Best Farm-Raised Fish
What is the best type of fish for Aquaculture?
You can raise whatever kind of fish you want. You would only be limited by your budget, time, space and climate. If you want to raise small numbers for your personal hobby, then pick whatever kind of fish suits you. If your area is not ideal for a certain species, you can even create the ideal growing conditions for your fish and there is a wealth of information at your local library, your local agriculture or aquaculture center, much of it online, to assist you with every detail of your low-tech or high-tech project.
Otherwise, if you want to raise fish commercially, there are some factors to consider. You will need to check with the fisheries and wildlife agencies in your state to see what compliance requirements are enforced in your state, as well as resources they have to make your commercial venture more successful. The three species of fish that are cultured in tanks, raceways or small ponds and represent the greatest number of farm-raised fish in the US are rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), blue tilapia (Oreochromis Aureus) and channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus).
- Budget ~ The most economical fish to raise of these three is tilapia. They only require about a 1:1 ratio of feed to get them to market weight. Of the three they are the most disease resistant. They also eat algae and duckweed, which can supplement commercial feed and hasten maturity.
- Time ~ Tilapia is also the fastest to achieve market weight (3/4 to 1 lb)(340 to 453 grams) in 6 to 10 months. If you plan to breed your own fish, tilapia attain breeding capabilities in a mere 3 to 4 months and can produce new broods 6 or 7 times per year. Trout achieve market weight (3/4 to 1 lb)(340 to 453 grams) in 9 to 12 months. They take 7 to 8 months to reach breeding size and only breed once per year. Catfish require 15 to 18 months to achieve market weight (3/4 to 1 lb)(340 to 453 grams) and they do not breed until they are 18 to 30 months old.
- Space ~ Tilapia and Trout tolerate more densely populated growing conditions (4 to 8 gallons)(15 to 30 liters) of water per pound of fish, but trout need flowing water to survive. Catfish, however, need about 20 gallons / 76 liters of water per pound of fish.
- Climate ~ Rainbow trout can take the lowest temperatures (45-65°F)(7-18°C). Channel catfish require a little warmer climate, but can survive a wider range (40-90°F)(4-32°C). Tilapia need the warmest temperature range to survive (60-90°F)(16 -32°C).
It is obvious that these advantages have made tilapia the fish of choice for most of the world. Only within the last decade have US supermarkets and restaurants introduced tilapia in significant numbers, but the buying public is seeking out this pleasant-tasting fish that can be prepared with hundreds of recipes. Because of tilapia’s economic advantages, its popularity is growing among chefs and at-home cooks alike.
If you have access to a body of unpolluted water flowing through your property, you might want to consider raising any or all of these fish in floating cages. There is also a generous amount of information on this type of aquaculture. It requires less maintenance than the other types of aquatic environments since there is a continuous fresh flow of water that carries away the fish waste and uneaten food.
Some have criticized all three of of these fish for their low content of Omega-3 fatty acids. This is because they are fed a diet containing low Omega-3 sources. Of these three species of fish, only trout is carnivorous and fishmeal is included in its special feeding regimen. All of this concern can be eliminated with proper flax seed supplementation. Doing so will raise the levels of Omega-3 to the equivalent of salmon or mackerel. Even though flax seed only contains ALA, the fish convert the ALA to EPA and DHA in their metabolic process and you will receive the benefit of all three forms of these essential oils.
Until this type of supplementation becomes the standard, which it most likely will at some future date, the only way you can currently know you are getting the Omega-3 benefit from the fish you eat is by raising your own and adding the Omega-3 to their feed. There are several measures being introduced to include this type of nutritional information on the label of commercial seafood products. Consumers are examining labels like never before in an attempt to protect themselves and their family from unhealthy content.