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How do you care for tilapia fry?
How do you care for tilapia fry?

The first thing to do to care for your tilapia fry is separation for the larger fish.

Written by Halle Brake
Updated over a week ago

Stocking your own fish is cheaper and gives you more control

If you’re raising tilapia in an aquaponic system, it can be more convenient to breed and stock your own fry. 

Not only will raising your own stock rescue your wallet, but the ability to choose your own stock also gives you the flexibility to cause some adaption within your population and to hybridize.

Our tilapia stock, for example, is a cross between Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia), and Oreochromis aureus (St. Peter's Fish, native to the Sea of Galilee). 

Through generations of selective breeding and the stress applied over years of research and production, our freaky hybrid has both the high production of niloticus and the cold-tolerance of aureus- a nice combination for northern aquaponics. This type of hybridization is one benefit of breeding your own fish.

But enough about us. 

Have you already bred your fish? If not, head over to our breeding post.

If you have successfully bred your fish, you’ll need to deal with the fry. 

The first thing you need to do is separation.

Although fry have shelter in their mother's mouth for several days after hatching, fry and young fish will be eaten by mature males and even by some females if they are confined in close quarters. 

It's important to keep the fry separate from older fish.

You have two options when it comes to separating your fish:

  1. Option one: Once the eggs have been fertilized and females have gathered the eggs into their mouths for brooding, separate the males from the females.

  2. Option two: Gather the eggs and “churn” them manually in jars, and/or increase the dissolved oxygen. Survival rates are usually much higher this way. Learn more in this article.

Once the fry are mature enough to be on their own in the tank, you’ll need to provide shelter for them. 

This is easy to do. One simple device you can make by cutting out the bottoms of round planters and wiring several together. (This is what Noah is showing off to the right)

You may also create shelter by using rocks or net cages.

Feeding Fry

While you can raise fry on regular fish food, we recommend buying a high protein fry powder. 

How often? Feed the fry 5-7 times a day to satiation.

If possible, give the young fish their own tank; ideally each generation should be kept separate at least until they’re all big enough to hold their own. 

When you do move the fry from the brood tank into the main tank, go slowly and gradually. 

One way to do this is to put the bucket containing your fry into the larger tank without mixing the two and letting it sit for two hours or so- this way the temperatures sync. Then slowly tip the lip of the fry bucket into the main tank to mix the two water bodies. Let the water mix very slowly.

Water quality

You'll see a higher survival rate if you give your fry decent water quality. 

Keep your water aerated, and provide enough biological filtration and BSA to keep ammonia cycling and your water clean. 

If this post was helpful to you, explore and learn more.


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