If you are raising your Tilapia in a pond which has algae and other aquatic plants, you will have to provide little if any food for them. They will feed on all types of aquatic plants, insects, larvae and whatever else they can get into their mouths. But for those that are looking to raise Tilapia in a recirculating or aquaponic system, you will need to pay close attention to your food sources to maximize your money. There are many fish foods on the market. Some are OK while others are really good, but they are expensive. If you are trying to raise your fish for personal consumption, the food cost may not be that important. However if you are looking to raise your fish for selling on the market, then we must look at other avenues of feeding your fish.
Duckweed. If you have ever gone fishing in the late summer months on a small pond, you will have noticed that small green plant that makes fishing nearly impossible? Well, that is duckweed. This little aquatic plant is a power house of protein, and your Tilapia will thrive on it. You will want to be careful though. You don’t want to go down to the local farm pond and scoop a bucket of it and feed it to your fish. You will most likely add some really harmful bacteria to your system. I would recommend buying a small bag on eBay from a reputable dealer and cultivating your own. It will cost you about 5 dollars. Duckweed grows like wildfire and will double its mass in a 24 hour period. Also known as Bay root, this tiny floating water plant is higher in protein than soy beans. Humans in some parts of the world eat Duckweed which is cited as a significant food source.
Duckweed likes sunlight and very slow moving water. You can grow your own in your backyard. Simply make a trough with water and add the duckweed. Nature will take care of the rest.
Caution: Mosquitoes love stagnant water so you will need to purchase some Mosquito Fish. These are little tropical fish that you find locally as well as on the Internet. These little guys thrive on eating mosquito larvae and will keep your yard free from those little pesky bloodsuckers.
This will most likely be your main food source due to its ease of availability. The food you will use depends entirely on the size of your fish. The larger the fish the easier it is to feed them the larger pellets. I like to go to pet shops where at times they will have summer ending sales on their Koi fish food. You want to get the largest bags possible as it will save you on the price per pound. I like to stay around .70 cents a pound for commercial fish food. You will find food for your fry and fingerlings will cost more as you need to purchase special food for the little ones. Your fry and fingerlings are hungry for Protein and will try to eat anything they can get their mouths on. If you don’t feed your fish sufficiently, they will turn on one another for that protein source. You want a good fry powder food source that offers 50% protein to provide fast growth in that first month.
If you live in the rural areas, you most likely have a farm feed store where the local farmers buy their fertilizer and other kinds of animal feed. If so, they most likely carry the Purina brand Catfish or Trout Chow. It is very cost effective and will only cost you about .40 cents a pound. If you want to grow your Tilapia to a size that yields 1 pound in 9 months you will need to feed these fish 3 to 5 times a day. The local feed stores sell it by the 50 lb. sack.
If you want to learn more about how to raise and breed Tilapia see the link below.