Aquaponics 101 – The Hatchery, early days.

With my home system fully cycled and (save for a few hiccups) working well, and two other large systems (30m tunnels, 34000L of water) about to be started. the need now arises to provide ourselves with Tilapia fry (fingerlings). We could just buy them from other hatcheries, but at around R2 each, this really puts pressure on the margins.

The answer is thus to establish a small hatchery to supply me and my clients with fingerlings. The first step was to find a piece of suitable land with as much infrastructure already present. This land I found a month or two ago when assisting a local farmer in the planning stages. It consists of about 2000sq/m of sloping land, a 9m diameter dam, and 4 old concrete water tanks. I stocked the dam with the fingerlings that I bought, and have subsequently also stocked it with about 140 red male Tilapia.

This is what the site looks like.


And looking back at the tanks. You can also see a cellphone tower. This is good because it means that Eskom (spit) have a transformer there, and I can probably apply fora small electricity service from this point.


I am going to use the slope of the land to my best advantage, because as they say, “gravity is free.” I am also going to use aquaponic principles to filter my water because it is far cheaper than installing expensive, bio, UV, solid and foam fractionating, filters.


I have flattened the land and cleared the weeds and fynbos out, and then mowed the grass to get it started. We had some rain the night before last, so the grass is starting to grow nicely.

My plan is to have 5 levels (from highest to lowest).

  • The 4 tanks at the top
  • Gravel grow beds at the existing grass level.
  • The dam.
  • More grow beds at about the level of the floor of the dam.
  • A sump, right at the bottom of the plot.

A pump will pump water up to the 4 tanks.
The water will flow by gravity through the top grow beds into the dam.
The dam will overflow onto the lower level grow beds into the sump.
I will put two homemade solid filters after each level of grow beds.

The idea is that the dam will produce 1000’s of fingerlings. I will scoop these out regularly and move to the first concrete tank, and then move them to the next tank as they grow. At any one time I should then have 4 different size fingerlings for sale or own use. The grow beds will have to be under shade cloth to keep them out of direct sun and protect the plants from birds and bugs. Another problem I have here, is that there are a few troops of baboons which cause havoc with crops, especially fruit, so I will have to plan the crops I grow very carefully.



I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars, and then I squandered the rest.

George Best, Manchester United.


One Response

  1. Well, I reckon you will not lose half as many fish to the Baboons as you will to the local, indiginous,previously disadvantaged, non white,population, who …. according to one of their own ….Think like a bunch of Kaff*rs…. !!

    Haha !!

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