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.
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?