Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hottub Tilapia Pond

(pictures will be posted tomorrow)

Well, I finally did it......decided to try raising tilapia. I'm in the process of creating my first pond, which will be located at the community garden.

One of the volunteers at the community garden had a spa tub they wanted to get rid of. Um, I thought. Fish pond? Possibly with a bit of effort. So we organized a group to move the tub out of the house, onto a borrowed trailer, and drove it to the community garden. The community garden is a better site for a fish pond than my farm because of the lower elevation and warmer temperatures there.

First step was the create a level site for the tub and tamp down the earth. Next, I plugged all the pipes from the outide. Then the tub was flipped upright onto a temporary wood frame and leveled up. Because there is an abundance of lava rocks here that are free, we choose to use them to support the tub. Over the course of two days, rocks were maneuvered into place under and around the tub. Once solidly supported and level, I climbed inside and applied rubberized sealant into all the holes (drain, jets, lights). Once it cured, I applied a second thin coat. When that cured, two layers of silicone caulk were next to finish the job,

We added water slowly, watching for leaks and testing the level. When full, everything looked just fine. Now we need to wait for the water to become fish safe.

Tomorrow I'm adding pond plants and snails. In two weeks I'll try adding a few guppies or mosquito fish. If they do ok, then I'll pick up the baby tilapia.

This project is costing just the price of the sealants. Everything else has been donated. If this works out, the community garden volunteers want to use the pond water for an aquaponics project. Water will be pumped into a system for growing lettuce. And if that works, they plan to add more homemade ponds. There are eyeing up old chest freezers to convert to small ponds.

The idea of raising tilapia has got me tickled. If ponds can be made inexpensively, plus if you grow their food yourself, small scale fish farming should work quite nicely into my scheme of self-reliancy. The fish food will come from the garden, both greens, grains, and worms. If they will eat flies, we will make a floating fly trap for them. Such a trap easily catches between 50 and 100 flies a day.

I'll keep you posted.


  1. You are so Akamai, Su! I think the only special concern would be the pH (acid-base) measure, but even that is just being cautious. If you kept a couple of buckets of water sitting for a couple of days, all the chlorine would be dissipated, and if it were rainwater, so much the better! Some water will evaporate but that looks to be easy to manage. I imagine the tilapia will at any mosquito larvae that develop, too. Will it be shaded? I think the old freezer idea is very smart, too, since the Freon/motor parts can be recycled, but the "box" just takes up landfill space. Please take a few pictures - this is so interesting!

  2. This blog is really interesting. I am so glad that I'm reading it. I wish I could live my life over again and do something like this. I always wanted to go back to a small farm but never did.

  3. The guppies or mosquito fish will eat the mosquito larvae. No problem. And there will be floating ponds plants to provide shade. The snails will also help filter the water, plus provide some food for the tilapia.

    I'm really eager to see this all come together. Adding an aquaponics system makes it even more interesting!

  4. Love your resoursefulness! I rarely have that much foresight.
    I find the idea of farm raised fish on an island an intrrrsting one. I am completely ignorant about both. Why not catch them in the wild?

  5. Kristie, tilapia can easily be raised right in my back yard. And it cost virtually nothing to feed them. How more convenient could it be to go outside my door, net a fish and take it back inside to prepare? No need to own and maintain a boat, buy a boat trailer, buy fishing gear, buy gasoline, and spend hours doing it. Or on the other hand, buy a sea kayak, exercise regularly so that I'd have the strength to paddle the buggah, hope I don't run into a shark, and be crazy enough to actually deepsea fish out of a kayak!

    In New Jersey we could fish off the jetties or piers, but that's not doable here. And besides, the reef fish are sometimes not safe to eat. So you need to go out past the reefs to catch the safer fish.

    No, it's a better option for me to raise tilapia. If I didn't raise my own, then I'd be buying ono or opelu from a local fisherman. I'm not fond of ahi or mahimahi, the most commonly offered fish around here. But I do enjoy fresh tilapia.

  6. Ahh that is where my ignorance shows. I am picturing what I saw on a cooking channel show: prople standing on the shore casting circular nets into the surf. I had no idea some fish wouldn't be safe to eat there.