Each share fish will be at least 10 inches. Most will be 11 or 12 inches long, while some may longer. The average weight of share fish has been 1.33 pounds.
These are live fish, so can I release this fish into my pond?
Yes and no. We are selling these as food, thus they are netted live then placed on ice in a cooler. It seems unlikely your tilapia will survive the trip to your pond. Anyway, they are a tropical fish and require 76-80 F water. Your pond is closer to 48 F, right? It would be wiser to eat these fish rather than subject them to a mile high glacier fed pond.
Also, please be aware that the State of Colorado considers tilapia an invasive species and reserves permits for stocking, handling and owning other than food tilapia to certain conditions. Check with the Division of Wildlife before releasing any tilapia.
Aren’t these spendy fish, given that we are paying for guts and scales?
Certainly you can find a cheaper bag of factory farmed tilapia in the freezer aisle, but compare apples to apples and you see our prices are quite low. The day I set the price for our first harvest, back in 2011, I checked local grocery chain prices for fresh tilapia. Safeway was running a dollar-off special: “fresh” tilapia for $4.99. Uh-huh, fresh. It seems doubtful there was much difference between that tilapia and the big bags Walmart sells. Also back then the Whole Foods regular price for hormone-free, responsibly farmed fresh tilapia was $9.99. This is the fish that’s raised by Colorado inmates. In May of 2012, Whole Foods advertised whole shipped-from-Thailand fish for $13 per pound. Per pound, not per fish. Despite this, and despite the fact of radiation now turning up in west coast fish, and what this has meant to seafood prices, our prices remain roughly $7.22 per pound. This astounding price for responsible, locally raised fish should probably qualify us for some sort of humanitarian award, don’t you think?
Order a share for your family today!
By the way, those entrails will make you the most proud gardener on your street should you bury them next to your prized rose bush. Wait and see.
How can I tell if I’m buying a good fish?
Here’s a handy guide: http://www.northernaquafarms.com/recipes/howtobuytilapia.html
Good news: the site includes recipes!
Speaking of recipes, here’s a page of tilapia recipes I’ve collected for you: http://backyardeggs.wordpress.com/fish/tilapia-recipes
I hear that all tilapia are bombarded with testosterone in order to change them into males because males grow faster. Is this true?
No. While many, if not all, big farms do raise 100% male tilapia, there is a technique for creating male offspring without the use of hormones. These are called Super Males.
OK, but what about the reports that tilapia has a bad omega-6 to omega-3 ratio? I read that tilapia is actually worse for you than bacon.
We read that too. Then we kept reading. Tilapia is not a fatty fish like salmon, trout or tuna, so it does not have the same level of the heart-healthy omega-3, but then again, being smaller fish, they store far less mercury than larger fatty fish.
USDA statistics indicate that farmed tilapia contains slightly higher omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3. This does sound like bad news until you also learn that the American Heart Association recently published information showing that omega-6 fatty acids are not inflammatory. The advisory explains why omega-6 fatty acids are in fact heart-healthy and are not pro-inflammatory. (read it here: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3063253
As with all of life, balance is the goal.
Do tilapia eat fish excrement?
Only if you let them. Like many species, tilapia are bottom feeders. They eat plants, algae, and sometimes smaller fish. If they are forced to live in dirty water, they will eat waste. Our fish farm is designed to constantly clean waste from the water. In addition, we purge and replace 10-20 gallons each day and once a month we purge and replace 50 gallons.
Lots of fish are bottom feeders, as that’s where food particles settle. Here are other popular breeds that bottom feed: catfish, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, perch, shark and sole.
What’s sustainable about the way you farm fish?
1.) Colorado Bred Fish. We bought our initial stock from a long-time Colorado tilapia breeder who specializes in breeding blue tilapia for white coloration. This white coloration gives these fish an enhanced plate appeal. We bred our 2012 and 2013 fish from that initial stock, so ocean fish population is in no way depleted by our operation. Nor have our fish been flown from point a to point b, so no jet fuel has been wasted getting these fish to our farm.
2.) Duckweed. We use a no-terrestrial-animal-by-product commercial fish chow and generously augment that with organic duckweed grown right here. In addition, we dry duckweed using our passive solar greenhouse’s heat and feed that when we have no fresh duckweed.
3. Energy Misers on Board! This small farm system is designed to be both water and energy efficient, using about 15 gallons of water per day and the energy equivalent of a 60 watt light bulb per month. As for the daily effluent (the 15 gallons mentioned above), we use that to nourish our gardens. The crops love it!
We hope to one day generate our own electricity, which will take us to a whole new level of sustainability.
4.) Shipping Is Virtually Eliminated. Grocery store fish is caught thousands of miles away, processed somewhere else, shipped hither an’ yon (whilst usually being frozen and refrozen, which is why grocery store frozen aisle fish is often mushy). Our fish are bred here, raised here, sold here. Shareholders drive to the farm, pick up their share and drive home and process them. Can’t get fresher than that!
Numbers, partly. Large scale operations are often raising fish in higher density. Higher density means greater profit, but it also means increased vulnerability to fish pathogens and disease. Our fish are not genetically engineered, otherwise, our system works much like recirculating commercial operations, that is if they hand feed plus refresh and test water quality every day.
How about in terms of feed; what are the differences there?
We have read news items regarding the feeding of chicken manure to tilapia. We don’t engage in such practices. Instead we grow organic duckweed on-site, and feed copious amounts to our fish. We are also using a mix of Rangen non-terrestrial animal by-product fish food and AquaMax grow out pellets with intent to switch over to Rangen ASAP. We would like to switch to organic fish pellets, however this feed is about three times the cost, and our fish refused to eat the varieties we tried thus far. Feed that is refused is no good and wasteful no matter if it is organic.