The Bluegill have arrived!


Early this morning my wife and I stopped by at J&J Aquafarms to talk to John (the owner) and pick up 20 bluegill of breeding size for our 100 gallon bluegill breeding tank.

We transported them via a 35 gallon plastic trash can strapped down in the back of my pickup truck.  John filled the can with well water from his farm.  Since we weren’t driving very far (about 20 minutes) we didn’t bother using an air pump in transit.  But John still put a hose in the tank from an O2 bottle and gave the water a good burst of oxygen for the trip.  It must have worked fine, because there was NO loss during the trip.

Once we got the fish to the house, I brought them inside next to our breeding setup, dropped an air hose into it, and started the process of water transfer and heating up the water to meet our tank’s pH and temperature.  The fish were swimming in 65°F water, and the tank is set to a balmy 72°F.  It took us about 3 1/2 hours to get the temperatures stable, and to transfer in water.  I would dip water out of the trash can and put it into my empty 20 gallon tall tank (on the lower right), and I’d dip water out of the upper 100 gallon tank and put it in the trash can.  (I poured a lot of water out of the trash can before I started this process.)

Full tank setup, with fishBy the time the temperatures were equalized, the 20 gallon tank was full.  I topped off the 100 gallon tank and neutralized the chlorine.  

Then we started transferring the fish into the large tank.  Those fish are strong too!  It’s hard to tell from the images, but these fish are easily bigger than my hand!

Well, most of them.  Apparently John gave us some fingerling Bluegill too, along with one slightly larger than fingerling sized Crappie.  I put the fingerlings into the tall 20 gallon tank.  The Crappie I put into the sump of my aquaponics system – but I don’t think he’ll make it.  He looked stressed out from the beginning and started listing in the trashcan.  In the aquaponics sump he swam like a drunken sailor on a bender.  I fully expect him to be doing the backstroke when I check on him later.

The rest of the fingerlings seem to be doing very well in the 20 gallon tank.  They seem very happy to be there, and there is no signs of illness.

20 gallon tank full of bluegill fingerlingsI’m pretty happy with the fish stand.  I built it myself from lumber and plywood.  Before I even started, I researched the strength of the wood I was using, and the strength of the wooden floors of my house.  It wouldn’t do to have a disaster!

I was amazed at the compression strength of standard lumber, and now I know why 2×4’s can hold up an entire house’s roof.  The sheer strength isn’t as great, but I doubled the lumber, and then doubled it again, to get strength plus margin that I wanted.  The resulting stand was heavy, at least 70 pounds.  Wendy and I had to struggle a little to get it into place.  

Now all I need to do is add the doors, and build a cabinet on the right to encase the cannister filter.

I picked up lighting timers, a large airstone, and “tank furniture” for the fish to hide in.  I’ll spend some time this evening getting all of that squared away.  The scenery in the tank will be “industrial punk”, with PVC pipes and terracotta pots, and maybe a piece of grape vine wood for them to hide behind.

Once we get the lighting running in the correct sequence for breeding, then we will be waiting for a couple of months for the Bluegill to get “in the mood”.  After that we will be playing “Survivor – Bluegill”.  Prime mating Bluegill will win a permanent spot in the indoor 100 gallon tank.  Those Bluegill that are slower to mate will be voted out of the tank, and will take up residence in the backyard IBC aquaponics system.  The idea is to get the indoor tank down to 2-3 males, and 6-9 females.  We’ll be trying to breed for size.

Tank of fish

John also showed us some gigantic catfish.  I can see that we’ll soon be going back to pick up some fingerling catfish to add to our backyard system.

I do wish I could have gone to today’s Fresno Aquaponics club event, but of course getting fish and getting them acclimated came first. I’m sure the other fish farmers understood!