop the government from sabotaging free enterprise to justify their existence.

Don't even get me started!

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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I share the sentiment Cecil - government sucks. Pretty surprised that tadpoles would be that expensive. What purpose did folks have for buying them?

 

 

Stocking recreational ponds. Funny thing is I never stocked mine. They just showed up like everything else. LOL

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Finally talked with the local bait supplier in the area, I sold him some of my goldfish, 80 lbs (now I only have 300 lbs +/- in my tank), so now I am in aquaponics (sold both fish and veg...lol).  I asked about growing other bait fish and how it works in this area.  I think that is one of the top considerations for any fish, knowing your market.  He indicated like many above that most of the bait fish are easy to keep, but that the market is very seasonal.

 

For this area he suggested pond stocking fish and two seasons:

1. Spring and summer - raise bass fingerlings (3-4", cost 30 cents each) for 6 months and sell at 8-10" for $6-8/lb.  This is mainly for pond stocking here in Texas.

2. Fall and winter raise goldfish from 3-4" for 6 months and sell back for catfish and gar bait.  (Forgot to ask about legality, but he seems to be doing it).

 

The goldfish are bought and sold at the same price $3.25-3.75/lb so they would probably just cover feed and a few other small costs.  The bass would make a little money.  

 

my 2 cents:)

 

Clint

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Clint,

In case you aren't aware, most baifish and many pond stocking species here in the U.S. are produced on massive fish farms in Arkansas that stretch for miles. Apparently it's more cost effective to buy these by wholesalers and distributors and truck them west, north, and east here in the U.S. than produce them themselves. I supposed that could change as fuel prices continue to rise. I've also found that the bait wholesale/distributors in my area are very protective of their territories and if any of of their retail customers buy even some of their bait minnows from someone else, they can cut them off from future supplies.

Therefore if you put yourself in the shoes of a bait retailer you'd have to guarantee him a good year around supply of minnows.

That said, I suppose a distributor or wholesaler might be interested.

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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Cecil,

 

I might be just a bit lucky with this one as the guy is a large distributor and he paid me the same price as he would in Arkansas for the goldfish, but he only had to drive 20 minutes not 16 hours.  I agree with you on the bait fish suppliers, very territorial.  One would have have that steady supply and not just a "when I have some ready" supply.  I agree that the distributor/wholesaler could be a good route, you are basically giving him another tank to raise and keep supplies for them.  I am not wanting to go into the fish business, but just make something back from raising them with the lowest amount of labor possible. Everything of course is dependent on location and contacts that you can develop.

 

Clint

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Spring and summer - raise bass fingerlings (3-4", cost 30 cents each) for 6 months and sell at 8-10" for $6-8/lb.  This is mainly for pond stocking here in Texas.

If I could get $6-8/lb for LMB here in Missouri, I'd have a pile of cash. My 12 acre pond requires some serious harvesting of 8-12" bass. We'll probably pull out close to 1,000 pounds of northern strain LMB this year... no kidding. Our forage fish population is getting pushed to the edge, and the bass are getting skinny. I've been putting out sampling traps to monitor bluegill recruitment and the golden shiner population most of the summer, and the bluegill YOY and golden shiners caught per trap are at an all time low. We've had huge bluegill spawns this year (probably the biggest in the last 4 years), but they are getting wiped out by the highly overpopulated bass. I primarily manage the pond for "trophy" bluegill fishing, so keep it somewhat bass heavy, but due to lack of harvesting the last few years, the bass have gotten way out of balance for what I ideally like to maintain.

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