Having more fish is your diet has become more common and popular in America in recent years, but aquaculture farming, which is the raising of fish and other crops that thrive in water—has been around for many centuries. In China, residents have been using aquaculture since around 2500 BC, when they first realized they could hold fish in the artificial lakes that formed after a river had flooded. And it has continued to be a mainstay of sustainability, even as far back as a thousand years, the Hawaiian people were practicing aquaculture by as well by constructing their own fish ponds.
With a history like that it is hard to believe that most Americans wouldn’t even be able to tell you what aquaculture is. The truth is in contrast to the more traditional forms of agriculture the “waters” are highly untested. Aquaculture remains a relatively new field, meaning it is not only a creative way to prepare your own emergency essentials, it is a discreet one as well.
Getting Started – Gather your Supplies
Start-up and supplies that needed to begin an aquaponic set up are not much different than what you need to start a simple in home fish tank, just think on a larger scale. Most people use ponds where a water source can flow in easily, however it is entirely possible to raise many fish in tanks if your space does not allow for a full-size pond. Tanks also allow you to easily separate fish that may not coexist peacefully. Here is a list of the startup supplies you will need to begin your own aquaculture feature in your yard.
- A pond or large fish tank(s) where water can be easily filtered
- Water Source
- Fish for stock
- Aeration device or pump
- Fish food
- PH tester
Common Aquaculture Fish
SHRIMP – Most small producers work with freshwater shrimp. You can grow a large amount in a small area, and they are a popular food to boot. If it truly is TEOTWAWKI, it will feel a lot less hopeless with a shrimp cocktail in your hands, I can assure you that.
CATFISH – Catfish is a common fish to farm, as it provides a lot of good fish for eating and is relatively easy to raise. They can grow to be quite large and require a sizeable area in which to live. Catfish, like shrimp, is very popular, in fact, it is the biggest US seafood crop.
TROUT – Trout are also common since they are easy to raise and produce a tasty meal most everyone in the family loves. Trout are very fast growing, reaching maturity in about 6 months or so. They will jump out of the tank so you need a cover for your set-up. They do not like warm water, so trout are very suitable for a chillier climate. Like catfish, trout is popular, and if you are farming fish for profit, you might not see a huge return on these fish. However, for preppers, these easy to raise and tasty fish are perfect for being prepared in potential disaster situations.
TILAPIA – Tilapia is a common fish that has grown in culinary popularity over the last few years. They are a tasty, crowd-pleasing fish and are adaptable to many living environments, making them a natural fit for aquaculture farms. In addition, tilapia are mostly vegetarian, meaning you can grow your own food for them saving you even more money.
Temperature & Environment
The biggest threat to any aquaculture set up is its environment. Just like in real freshwater situations, your crop is as the whim of Mother Nature. Fish and shrimp are cold-blooded, and thus completely dependent on outside temperature to dictate their survival.
There are different categories of fish based on the temperature that is appropriate for their survival. Based on where you live you and what time of year it is you will choose between tropical, warm, cool and cold water varieties.
Still, cold snaps and hot spells can have a devastating effect on your pond life. As an aquaculturist, you must be prepared to move or cover your fish as needed, or face losing valuable crops as a result.
Challenges of Aquaculture
One major challenge of aquaculture is finding knowledgeable assistance in such a new field. In addition for the same reason, it can be hard to find stock and supplies in a limited market. Nonetheless, with the rise in popularity, it will likely only be a matter of time before the resources become more readily available.
Ordinarily there are very few diseases that apply to fish, and when they do contract disease it is usually due to poor care.
While there are very few backyard predators that can cause risk to your crop, you should be mindful of stress on your fish. While birds, raccoons and neighborhood cats are often very curious about backyard set ups, they usually do not cause enough problems to jeopardize the harvest. IF you are growing freshwater prawns, however, be careful as they can stress easily and turn violent to each other.
Lack of oxygen, as well as a poor pH balance, can also cause fish to perish prematurely. Test your water regularly and be sure that you aeration system is functioning to ensure your fish stay healthy and alive.
Aquaponics takes aquaculture one step further by incorporating a hydroponic growing element to the cycle. Aquaponics is a revolutionary way to grow your own prepper food supplies, and in small spaces you will find it is the most productive form of growing food on the planet. Aquaponics works like a living machine. It is a self-sufficient ecosystem, a collection of plants and animals that function together, creating food without waste or pollution. The water used to support the life of your fish and animal crops can be cycled through to provide water to the plants in your system. Hydroponic plants grow without soil, therefore, they get all their nutrients from the water. In an aquaponic setup, the plants benefit from the animal waste in the water, providing important food for your crops, in a convenient and efficient way.
Aquaculture may not be the first thing that comes to you mind when you are planning to become self-sufficient or preparing to live off the grid, but perhaps it probably should be. It is an efficient and successful way to provide food for your family that is healthy and fresh, as well as great for freezing for long-term storage. It can also be a great family hobby and fun for the kids, who love to watch the fish grow. Aquaculture has more than enough benefits to warrant consideration in adding it to your homestead or garden and allow you to create a new way to provide food for you and your family.