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Buffalo fish pond alternative to carp?

 
Christine Wolf
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Hello. First post. So I've been trying to learn all the possible fish i could stock a pond with and what would be most appropriate for north Idaho. I don't have a pond yet, just trying to figure if i want one as one of the ways i can provide meat for myself. Its too cold for Tilapia but I was getting really exited about the idea of carp. What I like about them is that they cane eat a more veggie diet and i can through them scraps, food efficiency is very important. But the i learned that they are very bony. While doing research for an alternative i read that some people farmed Ictiobus/buffalo fish. But I cant find much info on it. I hear they are similar to carp in that they are omnivores but taste better, less bony and live in the north. Anyone tried raising them in a home pond? Are there any other alternatives I should look at?
 
Alice Tagloff
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fish farming even for recreational use can be regulated by your local government, so you'll need to do a bit more research about that. sometimes it comes with required liscensing and a limited list of the types of fish you can stock.
as for carp i wouldnt recommend them. they are bony, almost plated inside for some breeds and the taste is nothing to write home about. they are also really invasive in most cases especially if the get out into the wild.

posted via mobile, forgive typos and formating
 
Christine Wolf
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Thanks alice. I will deff do that. I am still interested in any experience anyone has on this fish. This site says stocking rates have been reported at 1,200 lb per acre and it grows far. But i never hear backyard ponders talk about this fish.
http://www.iowadnr.gov/idnr/Fishing/Iowa-Fish-Species/Fish-Details/SpeciesCode/BGB

Wikipedia says its comonly commercially grown though

I feel that catfish wont grow very fast in the short amount of time that idahos summers are hot and there nights cool down quite a bit so the water wont get as hot as it would in the midwest eccept maybe at the peek of summer for a couple weeks.
 
steve bossie
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we have bullhead catfish up here and I've seen some reach a couple pounds. they're tough as nails and can survive in low temps w/ low oxygen. i got to believe if you fed them they would get even bigger. also channel cats are a cold tolerant cat that survives into central manitoba in the red river. they get bigger than the bullheads. brown trout are pretty tough and get big. check your state regs first as mentioned by others as not all fish are allowed.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Bull heads can stir up so much mud that even weeds can't get enough light to grow on the bottom, but that could be just a local problem. We have deep clay subsoils here. We used to have a pond that looked red from the clay. They seem to have more head and guts per pound than most fish.

Channel cats are great here. They grow fast and taste great. They don't dig up the mud like bull heads.
If it was cool enough here, I'd have trout. I know the feed is expensive, but I'd grow what I like to eat. You could grow trout in a cage in the pond and channel cats in the rest of the pond.
 
Alice Tagloff
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Looks like's it's a regulated issue in Idaho.

http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=177

The state website doesn't look to bad for navigation or understanding, but it's regulated, inspections & permits are required. But your lucky, the permits are 5-years and free(for now).
They don't have an official list of approved species, because apparently it changes and you have to talk to someone about that. However, because of disease and the risk of crossbreeding, it looks like you might not be able to breed your own trout.
There is good news however, Idaho, with a license, appears to allow you to source your own fish from local, approved, waters. That means you don't necessarily have to buy the fish you intend to stock your pond with.

Apparently, Aquaculture(fish farming) is a major business in Idaho.
___
The Google-fu is strong with this one.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Any chance you could apply your google-fu to finding sources of Buffalo Fish Fingerlings?

Mine is failing me.
 
Christine Wolf
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Ive sent an email to F&G so we will see what they say.

With cats im not worried about if they can servive the cold in idaho, im pretty sure they will just fine. Its about how fast they would grow in cooler summers. Ive heard they only grow in warmer temps and the cooler it is the slower they grow. I dont want to airate my pond if i can find a fish that doesnt need it so not sure about trout. My goale is to have quality meat in a way that will be cheaper in the long run than buying it.
 
Jay Grace
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What about bream? They breed like rabbits. You can catch a few big slabs with a rod and reel in the spring and by next year your pond will be so full people would think you were raising piranhas.
Kitchen scraps, old bread, anything of that nature would be easy feed for them.
 
Christine Wolf
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Hi Jay. That might work. What are the biggest breem species? Breem are like sunfish right? I remember sunfish being kinda small but they were one of my favorite tasting.
 
Christine Wolf
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On 2nd thought, i just read they take 3 years to get half a pound. i think the cats would have a better growth rate even in idaho water
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Christine Wolf wrote:On 2nd thought, i just read they take 3 years to get half a pound. i think the cats would have a better growth rate even in idaho water

While this may be true, in part it depends on their breeding efficiency and feed conversion rate. If these things convert what food they do consume well and do a good job of reproducing themselves, in the long run does it matter if you're mostly harvesting plate-sized fish?

It does suck that you'd have to delay your initial harvest so long though. Maybe indoor tilapia or catfish tank acquaculture would make a good stopgap between stocking and the begin of harvesting?

I'm still trying to find a place that sells the Buffalo Fish, not having any luck thus far.
 
Christine Wolf
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Me neither. The one sit said buffalo grow 5" the 1st year, another said they grow 3 lb in 2 years, are the cheepest fish to grow and are commonly raised with catfish. They can live in oxygen depleated water. I keep hearing that they are one of the most important commercial fish becaus of their fast, easy, cheap production. But i cant find anyone growing them in their backyard or much detail on it
 
Christine Wolf
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Do you know how many pounds per acre breem produce?
 
Christine Wolf
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I just started reading this which gives some detail
http://www2.ca.uky.edu/wkrec/BigmouthBuffalo.pdf
 
Kyrt Ryder
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We can't be the only ones who want in on this fish >_<
 
Alice Tagloff
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None of the state inspected hatcheries are breeding buffalo fish.
These are the fish the state run hatcheries are breeding.


Trout
◾Rainbow
◾Steelhead
◾Cutthroat
◾Brown
◾Bull
◾Lake
◾Brook

Salmon
◾Kokanee
◾Coho
◾Chinook

Bass
◾Smallmouth
◾Largemouth


Warmwater
◾Yellow Perch
◾Walleye
◾Bluegill
◾Black Crappie
◾Northern Pike
◾White Sturgeon

http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=84
Is the list of all the official hatcheries, tho there are commercial ones, and I'm having trouble with my Google-fu on those just yet.

http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=85#bullhead
Is the list of the official fish identifications.

However, I think you missed the part that I mentioned at the end of my last post.
Where you buy a liscense from fish and game, and you -catch your own stock-. http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/licenses/fishLiveTransport.pdf
That's right, you go out with whatever equipment they have approved, and -live catch- whatever local species that your pond is approved for, and you can then move them into your pond for raising & breeding. The permit form itself doesn't give an option for Buffalo fish(only bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie), so you'll need to contact your local fishery manager if there are other fish found in your area that you want to stock your pond with.

To help my Google-fu, Buffalo Fish appears to be a 'common' name for the fish, what's the 'official' name of the fish your looking for? Do you mean the Ictiobus /Bigmouth Buffalo Carp? If so, none of the hatcheries are breeding it because it's a native, and naturally prolific fish. If that's actually the case, then you'll have to resort to the live catch/transport option if you can get the inspector to approve your pond for the fish.

Looking at the fish the state is breeding in their hatcheries, I would recommend either of the Whitefish. Most other fish breeds requires moving water, whitefish lay randomly, wherever it seems. A man-made pond should be completely landlocked, and it may be difficult to impossible for a homegrower to get their fish to breed like that. While the Whitefish doesn't get very big, they're not territorial, your pond could be teaming with them. Size doesn't quiet make as much a difference as number, if what your after is just the meat. Whitefish can also be easily bottled for long term storage, or smoked and dried like caplin(A local saltwater favourite). They're basically a slimmer North American equivalent of tilapia(...that's if the whitefish is the same whitefish I'm thinking they are.) and they're entirely catchable via ice-fishing, unlike most other fish that are difficult to catch via ice-fishing.
 
Jay Grace
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when you're looking at text book numbers of pounds fish per acre the numbers you will get will be high input commercialized numbers.

Yes, bream are relatively small, compared to pounds of flesh per fish, but make up for that in numbers.

There are numerous types of bream. Sun bream, long ear bream, shell cracker, war mouth, and pumpkin seed. Well, you get my point.
Regular long ear bream are the most commonly stocked in ponds down here. They get big enough to cover a grown mans hand.
3-5 cooked whole will make a good meal.

Im not to big a fan of catfish especially in muddy ponds as they can take on the flavor of mud.

The big questions are
how big of a pond do you have?
How deep is it?
Where does it get its water from? Only rain? A small year round creek? A seasonal creek?
How many people are you looking to feed? Meals per week?

 
Steve Rivas
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Since you are at the very beginning of your project, I think that you should contact the University of Idaho Agriculture Extension Office. Idaho actually has an Aquaculture Extension Specialist who can guide you through the whole process of starting with your idea and ending with a pond of edible fish.
 
steve bossie
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Alice Tagloff wrote:None of the state inspected hatcheries are breeding buffalo fish.
These are the fish the state run hatcheries are breeding.


Trout
◾Rainbow
◾Steelhead
◾Cutthroat
◾Brown
◾Bull
◾Lake
◾Brook

Salmon
◾Kokanee
◾Coho
◾Chinook

Bass
◾Smallmouth
◾Largemouth


Warmwater
◾Yellow Perch
◾Walleye
◾Bluegill
◾Black Crappie
◾Northern Pike
◾White Sturgeon

http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=84
Is the list of all the official hatcheries, tho there are commercial ones, and I'm having trouble with my Google-fu on those just yet.

http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=85#bullhead
Is the list of the official fish identifications.

However, I think you missed the part that I mentioned at the end of my last post.
Where you buy a liscense from fish and game, and you -catch your own stock-. http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/licenses/fishLiveTransport.pdf
That's right, you go out with whatever equipment they have approved, and -live catch- whatever local species that your pond is approved for, and you can then move them into your pond for raising & breeding. The permit form itself doesn't give an option for Buffalo fish(only bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie), so you'll need to contact your local fishery manager if there are other fish found in your area that you want to stock your pond with.

To help my Google-fu, Buffalo Fish appears to be a 'common' name for the fish, what's the 'official' name of the fish your looking for? Do you mean the Ictiobus /Bigmouth Buffalo Carp? If so, none of the hatcheries are breeding it because it's a native, and naturally prolific fish. If that's actually the case, then you'll have to resort to the live catch/transport option if you can get the inspector to approve your pond for the fish.

Looking at the fish the state is breeding in their hatcheries, I would recommend either of the Whitefish. Most other fish breeds requires moving water, whitefish lay randomly, wherever it seems. A man-made pond should be completely landlocked, and it may be difficult to impossible for a homegrower to get their fish to breed like that. While the Whitefish doesn't get very big, they're not territorial, your pond could be teaming with them. Size doesn't quiet make as much a difference as number, if what your after is just the meat. Whitefish can also be easily bottled for long term storage, or smoked and dried like caplin(A local saltwater favourite). They're basically a slimmer North American equivalent of tilapia(...that's if the whitefish is the same whitefish I'm thinking they are.) and they're entirely catchable via ice-fishing, unlike most other fish that are difficult to catch via ice-fishing.
we have whitefish in maine and they need very cold clean water to survive. also very sensitive to pollution. i don't think they could survive in a pond. they only thrive in clean, cold deep lakes around here. bluegills,crappie and brown trout might be better options as they can take crowding and warmer water in the summer. i still think catfish fed a high quatity pellet would be your best choice. those fish can live in a muddy ditch and thrive!
 
Kyrt Ryder
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I am starting to think Steve B. might be right.

Our best bet might be the Channel Cat route, they'll just take longer to grow out. [One nice thing about fish is that they consume extremely little energy when they go dormant in cold weather, they just downgrade their metabolism and drift along.]

While I have nothing against smaller fish, I certainly don't want to screw with something that would take 3-5 per plate. At that rate I might as well just raise minnows and process them the way I would carp.

Otherwise I want a fish at least large enough for one fish per plate.
 
steve bossie
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:I am starting to think Steve B. might be right.

Our best bet might be the Channel Cat route, they'll just take longer to grow out. [One nice thing about fish is that they consume extremely little energy when they go dormant in cold weather, they just downgrade their metabolism and drift along.]

While I have nothing against smaller fish, I certainly don't want to screw with something that would take 3-5 per plate. At that rate I might as well just raise minnows and process them the way I would carp.

Otherwise I want a fish at least large enough for one fish per plate.
d think if you fed them a well balanced diet you could accomplish much faster growth than you would have in the wild. google farming catfish and theres all kinds of info on it. southerners been doing this for a long time. its big business there. you're right. cats lay in the mud to conserve energy in the winter but they still will feed occasionally. I've caught them ice fishing. they are delicious too!
 
Kyrt Ryder
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steve bossie wrote:southerners been doing this for a long time. its big business there. you're right. cats lay in the mud to conserve energy in the winter but they still will feed occasionally. I've caught them ice fishing.

That's the crux right there. The OP and I don't get the warm water temperatures to get the sort of growth those in the south do. [Even though my winters are similar to a belt in the south.]
 
Jay Grace
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it takes 3-5 catfish to fill me up too! Lol

When the bream are on beds mid summer we catch our limits of 50 per person.
I've done what is called a po' boy crab boil with them.
Scaled and gutted then boiled in crab boil until the meat falls off the bones. Let it cool. Then "shell it" Meat one pile, bones in the trash. Warm it up and serve with lemon and clarified butter!
 
Kyrt Ryder
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That does sound good Jay.

But it doesn't sound like something I'd want to be doing every week lol.
 
Christine Wolf
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Feww just got off work. Ok so i think i understand why people dont comonly grow buffalo fish (by that i mean any Ictiobus, bigmouth or small) They have those "Y" shaped bones like carp that go through the meat but they dont have as much of this as carp i understand. so they are not as bony as carp but still a fuss. The meat tasts good so to many its worth it but some people only take the ribs and leave the backstraps which is where the bones are. I would find that too wasteful. People grow then with catfish as they eat the leftovers that sink without eating the flaoting food the catfish takes so when you get the numbers and ratios right you dont have to add any more food to grow the extra meat.

Jay I dont have a pond or land yet because i am looking for land to buy but in order to know how big of land i need i must know how im going to grow my meat so i need to know if a pond will be more or as efficiant as sheep. Im not interested in eating chicken just caus gutting them sucks more than usual. I want to take up less space as im on a budget and cant aford huge land so if i can have 4-5 acres of sheep and 1-2 acres of fish and feed what might grow into a larg family withought ever buying meat that would br graet.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Do you know the rough region you're going for Christine? Different parts of Idaho have different temperatures, different soils, different precipitation...

As for Poultry vs Fish, honestly I recommend both. At the very least you would benefit from some extra diversity and a recycler species to turn fish waste into protein. [Pigs can do this too.]
 
Christine Wolf
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Steve, yes feeding cats more makes them grow more, uless there not taking as much food becaus its cold. I may go with cats, not sure yet. cant find cool water farm growth rates. most of the growth rates ive beet looking up was for farm fish not wild. In the southish its 14" in 3 years for channal cats.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Common Carp [especially if you can somehow get your hands on the Israeli Breed, I've spent hours searching for it on Google] should grow significantly faster in cooler waters than channel cats, but they produce a LOT of waste, so you will want something to clean up after them.
 
Christine Wolf
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Sandpoint area. I do plan to have birds but for eggs. I plan to have sheep and rabbits as meat for sure. I was hoping i could get more pounds of meat per acre with fish than i would with sheep but im not sure about if i can or not yet. with fish i wouldnt have to use a freezer like i would with sheep becaus they are small enough i could catch just enough for the day so thats the benafit there. Same with rabbits. i would still plan to have some sheep though but i wouldnt need as big a freezer/ as much electricity.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Depending on the breed of sheep might not need a freezer either.

Confit preserves cooked meat in fat [and there is no fat more healthy than grassfed tallow in my book.]

Then there's Charcuterie for preserving some of it.

Lastly, there's the matter of size. There are some small sheep that are pretty a pretty good option for a homestead. Soay and Shetland in particular come to mind. These are typically slaughtered in the vicinity of 40lbs live-weight, resulting in 15-20 pounds of meat.

EDIT: one more thing to add is the seasonal cycles. Traditionally peasants slaughtered their meat animals no earlier than late fall. At that time in Idaho there's plenty of cold to be found. An old broken chest freezer that doesn't run anymore can easily keep the varmints out of your winter meat without electricity.
 
Jay Grace
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I believe you would get way way way more pounds of meat doing sheep. Short of going full on commercial scale fish farm.
But the difference is portion size at harvest.
Example you want fish for dinner. Walk down to the pond and catch 5lbs of meat. You can't really take 5lbs of meat from a sheep. He wouldn't be very happy about that. So you'd have to butcher a whole sheep. Take what you need and preserve the rest.
If you're talking an acre or more of pond you can easily have a multi species pond.
Good combos are
Catfish, bream, and shiners
Crappie, bream, and shiners

Where catfish or crappie would be the top of the food chain.
I've been anti bass in farm ponds for years because they can wreak havoc on the smaller fishes if not vigorously kept in check.

I saw a ratio once on a pond management program to manage for trophy fish.
It was something along the lines of 1000 shiners per acre 100 bream per acre and 50 apex fish per acre bass, crappie, or catfish.

Shiners eat the plankton, bream eat the critters and shiners.
Then the apex fish eat Everything they can fit in their mouths.


When it dries up this coming summer ill be repairing a 1/2 acre pond on my property. It'll be stocked with 20lbs plus of shiners and will be allowed to sit for a year to allow the shiners to breed and have a good size range for the introduced crappie to feed on.
Managing for 18" plus crappie.

Ill be posting picture of its progress.
 
Christine Wolf
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Kyrt, if I slaughter my sheep in fall I dont have to feed them through winter so we deff need to go that rout vs. killing them as needed. But last winter up there in coeur dalene it was pretty warm. Like 30s and 20s, often above freezing. Even though it was mostly freezing ive heard meat wont keep as long in those temps. The fat idea is cool but im not sure where to get all that fat without growing a lot of pigs. Those sheep are lean...
 
Kyrt Ryder
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That's what the freezer is for. You situate it on the north side of the house [zero sun contact except in the peak of summer] and you load the bottom layer with water. Preferably in plastic containers of some kind [with space for expansion.]

The freezer is only opened when the temperature is below freezing, and if anything is added the freezer is left open a while to normalize the temperature of everything to below freezing, thus it always stays below freezing inside the non-operating freezer.

Trust me, where I live my winters tend to have at least half the nights never even get below freezing. This method works even here.

EDIT: as for the fat, I've seen a lot of fat on grass-finished lamb. Certainly nowhere near enough to confit the entire meat yield, but perhaps 20-30% of it is often doable.

Also! The fat builds up over time. Some of it gets absorbed into the meat and consumed, but some is leftover to be applied to the next slaughter season.
 
Christine Wolf
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Thats a good idea with the freezer. Ill try that. Thanks
 
steve bossie
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Christine Wolf wrote:Steve, yes feeding cats more makes them grow more, uless there not taking as much food becaus its cold. I may go with cats, not sure yet. cant find cool water farm growth rates. most of the growth rates ive beet looking up was for farm fish not wild. In the southish its 14" in 3 years for channal cats.
maybe try a mix of brown trout w/ the cats. browns are big eaters and remain active all winter. they are also more pollution and heat tolerant in the summer than other trout species. stock a bunch of fathead minnows as a supplemental food source for them and you're golden! this way you don't put all your eggs in one basket per se
 
Mick Fisch
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As far as preserving meat, I've known people to leave moose quarters hanging for 2 - 4 weeks if the temp was in the mid to high 30's. I think you pay extra for beef hung that long. It's more tender.

If you don't want to refrigerate, then salting, smoking or drying are good options. If you cut up the meat to soup/stew size first, they can dress up a soup/stew real well. Precut, dried meats are a natural for soups or stews because the meat salts the stew and can be cooked long enough to rehydrate and maybe soften the meat.

Cold smoking will generally preserve the meat longer. The type of wood you use makes a big difference in the flavor. In south central alaska, alder was the usual wood, but I didn't enjoy the flavor as much as some of the more southerly woods like oak, hickory or mesquite.
 
Ken W Wilson
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You might want to price feed for different types. Catfish feed used to be cheaper than the other kinds. Also, I believe they convert the feed to meat more efficiently.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Catfish feed is probably cheaper because they're much better about consuming and growing on random stuff you have available.

Catfish [and Common Carp] are kind of like the Pigs of the freshwater world. They'll eat whatever they can get.
 
Christine Wolf
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steve bossie, well i was trying to avoid trout and go for something less carnivorous. But since it may be more efficiant to just rais sheep ill probly skip the fish thing.

As for wood tast, has anyone tried cooking with wild honeysuckl wood? i discovered this camping in MN. it gives it a sweet tast.
 
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