Tilapia has been dubbed the “aquatic chicken” because it grows fast, breeds in captivity easily, and the technology for its propagation and culture requires little input. Hatcheries can readily supply the seedstock that the tilapia farming industry needs.
Hatcheries are of three types: concrete tanks, which give the highest production; hapa netcages in lakes, the second highest; then ponds.
(1) Get good breeders (50-250 g) from reputable hatcheries; or, raise them from the fry stage until they mature in 3 months. For the latter, breeding trials at SEAFDEC/AQD have shown that tilapia farmers can select healthy broodstocks from within the normal or average size range distribution; this means not selecting the largest fish.
(2) For concrete tanks, stock 4 breeders per m2 (1 male for every 3 females). Fill tanks with water to a depth of 0.5 m For netcage breeding, prepare netcages as small as 1.5 x 1 x 1 m to as big as 12 x 4 x 2.5 m and install in lakes or other freshwater bodies, or even in ponds. Stock at the same density and sex ratio as in concrete tanks For ponds, prepare ponds as you would a milkfish pond. Stock at the same density and sex ratio as tanks and netcages, or about 500 males and 1,500 females in a 500 m2 pond.
(3) Feed breeders at 3% of total biomass daily with commercial or SEAFDEC-formulated diet containing 40% protein. Feed twice a day.
(4) After 3 weeks, watch for the presence of fry, they would clearly school in tanks or along the edges of the pond. Collect the fry and transfer to rearing tanks. At this point, production of all-male tilapia for grow-out is now an option; see section on “Production of sex-reversed tilapia fingerlings.”
(5) Place the breeders in separate holding facilities and continue feeding them high-protein diets for the next breeding cycle. Spawning can occur as often as twice a month during the year if conditions warrant.
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Eguia MRR. 1996. Reproductive performance of four red tilapia strains in different seed production systems. Israeli Journal of Aquaculture – Bamidgeh 48:10-18
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