Tilapia cultivation in colder areas
A tropical species, the tilapia is undoubtedly ideally adapted to tropical areas where the water is warm throughout the year. However, it is also possible to breed tilapia in colder regions. You might need to heat the water in a colder region during parts of the growing season, but this does not necessarily mean that it is difficult to economically make tilapia farming viable.
Tilapias require a 4-5 month-long growth cycle at least. They can then be harvested during the fall. You will get the fish to reach 0.5 pounds (220 grammes) in this time if you stock 4000 per pond acre. This includes supplementary feeding. The size of each fish will significantly increase every extra month you allow before harvesting.
Ideally, tilapia should be stored at a temperature of 28-30 degrees C (82-86 degrees F) in water, but this may not be realistic in colder areas.
Fortunately, even though this will impact the growth rate, it is possible to farm tilapia in colder water. The decrease in growth speed will not be too drastic if the water temperature is held above 20 degrees C (50 degrees F). However, the growth rate would decrease considerably if the temperature is allowed to drop below 20 degrees C (50 degrees F).
Therefore, it is recommended that you heat the water during the entire 4-5 month growth season to hold it above 20 degrees C (50 degrees F) if the water temperature drops below 20 degrees C (50 degrees F) in your region during this time. Before deciding to grow tilapia, be sure to find out how long you will need to heat your ponds and what it would cost to ensure that farming tilapia is economically feasible in your environment.
If you do not mind the reduced growth rate, Tilapia can tolerate temperatures below 20 degrees C (50 degrees F), but they should never be kept colder than 13 degrees C in water (55 degrees F). Temperatures below this would make them even more vulnerable to disease and it can be lethal for the fish if the temperature drops any further.
It is necessary to choose the correct species or hybrid of tilapia for your conditions when you want to breed tilapia in a colder region.
The coldest hardy tilapia species is by far the Blue Tilapia (Oreochromis aureus) and is also the most appropriate species for colder areas. There are many Blue tilapia hybrids available that have the same cold tolerance but come with extra characteristics, such as a faster growth rate than the pure species.
Blue tilapia is also marketed to anglers as bait fish, which provides a demand if you want to sell tiny blue tilapia. In both fresh and brackish water, blue tilapia may be protected.
When farming tilapia in hotter regions, a common problem is that the tilapias begin to breed, causing higher fish density and slower fish development.
To get the maximum yield per acre, there are a variety of different solutions to this issue, including farming mono-sex tilapia. When breeding tilapia in the colder area, this is much less of a problem and if you have a growth cycle of not more than 4-5 months, you do not have to worry about it (if you use 1 month old fry) because you can harvest the fish before they reach sexual maturity.
However, you might want to look at the various ways to eradicate this issue, such as mono-sex tilapia and cage or tank culture, if you intend to cultivate tilapia after the age of sexual maturity.