Backyard Fish farming:
Today, let us get into details of Backyard Fish Farming practices.
Fish farming is a very ancient method of agriculture, which produces a fixed source of protein. Many people have begun to raise fish in their backyard ponds because of the numerous benefits attached to fish farming. Notwithstanding of the fact of the beauty and the improved look of your backyard landscaping, having a backyard pond would also give a stable supply of food. The positive news is that many people are able to provide a steady and a ready supply of healthy food to their families from home ponds. Raising one’s own fish would also make sure that the fishes are grown without any harmful chemicals, antibiotics or pesticides. Aquaculture can be done according to grower’s needs and capacities. If one wishes to feed his family through home-grown fish, one could easily dig a pond in their backyard and start nurturing fish in it. One could also use fish tanks, pools or aquariums to nurture fish either indoors or outdoors. If one owns a bigger property, a step further can be taken by starting a fish farming commercially.
In commercial form of fish farming, an intensive or extensive strategy can be utilised. One may initially not have the amount of space or the equipment that a commercial fish farm requires, and then one may opt to start out with home pond. In this situation, production will be lower and profit than a commercial fish farm. If one begins with a large amount of land and dig several ponds in it, then one can begin big commercially accomplished fish farm or commercial Aquaponics system.
There are many costs involved for such kind of farming. Few of them are enumerated below:
- Start-up costs
- Costs for supplies
- Equipment costs
- Learning processes associated with commercial fish farming.
One must make sure to check the costs associated before any decision is taken to start own commercial fish farming business.
If the ponds are ecologically balanced, then very little pond management is required. When a fish pond is well balanced, it almost runs on autopilot. If several types of fish are put together in a large enough pond, one may not have to feed the fish at all, let alone for the purpose of connecting with the fish.
Fish can be classified in three ways, according to their eating habits:
- The bottom eaters,
- The top eateries and
- The mid eaters.
The top eaters:
- The top eaters are always visible and apparent on the top surface of the water.
- They feed on the green algae or the stuff moving on the top of the pond.
The mid eaters
- The bottom eaters are barely invisible on the top of the surface.
- They are the ones responsible who keep the bottom surface of the pond clean.
For faster growth and quicker yield and harvest of the fish, the fish may be fed once in a while. But it must be ensured that the fishes are not over-fed because overfeeding may cause most of the problems related to bacteria, fish diseases, and water quality degradation.
Backuard fish farming is a sustainable food production system:
Growing and raising fish for commercial purposes in the backyard can be treated as a sustainable method of food production and harvest if you create the natural relationship found in the ecosystem.
A pond can be:
- Easily dug in the backyard area,
- Fill it up with water,
- Raise several kinds of fish for commercial use, and benefit from it.
The methods of sustainable fish farming are described step by step:
Step 1: Selection of a location for your backyard fish farming
- To raise a fish farm in the backyard, an appropriate spot for the pond must be selected.
- A place that is naturally low in the backyard should be chosen and so that it is able to collect water naturally.
- Sketches of the pond can be drawn and the location with exact dimensions on a piece of paper can be planned out.
- Doing the above will help to figure out the actual shape and size of the pond and how well it will accommodate into the backyard.
- If the area where the grower lives is where the summers are hot and winters are cold, then a deep area of 8-12 feet can be used as part of the pond, aiding the fish to find shelter during hot summer or cold winter can be planned.
- It is also important to ensure to include plants in the plan.
- The plan could also include fountains or waterfalls to make your pond attractive.
Step#2: Plan for digging your pond
- Once the spot is selected, the tools needed for digging should be considered.
- Before digging begins, an outline of the pond needs to be marked.
- Ropes, garden hoses, or extension cords can be used to mark the area.
- The shape and size of the pond can be adjusted until there is satisfaction with the shape and size.
- The final layout should include plenty of plants and surrounding areas around the pond.
- If the plan is to dig a large pond, need to rent a bobcat may arise.
- Permission of local authorities needs to be taken first to make sure the area of pond construction for such landscaping in the backyard.
- It is also advisable to ensure that there are no utilities such as gas pipes, electric lines, and water or sewerage lines buried under ground in and around the area of digging.
Step#3: Digging your pond
- If the plan is to dig a small pond, a shovel can be used or a rentedbobcat may be used if the plan is for construction of a bigger pond.
- One decent technique for digging a pond is to dig at 16 inch depth at one time and gather the dirt nearby somewhere at the back of the pond where a waterfall can be placed.
- It is advisable to dig deeper towards the center where the pump can be placed for the fountain.
- Also steps to be dug in and a right plan for plants to be placed on the steps at different stages of depth.
- The edges of the steps need to be dug by hand so that it lookschiseled and can be used for plant shelves.
- It is advisable to make your pond at least 5 feet deep at the center.
Step#4: Placing the pond liner
- Once the hole is dug, it is to be filled up with mason’s sand and smoothly raked.
- Subsequently, the sand can be covered with a Geo textile fabric.
- Hence, this will protect the rubber liner which is to be placed on top of the fabric.
- The fabric should be big enough to cover the hole made for the pump.
- The rubber liner is to be folded lengthwise.
- Starting from the center of the pond unfold your rubber liner.
- Then the liner is to be pressed firmly with hand and feet over the center pit, and water to be filled hold the liner in place.
Step#5: Placing stones
- Stones to be handled by self as little as possible.
- It is best to have your stones to be used in the pond delivered right at the pond or backyard.
- Then the stones to be placed in stacks, beginning from the floor of the pond, the plant shelves, to the sides.
- The stones along the sides should be a foot wide.
- Place the pump and hose in the middle of the pond on a smooth rock and the waterfall at the adjacent side of the pond.
- The hose to be connected and power cord to be attached to electrical outlets.
Step#6: Adding fish
- It should be ensured that right kind of fish is chosen for the pond.
- Fishes of the variety like trout need highly oxygenated water and such fishes also need the water to remain calm and cool all throughout the year.
- The Trout are a lot more difficult to handle, and it is better not to be undertaken unless there is a ready supply of cold and highly sparkling water.
- If there is a high volume spring available, raising trout in raceways or tanks can be tried.
- Fishes like the Pumpkinseed or Blue gills are more flexible and easy to manage because they grow very steady and fast and do really well in almost all types of ponds.
- Perch and bass, a variety of large predatory fish require more space/area and food. They are not ideal for most backyard fish farming systems.
- The fish, bass also tends to eat all their fish relative in the pond itself. For this reason, bass is also often called as cannibalistic in nature.
- Sunfish, such as bluegill or pumpkinseed are tougher and resilient.
- The Sunfish, a pan-sized fish that grows fast, reproduce very quickly and do very relatively well in many kinds of ponds.
- European carp one of the most popular food fish in Europe and Asia and opinions about them are fluctuating in the many countries. They are omnivorous in nature that is they eat both plants(weeds in ponds) and animals( small Fish and insects), and they adapt well to deviations in ponds and grow quite large in size and number.
- Tilapia, an another pond fish, an extremely adaptable species that is speed growing, easy to raise, grow and feed.
- Also take into concern the local laws about what species to be introduced into the pond, as some kind of species such as tilapia or carp may be under regulation or even prohibited in a few areas.
- The Blue Tilapia would be the best bet for raising fish because they are the most resilient towards cold and it won’t be wrong if they are called as the cold tolerant.
- Stocking densities should not be much higher to avoid a great deal of feed management and water quality. Assuming a target weight of 2-2.5 lbs/fish, one should keep the density down to one fish to every 8 to 10 gallons of tank volume.
- When the fish is ordered, they mostly appear in small plastic bag or sack.
- It is also to be ensured to add the water that they came in through the plastic sack into the pond so that it would be easy for them to adjust easily with the surrounding.
Backyard fish farming can be highly advantageous. The System of aquaculture and poly culture where several species of fish are grown together has been used in many countries like China and Hawaii for many years. The fish need regular supply of food to grow faster. The fish should never be overfed because it gives rise to most problems such as bacteria, fungus, or predators. It is also important to maintain an ecological balance and no production of pollution or excessive nitrogen through the pond.
Read: Fish Hatchery Business.
Feeding in Backyard Fish Farming
To maximize the production of the backyard fish farming pond, one may have to feed the fish. There are a variety of commercially available feeds locally and on the internet. It is advisable to keep unused food in frozen form to maintain quality of the food. Also, one must take care to limit the feeding suggestively during periods of cold weather as fish tend to be much less active and do not require much food.
An artificial habitat can be created for the prey of the chosen fish species, so that there is a continuous supply of wild feed both in the form of weeds and small insects. In case of larger, well-designed backyard fish farming ponds, wild foods provide much or all of the food needs and requirements of the fish. However, this kind of artificial setup does not allow for a large amount of annual harvest and yield.
An important point to remember is how much need to feed depends on how many fish is to be harvested annually. If one desires a backyard fish farming pond crowded with fish, then definitely they need to do a significant amount of supplemental feeding.
In natural ponds, predators play a significant role in helping to lower the fish populations by plundering and preying on the sick, unaware and the weak.
The predators can act in a similar manner by helping keep the fish stock in the pond healthy and fit.
Predation can also be a major problem under various circumstances.
However, there are a number of ways to discourage predation.
- The process of putting up a net over your pond can keep aerial predators away.
- For herons, arranging up baffle wires, made of thin fishing line is a good choice to keep them away.
- In shallow ponds, herons can sometimes take a large number of fish.
- This is another major reason to have deeper sections of the ponds, with thumping places such as flooded pipes, logs, etc.
- Sharp sides of ponds and thick planting of developing plants can help keep walking predators such as herons out.
These lines trick the birds up and don’t encourage it from wandering through the ridges.
Predation of young fish fry can be approached in a number of ways. If the significant predator of fish fry in the pond is insects, then a very small species of fish can be introduced that acts as a prey base for those predators instead of the young breed of the preferred species. This largely brings us to the idea of “polyculture.”
Closing thoughts of Backyard Fish Farming
Creating and maintaining a backyard fish farming system can be deeply substantial, and if done on a large scale can help enhancement of the farmer’s income. The pond can also be an artistically pleasing part of the landscape.