We no longer operate the aquaponics operation but are leaving the information up for others that may be interested in starting their own operation.
What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines conventional aquaculture, (at ZuniBee Farms we raise blue tilapia and channel catfish in tanks), with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.
Aquaponics is a synergistic growing operation in which fish and plants are grown together in the same systems. The fish waste is converted to Nitrates though the nitrogen cycle and feeds the growing plants. The plants, in turn, clean and filter the water that returns to the fish tanks.
BLUE TILAPIA (Oreochromis aureus) Flickr / Michael Rupert Hayes (commons.wikimedia.org)
ZuniBee Farms raises Blue Tilapia because they grow fast (second only to Niles), produce excellent tasting white flaky meat with a mild flavor, and are considered excellent eating. Blue tilapia tolerate water temperatures much colder than many other tilapia strains. They can tolerate short periods of extremely low water temperatures as adults (down to 45 degrees F) which works for us because Virginia winters get pretty cold and our fish house has to be heated during the winter.
Tilapia are one of the most environmentally friendly fish to farm. They are herbivores, so they don’t require the mass amounts of fish byproduct that carnivores do. In addition, they can be farmed in large tanks rather than outdoor pools, making them much more accessible for aquaculture.
ZuniBee Farms uses food grade IBC totes to provide over 1000 gallons of fish growing tanks.
Tilapia’s bad reputation of being high in omega-6 fatty acids and lower in the good omega-3 is due to farmers feeding them corn, which contributes to a high level of short-chain omega-6 fatty acids and low levels of omega-3 fatty acids (the essential nutrient that is an important reason that dieticians recommend eating fish). Tilapia is a very healthy fish if fed a diet of plants, or high protein fish food. Tilapia have the lowest levels of mercury (if any), is low in saturated fat, calories, carbohydrates and sodium, and is a good protein source. It also contains the micronutrients, phosphorus, niacin, selenium, vitamin b12, and potassium.
We feed only high quality feeds with no corn coupled with high protein duckweed. Our Blue Tilapia are GMO and hormone FREE!