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Ohio Tilapia Culture

While aquaculture is growing in Ohio, tilapia farms are still a minor contributor to the overall state fish production.Ohio Production




For more information, see Ohio Aquaculture Industry Analysis

Some Ohio tilapia farms:

Ripple Rock Fish Farms
6805 Old Stagecoach Road,
Frazeysburg, Ohio, 43822

Sugar Creek Fishery
7799 Sugar Creek Rd
Lima, OH 45801
Phone:(330) 554-7151

Regulatory Issues in Ohio Regarding Aquaculture

By: Laura Tiu, Aquaculture Specialist, OSU South Centers

Aquaculture is a form of agriculture in Ohio.

Ohio Revised Code 1.61. “Agriculture” defined.

As used in any statute except section 303.01 or 519.01 of the Revised Code, “agriculture” includes farming; ranching; aquaculture; apiculture and related apicultural activities, production of honey, beeswax, honeycomb, and other related products; horticulture; viticulture, winemaking, and related activities; animal husbandry, including, but not limited to, the care and raising of livestock, equine, and fur-bearing animals; poultry husbandry and the production of poultry and poultry products; dairy production; the production of field crops, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, nursery stock, ornamental shrubs, ornamental trees, flowers, sod, or mushrooms; timber; pasturage; any combination of the foregoing; the processing, drying, storage, and marketing of agricultural products when those activities are conducted in conjunction with, but are secondary to, such husbandry or production; and any additions or modifications to the foregoing made by the director of agriculture by rule adopted in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code.

In a recent survey of State Aquaculture Coordinators, the 17 states that define aquaculture find it has a number of benefits:

  • sales and use tax exemptions
  • building code exemptions
  • right-to-farm laws developed to create a legal buffer between farms and encroaching suburbanites
  • allows for sovereign submerged land leases
  • protects farmers who follow BMPs from environmental lawsuits
  • provides for an ombudsman to resolve issues with regulatory agencies
  • disaster assistance from USDA
  • access to land, water appropriations, and discharge exemptions provided to agricultural operations
  • provides a seat on the state’s Agricultural Commission and representation by Farm Bureau
  • makes theft of farmed fish punishable
  • allows exemption from wildlife regulations on take method, season, limit, and size
  • allows producers to file for agricultural land tax rates
  • provides for coordinated fish health monitoring efforts

Aquaculture permits in Ohio.

Fee: $50.00 – $100.00

Ohio Revised Code 1533.632. Aquaculture permits in Ohio.

Permitting for production of aquaculture species is provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.


The Aquaculture Law Digest is accessible on-line as ODNR Publication 61.

Permits are annual from January 1 – December 31.

Transportation and Baitfish permits information available on the same webpage.

Fish Importation into Ohio

Aquatic fish health is regulated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture

Find more information on this website: http://www.ncrac.org/Info/StateImportRegs/ohio.htm#Importation

Storm Water Discharge permits – Ohio EPA

Fee: $200.00 – $500.00

As of March 10, 2003, if your construction project disturbs 1 or more acres of ground, you must get a permit to discharge storm water from your site. If your project disturbs less than 1 acre but is part of a larger plan of development or sale, you also need a permit to discharge storm water from the site. This includes excavation of ponds.

For more information: http://www.epa.ohio.gov/dsw/storm/construction_index.aspx

NOI form: http://www.epa.ohio.gov/portals/35/documents/NOI_form2_fis.pdf

NOI costs: http://www.epa.ohio.gov/dsw/permits/gpfees.aspx

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit

Specific language from Federal Register 40 CFR part 451, Vol. 68, No

162 August 24, 2004:

On June 30, 2001, EPA finalized a new rule establishing regulations for concentrated aquatic animal production (CAAP), or farm raised fish facilities. The regulation will apply to approximately 245 facilities that generate wastewater from their operations and discharge that wastewater directly into waters of the United States. This rule will help reduce discharges of conventional pollutants, primarily total suspended solids. The rule will also help reduce non-conventional pollutants such as nutrients. To a lesser extent, the rule will reduce drugs that are used to manage diseased fish, chemicals used to clean net pens, and toxic pollutants (metals and PCBs). The final rule applies to direct discharges of wastewater from existing and new facilities that produce at least 100,000 pounds of fish a year and discharge at least 30 days a year and facilities that produce at least 100,000 pounds of fish a year in net pens or submerged cages.

Information: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/aquaculture/index.cfm

Form: http://www.epa.ohio.gov/portals/35/permits/cafo_fedrgstr_form2b.pdf

Water Withdrawal Facilities Registration

The Water Withdrawal Facilities Registration Program, as established in H.B. 662 by the Ohio General Assembly in 1988, implements one of the objectives of the Great Lakes Charter in Ohio. Section 1521.16 of the Ohio Revised code requires any owner of a facility, or combination of facilities, with the capacity to withdraw water at a quantity greater than 100,000 gallons per day (GPD) to register such facilities with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Water. The Water Withdrawal Facility Registration (WWFR) Program will provide information of great importance to the citizens of the state. Water, one of our most basic and precious natural resources, needs to be studied more intensely and water resource planners need reliable information to plan for the future. The state’s economy depends on water and economic development will continue to place increased demands on this critical resource.

Water withdrawal forms: http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Water/wwfr/default/tabid/4265/Default.aspx

Fish Processing

Your aquaculture permit allows you to sell fish live or whole on ice. If you want to process your fish product, you fall under additional regulations.

On-farm retail: If it is 100% retail from the farm (no wholesaling), it does not fall under the federal or state seafood HACCP regulation, just the local health department.

Every “processor” must conduct a hazard analysis to determine whether they have likely food safety hazards that they must control. This processing falls under Federal HACCP regulations. For more information go to:


For HACCP questions in Ohio:

Diane R. McDaniel
Assistant to District Director
1600 Watermark Drive
Suite 105
Columbus, OH 43215
(614)487-1273 Ext 15
(614)487-9658 (fax)

Massachusetts Aquaculture Contacts

Agencies / Regulatory

Sean F. Bowen
Food Safety and Aquaculture Specialist
Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
251 Causeway Street, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114

Education and Extension

Bob Schrader
Associate Director, Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment
316 Stockbridge Hall
80 Campus Center Way
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
phone: 413.545.0143
fax: 413.545.6555

University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Southeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center (SEMAC)

Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center (NEMAC)

Affiliated Associations

Massachusetts Aquaculture Association
P.O. Box 500
North Eastham, MA 02651

Massachusetts Tilapia Culture

The Massachusetts aquaculture industry is a very diverse sector of the Commonwealth’s agriculture industry. Although the cultivation of aquatic species (specifically shellfish and crustaceans) was practiced by the Native Americans and later by the colonists on Cape Cod, it was not until the 1970s when more efficient cultivation techniques were developed that commercial cultivation activities began. Since that time aquaculture in Massachusetts has grown to include more than 15 species of fish and shellfish that are cultivated for food, research, biomedical, sport and ornamental purposes.

Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries reported that the Massachusetts shellfish aquaculture industry generated more than $6.2 million in 2006. At that time, there were more than 350 individuals and companies involved in aquaculture in Massachusetts with nearly 300 as marine shellfish culture enterprises growing primarily Quahogs (hard shell clam) and American oyster. The Commonwealth’s finfish growers produce a variety of species of finfish, including barramundi, tilapia, largemouth bass, black sea bass, brown bullhead, several species of trout, and several species of baitfish.

Although there are a number of institutions, organizations and government entities involved in the Bay State’s aquaculture industry, the primary trade group working for the industry is the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association. (Source: Mass.gov)

Tilapia Culture

There are a few farms growing tilapia in Massachusetts.

The Barr Family Farm (Rehoboth, MA) is an aquaponic farm where we raise tilapia and use the fish emulsion to fertilize our hydroponic greenhouse crops and field crops

E & T Farms, Inc. (W. Barnstable, MA) specializes in aquaponics. We raise fish and hydroponic vegetables, as well as produce our own honey. Please contact us for more information, or visit us during our retail hours Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00-4:00.

UMASS student-run Aquaculture and Aquaponics

The UMass aquaculture system is being monitored and maintained by UMass students.Tilapia are being raised currently, and the plants being grown are a variety of edible leafy garden plants. The type of fish and plants that are part of the system are subject to change depending on student goals and interests.

Farming Tilapia

Tilapia are a freshwater finfish that have been farmed for thousands of years. Native to northern Africa they are a worm water species that have been raised by locals via small scale, low tech operations. They are a fast growing, large fish that are mainly primary consumers; Tilapia are an ideal species for aquaculture systems. Current educational projects in Uganda run by James Webb are focusing on inexpensive, energy efficient aquaculture systems that can be utilized to increase productivity of many systems that have already been established by local farmers.


The predominant regulation governing freshwater aquaculture in Massachusetts is 321 CMR 4.09 (Artificial Propagation of Finfish), and can  be found at: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/laws-regulations/cmr/321-cmr-400-fishing.html.

Culture of tilapia in MA requires a Type C fish species, accordingly, the permit required is a Class 3, Type C permit, issed by the Division of Fish and Wildlife.  This is required to be a closed/recirculated system, as is spelled out in the regulation.

Kentucky Aquaculture Contacts

Agencies / Regulatory

Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife
#1 Sportsman’s Lane
Frankfort, KY 40601

Education and Extension

Kentucky State University
Aquaculture Research Center
103 Athletics Road
Kentucky State University
Frankfort, KY

Dr. Jim Tidwell
Division of Aquaculture
502-597-8104 (Telephone)
502-597-8118 (Fax)

Dr. Sid Dasgupta Professor and
Principal Investigator,
Economics and Marketing
Voice: (502) 597-5036
Fax: (502) 597-8118
E-mail: siddhartha.dasgupta@kysu.edu

Dr. Bob Durborow
State Extension Specialist for Aquaculture

KSU Specialists are housed in western and central Kentucky. Dr. William Wurts is at the UK Princeton Research and Extension Center, and Mr. Forrest Wynne is in the Purchase area of western Kentucky where he assists and supports the rapidly growing catfish industry.

Dr. Bill Wurts
Aquaculture Extension Princeton, Ky.

Forrest Wynne
Aquaculture Extension
Mayfield, Ky.

Affiliated Associations

Kentucky Aquaculture Association
150 Keltner Rd
Campbellsville,  KY 42718
(270) 465-7732

Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture
111 Corporate Drive
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Phone: (502) 573-0282
Fax: (502) 564-2133

Kentucky Tilapia Aquaculture

Tilapia: A Potential Species for Kentucky Fish Farms

Kentucky Fish Farming, 12(1): 6

William A. Wurts, State Specialist for Aquaculture
Kentucky State University Cooperative Extension Program

Several species of tilapia and their hybrids are farmed throughout the world.  The blue tilapia (Tilapia aurea) is a species that has been grown in the United States.  Another commonly cultured species is Tilapia nilotica.  There is evidence to suggest the Egyptians raised tilapia in ponds over 3000 years ago.  Tilapia are also called “Saint Peter’s Fish” because it has been said that they were the fish Peter caught when Christ told him to cast out his nets in the Sea of Galilee.

Tilapia have several attributes which make them attractive as a culture species:  high tolerance of poor water quality and crowding, good performance on commercial catfish feed (32% protein), a high degree of disease resistance, and a mild flavored, white flesh.  Because of their tolerance for poor water quality and crowding, tilapia are well suited to cage culture and recirculating systems.  Research has also shown that in addition to controlling filamentous algae, tilapia stocked in channel catfish ponds can help control off-flavors by eating blue-green and other large planktonic algae.

Tilapia have a good growth rate.  A 2- to 4-ounce tilapia fingerling can reach ¾ lb by the end of a temperate growing season.  Tilapia performance is best in a temperature range of 72-90º F.  Growth and feeding slow when water temperatures drop below 70º F.  However, tilapia are cold intolerant and die when water temperatures are lower than 45-55º F.  Blue tilapia will survive in lower water temperatures (above 45º F) than most other species of tilapia.  The pond production season in Kentucky would begin in late April and end before the middle of October.  Therefore, tilapia harvesting and marketing would be seasonal and within a week or two of the same time each year.  Indoor culture of tilapia in recirculating systems could extend the growing season.

Aquaponics at Kentucky State University Aquaculture Research Center


Information supplied by Angela Caporelli (AGR) email: angela.caporelli@ky.gov:

“KY requires a “Propagation Permit” through KY Fish and Wildlife. This lets you raise transport and sell fish within the state. If you are transporting out of state your would need transport permits from those receiving state and transit states.

KCARD has helped some fish farming enterprises put together business plans for fish farms and there are several resources through the publications available through the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. Or SRAC publications.

There are several culture techniques employed in KY with the most being pond culture.  We do have some re-circulating systems, aquaponic systems, cage culture some reservoirs ranching and water discharge systems. . All depending on what you want to raise, they can be species specific.  We raise here: catfish, paddlefish, freshwater prawn, tilapia, large mouth bass and hybrid striped bass,  a little bit of trout and red claw crayfish.”

The best resource for contacts is KY State University, they are one of the top five aquaculture schools in the US and are a wealth of knowledge.