Shooting fish in a barrel

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

OK, not really. Rather, raising fish in my former horse trough until they are big enough to eat, then harvesting them the easy way, cleaning them, & putting them in the freezer to feast on during the winter. I read in Farm Show about people doing this with catfish. I love catfish. Trouble is, I cannot find anyplace in AZ where I can buy catfish fingerlings, or anyplace in the country who will ship them to Arizona. I did find a source for tilapia, but the only time I ate tilapia was several years ago and I hated it. Too bony. Maybe it's better if you grow your own, like catfish, or corn, or tomatoes?

If any of you are raising your own fish, and can help me find a source for fingerlings, please let me know!

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Fish and game? Who is it that stocks the lakes in AZ?
You might try White Bear over on Greenhouse... he's raising tilapia and may know some sources.

And if they won't ship to AZ, well.... time for a road trip? =0)

How big is your stock tank?

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

I didn't think of calling Fish & Game, who raise & stock the lakes with trout, they might know how I can get some catfish fingerlings. They probably have jurisdiction over what fish can be brought in, anyway. Thanks for the suggestion. I read the Greenhouse forum and will check with White Bear -- if I knew he was raising tilapia I forgot. I'll bet he can tell me how they taste, too.

I think the restrictions on shipping to AZ may have more to do with FedEx/UPS/USPS than AZ F&G, but don't know for sure. There are supposedly two raisers/sellers of cafish down around Maricopa, but both of their phone numbers have been disconnected!

My largest stock tank is 300 gallons, big enough for 100 catfish, so I am told. I aready have a 12V pump to aerate it.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Sounds like an idea worth investigating. My folks had a stream fed pond at their summer cottage. Every spring when they came up out of the Florida heat, my step-father would buy trout fingerlings, about 7-9". He fed them fish pellets every evening and they always came to the edge of the pond to munch when he showed up. In September, he'd fish them out, and clean them. My mother froze them in blocks of water, and when thawed they were like fresh fish, not frozen fish.

My problem with farm fish is that only 3 national companies (like Purina) make fish food pellets, and there is (or has been) evidence of mercury in the feed. I have read that some areas have local feed producers, which might mitigate the mercury hazard. Hard to tell anymore whom to trust.

Talapia were first imported to clean the muck and debris out of the bottom of catfish ponds. Now they sell talapia. I won't eat them, or most farm fish. Too bad, because I love fish! I have thought about trying to raise a few trout in my spring overflow pond but haven't really investigated it, nor feed for them if I did try...

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Catfish are bottom feeding scavengers. They like anything that stinks. We feed all our meat scraps to the snapping turtles in the creek. I would think you could feed catfish the same way. You can also feed them corn.

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

Yeah, I thought if/when I kill a chicken I can feed the catfish all the entrails etc. (So far I haven't been able to bring myself to kill a chicken, even a non-laying freeloader.) I thought I'd feed them dry fish-flavored cat food, too, that is if there is no mercury in it! That is what I used to feed my goldfish & koi, after seeing the employees of the San Jose Japanese Gardens driving around the lagoons, throwing cat food in for the koi. You'd have thought they were piranha, they had such a feeding frenzy. Meanwhile, I have heard that tilapia are vegetarians and will happily live on grass clippings, weeds, etc.

If and when I get any fish to raise, freezing them in blocks of water sounds like a great idea. I have heard that about fresh picked green beans, too.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Good to know about the catfood for my goldfish!

I've done a liitle reading on raising fish and/or shrimp for food. But, I already have too many irons in the fire and this isn't really something we could do until we are able to stay home year round.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Then you can get a milk cow too! LOL

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

We're working our way up, size-wise. So far chickens, rabbits and goats. LOL!

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Sure, that makes sense...
the automatic feeders are smaller and cheaper! LOL

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

Robin, I kept a "mano" by my fishpond and mashed the dry cat food into teensy pieces, like you'd use a rolling pin. It floated so the fish came up to the surface to eat it, and I even trained them to do that when I gently knocked two rocks together to make the "come to dinner" sound. But when I confessed that that is what I did, on the fishpond forum, let's just say that my remarks were not well received. Of course when I lived in CA (30 years ago) baby koi were pretty cheap. Since then I have looked up the price of koi on google, and I guess if you are paying hundreds or thousands of $$ for koi, you probably do not want to feed them something as prosaic as Friskies' finest. But hey, catfish?? Don't they eat garbage anyway?

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Well, I'm not too concerned about all that, as long as they like it and it doesn't adversely affect them. Mine are all just 39 cent goldfish, except for a few fantails that I paid $1.89, that I bought at Walmart. I did pick them out though with markings and colors similar to Koi.

Eugene, OR

Sorry to be late to the party...I am new here.

I came across this place during my search for catfish fingerlings. So far this site ( ) seems to be able to ship overnight almost anywhere. As with so many things it seems only to be a matter of money. If you find anything else, I would love to know.

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

Thanks for the link! I hadn't seen that site and it is good to know where different kinds of fish are available. I ordered 100 3-4" catfish fingerlings from a hatchery in southern AZ, Brown's Fish Farm, don't know whether they ship out of state. First I had to get a "transport" license from AZ F&G, and fax it to the hatchery so it can travel with the fish. The hatchery called and said they couldn't get 3-4" fish so are sending me 4-6" fish for the same price. They were promised last Thursday, but they called again and said it would be this coming Thursday. By the time they get here they should be big enough to eat! LOL

Meanwhile I've been working on the filter/aeration system for my tank, and am having problems with producing enough electricity to run a 12Vdc pump for more than 2 or 3 hours. Yesterday I connected an 85W solar panel array, and bought a check valve. I hope to get it running today but of course it is cloudy today! I am in a hurry because I will soon be leaving home for a week and will have to keep it running while I am gone, or disconnect it entirely and hope for the best. I also bought an automatic feeder, it arrived yesterday and I haven't hooked it up yet.

I wonder if I would still need the AZ F&G license if I ordered from Stillwater Aquafarms. Probably!

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

The check valve works, keeps the pump primed. Tried connecting the 85W panels to 3 deep-draft batteries yesterday, and the pump worked great for about 6 hours, then the batteries started to go below 12 volts. This morning I hooked the pump directly to the solar panels, and voila, it works great and will until the panels are in the shade, about 4 pm. That will work out fine for me, because what I am trying to do is have an aeration/filter system that will run by itself for the week I am gone (next week). This way it will run from 8 am to 4 pm and then turn itself off for the night, then back on at 8 am next day. Should be okay for a week, anyway, better than nothing. Of course when I walk in front of the panels it turns off, too! (I won't do that anymore, LOL.) I finally figured out how the automatic feeder works, need it for next week too. Looks like you can only set it for one feeding a day, and it dribbles the food out for the next 5 hours. I set it for noon today to see if it works okay. Then I don't know whether it turns itself on again at 6 pm, midnight, and 6 in the morning, or if that one setting is really all there is, and will it start at noon tomorrow? The catfish may be really hungry when I get back. If they are still alive at all. Apparently you are supposed to get the good bacteria & green algae growing before you put the fish in, and I should have started a month ago, but didn't know whether I'd ever get any catfish at that time. My DIL is bringing me some plants & fishpond sludge from her fishpond and I have put about a cup of aged horse manure in the water too. The fish are supposed to arrive this Thursday.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Sounds like you got all the details worked out. Anxious to hear more about your solar powered pump works. Need something like that for our fish pond when we are out of town for a few months. We only have gold fish in our garden pond.

Asheville, NC(Zone 7a)

You could go catch some out of the lakes and rivers and put them in a bucket or cooler full of water and bring them home or if you have a boat bring them home in the livewell this always worked for me when I want fish in my creek pond I always pond in up sometimes a around pond sometimes all the way across with rocks and clear plastic to seal it. The pond always gets about 3 foot deep. I also have pet ducks that use the pond. When the creek gets up it washes the pond away it breaks a hole in it. I have put carp bass bream crappie perch trout in there sometimes.

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

How novel, bringing live fish home, LOL ! Must be nice!

Arizona Game & Fish absolutely prohibits the transport of live fish without a permit. You can't bring live crawdads home at all. All fish & crawdads must be dead, dead, dead before you put them in your cooler.

Do your ducks eat your fish? Or do they all coexist happily?

Asheville, NC(Zone 7a)

They might sometimes eat little hog suckers or minows.

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

Picked up the catfish in Holbrook yesterday, and the driver gave me some oxygen "pills" and put half of them in the tub I had brought, with the fish. The catfish looked great and he was sure they'd be okay by the time I got home, which normally takes an hour. Unfortunately, I made another stop on the way home so the trip took 2 hours. (MY BAD!) When I started home, several of the fish were already gulping for air. I put in the rest of the oxygen pills and half a bag of the ice I had bought, and hoped for the best. By the time I got home I had put the rest of the ice in the tub, but it looked like about half of the fish were terribly distressed. I raced home over the dirt & rock roads, sloshing water all over the place. When I got home I put the fish into my tank a bucketful at a time. Found 3 little fish that had sloshed out in the car and looked dead. By the time I got them all in the tank, the "dead" ones had revived and they and all the others swam to the bottom of the tank and are laying low, probably afraid that somebody might yank them out into the air again. Anyway, no dead ones floating, so I assume they are all alive in there. Can't see them because the water is still murky from my emptying & refilling the tank 2 days ago.

The homemade aerator system seems to be working well but today it is cloudy so it is slow. I am going to town today and will look for a VAC bubbler I can just plug into my household electricity and use a timer to run it only at night, since the solar aerator system only works during the day.

I felt so sorry for those little fish on the trip home. I suppose now that they are my "babies", when the time comes to catch & eat them, I won't be able to!

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