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Asian carp in aquaponics and cheap dog food to feed them

 
Darryl Roederer
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This post will probably stir up some controversy. LOL
Actually I'm looking forward to it. I just want to get a good discussion going on these topics so if you have something negative to say about my thoughts/ideas, then by all means do so. All I ask is that you do so in a CONSTRUCTIVE manner.

*DISCLAIMER*
Everything I'm posting here is based off simple online research and YouTube videos, so I cant vouch for the accuracy of ANY of it. It's also worth pointing out that since tha Asian Carp is a distructive invasive species in this country, most of the online info about them is slanted in a negative direction. Finding cold hard facts about dietary requirements and conversion rates has been difficult at best. Since there's no definitive source I could locate, I've had to piece together a handful of assumptions, beliefs, and ideas to come up with this list. If you can provide some links to hard data that conflicts or confirms my own research, please feel free to do so.

Topic number one, The Asian Carp...
What can I say about the fish we all love to hate? Well, lets start with what I've learned online.
1. They're delicious according to most people. Superior to Tilapia according to most.
2. They're voracious breeders, approaching the breeding rates of Tilapia.
3. They're fast growers, nearly matching the growth rates of our beloved Tialapia in the first year, and then FAR exceeding them in later years.
4. They're as hearty as Catfish, being both hot and cold water tolerant and can survive in dirty and/or low oxygen environments that would kill even the toughest Tilapia hybrids.
5. They're highly adaptable filter/bottom feeders, meaning they can thrive on algae, plant matter, scraps, insects, etc.
6. Their food to flesh conversion rates are extremely high. Not quite as good as a Chocolate Tilapia, but it does exceed the rates of some other Tilapia breeds.
7. They're Carp... That means "dirty fish"... That means MORE valuable fish waste to feed the veggies in an AP system than Tilapia could provide.

Topic number two, incorporating Asian Carp into an AP system.
There are 4 species of Asian Carp in this country. The silver, big head, grass, and black. The black carp is a carnivore. It's diet consists of snails, muscles, and mollusks. The grass carp is a strict herbivore, surviving on a diet of roots, water grass, duckweed, etc. The black carp is a bottom dwelling filter feeder, much like the catfish. The silver is a filter feeder also, but is more a midrange fish that primarily thrives on zooplankton and algae but is also known to bottom feed on scraps. My thoughts are that a mix of 90% silver and 10% bighead would be ideal for a closed AP system. An open system that would be capable of supporting duckweed or even bottom grass might benefit from a couple grass carp as well... But for the sake of this discussion I'm going to concentrate on the Silver Asian Carp as the ideal AP fish.
1. They can tolerate extremely high density levels. Even as high as 3 lbs per gallon.
2. They are extremely dossile fish that will even allow you to pet them. Much less flighty than Tilapia... Tho it's worth pointing out that boat motors and extremely loud noises can make them jump out of the water. This shouldn't be an issue in an AP system.
3. Being natural filter feeders, they would control any algae blooms that might occur.
4. They do not require shade like Tilapia do.
5. Since they produce more waste than Tilapia, grow bed area could be increased relative to tank size.
6. No pond heating is required since they are cold water tollerant, They can even survive under a layer of ice.
7. Electricity requirements could be reduced since the water is higher in waste (more nutrition per gallon of water pumped equals less water turnover required)
8. Even in cold climates that do year round AP growing, the water would only need to be heated to 40* F so as to not shock the roots of the plants instead of the ~60*+ F required for Tilapia.

Topic number three, Cheap dog food as fish food.
Before you roll your eyes at this idea, first go grab a bag of your current Tilapia food. Have a look at it's protein content, fat content, carb content, and skim over the ingredients list. Next do a google search for "Ol Roy protein content". Click around a few of the links and you'll quickly learn that they're nearly both a dead on match for each other ingredient for ingredient and nutrition level for nutrition level. across the board. The real difference as far as I can tell is that I can get a 50 pound bag of Ol Roy dog food at Walmart for $17.98... That works out to about .36 cents per pound... How much are you spending per pound on fish food? I'm willing to bet it's several DOLLARS per pound.

Ok, so those are my thoughts on the subject, and yes, I've highlighted the positive side of things. Naturally there are some negatives as well...
1. Asian Carp in an AP system is an un-tested and un-known entity. I'm NOT suggesting anyone should embrace the idea. I'd just like to open a dialog to discuss the merits.
2. Fish food is formulated for fish, and dog food for dogs. I'm NOT suggesting anyone should embrace this idea either... But again, let's talk about this.
3. Asian Carp has a wholesale value of about .25 cents a pound, so come fish harvesting time your return on investment could be significantly impacted compared to Tilapia. Again, let's discuss these issues.
4. Tho the asian carp has completely infested our countries waterways, there are still laws on the books in some states that restrict ownership and/or transport of them. These laws should be looked at before undertaking this venture.
5. When eaten, Carp is a bone-fish, meaning a filet will have lots of small bones in it compared to Tilapia that does not. Depending on your feelings about these bones, eating a carp may be a much less enjoyable experience than eating a Tilapia.

What are your thoughts?
 
Dan Boone
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What would be the benefits of your proposal from a *permacultural* perspective? Does it have fewer off-site inputs? Does it fit better with your other plant and animal systems? I am trying to spot the permaculture payoff but -- probably because I don't know much about aquaponics -- I am missing it. Help...
 
Darryl Roederer
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Dan Boone wrote:What would be the benefits of your proposal from a *permacultural* perspective? Does it have fewer off-site inputs? Does it fit better with your other plant and animal systems? I am trying to spot the permaculture payoff but -- probably because I don't know much about aquaponics -- I am missing it. Help...

I can think of a few benefits...
For starters, replacement fish stocks are as near as the local river for anyone who lives in the eastern 1/2 of the united states. The Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, and Cumberland River[s] are choked full of Asian Carp. If your AP system ever suffered a catastrophic setback and you lost your entire stock, replacement would be easy and inexpensive with mature breeders free for the taking from local waterways. Unlike Tilapia which tend to be QUITE expensive for breeding pairs and are only available as fry or fingerling in bulk.

An unheated pond/tank along with reduced pumping and bubbling requirements would translate to reduced energy requirements, which could mean a higher likelyhood of an off grid solar/wind powered AP system being a reality... Maybe not, but of nothing else, reduced electricity bills are usually welcomed by everyone.

Carp, being heartier and less temperamental than Tilapia would translate to reduced work load to the owner. Less work, more free time, fewer worries.

The "dirty" nature of carp means more nutrients for your plants compared to Tilapia. That translates to fewer fish to worry about for an existing AP system, or more veggie production from the same sized pond/tank.

As it currently stands, (common) carp are widely used in AP setups, but for the most part, carp are not considered as "food" in this country. I'm just proposing that we consider a different variety of carp, one that's currently viewed as a pest, as an option because it "might" offer some benefits that we haven't thought of up to this point.
 
Dan Boone
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Thanks! That really helps.

My thoughts on the dogfood are that it's unregulated as to ingredients. Walmart is probably pretty careful about not poisoning dogs with the stuff because pissed-off dog owners could put together an expensive class-action lawsuit. But we don't know what's in it from the perspective of dyes, preservatives, stabilizers, softeners, pesticides, and random heavy metals. And we can be fairly sure that Walmart's suppliers have never worried a single moment about whether any of those ingredients they may use are toxic or bioaccumulative in fish.

I love my dogs but I do not eat them or feed them as feed to other animals or use them to fertilize my garden routinely, so I don't need to worry about bioaccumulation of toxins. Used as an aquaponics input, dogfood seems problematic to me for this reason.

Finally, I'm also pretty hard-core about outside inputs to my permaculture systems, especially in large quantities. I avoid them when I can, I look for sustainable inputs when I can't, and I try to keep exceptions limited in volume and frequency (usually because I'm recycling or repurposing something as a one-time input because it was free or near-free). The quarts of peat moss in disposable plastic planters that I bought for ten cents on the dollar in a fall sale do not bother me; buying a truckload of "new" peat moss or a thousand new plastic planters would bother me, especially if those purchases need to be repeated ad infinitum for my systems to succeed. Likewise, I wouldn't have interest in an aquaponics operation that relied on routine bulk purchases of feed sourced from industrial agriculture, as Old Roy dogfood is. If I couldn't source most inputs on-site or from local sources, I'd look for a different project. This isn't "permacultural purity" so much as my own interest in sustainability. I don't really trust that the Walmart trucks can be relied on to keep rolling in all possible futures, and so I'm not interested in a project that relies on that for its long-term success.
 
Zach Muller
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In my personal opinion ap has always seemed fiddly, time and resource consuming, and for the most part completely unsustainable . Its like a greenhouse but even more work and control. But I have always been focused on creating a whole system, not focusing on any single elemenT.

I see your pros for Asian carp and they sound good,but wouldn't the ultimate ap system be one that can adapt to many different species depending on what is available?

a looong time ago I fed my dogs ol Roy thinking nothing of it. After a while I switched to a higher quality feed. In doing so i noticed My dogs smelled less and had shinier, thicker coats. Since the better feed is made with meat and more dense in nutrition I fed less for the same calories. I would be weary of eating something fed with ol roy considering the ingredients.
Have you compared to higher quality brands where you would be able to feed less for the same nutrition while not getting all the food colorings and preservatives.
 
William Bronson
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Silverseeds has a good thread on using carp in a AP system.
I would want to use duckweed or another fast growing aquatic plant to feed the fish,and avoid outside inputs.
I am no fan of eating boney fish, so I would rather raise Koi, which have another market aside from being sold as food.
 
Mike Cantrell
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I've got no aquaponics experience either, but this reminds me of a creative solution I heard about.

A guy had a small pond with some desirable fish he had stocked (bass, I believe) and some undesirable fish. Probably carp.

He spent part of a summer aggressively fishing the carp out with every normal and unusual method he had access to that wouldn't kill his bass (in other words, everything but dynamite).

Every carp he caught, he threw onto a raft. They rotted in the sun, and the flies came to turn the carp carcasses into bass feed, which crawled happily off the edges of the raft into the water.

At the end of the summer, the carp were gone and the bass were fat.




How's that relate to aquaponics? Heck, I don't know. It just involved carp and "the problem is the solution." So maybe it will jog somebody's thoughts in a helpful direction.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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If you happen to figure out breeding Silver Carp, please report back here with your methods and results.

I'd love to emulate the Chinese polycultural aquaculture systems, but a source of fry is almost impossible to find. As much as I'd prefer to get my own fish doing their breeding at the very least I'd like to experiment with the species with diploids/triploids but I can't even find that >_<
 
Darryl Roederer
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:If you happen to figure out breeding Silver Carp, please report back here with your methods and results.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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That's Common Carp. Hopefully Silver Carp would be so simple. [Granted I would much rather 'let nature take its course' and simply set up the appropriate conditions than breed them artificially, but I can see the benefits of doing so.]
 
Dan Grubbs
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I'm always amused by those who refer to carp as a dirty fish or undesirable. There are cultures all over the world that happily see carp as a human food source. However, most of those of European ancestry that I know in the Midwest turn their nose up at carp and when they catch them, throw them up on the bank to die. This is a waste of food, in my humble opinion. Carp can be pressure canned with great results.

Skin and clean the fish as you would normally and fillet from the main bones. Of course you won't be able to get rid of all the tiny bones, which is why many people don't like it. Don't worry about this. Cube the carp meat into 1-inch cubes and fill your canning jars with the meat topping them off with water, salt and some vegetable oil. Pressure can the filled jars. When cooled, you have canned meat that, to me, tastes just like canned tuna. With carp, you can have quarts and quarts of canned fish meat with not very many fish. Those small bones in the meat? Due to the pressure canning process, they become mush-like and you don't notice them when you eat them. Those of us who eat canned sardines will love canned carp. Mix in a bit of mayo, herbs, sweet pickle relish with a batch of canned carp and you have an amazing tuna salad (except it's carp!).

Like my momma always said, "don't knock it until you try it."

Here is a great article from Mother Earth News about canning carp: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/carp-food-recipes-zmaz75mjzgoe.aspx

 
Alder Burns
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I'm a bit familiar with silver carp, from time spent in Bangladesh where it has been introduced for aquaculture. Silver carp, and possibly other Asian carps, need running water to spawn. They are natural denizens of rivers. Ordinarily in China, small ones are caught in the rivers and used to stock ponds. They will do fine and grow out in ponds, but don't usually spawn. Hatcheries can breed them by simulating a current in a trough of some kind...probably a difficult thing to simulate on a homestead scale.
The ultimate beauty of the silver carp, especially, is that it is a filter feeder, raking plankton with it's gills and using that as it's primary source of nutrition. If the water is fertile enough there is no need to feed them anything, and they will grow to a large size. A system based on native fish usually relies on a small filter feeder or plankton feeder and then a predator fish that eats these.....with a classic food-pyramid loss in efficiency. Except for a thing called the buffalo fish, about which I know almost nothing, North America is missing large filter-feeding freshwater fish.
 
Pia Jensen
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Darryl Roederer wrote:This post will probably stir up some controversy. LOL

What are your thoughts?


oh yah.... a little controversy! ... what are the other options? spin your intention around to maybe find other valuable designs....

put energy into growing azolla whose space may be shared with other water space based foods - I mean - isn't duck a higher quality food than an invasive species with lost of bone and little meat?

http://theazollafoundation.org/features/rice-duck-azolla-loach-cultivation/ "The Power of Duck" ... ducks fly pretty good and I've seen videos of Asian carp flying and all they seem to do is slap people upside the head... lol
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Alder Burns wrote:The ultimate beauty of the silver carp, especially, is that it is a filter feeder, raking plankton with it's gills and using that as it's primary source of nutrition. If the water is fertile enough there is no need to feed them anything, and they will grow to a large size. A system based on native fish usually relies on a small filter feeder or plankton feeder and then a predator fish that eats these.....with a classic food-pyramid loss in efficiency. Except for a thing called the buffalo fish, about which I know almost nothing, North America is missing large filter-feeding freshwater fish.


Bingo. I will have to put in some research on those Buffalo Fish, though I'd sure like to find a source of Silver Carp fingerlings. Might be possible to breed them in a small electrical aquaculture system, depending on how much water volume, speed and space they need. I could see a solar unit powering something up to maybe 1000 gallons or so, during Summer at least [which would probably be breeding season for these guys in the western PNW where water temperatures pretty seldom exceed 60F.]

Pia Jensen wrote:
Darryl Roederer wrote:This post will probably stir up some controversy. LOL

What are your thoughts?


oh yah.... a little controversy! ... what are the other options? spin your intention around to maybe find other valuable designs....

put energy into growing azolla whose space may be shared with other water space based foods - I mean - isn't duck a higher quality food than an invasive species with lost of bone and little meat?

http://theazollafoundation.org/features/rice-duck-azolla-loach-cultivation/ "The Power of Duck" lol


Duck is a high quality food with its own value, but isn't diversity one of the pinnacle points of Permaculture? Local to when and all that.

Besides the invasion of Asian Carp is the result of people taking advantage of river systems to breed these in cages when they're known jumpers. I'd only advocate this sort of aquaculture that was at least a kilometer away from any streams/creeks. Responsible rearing in watershed disconnected ponds or indoor systems doesn't release anything into the wild, invasive or not.
 
Pia Jensen
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Duck is a high quality food with its own value, but isn't diversity one of the pinnacle points of Permaculture? Local to when and all that.

Besides the invasion of Asian Carp is the result of people taking advantage of river systems to breed these in cages when they're known jumpers. I'd only advocate this sort of aquaculture that was at least a kilometer away from any streams/creeks. Responsible rearing in watershed disconnected ponds or indoor systems doesn't release anything into the wild, invasive or not.


agreed... but... (of course)

thinking multi-use ... merit in growing first what is low on the food chain to support the higher level species?

http://www.feedipedia.org/node/565

azolla to fish to chicken to bigger meat producers... with multiple other benefits... so, for example, an azolla system mixed with water loving food sources (greens to meat)

Just thinking every system needs a support system - so to grow food for dogs - (and, BTW, I'd use the carp only for compost) grow azolla first ... perhaps azolla dried and mixed with moringa dried and other dog attractive foods might be all you need....
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Pia Jensen wrote:BTW, I'd use the carp only for compost

This right here is the crux of the disagreement between us.

You're seeing carp as nothing but fertility [which is itself incredibly important, but aquaculture for fertility is an awfully lot of work for limited gain.]

I'm seeing carp as a direct food source for myself and my family. It's good enough for over a billion people, why not us.
 
Pia Jensen
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are those billion + people dependent upon it because they have few choices? What diversity existed before the carp went bonkers on ecosystems?

Where I live, Latin America, the primary source of meat are pigs, cattle, fish and chicken. Why anyone here would devolve to carp which is mostly bone, I have no idea. So, yes, we disagree about it's value in a whole and well permaculture system. If one can create a higher level of food chain activity and product, why not? I am, admittedly, not good at settling for lowest common denominator.
 
Judith Browning
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Why anyone here would devolve to carp which is mostly bone,


We had neighbors once who talked about canning carp from the river "back in the old days" and they said that you could eat the bones also. I assumed they pressure cooked it all and that it was done in metal cans not jars, but I couldn't say for sure. Probably a bit like canned salmon, bones and all, not my favorite but supposed to be good for us I'm guessing that it was done during poor times here as a way to get through the winter with some diversity.


EDIT...Dan G. I should have read more in this thread first...I think you explain the method that my neighbors must have used. In our river you could sit in a boat and 'snag' a huge carp that was not far below the surface, facing up stream and perfectly still.
 
Pia Jensen
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Judith Browning wrote:
Probably a bit like canned salmon, bones and all, not my favorite but supposed to be good for us I'm guessing that it was done during poor times here as a way to get through the winter with some diversity.


only difference between canned salmon and carp is the thickness of the filet... and flavor, I'm going to presume. Great point about what point people decide to go to that place. Uruguay has a solid diversity in meat types for daily diet. Here, if I had to set up a full protein producing cycle, I'd start with azolla... If I lived somewhere else where meat diversity did not exist, but I had access to sourcing diversity, I'd start with azolla... if that access did not exist, I'd start with azolla... (yeah, sounds religious..)
 
Kyrt Ryder
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I've had canned carp, and carp soup, and carp sauce.

It's all incredibly good if done right. As with most foods the preparation is a bigger component of the final product than the source material as far as flavor goes.

As for your Azolla thing... it doesn't sound very diverse at all One big Azolla virus sweeps through your systems and the foundation of the whole setup crumbles beneath it.

My objective is a diverse food supply, enough to eat a large filter feeder fish [not that small filter feeders like minnows can't be used in the same way as carp, but they're a LOT more work to catch] once or twice a week, amidst eggs, duck meat, beef, sheep, pork and rabbit.
 
Pia Jensen
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:

As for your Azolla thing... it doesn't sound very diverse at all One big Azolla virus sweeps through your systems and the foundation of the whole setup crumbles beneath it.



my azolla thing is actually a thing used by many people around the world. and, in the five or six years since I've known about, seen it, and learned from others is that it is an easily stabilized ecosystem. Never heard of anyone's system collapsing. Growing carp may be your thing, surely not mine as I seek greater diversity and whole system supporting functionality.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Pia Jensen wrote:Growing carp may be your thing, surely not mine as I seek greater diversity and whole system supporting functionality.

Growing Carp certainly isn't 'my thing,' it's one of many things I wish to do, one of numerous components.

I have two separate diverse 'system support structures.' One is the soil biota, fueling the growth of terrestrial vegetation. and the other is all the locally adapted phyto and zooplankton that make up the water biota in my region.

You have... Azolla. Which granted is a great plant, grows like a weed, fixes nitrogen and is high in protein... but it's still just a single element.
 
Pia Jensen
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Azolla is just one element. And I did not realize you already had great diversity. I still stand by azolla - it is helping to change food dynamics in some communities. And, I don't even have azolla, yet! It is where I will begin when I get around to preparing to keep chickens.
 
Alder Burns
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I had azolla in Georgia, and yes it did collapse after a few "flushes" where it covered the surface of the cistern I was growing it in and I skimmed most of it off, only to have it grow back in a few days. Then suddenly and mysteriously it all turned purplish and quit growing. Research turned up the tidbit that it is actually quite hungry after phosphorus, and good continuous yields almost require some form of phosphorus supplementation. Otherwise it turns purple and quits. I had filled the cistern with creek water and probably the azolla simply used up the phosphate that was in it. I tried adding bonemeal and even detergent to the water to try to add some, but it never came back as vigorously as before. Eventually I gave up with it.
 
Pia Jensen
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Alder Burns wrote:I had azolla in Georgia, and yes it did collapse after a few "flushes" where it covered the surface of the cistern I was growing it in and I skimmed most of it off, only to have it grow back in a few days. Then suddenly and mysteriously it all turned purplish and quit growing. Research turned up the tidbit that it is actually quite hungry after phosphorus, and good continuous yields almost require some form of phosphorus supplementation. Otherwise it turns purple and quits. I had filled the cistern with creek water and probably the azolla simply used up the phosphate that was in it. I tried adding bonemeal and even detergent to the water to try to add some, but it never came back as vigorously as before. Eventually I gave up with it.


Phosphorus is definitely a limiting factor. azolla phosphorus science

It seems different types of azolla are more affected than others by phosphorus. Sunlight can also cause problems. The projects I know have their azolla in shade and either add manure from the chicken pen to the water, or grow fish and crawdads or shrimp in the tank or pond also. Azolla seems to do well in a "supportive" community supplying and using "energy."
 
John Master
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is there an easy way developed to catch a lot of these Asian carp at once? I think carp composted would give great soil fertility and turn up more nutritious veggies in the future.
 
duane hennon
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these are normal carp
but maybe throwing bread at them would work

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBMcMlXvpAU



 
John Master
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That's about the best use of white bread I have ever seen I have a friend who was on a boat bowfishing for the flying Asian carp. pretty cool video, they fly out of the water about 5 feet or so.
 
Randy Tipton
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Here's a study out of the Philippines:

http://pubs.iclarm.net/Naga/na_2359.pdf

Integrating Fish and Azolla into rice-duck farming.
 
Jill Older
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Although the carp will grow well, breed well it can cause a whole lot of other issues. It is my understanding the part of the permaculture idea is to grow/produce what is native to an area. Asian Carp is not.

Do not feed any critter something that you would not eat yourself. The idea is to breed something that is good for you. Dog food is not.

My suggestion is to find out what is local in your ecosystem. The find out if you are "allowed" to breed it. Often by-laws will not allow you to catch & breed but you are usually "allowed" to raised fingerlings for food from a certified supplier.
 
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