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This powerful story is told when Peter had fished all night and couldn’t catch any fish. It’s amazing what happened next when he had an encounter with Jesus. What then does this have to do with fish farming in Zimbabwe? Tilapia in particular! Everything I guess. The second time Peter had an encounter with fish was when Jesus fed the 5000 with three loaves of bread and five fish. And the Lord Jesus before he went back to sit at the right hand of the Father said, ‘Greater miracles than these shall you do’. I believe this includes feeding more than five thousand from 5 tilapia fish also called Saint Peter’s fish in reference to this very biblical passage. The preaching ends here. Of course, you wouldn’t be reading this article if you don’t already know that tilapia is big business in Zimbabwe. I will reveal to you the secrets to feeding more than 5000 by farming tilapia in Zimbabwe. Interesting?
As you all know, I had suspended fish farming training because our aquaculture specialist had been out and about. I had been trying to tie him down and get him to do a training for ZimInvestors with no success. There are many aquaculture trainers in Zimbabwe but we only managed to identify a few whom we awarded the ZimInvestors training seal. What happens when you get trained by someone who doesn’t know much about tilapia fish farming? Massive mortality will hit you. That’s the greatest danger for any tilapia fish farmer. The secret to reduce mortality is revealed now. Never transfer your fish to water with unionized ammonia concentrations greater than 2 mg/L. However, when gradually acclimated to sub lethal levels, approximately half the fish will survive 3 or 4 days at unionized ammonia concentrations as high as 3 mg/L. Prolonged exposure (several weeks) to un-ionized ammonia concentration greater than 1 mg/L causes losses, especially among fry and juveniles in water with low DO concentration. Take this as a warning shot when doing fish farming projects.
St Peter’s fish is quite an amazing breed. In general, tilapia can survive in pH of 7 with a standard deviation of 3. The most amazing fact is the pond water doesn’t have to be that clean according to our standards of clean water. Tilapia can survive in amazingly dirty water as long as the above conditions have been met. In its natural and uncontrolled environment, tilapia can grow to 5kg though some claim the largest tilapia caught weighed only 3kgs. However most farm-raised Tilapia average 1kg.
Besides what you have read above, you may still be asking yourself this simple question, ‘Why should I consider tilapia fish farming.’ The really simple reasons are tilapia fish are:
- Easy to raise
- Fast growing and tasty
- Able to eat many types of foods and are low on the food chain
- Highly disease resistant
- Able to reproduce easily
- Hardy and can tolerate poor water quality conditions
- Cheap to raise and sustain
Tilapia can grow fast in well managed ponds. Farmers can begin to harvest some fish after 3 to 4 months from stocking. They can do this by conducting partial harvests with nets and traps keeping the larger fish and returning the smaller ones to the pond. This can be done every week or two. It is encouraging for farmers to see the growth of their fish and to be able to eat some. After about 6 to 12 months, depending on the climate, it is crucial to conduct a final harvest in which the water is drained from the pond, all the fish are harvested, and the pond is dried out for 2 weeks. The drying out of the pond after the final harvest is critical and should never be taken for granted.
The market for Tilapia is amazing. The local demand is yet to be met and I doubt if this can happen within 5 years. I have prepared a separate report of the world’s largest tilapia importers and where they import from. Amongst the largest tilapia importers is the United States of America. Our three aquaculture experts are penning down a tilapia farming guide and the questions and issues you will raise will help them give you a perfect product. Ask all those burning questions and I will make sure your questions will be answered in the manual. I have always believed that there is enough for everyone. We can’t all be potato or tobacco farmers. Think niche farming and smile all the way to the bank. Try growing St Peters fish and feed your own 5000. Iam now waiting for all those burning tilapia fish farming questions. Use the comments tab below. As always…To your continued success.