Basic Course on Aquaculture

Held at the Mon Repos Freshwater Aquaculture Demonstration Farm and Training Centre, Agriculture Road, Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

Prepared by: Tejnarine S. Geer, Senior Fisheries Officer, Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries Department of Fisheries Kamila Singh, Limnologist/Hydrochemist, Department of Fisheries

Topics I. Introduction II. Site Selection III. Species Selection IV. Methods of Culture V. Pond Design and Construction VI. The Aquatic Environment VII. Fertilizing and Liming VIII. Transporting and Stocking Fish IX. Feeds and Feeding X. Fish Health and Disease XI. Fishing Methods and Fishing Gear XII. Post-Harvest Treatment XIII. Marketing XIV. Record Keeping XV. Tilapia Rearing XVI. Local Information XVII. Appendix XVIII. References


I. Introduction 1. Definition and Background Aquaculture is defined as “The farming of aquatic organisms including fish, mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Farming implies some sort of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated.” For statistical purposes, aquatic organisms which are harvested by an individual or corporate body which has owned them throughout their rearing period contribute to aquaculture, while aquatic organisms which are exploited by the public as a common property resource, with or without appropriate licenses, are the harvest of fisheries. The earliest records of aquaculture can be found in the ancient Chinese, Japanese and Egyptian cultures, dating back several thousand years. Until quite recently, aquaculture was not adopted as a means of commercial food production. However, with world population increasing at a rapid rate, there has been an increased demand for animal protein. This has in turn created a strain on marine capture fisheries, and has resulted in the collapse of valuable fisheries around the world. Because of this situation, aquaculture production has been increasing. The majority of aquaculture is practiced in freshwater (58.7%), followed by mariculture (35%), and brackish water culture (6.3%). Starting from an insignificant total production, inland and marine aquaculture production grew by about 5 percent per year between 1950 and 1969 and by about 8 percent per year during the 1970s and 1980s, and it has increased further by 10 percent per year since 1990. In 1998, aquaculture accounted for 30.9 million tons, or 26.4% of total world fisheries production. Production is dominated by Asian countries, particularly China. The most widely cultured fish are the carps, which are grown in China, India and parts of Europe. Tilapia are widely grown in many tropical countries, and in North America, fish like salmon, trout and channel catfish are cultured. Non-fish species, such as oysters, clams, seaweed, shrimp and eels are also cultured. Aquaculture is also carried out for purposes other than the production of food fish, such as pearl culture and the production of aquarium fish. In Guyana, as part of the diversification drive of the agriculture sector, the government is actively promoting aquaculture as a means of earning foreign exchange. This is due in part to globalization and the recent problems encountered in the rice and sugar sectors. In addition, we have seen a decline in the catches of several economically important marine fish and shrimp species. Aquaculture is therefore seen as an essential activity in our future. Locally, we are seeking initially to promote the culture of tilapia, freshwater prawns, swamp shrimps and hassar. In the future, other species may also be considered for culture.


2. Classifications of Aquaculture: In relation to the salinity of the water where the culture is practiced, aquaculture may be classified into three divisions: a. Freshwater culture: This involves the culture of organisms that live mainly in inland waters with 0.1 parts per thousand (ppt) or less salt content. b. Brackish Water culture: This involves the culture of organisms that live in water with a salt content between 0.1ppt and full strength seawater. c. Marine or Seawater culture: This involves the culture of organisms that live in coastal lagoons or in the open sea. This training course focuses on freshwater aquaculture. In relation to the utilisation of the end product, aquaculture can be classified into: a) Seed production: The main objective of this type of culture is to produce small fishes or other organisms, usually called “seed,” which are stocked into ponds or other culture devices to be grown into adult organisms for market. b) Grow-Out Production: The main objective of this type of culture is to grow seed stock until the commercial size or weight is achieved. c) Brooder Production: The main objective of this type of culture is to grow, breed and improve cultured species genetically, so as to improve aquaculture productivity.

3. Types of Aquaculture Aquaculture can be divided into extensive, semi-intensive or intensive, depending on the following: - Stocking and fertilization rates - Supplementary feed quality and rates - Level of technology employed - Level of investment and resultant yields a. Extensive Culture This is the simplest method of culture, and is characterised by a low stocking rate, use of fertilizer, little or no use of supplementary feed and consequently, a relatively low level of technology. As a result, the level of investment is low, and consequently, yields are low. Extensive culture is usually practiced over large areas of flooded surface. b. Semi-intensive Culture This method of culture is more complicated than the extensive method of culture. The stocking rate used is higher, both feed and fertiliser may be used, and consequently, the level of technology is higher. The level of investment required is higher than the extensive method, and as a result, yields are higher. Semi-intensive culture is usually practiced over a smaller area of flooded surface, when compared to extensive culture.


c. Intensive Culture This method of culture is the most complicated way of growing fish. The stocking rate used is usually very high, and complete feeds are used, instead of a combination of feed and fertiliser. The level of technology used is high, with automated feeding, aeration and water purification being employed. This requires a high level of investment, but yields are much higher than the semi-intensive culture method. However, this culture system has a high level of risk associated with it. Intensive culture is usually practiced over relatively small areas of flooded surface. In Guyana, the semi-intensive method of culture is recommended.

4. Important Aquaculture Species Very few fish species are suitable for aquaculture. Some of the common aquacultured species are listed below. a. The Tilapia Group Tilapia represent 5.6% of the total freshwater fish production and 74.0% of the noncyprinid fish cultured in freshwater. The main species cultured in the group is Oreochromis nilotica, which comprises 75.3% of the total tilapia production, or over 600 thousand tons/year. Tilapia, have a very deep, laterally compressed body, usually with large scales and a double lateral line. The body colour is generally dark, with even darker bands; often each scale is tipped with white; the throat and belly are white. Several hybrids have been developed, which are red in colour. Although tilapia can reach 3 kg (6 pounds) commercially they are cultured until 230 g to 500g. In all tilapia species males grow larger and faster than females. Tilapia are omnivorous with a marked preference for phytoplankton. They lay a minimum of 2000 eggs per year, and are very good brooders. Tilapia have been distributed from their native Africa to all parts of the tropical and sub-tropical world.

Nile Tilapia


b. Chinese Carp Group Chinese carps represent almost 60.7% of the world freshwater fish aquaculture production, or over 8.7 million tons in 1996. This group of fish have a variety of body shape, colour and habits. The four major species are silver, big head, grass and common carp, all together contributing with more than 76% of the total carp aquaculture production. Carps feed on almost every type of food found in freshwater. c. Others There are many other fishes commercially cultivated in freshwater, brackish water and seawater. In this part of the world, predatory species such as Arapaima (Arapaima gigas) and the American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) are grown. However, predatory species have a high feed conversion ratio, usually about 7:1. Nevertheless, they are widely grown, due to the high market price obtained.

American Eel (Anguilla rostrata)

Arapaima (Arapaima gigas)

Some herbivorous fish, such as the Freshwater Pacu (Colossoma macropomum) and the Freshwater Pompano (Piaractus brachypomus) are also grown in this part of the world. Although their market price is lower, they are still widely grown.

Freshwater Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

Freshwater Pompano (Piaractus brachypomus)

Species such as the Lukanani (Cichla ocellaris) and Hassar (Hoplosternum littorale) are very high priced locally, and have great potential. Hassar has been grown locally, and Lukanani may also be grown in the near future.

Lukanani (Cichla ocellaris

Hassar (Hoplosternum littorale)


Recently, there has been an interest in Guyana in the culture of the giant freshwater prawn (Machrobrachium rosenbergii). This species is native to Malaysia, and has been grown commercially in Mississippi.

II. Site Selection Site selection is critical for successful aquaculture. Large parts of the planet, and individual countries, are deemed unsuitable for specific types of aquaculture. Also, many aquaculture ventures fail due to improper site selection. The following criteria are to be considered for proper site selection: a. Land: For successful aquaculture, the land acquired must have some basic attributes. Steeply sloping land is generally deemed unsuitable for aquaculture. On the other hand, a gentle slope is required to facilitate either irrigation or drainage by gravity. Generally, the slope of the land should be between 1-1.5. b. Water: Water is essential for aquaculture. Whereas the land available can be amended to some extent, water is much more difficult to alter. The site should have easy access to adequate supplies of either fresh or salt water, or both, if required. At the same time, the site should also have access to another water body for drainage and disposal of used water. c. Access to Infrastructure: The site should be near to proper roads, as well as electricity supply, processing facilities and technical assistance (knowledge and trained personnel).


d. Market Analysis and Survey: The site should have easy access to the market for the product. This also includes access to roads, waterways for transport, or an airport, if required. A financial analysis of the proposed market should be done. e. Seed Supply: The site should be near the seed supply ideally, to minimize both cost and mortality of seed. However, if seed is to be produced on the farm, then this consideration is minimal. f. Room for Expansion: The site selected should have room for expansion. As the enterprise grows, several other needs may become evident. There may be the need for a hatchery, feed production facility, freezing area, etc. g. Financial Aspects: Ideally, the site selected should have some financial incentives associated with it, e.g., duty free provisions, tax holidays, subsidies, etc. h. Climate: The site should have the required temperature, light availability, rainfall, etc.

III. Species Selection As mentioned before, several species are suitable for aquaculture, but not every species is suited for every situation. The following should be considered when selecting a species for culture: Market demand: A species should only be cultured if it can be sold. Profitability: The species should fetch a sufficiently high price, so that the farmer can make a profit. Ease of culture: The species should be hardy, resistant to disease, and fast growing. Supply of seed stock: If the species does not breed readily, there should be a reliable supply of juveniles for growout. Feeding habits: The species should readily accept artificial feeds. Legal aspects: In some countries, there are restrictions on the culture of certain species, for various reasons.


IV. Methods of Culture Aquaculture can be practiced using various methods of culture, in a variety of rearing structures. Some culture methods are used in extensive or semi-intensive types of culture, while others are used in intensive types of culture. 1. Pond Culture A pond is an earthen, or sometimes concrete, impoundment that holds water. Water is added only to fill the pond or to replace water lost by seepage or evaporation. Sometimes ponds are subject to water changes, but this water change does not usually exceed one complete change in a 24-hour period. Pond culture is perhaps the simplest way of practicing aquaculture. Most of the aquaculture production in the world is carried out in ponds. Earthen ponds are the most widely used structures, mainly due to their relatively low cost. The advantages include low technology requirements, ease of stocking and harvesting, and less risk from climatic conditions. Pond culture also allows cultured species to utilize natural sources of food. A major disadvantage is water quality deterioration. Ponds can be used for extensive, semi-intensive or intensive aquaculture. Extensive ponds may be several hectares in size, while semi-intensive ponds usually do not exceed half a hectare. There are several types of ponds: - Watershed Ponds - Excavated Ponds - Embankment Ponds - Inter-tidal Ponds - Beach Ponds - Marsh Ponds

2. Cage Culture Cage culture is the practice of rearing fish in cages. It can be applied in existing bodies of water that cannot be drained or seined and would otherwise not be suitable for aquaculture. These include lakes, large reservoirs, farm ponds, rivers, cooling water discharge canals, estuaries and coastal embayments. Generally speaking, large, deep bodies of water which contain very little nutrients are used for cage culture. Cages have a rigid framework, and a bag suspended below the water surface, in which the culture species are retained. The upper surface is provided with flotation devices, which can be manipulated to raise or lower the cage in the water. Cage culture requires the use of complete feeds, which makes it a part of semi-intensive or intensive culture. Advantages include: - Flexibility of management - Ease and low cost of harvesting - Close observation of fish feeding response and health - Ease and economical treatment of parasites and diseases - Relatively low capital investment compared to ponds and raceways


Some disadvantages are: - Risk of 1oss from poaching or damage to cages from predators or storms - Less tolerance of fish to poor water quality - Dependence on nutritionally-complete diets - Greater risk of disease outbreaks

3. Pen Culture Pens are similar to cages, except that the species is allowed to access the bottom of the water body. Pens are generally built in large open waters such as lakes, reservoirs and rivers. However, waters used for pen culture are relatively shallow when compared with cage culture, and usually possess a medium to high level of dissolved nutrients. Fish therefore have access to natural food. In some cases, supplementary feed is supplied, making pen culture suitable for either extensive or semi-intensive aquaculture. Pen culture is especially characterized by good water exchange, high dissolved oxygen level, fast growth rate, low feed conversion ratio (FCR), less disease and better economic return. Therefore, pen culture is one of the important strategies for fishery development in open waters. Advantages include: - Flexibility of management - Relatively low capital investment compared to ponds and raceways - Low management costs - Utilization of primary productivity Disadvantages include: - Difficulty in observing fish feeding response, behavior and health - Difficulty in the treatment of parasites and diseases - Increased chance of fish escape - Difficulty in fish harvesting and recovery

4. Raceway Culture A raceway is a long, narrow rectangular trench in which water is flushed through continuously. The sides and bottom of a raceway may be earthen. If the land is sloping, a series of raceways can be constructed, linked to each other end to end, one unit flowing into the other, and separated by filters. Oxygen is added to the water by the splashing action as water exits one cell and drops into the other. In fish culture, traditional raceways are enclosed channel systems with relatively high rates of moving or flowing water. This high rate of water movement gives raceway systems distinct advantages over the other culture systems.


Advantages of raceways include: - Higher stocking densities - Improved water quality - Reduced manpower - Ease of feeding, grading and harvesting - Precise disease treatments - Collection of fish wastes - Less off-flavour Disadvantages include: - Reliance on electricity or fuel for water flow - Risk of fish mortality due to disease or water quality problems - High level of technology required Raceways are suited to the intensive type of aquaculture production.

5. Recirculating System Culture In a recirculating system, the same water is reused, after appropriate physical, biological or chemical purification. Fisheries researchers have used recirculating systems for holding and growing fish for more than three decades. Attempts to advance these systems to commercial scale food fish production have increased dramatically in the last decade. Advantages: Disadvantages: Does not require large quantities of land and water. A high degree of environmental control Can be carried out close to market areas Needs a lot of complicated machinery, which can be difficult to maintain Biologically complex Increased risk of poor water quality Greater risk of stress and diseases Common incidence of off-flavor are common High levels of technical expertise required High cost

6. Other Culture Systems Tanks made of metal, plastic, or fiberglass are also used in aquaculture. Fish are also cultured in silos, and species such as oysters may be grown on strings attached to floating rafts, or even sticks.


V. Pond Design and Construction The design and construction of pond farms depends on several factors, including the species reared, the type of culture system (intensive, semi-intensive or extensive) and the water source. Some general principles will be outlined in this section. 1. Principles All ponds should be individual units. This means that each pond should have an individual inlet and outlet, so as to provide for individual irrigation or drainage of each pond. All ponds should be constructed with a slope towards the outlet, so as to facilitate drainage. Usually, there should be a difference of 30 cm in depth from the inlet to the outlet. The sides of a pond should be sloped, usually about 30 degrees, so as to prevent the sides caving in. The more clay the soil contains, the steeper the possible slope that may be used. Ponds should be constructed to take advantage of gravity for either irrigation, drainage, or if possible, both. All ponds should contain an inlet, for irrigation, an outlet, for drainage, and an overflow, to remove excess water in a controlled manner. All water entering ponds should be filtered, so as to prevent other unwanted species from entering the pond. All water leaving the ponds should be filtered, so as to prevent the cultured species from escaping.


2. Pond Inlet Structures: These depend on the type of pond that is present, and the water requirements. Inlets may be simple, such as a PVC pipe with a filter. Inlets may also be more complex, with a series of filters, entrance protection, settlement areas and erosion control devices. Inlet structures are built to control the amount of water flowing into the pond at all times. The need for an inlet varies with the type of water supply. For example, there is no need for an inlet when water is supplied by rain, surface run-off, groundwater or spring which emerges within the pond, nor for a barrage pond build directly on the stream. There are three main types of inlet structures: - Pipe inlets - Open gutter inlets - Canal inlets The following points should be noted: - Place the inlet at the shallow end of the pond - Design its bottom level to be at the same level as the bottom of the water feeder canal and ideally at least 10 cm above the maximum level of the water in the pond - Design the inlet structure to be horizontal, with no slope - Try to arrange the structure so that water splashes and mixes as much as possible when entering the pond - Design the structure to prevent unwanted fish from entering the pond 3. Pond Outlet Structures: Outlet structures are built for two main reasons: - To keep water at a suitable level in the pond - To allow for the complete draining of the pond and harvesting of the fish whenever necessary A good outlet should ensure, as far as possible, that: - The amount of time necessary to drain the pond completely is reasonable - The flow of the draining water is as uniform as possible to avoid disturbing the fish excessively - There is no loss of fish during the draining period - Water can be drained from the top, bottom or intermediate levels of the pond - Any reasonable excess of water is carried away - The outlet can be reasonably cleaned and serviced - The construction cost and maintenance are relatively low Outlets have three main elements: - A collecting area on the inside of the pond, from which the water drains and into which the fish is collected for harvest - The water control itself, including any drain plugs, valves, boards, screens and gates - A means of getting water to the outside of the pond, such as a pipe, cut through the wall, and/or an overflow structure.


There are several types of outlets: - Simple cuts through the dam - Simple pipelines and siphons - Sluices - Monks

4. Water Transport Structures: Several different kinds of structures can be used to transport water on a fish farm: - Open Canal: there are various types, including feeder canals, drainage canals, diversion canals and protection canals. They usually transport water by gravity - Aqueducts: these transport water above ground level - Pipelines: these transport water above or under another structure such as a water canal or an access road - Siphons: these transport water over an obstacle such as a pond dyke


VI. The Aquatic Environment There are two major types of factors associated with water, biotic factors and abiotic factors. Biotic factors include all the living things associated with water, such as phytoplankton, zooplankton, worms, insect larvae, snails etc. Abiotic factors are the nonliving factors such as light, temperature, salinity, dissolved gasses such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, and nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates. The water in which the aquaculture species is farmed has a profound effect on the health and growth of the species. The water quality may deteriorate considerably over the culture period due to the addition of nutrients via feeding. The major water quality factors that affect aquaculture animals are; dissolved oxygen, pH, dissolved nutrients and gasses, temperature and plankton. 1. Dissolved Oxygen Oxygen is essential to the survival of all animals, and aquacultured animals are no exception. Air contains approximately 21% oxygen, but the amount present in water is quite low, due to the low solubility of oxygen in water. Oxygen passes from air to water by diffusion, and the amount present in water can be increased by water circulation due to wind, since this exposes more surface water to the atmosphere, thereby increasing the rate of diffusion. In ponds used for aquaculture, the major source of oxygen is photosynthesis by phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are tiny plants that produce the green colour in many fish ponds. Plants containing the green pigment chlorophyll in the presence of light use carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrate and oxygen: 6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2 Since sunlight is essential for photosynthesis, this activity is carried out only in daylight hours. In the night, the phytoplankton carry out only respiration, a process in which they use up oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. This means that the dissolved oxygen levels are lower in the night, and higher during the day. The lowest levels of oxygen are encountered very early in the morning, just before the sun rises. At this time, the fish farmer should check his ponds, and be prepared to aerate, if necessary.


2. Factors leading to oxygen depletion in ponds Oxygen depletion (loss) is the single biggest problem that occurs in fish ponds, especially when the stocking rate is high, and the fish are being fed heavily. The following factors may contribute to oxygen loss in ponds: a. Cloudy or Rainy Weather: Several days of cloudy or rainy weather may lead to a phytoplankton die-off, since photosynthesis stops due to lack of sunlight. In addition to oxygen not being produced, the dead phytoplankton will use up oxygen, as they decay. b. Lack of Nutrients: Nutrients, such as phosphates and nitrates, are essential for the growth of a phytoplankton bloom. If these nutrients are not available, phytoplankton may not be present to produce oxygen by photosynthesis. If the fish are being fed, however, this is rarely a problem, since the feed acts as a source of nutrients. Nutrients may also be added by fertilizing fish ponds. 16


Overstocking: The greater the number of fish in a pond, the greater is the consumption of oxygen as well as the amount of waste products produced. The waste products in turn use up oxygen when they decay. For these reasons, farmers are urged to follow the recommended stocking rates for the particular species of fish or shrimp.

d. Blue-green Phytoplankton Scum: A certain type of phytoplankton, called blue-green algae or Cyanophyceae, may form a dense scum on the surface of the water. This limits photosynthesis to only the top few centimeters, since the scum blocks sunlight from penetrating the water column. This means that oxygen levels will be very high in the surface waters but lacking in deeper waters. These scum are dangerous since they prevent fish such as tilapia from accessing surface water as they normally do when oxygen levels are too low, which can result in total fish kill. e. Hot Weather: Very hot days with no breeze provide a condition for oxygen depletion. Very warm water, above 32°C (90°F), holds very little oxygen. With no breeze, little or no oxygen is added through circulation. In addition, the culture species is more active, requiring more oxygen. Decay processes are also speeded up, thus using more oxygen.

3. Avoiding and Combating Oxygen Depletion In tropical countries, problems with oxygen depletion occur all year round due to the high temperatures, and the problem is even greater in brackish water, since oxygen is less soluble as salinity increases. By knowing what to look for and what to do, losses can be avoided. a. Check Pond Water Daily: Dissolved oxygen should be checked in ponds at daybreak. In large operations, farmers are advised to purchase a dissolved oxygen meter, which quickly and easily gives an accurate dissolved oxygen reading. For smaller operations, the cost of a meter is prohibitive and farmers are advised to use a Secchi disc to monitor phytoplankton levels, which gives a rough guide as to the oxygen productivity of a pond. A Secchi disc is a round flat surface on which two alternate quarters are painted black and the others white:


A rope or a pole is attached to this instrument, and marked at 10 cm intervals. To take a reading, the disc is lowered into the water until it just disappears. The following table gives a guide to various Secchi disc readings, and their implications:

Secchi Disc Visibility Less than 20 cm 20 to 30 cm 30 to 45 cm 45 to 60 cm Less than 60 cm

Comments Pond has too much plankton. There will be problems with low DO. Water should be exchanged to reduce the amount of plankton. Plankton becoming excessive, but the pond is still in good condition. Pond is in good condition. Phytoplankton becoming scarce. Pond should be fertilised. Water is too clear. Pond should be fertilised, using an increased amount.

From this table, it is seen that a desired Secchi disc reading is between 30 to 45 cm. NOTE: Turbidity occurs when the water is muddy. For the Secchi Disc readings to be of use, the transparency should be due to plankton.


b. Check Phytoplankton Blooms: A healthy bloom in ponds is indicated by a green colour, similar to the colour of vegetation. A change in colour from green to brown indicates that the bloom is dying, and is often associated with a sour smell. As mentioned before, blue-green algae often form scums on the surface of ponds, sometimes with bubbles of gas. These can cause fish to suffocate when they surface due to the inevitable low oxygen levels that occur in the lower waters. c. Adjust Feeding Rates: In ponds with no artificial aeration, feeding rates should be lowered during very hot, still weather; in the event that there is an undesirable plankton bloom; or if the culture species is not eating the ration that they are being fed. If a floating feed is used, it is easy to see if all the feed is being eaten. With a sinking feed, it is advisable to check feed boxes before every feeding. d. Water Exchange: Whenever the water quality seems to be deteriorating, it is advisable to exchange water in a pond. It is best to always remove water from the bottom of a pond since that is where the water quality is the worst. Clean water is then added to replace the “dead water” that has been removed. Always remove water first, before adding new water to a pond. e. Mechanical Aeration: The quickest method for combating low dissolved oxygen is by using a system to expose a large surface area of water to the air. Commercial aerators are available, some of which use electricity, but may be too expensive for small farmers. A water pump, fitted with a device for spraying water in the air at the discharge end has been found to be effective.

4. pH The pH of a liquid refers to its acidity or alkalinity, and is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. Substances that have a pH below 7 are said to be acidic, while those above 7 are said to be alkaline. A pH of 7 is neutral, that is, neither acidic nor alkaline. Pure water has a pH of 7. 0 1 2 Increasing Acidity 3 4 5 6 7 8 Neutral 9 10 11 12 13 14 Increasing Alkalinity

The pH values of natural waters vary considerably depending on the soil type and the amount of organic matter present. Dark coloured water is often acidic, due to humic acid that is dissolved in it. Water found in regions where a lot of pagasse is present is also acidic. On the other hand, water found in limestone regions may be slightly alkaline.


The desirable pH range for freshwater fish culture is between 6.5 and 9.0. Low production occurs below 6.5 and above 9.0. In a fishpond with phytoplankton, the pH fluctuates, increasing during the day and decreasing at night, similar to the change in dissolved oxygen. However these changes are not large enough to cause problems. The acid death point is 4 and the alkaline death point is 11, meaning that fish can die below 4 pH units and above 11 pH units. If a farmer wants to carry out aquaculture in an area where the pH is below 6.5, liming may be done, but this will incur an extra cost, which will have to be considered. The pH of water has an effect on the availability of some nutrients and the toxicity of some compounds. For example, ammonia becomes more toxic with increasing pH levels.

5. Dissolved Nutrients and Gasses Many substances are found dissolved in natural waters, and some of these are of particular importance in fishponds. Some, such as phosphate and nitrate, are fertilizers that enable phytoplankton to bloom. Others, such as nitrite, and the gasses ammonia and hydrogen sulphide, are poisonous when present in certain lethal amounts. The levels of these substances increase with increased stocking and feeding rates, but when recommended stocking and feeding rates are followed, and good water quality management is carried out, they are rarely a problem.

6. Temperature Water temperature is an important consideration in aquaculture, since it affects the growth and reproduction of culture species. Fish grow faster when temperatures are warmer. In temperate countries, where there are warm and cold seasons, the growth period for fish is generally limited to the warm months, and reproduction for some species only occurs when the water temperature reaches a certain minimum value. In Guyana, however, water temperatures are warm all year round, and the species grown are not affected by varying temperatures. Growth and reproduction for these tropical species are year-round activities.

7. Plankton Plankton refers to living material that is found floating in water. There are two major types; phytoplankton and zooplankton. Phytoplankton are tiny plants and zooplankton are tiny animals. a. Phytoplankton As described before, the major function of phytoplankton (also known as algae) is the production of oxygen during photosynthesis, which is used by the farmed fish or shrimp. It is also a natural food source for some fish, e.g. tilapia and some Chinese carps. Phytoplankton can be divided into several groups, including green, blue-green, brown and red algae.



Clorophyceae: These are the green algae, and cause waters to appear olive green in colour. They are the most important group both in terms of oxygen production and as a food source.


Cyanophyceae: These are the blue-green algae and may cause waters to appear blue-green or bright green in colour. They are the most dangerous type of algae to fish and are found when the water is polluted with a lot of organic matter. They form scums as described before and also produce harmful substances.

b. Zooplankton These tiny animals usually feed on phytoplankton and are very important as a food source for the larval stages of most fish and shrimp. There are three major types that are important in aquaculture.



Cladocera: These are a type of crustacean and are commonly called water fleas due to their resemblance to fleas.


Copepoda: These are another type of crustacean and are almost cylindrical in shape. Although some are useful as food, others are parasites on fishes, e.g., Argulus, or Fish Louse, which occurs on tilapia reared in brackish water.



Rotifera: These zooplankton are closely related to a group of animals called flatworms and are very important as a food source for the first larval stage of fish.


VII. Fertilizing and Liming 1. What are Fertilizers Fertilizers are natural (organic) or man-made (inorganic) substances that are used in aquaculture to increase the production of the natural food organisms to be eaten by the fish. Fertilizers supply various nutrients in different amounts. Therefore, different fertilizers have different uses, and are to be used in different amounts.

2. What is a Liming Agent A liming agent is a substance, either natural or man-made, that is used to reduce acidity, and therefore increase pH, in a culture system.

3. Reasons for Fertilizing Fertilizers are added to ponds to improve the level of nutrients present in the water. These nutrients assist the growth of plankton, which may be used by the fish. Also, by improving the amount of plankton, fertilizers enable the correct stocking rate to be maintained, since adequate plankton produce oxygen for the fish.

4. Inorganic Fertilizer Inorganic fertilizers are man-made, and usually supply high amounts of one particular nutrient. Examples are Urea and ammonium nitrate, which supply nitrogen, and triple or simple super-phosphate, which supply phosphorus.

5. Organic Fertilizer Organic fertilizers are usually occur naturally, and supply a variety of nutrients in varying amounts. Examples are animal manure, crop residues and compost.

6. Rates Fertilizer rates vary widely, and depend on the species to be grown, the soil and water type. The rates are important to achieve the desired water condition. If the water condition is suitable, then fertilization is not necessary. Fertilizer is added at the beginning of a culture cycle, to get the pond ready for the introduction of the fish. Once the fish are introduced, fertilizer is added to maintain the appropriate water condition, if necessary.

7. Methods of Application Fertilizers should be uniformly applied over the whole pond surface, or distributed in specific places carefully selected to get a uniform distribution by the water current or the waves.


In the case of inorganic fertilizers, they may be dissolved in water, which is then broadcast over the pond surface. In the case of organic fertilizer, they may be placed in bags and submerged into the ponds, at the windward side. Holes should be made in the bag, to allow the nutrients to seep out into the water.

VIII. Compost 1. What is composting Composting involves the intensive decomposition by micro-organisms of organic materials, generally under controlled conditions. This process makes it possible to utilize a wide range of cheap wastes, residues and natural vegetation for the production of a clean, dry material rich in organic matter and primary nutrients. This material is called compost.

2. Reasons for use of Compost Compost may be used in fishponds as an organic fertilizer. In drained ponds, compost is spread over the bottom area and mixed with the upper soil layer before refilling. Later, compost can be regularly applied to the pond to fertilize the water, with the great advantage that it does not increase the demand for dissolved oxygen as much as other organic fertilizers. For this reason, compost is particularly suitable for applying to nursery ponds. Compost can also be used directly as a low-cost feed for a number of fish species, such as catfish and Nile tilapia, in simple fish farming systems.

3. Making Compost A simple method of preparing compost in tropical rural areas from various materials such as tree leaves, grass, household wastes, rice husks, straw and animal manure, is the following: (a) Mark the corners of a square area 1.5 m x 1.5 m with poles about 1.5 m above ground level. (b) Within this area, build a first layer of coarse material about 25 cm high. Cut the rest of the material into small pieces. (c) Add a second layer of 5 to 10 cm made of low C/N material, preferably animal manure. Moisten as necessary. (d) Build up your heap until it is about 1.5 m high by adding more layers. Alternate 20cm layers made of high C/N material with 10-cm layers made of low C/N material. If you do not have enough animal manure, sprinkle some nitrogen fertilizer on top of each high C/N layer. Moisten each layer so that it is damp but not soggy.


(e) If it does not rain, you may need to sprinkle water on top of the heap every three days. (f) Turn over your pile after ten to 14 days. Check its heat production and moisture regularly. (g) Your compost should be ready after another ten to 15 days. Note: you can protect the composting heap from sun and excessive rain by covering it with plenty of straw and by rounding off the top of the heap.


IX. Transporting and Stocking Fish 1. Transporting Fish The development of the aquaculture has made it necessary to transport fish from one place to another. This movement of fish may be inside the farm, between farms in the neighbourhood, or even between countries or continents. Fish should be able to be transported at any growth stage in their life, in such conditions so that they do not suffer lethal stress, while at the same time being economical. It is possible to transport fishes and have total survival, using large amounts of space and water. However, this may not be economical. There must be a balance between transporting as many fish as possible, using as little water and space as possible. As fish are placed for long periods in the same small amount of water for transport, the water quality starts to deteriorate. Dissolved oxygen content is reduced, carbon dioxide content increases, and other toxic compounds such as ammonia and nitrite increase. An easy way of overcoming this problem is to change the water frequently during transport. However, this may not be possible at all times. Therefore, there are some simple rules and devices, which enable fish survival during transport. a. Preparation of Fish Before Transport Fish for transport should be captured and held in a separate area 24 hours before being transported. This will reduce the stress during transport, since the fish will be easily recaptured. The fish will also become accustomed to a new environment outside of the pond. Fish should not be fed for 24 hours before transport. This will enable them to empty their intestines before being transported, so that they do not foul the water during transport. It is also possible to use chemicals to reduce fish metabolic rate during transport. These chemicals are applied to the water before transport. However, these chemicals are expensive, and some of them are not safe to use with food fish. b. Water Quality for Transport Water for fish transport should be clean, and well water or rainwater should be used. Pond or canal water will deteriorate faster, stressing the fish. Room temperature water can be used. However, adding a small amount of ice, to reduce water temperature, will aid in the survival of the fish. c. Stocking Rate for Transport The amount of fish to be transported in a fixed volume of water depends on the species, the size of the fish, and whether or not aeration is supplied. Advice on specific stocking rates can be obtained from technical personnel.


d. Methods of Transport A simple way of transporting small amounts of fish, without aeration, is by the use of a plastic bag, partially filled with water. These vary widely in size, shape, and capacity. For transporting aquarium fishes the usual capacity is about one or two litres, while for commercial purposes is widely used a 40 litres double plastic bag. A double plastic bag is recommended to use for transporting small fishes, fry, larvae or fingerlings as well as breeders when the total amount is small. A quarter of the bag is filled with water, and the remaining three-quarters filled with pure oxygen. The top of the plastic bag is then secured with a rubber band. Using this method, fish can remain alive for 24 hours. Another way of transporting fish is by the use of rigid containers. Containers are usually metal or plastic, and are fitted with a portable aeration device. These containers have proven to be very efficient and reliable for transporting fish locally

2. Stocking Fishes When the transported fish arrive at their destination, they should not be placed into the new water body immediately. If plastic bags were used for transport, the bags must be put into the water in which the fish will be placed, for at least 15 to 30 minutes to allow the water in the bag to attain the same temperature as the water outside the bag. Failure to this may cause thermal shock to the fish, and may cause death. If containers were used, then some water from the intended destination of the fish should be slowly added to the container, to equalise the temperature. At the end of 15 minutes, the water in the container should have approximately the same temperature as the water into which the fish will be placed. Only then should the fish be removed from the container and placed into the new water.


X. Feeds and Feeding Very careful attention should be paid to fish feeds and feeding. In semi-intensive systems, feed usually accounts for 60-75% of the total running costs of a fish crop. If fish are fed properly, then they will be less susceptible to disease. Appropriate use of a good feed will improve growth rates, reduce crop time, and result in larger fish. 1. Types of Feed There are three types of food used in fishponds: - Natural food - Supplementary feeds - Complete feeds. a. Natural food: This is found naturally in the pond. It may include detritus, bacteria, plankton, worms, insects, snails, aquatic plants and fish. Their abundance greatly depends on water quality. Liming and fertilization, in particular organic fertilization, can help to provide a good supply of natural food for the fish. Natural food is very important in the extensive system of aquaculture. b. Supplementary feeds: These are feeds that are regularly distributed to the fish in the pond, and which contain many, but not all, the nutrients required for growth. . They usually consist of cheap materials locally available such as terrestrial plants, kitchen wastes or agricultural byproducts. Supplementary feeds are important in the semi-intensive system of aquaculture. c. Complete feeds: These are feeds that are regularly distributed to the fish in the pond. They are made from a mixture of carefully selected ingredients to provide all the nutrients necessary for the fish to grow well. They must be made in a form which the fish find easy to eat and digest. These feeds are quite difficult to make on the farm and are usually quite expensive to buy. Complete feeds are important in the intensive system of aquaculture.

2. Reasons for Feeding Fish Fish should be fed for the following reasons: - Natural foods may not be enough to give the required growth rate - More fish may need to be stocked in the pond than the natural food will support - Larger fish may be required, in a short amount of time - It may be uneconomical to rely on natural food


There are several occasions on which it is advantageous or even compulsory to stop feeding the fish: When the water temperature is too low or too high When dissolved oxygen content is low On the day you manure is applied to the pond If a disease epidemic appears in the pond

3. Methods of Applying Artificial Feeds There are several methods of artificial feeding: - Broadcasting: feed is evenly distributed over the surface of the water - Hand-feeding: feed is distributed by hand, in specific parts of the rearing area - Automated (Demand) Feeder: feed is released by way of a trigger mechanism which is activated by the fish - Select Feeding: Feed is distributed using a boat, etc., at specific parts of the rearing area - Feeding Trays: Feed is placed in trays, which may be submerged or floating - Feeding Frames: feed is placed in floating frames, which prevent floating feeds from dispersing

4. Types of Artificial Feeds There are several types of artificial feeds: - Mash (powder) - Cakes - Pellets - Green Feeds

5. Advantages and Disadvantages of Artificial Feeds There are several advantages of artificial feeds: - When properly made, they can provide the correct balance of nutrients needed - They are usually easily available to the farmer - The cultured species usually grows very quickly - They are easily stored for relatively long periods There are several disadvantages of artificial feeds: - They are usually expensive - Unsuitable for some species - May pollute the water - May lead to allergic reactions if not properly made - May lead to pathogen virulence - May be lacking in completeness


6. Feeding Rates The feeding rate describes the amount of feed that is applied to a particular area, over a period of time. Different fish species are grown using different feeding rates. Feeding rates are usually given to farmers in the form of a chart, showing the amount of feed to be applied each day. Sometimes, feeding is done according to the weight of the fish At other times, fish are fed as much as they can eat. This is called ad lib feeding.

7. Basic Feeding Principles The following are some basic feeding principles: - Underfeeding leads to a loss in fish productivity, while overfeeding is uneconomical, and also leads to poor water quality and production losses - The feed conversion ratio (FCR) is very important. It can range from 1.45:1 to 50:1 - More feed is required in warm water than in cooler water


XI. Fish Health and Disease It is important to ensure that fish grown on aquaculture farms are healthy and free from disease. Around the world, disease has caused the collapse of several important aquaculture enterprises, such as the shrimp industries in China and Ecuador. Fish diseases may cause severe losses on fish farms through: - Reduced fish growth and production - Increased feeding cost caused by lack of appetite and waste of uneaten feed - Increased vulnerability to predation - Increased susceptibility to low water quality - Death of fish.

1. Characteristics of Healthy Fish a. Reflexes The following four reflex actions indicate healthy fish: Escape reflex: Fishes are usually not easy to catch. They escape at any minor shadow or movement in or near the water. If the fish is slow to escape, then it is probably sick. Fight reflex: When a fish is caught, it tries to defend itself by vigorous movements of the tail and fins. If the fish rests quietly and makes little attempt to escape, it is probably sick. Tail Reflex: The tail of a healthy, captured fish remains strongly arched or exhibits a rapid back and forth movement. A fish which does not move its tail in this manner, or allows the tail to hang flaccidly, is probably sick. Eye Reflex: A healthy fish, when captured and lying on its side, turns its eye so as to keep it in the position it would normally be if the fish was upright. If the fish keeps it eye pointing upward while lying on its side, then it is probably sick. b. External Characteristics of Healthy Fish Bright, wet and normally pigmented skin Flat and firm scales Red, wet gills which are covered with a slight layer of mucous Firm and elastic muscles Anus closed and normally coloured Clear, transparent and slightly protruded eyes Characteristic fish-like smell No nodules, parasites or ulcerated on the skin No excessive mucus





c. Internal Characteristics of Healthy Fish Generally speaking, no fluid, gas or parasites should be evident inside the fish.

2. Types of Fish Diseases One of the simplest ways of grouping fish diseases is as follows: Infectious and invasive diseases Nutritional diseases Environmental diseases

a. Infectious Diseases Infectious diseases are caused by external or internal invasion of the fish body by disease causing organisms. Bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites like protozoa are the most common agents of infectious diseases. Rapid death of many fish is usually a sign of an infectious disease. b. Nutritional Diseases Nutritional diseases are caused by too much or too little of a particular nutrient, and are usually indicative of improper feeding practices. Excessive feeding, or feed that contains too much fat cause the following problems: Obesity with fatty deposits on internal organs, especially on the liver Water retention in tissues due to kidney failure Problems with the gills extracting oxygen from water

The other group of important nutritional diseases is related to the lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet. The lack of vitamins and minerals can cause a variety of problems, such as reduced growth rate, gill corrosion, eye opacity, skin problems, fluid retention, etc. All these nutritional problems are due mostly to improperly balanced feed, as well as feed degradation caused by feed being stored for too long a period before use. c. Environmental Diseases Strictly speaking, environmental diseases are not really diseases. Rather, they are related to unsuitable conditions in the environment in which fish live. They are usually grouped into four classes:


a) Asphyxia: This is due to low dissolved oxygen level in the water, and usually occurs in the early morning. b) Traumatisms: The traumatisms are skin lesions caused by poor handling in capturing, stocking or general handling. This may lead to other disease conditions, such as infections. c) Bubble Illness: This usually occurs in fry and small fishes. It results from too rapid transfer of fish from one water condition to another. d) Poisoning: Poisoning is due to the presence of harmful substances in the water. These may be pesticides, oil, household waste, etc. It is important to keep the pond and its surroundings clean to avoid this problem.

3. Fish Defence Against Infection a. Mucus: Mucus (slime layer) is the first physical barrier that inhibits entry of disease organisms from the environment into the fish. It is also a chemical barrier, containing enzymes and antibodies that can kill invading disease organisms. b. Scales and Skin: Scales and skin function as a physical barrier that protects the fish. These are injured most commonly by handling, rough surfaces of tanks or cages and by fighting caused by overcrowding or reproductive behavior. Parasite infestations can also result in damage to gills, skin, fins, and loss of scales. c. Inflammation: Inflammation is a natural immune response by the cells to a foreign protein, such as bacterium, virus, parasite, fungus, or toxin. Inflammation is characterized by swelling, redness, and loss of function. It is a protective response, an attempt by the body to wall off and destroy the invader. d. Antibodies: Unlike inflammation and other nonspecific forms of protection, antibodies are compounds formed by the body to fight specific foreign proteins or organisms. The first exposure results in the formation of antibodies by the fish that will help protect it from future infection by the same organism.


4. Preventing diseases through good management The following points are important, and should be carefully followed: Ensure good water quality: sufficient supply, with adequate dissolved oxygen concentration and free of pollution Keep the pond environment healthy, e.g., control pond silt, control unwanted plants Keep a healthy balance of phytoplankton and zooplankton and exchange water if needed. If necessary, use mechanical aeration. Disinfect the pond regularly, using simple methods such as allowing the pond to dry after each crop. Keep the fish in good condition, e.g., control stocking density, by placing only the recommended amount of fish in each pond. Keep different sizes or sexes separate if necessary to control fighting. Wounds can become inflamed, leading to disease problems. Ensure good food supply. Make certain that the feed is not spoilt or deteriorated. Handle the fish properly, especially during harvesting and sorting/grading. Use fishing gear with mesh size appropriate to the size of fish. Care for your fish during storage and transport. Prevent the entry of disease organisms from outside the farm, by controlling wild fish by using filters and screens. Regularly remove them from canals and ponds. Disinfect all fish stocks imported from outside as eggs, juveniles or adults. If a disease breaks out on the farm, remove dead or dying fish from the ponds as quickly as possible, at least daily. Disinfect fishing gear regularly, by soaking in bleach. A simple disinfecting bath for fish can be made using common salt in a 3% solution for 5 minutes



XII. Fishing Methods and Fishing Gear The objective of using fishing gear in aquaculture is to obtain aquaculture products from their natural environment, in an efficient manner. 1. Classification of Fishing Gear Fishing gear can be classified as: a. Destructive Fishing Gear: These gear are designed to obtain aquaculture products to supply a market in which the product is not required to be alive b. Non-destructive Fishing Gear: These gear are designed to obtain aquaculture products to supply a market in which the product is required to be alive for. Fishing Gear can also be classified as: a. Passive Gear: Passive fishing gear are gear that capture fish by allowing the fish to move toward the gear to be captured. b. Active Gear: Active fishing gear are gear that capture fish by moving toward the fish.

2. Commonly Used Fishing Gear Fishing gear commonly used on fish farms tend to have very small mesh sizes. This is to ensure that fish and shrimp are not gilled, or physically harmed, during capture and handling. Rather, the aquacultured species are physically restrained. This is necessary since aquacultured species are usually handled several times before they are ready for market. If they are not handled with care during the culture cycle, mortality will result, which will reduce the profit margin. The most commonly used fishing gear are hand nets of various sizes, cast nets of various mesh sizes, fish stretchers and seines of various mesh sizes. a. Hand Nets: Hand nets with long handles are frequently used catch and handle fry or fingerlings. They usually have very small mesh sizes, and can even be made of some types of cloth.


b. Fish Stretchers: These are used to transport and handle very large fish, usually broodstock, within the farm. Fish stretchers are usually made of strong canvas, and have a cover with a wooden beam to protect the fish from sunlight, and thereby reduce handling stress. c. Seines: A seine is a type of gill net. Seines are an active fishing gear, made of various types of net material, to give the desired mesh size suitable to the size of fish being handled. Seines are made to suit the width and depth of the pond, to facilitate easy use. A seine is comprised of the following parts: Net Material: This is the part that actually restrains the fish. It is attached to the various ropes of the seine using twine. Head Rope: The head rope has floats attached to it, to keep the top part of the seine above water. Foot Rope: The foot rope has lead attached to it, so as to allow the seine to drag the bottom of the pond.



Lead and Floats: Floats are required to keep the top part of the seine above water, while lead is required to allow the bottom part of the seine to drag the pond bottom.

d. Cast Net: The cast net is an active fishing gear, operated by a single person. They work very well in shallow water, but are less effective in deeper waters. A cast net is composed of two main parts: The net, formed by several triangular patches of net joined together in the shape of a cone. This ends in a bag at the border of the net The rope, one end of which is attached to the net, and the other part, which is held by the fisherman.

While cast nets are often used to sample fish, it should be noted that since bigger fishes can swim faster than smaller ones, cast nets tend to capture the small and medium fishes. This may give a slightly incorrect picture of the fish in the pond.


XIII. Post-Harvest Treatment Processing is required because most fishery products have a high water content, as well as high protein, which make them prone to rapid spoilage. The following are the common methods of processing: a. Drying: Water is removed from the fish, and heat is transferred inwards. This slows down microbial and enzymatic activity. Drying is influenced by the air temperature, relative humidity, air velocity, water content of the fish, and thickness of the fish. b. Smoking: This results in drying, as well as flavouring of the fish. Cooking may also occur, except if cold smoked. c. Salting: This prevents of drastically slows down bacterial action, and is commonly used in combination with drying or smoking. The objective is to get 6-10% salt in the tissue, and 35-45% water content in the fish. This is influenced by the fat content of the fish, the thickness of the flesh, the freshness of the fish and the temperature of the environment. d. Freezing: The objective is to reduce temperature in the fish to point where microbial and enzymatic activity slows down or stops. The rate of freezing is important, to prevent tissue damage.

XIV. Marketing Marketing of the aquaculture product is an important aspect of the entire culture cycle. It is in the interest of the farmer to know for what market he is producing the product for, even before starting culture. It is also important to supply the market on a regular basis, so as to maintain a reliable outlet for the product. 1. Local Market Producing for the local market is far more easy than producing for the export market. It is recommended that farmers start out producing for the local market, and then move up to the export market once all the systems are in place. The information below relates to Red Tilapia. a. Size: A minimum size of 170g, or 6 ounces, is suitable for the local market. Large fish usually sell for a higher price. b. Quantity: There is no minimum quantity to be attained for supply to the local market. c. Price: Tilapia retail for approximately $120 per pound for small and medium sized fish. Larger fish usually sell for a higher price.


d. Where to Sell It: Tilapia can be sold at any of the local markets around the country. The New Guyana Marketing Corporation is also willing to purchase tilapia for $110 per pound.

2. Overseas Market Producing for the overseas market is more difficult than producing for the local market. While numerous aquaculture farmers have sold fish and shrimp on the local market, none have supplied the export market on a regular basis. Before entering into a production system that will supply aquaculture produce to the export market, it is recommended that a supply contract be obtained from the purchaser. This contract should outline the parameters of the product, the quantity to be supplied, and a price guarantee. The information below relates to Red Tilapia. a. Size: A minimum size of 500g, or 18 ounces, is required for the export market. b. Quantity: A minimum quantity of 5,000 pounds per week is required for supplying the export market. c. Price: The price offered for tilapia to supply the export market is approximately $120 per pound, for whole fish.

XV. Record Keeping Only by keeping accurate records can it be determined if a profit is being made, and how much of a profit. Records also allow us comparisons to be made of yields of various crops, so as to find out if progress is being made, and if improvements are continuing. Record keeping does not have to be a complicated business. Once a few basic factors are recorded, many conclusions can be derived. The most important ones to be noted are presented below. 1. Stocking Data This refers to the type of species being cultured, how much has been placed into the pond, and what date they were placed into the pond. 2. Feeding Data This refers to the type of feed supplied to the fish, and the amount of feed supplied on a daily basis.


3. Sampling Data At fixed times during the culture cycle, fish should be caught, weighed and returned to the pond, so as to observe how fast they are growing, and to observe the general health of the fish. 4. Mortality Data This refers to the amount of dead fish, and the weight of the dead fish. 5. Harvest Data This refers to the total amount of fish harvested and the individual weight of each fish. 6. Marketing Data This refers to the amount of fish sold, the quantities sold to each buyer, and the price charged. From the data taken above, the following can be determined: a. Culture time b. Survival percentage c. Growth rate d. Feed Conversion Ration (FCR). e. Cost of Production f. Profit It is only when all the costs are taken into consideration, and subtracted from the income, then will it be possible to find out if your aquaculture farm is profitable.

XVI. Tilapia Rearing The tilapia is an ideal species for aquaculture, due to its production of many offspring, hardiness, resistance to disease, ability to live in either fresh or brackish water, and the ability to eat either formulated or natural feeds. 1. Pond Construction Ponds for tilapia rearing should be constructed in a place where there the soil has at least 35% clay, to prevent water loss by seepage. The pond should be near an adequate supply of either fresh or brackish water, and in a place where water can be easily put into it, and taken out of it. The water used in the ponds should have a pH of between 6.5 and 9.0, since acidity reduces growth rate in tilapia. A pond depth of at least 5 ft (1.4m) is required to hold 3.5 ft (1.1m) of water at the inlet side and 4.5 ft (1.4 m) of water at the outlet side. The sides of the pond should slope at a 30-degree angle, and the bottom graded towards the outlet, to allow for drainage.


2. Stocking Rate In the production ponds, tilapias are stocked at 1 fish for every 3 square feet, or 3 fish per square meter. This works out to 14,530 tilapia per acre, or 20,000 tilapia per hectare. In the brood pond, tilapias are stocked at 1 fish for every 5 square feet (2 fish per square meter). In the fingerling pond, tilapia are stocked at 1 fry per square foot. 3. Fertilizing For freshwater ponds, the following rate is recommended: - 500 pounds cow manure per acre per month - 50 pounds TSP per acre per month 4. Feeding If sinking pellet feed is used, a feed box is required. This feed box can be constructed of wood, and should be 3 feet long, 2 feet wide and 6 inches deep. It should be suspended 612 inches below the water surface. Each pond must have at least two feed boxes, and about 8 feed boxes are required per acre. The recommended feeding rate in a growout pond is usually at 5% of the body weight of the fish per day. Feed should be placed in the feed box, and feeding should be done two times daily. The first feeding should be done between 8:00 hrs and 9:00 hrs, and the second between 15:00 hrs and 18:00 hrs.

5. Breeding Tilapia will breed naturally in the brood pond. In the brood pond, the stocking ratio is 1 male to 3 females. The adult male is usually longer and darker than the female, and has a narrowly pointed vent or genital opening. The female is shorter, lighter in colour, and has a broad vent. The male prepares a circular depression in the pond bottom, and then encourages the female to lay her eggs in it. He then fertilizes the eggs and the female then takes them into her mouth and keeps them until after they hatch. Each female can produce about 450 eggs per breeding cycle. Each female can achieve about 6 cycles per year, giving a total of 2,700 eggs per year.


6. Pond Management The water level in the pond must be kept constant. Therefore, water should be added to replace that lost by seepage or evaporation. The feedbox in the pond can be used as an indicator of the pond water level. Fish should not be overfed, since this can cause the water in the pond to become polluted, and result in an unhealthy environment for the fish. Feed boxes must be taken out of the pond once per week, cleaned and left to dry in the sun, to disinfect them. Ponds should only be fertilized if there is a need to do so. Fertilizing should only be done on sunny days. All water entering and leaving the pond must be filtered. Because tilapia breed readily in the growout ponds, usually before reaching the desired market size, and females are usually much smaller than males, all-male culture is recommended. There are three main ways of doing this; hand sexing of fingerlings, the use of male hormones (sex reversal), and the use of super-males for breeding, which produce only males. 7. Growth rate The growth rate obtained depends on the feed used, and whether or not only males are grown, or both males and females are grown in the same pond. If tilapias are fed rice bran, a size of 8 ounces (227 g) can be achieved after 6 months. If Broiler Starter is used, then a size of 8 –12 ounces (341g) can be achieved after 5 months. If Tilapia floating pellet is used, a size of 1 pound (2.2 kg) can be achieved after 6 months. 8. Record keeping Records must be kept on all aspects of production. These records include the amount of money spent, the type and quantity of feed used, and other important aspects of pond management. This is to enable farmers to calculate their profit, at the end of a crop.


XVII. Local Information Based on trials conducted at the Mon Repos Freshwater Aquaculture Demonstration Farm and Training Centre, the following data has been obtained with respect to the culture of Red Tilapia in ponds. All the trials were conducted with hand sexed male tilapia. 1. Tilapia Grower Feed, Sinking Pellet (28% protein, locally produced) After 6 months in the growing pond (total seven months), 93% survival was obtained. The average weight was 255g (9 oz), and 70% of the population was over 227 g (8 oz), while 7% was over 340 g (12 oz). The FCR was 2.14:1 Cost of Feed: $23 per pound Selling Price for Fish: $120 per pound

2. Tilapia Floating Pellet (33% protein, imported from Trinidad) After 5 months in the growing pond (total six and one half months), 78% survival was obtained. The average weight was 374 g (13.2 oz). The amount of fish over 454 g (one pound) was 22%. The FCR was 1.82:1 Cost of Feed: $35 per pound Selling Price for Fish: $120 per pound

3. Tilapia Grower Feed, Sinking Pellet (35% protein, locally produced) After 4 months in the growing pond (total five months), the average weight was 274.8 g (9.7 oz). Survival percentage was 80%. The FCR was 2.2:1 Cost of Feed: $26 per pound Selling Price for Fish: $120 per pound

4. Tilapia Floating Pellet (33% protein, imported from Trinidad) After 6 months in the growing pond (total seven and one half months), the survival percentage was 98.2%. The average weight was 512.7 g (18.1 oz), with 72% of the fish over one pound. The FCR was 1.81:1 Cost of Feed: $35 per pound Selling Price for Fish: $120 per pound

5. Tilapia Grower Feed, Sinking Pellet (35% protein, locally produced) After 6 months in the growing pond (total seven and one half months), the survival percentage was 80%. The average weight was 403.5 g (14.2 oz), with 35% of the fish over one pound. The FCR was 2.53:1 Cost of Feed: $26 per pound Selling Price for Fish: $120 per pound


XVIII. Appendix


XIX. References 1. Annual Report of the Mon Repos Freshwater Aquaculture Demonstration Farm and Training Centre. 2001-2002. 2. FAO Training Series. Simple Methods for Aquaculture. Pond Construction for Freshwater Fish Culture. 20/1: Building Earthen Ponds. 3. FAO Training Series. Simple Methods for Aquaculture. Management for Freshwater Fish Culture. 21/1: Ponds and Water Practices 4. FAO Training Series. Simple Methods for Aquaculture. Management for Freshwater Fish Culture. 21/2: Fish Stocks and Farm Management. 5. Fonticiella, D; Monteagudo, A. 2000. Manual on Basic Aquaculture. 6. National Development Strategy for Guyana (Shared Development through a Participatory Economy), Chapter 13 – Fisheries Policy, 1997-2002. Ministry of Finance, Government of Guyana. 7. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture. 2000. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 8. Van Gorder, S.D. 2000. Small Scale Aquaculture. 9. Avault, J.W. 1998. Fundamentals of Aquaculture.


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