Our hatchery services program
If you're thinking about getting into commercial aquaculture and you're baffled at how anyone can be profitable while paying for individual fingerlings, we'll let you in on a little secret. Smart commercial tilapia farmers don't buy fingerlings at retail. Of course you might think that they just keep their own breeding colonies and hatch their tilapia from eggs, but that isn't always the case. In fact, the most profitable tilapia farmers get an unlimited supply of our Food Grade Tilapia® fingerlings delivered to their farm whenever they want. They never have to worry about the number of fish that they need to hatch or the money that they'll waste by feeding the 70 percent of inferior tilapia received by buying in bulk. Their secret is Lakeway Tilapia's hatchery services.
For a very affordable monthly rate we will care for dedicated breeding colonies that work exclusively for your farm. It's like having your own remote hatchery managed by industry experts. All of the fingerlings produced belong to you. We will grade your fingerlings according to your preferences and then hold on to them until you're ready for them; up to 30 grams each.
If you've ever operated your own hatchery then you already know the value of our services. You simply cannot do this in-house for less than we can do it for you in our hatchery. Additionally, our fingerling production rate will more than likely be much higher due to the dedicated nature of our operation and the expertise of our people.
The problems of buying in bulk
New commercial tilapia farmers soon realize that the process of breeding tilapia, hatching eggs and culling the fingerlings by their rate of growth is a huge undertaking that costs more in time, money and frustration than they ever anticipated. The traditional solution has been to purchase tilapia fry in bulk. Hatcheries that sell in this fashion typically weigh out around 950 grams (two pounds) of tilapia fingerlings per box and ship them for a total cost of around $500. They estimate that 950 grams equals between 1,200 and 1,700 individual fish, so each one weighs between .56 and .79 grams, fair enough, but there are a couple of hidden problems. The first problem lies with the fact that these are not fingerlings, they are fry. Tilapia don't become fingerlings until some very specific developmental conditions are met and most notably, they weigh about 1 gram each. For more information about this, touch or click this link to visit our page about tilapia fingerlings.
The second problem has to do with the high mortality rate of tilapia fry. When a tilapia first hatches it swims around with its yolk sack still attached. This provides the tiny fry with all of the nutrients that it needs. At this stage the baby tilapia doesn't even have a proper digestive system. If anything interferes with its development the fry will die. Even after the fry has the ability to eat food it can still swallow something that doesn't digest properly killing it within a few hours. In an aquarium environment, without any predators, about 15 percent of tilapia fry will die in the process of development. So that 1,200 to 1,700 fry originally purchased in bulk now drops to around 1,020 to 1,445 fry for the same $500.
The third problem has to do with the fact that the fry sold in bulk have not been culled for their rate of growth. This topic can fill an entire page, so instead of repeating it here we'll encourage you to touch or click here to visit our page on fingerling grading. In a nutshell, only 30 percent of tilapia fingerlings will reach a harvestable size during their 240 day period of accelerated growth; the rest are considered inferior and discarded during their first culling as fingerlings. If not removed from the system, the 70% of slower-growing tilapia will occupy the grow-out and drive up food consumption until they cost more to raise than the farmer can get for them wholesale. Assuming that the farmer performs a culling to remove the inferior fingerlings when they are the appropriate size, the original order of bulk fingerlings drops to between 306 and 434 of useable fingerlings, again for the original $500 paid. That's an effective price of between $1.15 and $1.63 per fingerling. One heck of a jump for the same fish that started out between 29¢ and 49¢ each.
The benefits of our hatchery services program
Free tilapia fingerlings
As our hatchery services customer we will raise an unlimited number of fingerlings on your behalf using breeding colonies that work exclusively for your farm. If you need more fingerlings, we'll enlist additional colonies until your needs are met.
Free fingerling grading
You can't make money if more than half of your tilapia are undersized at harvest time. But this disaster can be avoided completely by having us grade your fingerlings according to their individual rate of growth, and only shipping the fastest growing fingerlings to you. Click or touch here for more information about fingerling grading.
Predominantly-male fingerlings available
We can deliver predominantly-male fingerlings, without the use of any masculinizing hormones. To understand how this may be of benefit to your tilapia farming operation, touch or click here and read our page about all-male tilapia fingerlings.
You choose the delivery date
We will continue to raise your fingerlings up to 30 grams each. This gives you ample opportunity to decide on a delivery date that works for you. So if you need to hold off until you rotate your stock into a larger pond or until after your next harvest, we're happy for the opportunity to help.
Less expensive than doing it yourself
It simply wouldn't make sense for us to provide this service if it wasn't going to be cheaper than doing it yourself. Just like everyone else, we started out doing things the expensive way and over time we figured out how to use physics and energy to our advantage. Wherever possible we take advantage of gravity and solar energy. We use the heat from dehumidifiers to warm our hatchery water while they remove moisture from the air, reducing maintenance costs. Our hatcheries are insulated to a value of between R-15 and R-60 to further save on energy. To top it all off our local electric rate is under $1 per kWh, which is among the lowest in the nation.
In addition to saving on energy, we streamline the work process to ensure that there are no overlaps and very little wasted skill. Each one of our hatchery techs follows their own step by step procedures managed by a biologist.
Most of all, in the hatchery business the bigger that you get the lower the cost to raise each fish becomes. We buy tilapia feed in bulk at a discount that reflects the needs of all of our customers, not just one. We save money by mixing our own water treatment chemicals, rather than buying gallon jugs at retail. The list goes on, but you get the point. Even if you copied us exactly, without the volume that we produce you will always have greater operating expenses.
No set-up fees
We're already here, set-up and ready to go. It seems a little pretentious to charge set-up or service initiation fees so we don't.
No contracts or commitments
There is an initial three month minimum service period, but after of that you can continue your service on a month-to-month basis.
Hatched at the same time
In certain farming situations, such as aquaculture tubs, it's convenient to have fingerlings that are the same age so that they can be kept together as they are rotated to the next tub or pond. Additional service fees may apply depending on the number of fingerlings required.
About our prices
Our hatchery services cost $250 per month / per breeding colony. The number of breeding colonies needed is determined by the number and grade of the fingerlings required. Alternative pricing based on the number of fingerlings or fry delivered is also available and generally runs between 9 and 42 cents per fingerling. Hatchery services are billed quarterly in advance. The initial minimum term is three months.
Example One - Ten thousand Food Grade fingerlings per month
To produce 10,000 Food Grade fingerlings we have to hatch about 39,000 eggs. We determine, based on several factors such as the species and size, that we will start with 14 breeding colonies. The first three months of service are $10,500. A surplus is produced and it is decided that 12 breeding colonies can get the job done. The price drops to $3000 per month. This is an effective price of 30 cents per fingerling.
Example Two - Everything produced from five breeding colonies
In this example, the farm wants to grade their own fingerlings, so they have asked that every fry produced be shipped. Each month, approximately 14,000 fry are sent to the farm. The monthly cost of our hatchery services is $1250, making the effective price of each fry about 9 cents.
Shipping your tilapia fingerlings
Due to the wide range of possibilities, all shipping decisions are made and paid by the customer. Shipping is not included in the price of our hatchery services. Of course, we ship thousands of fingerlings each week from our retail hatchery, so we are more than qualified to suggest the most cost effective methods for you.