Cage culture of fish can be an inexpensive and simple way to grow food for your family. This method of farming, however, pose challenges, including escaping fish, disease outbreaks and high susceptibility to poaching and vandalism. Some of the fish that can be farmed and harvested include salmon, trout and walleye. Cages can be spherical, cube, cuboid or cylindrical. Choose a size based on how many fish you want to raise. In the early stages, it is easier to build a small cage, as it requires less material and is easier to maintain.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- 1/2- or 3/4-inch black plastic water supply line with an insert coupling (glue with PVC cement) to form 3 plastic hoops that are 38 inches in diameter
- 1/2- or 3/4-inch plastic mesh netting, 4 feet wide by 18 feet long
- 1⁄8-inch plastic mesh netting, 12 inches wide by 10 feet long
- 50 feet of 1/8-inch nylon rope
- 50 cable ties (approximately), 4 inches in length
- 38-inch diameter piece of burlap or other light material
- 4 empty 1-gallon bleach jugs
Choose a site in your pond where you would like to build a fish cage. The pond should be at least one surface acre in size and should have a depth of at least 8 feet in one third to one half of the pond's area. The rest of the pond can be 4 feet deep or less. Water levels in the pond should not fluctuate more than 1 or 2 feet in the summer. For each surface acre the pond is in size, there should not be more than 10 acres of watershed. Livestock should not have direct access to the water. There should be no chronic problems from aquatic weeds nor runoff from row crops or livestock feedlots. The watershed should be vegetated to prevent siltation.
Cut the hoops with a hacksaw and glue them together.
Make the cage wall by cutting the 18-foot piece of plastic mesh at the 10 feet, 4 inch mark. Place two hoops under the remaining piece of mesh and trim around the outside of the hoops with scissors.
Place one of the hoops at the top full row of the mesh. Let the cage wall overlap itself by approximately 4 inches. Tie the hoop to the cage wall using 6 to 8 of the cable ties.
Use the 1/8-inch nylon rope to lace the top row of mesh to the hoop, skipping every two spaces to form a ring. Make a secure starting knot and remove slack when the ring is completed. Tie another secure knot around the ring.
Lace down the overlap (seam) on one edge or the other using another piece of rope, skipping every two spaces and removing the slack. Tie a knot at the bottom and lace the other edge of the overlap. The overlap must be flat and have no gaps, folds or slack through which the fish might escape.
Turn the cage over. Secure a second hoop inside the top full row of spaces with a few cable ties. Place the bottom piece of 38-inch diameter mesh over the opening. Lace the cage wall, hoop, and bottom, leaving no gaps. To lace more easily, try having a second person inside the cage to send the rope back to the outside after each stitch. You can also place the cage on three chairs to raise it for easier lacing.
Make the lid by lacing the other 38-inch mesh to the final hoop, skipping two spaces between stitches. Stock the cage with fish. Tie the lid to the top of the cage with short pieces of rope. Provide shade for the fish by fastening burlap or another light material to the lid.
Fasten the 1/8-inch mesh inside the top opening of the cage with cable ties to make a feeding ring. Attach the top and bottom of the ring to the cage wall using cable ties.
Tie four empty one-gallon bleach jugs on the outside of the cage wall with cable ties so the top of the cage rises approximately 4 inches above the water's surface. Make a few holes in the bottom ring with a knife or other sharp object, so it fills with water and stabilises the cage.
Place the cage in the water, so the side with the four empty 1-gallon bleach jugs is at the top.
Tips and warnings
- Construct your cage well and use high quality materials because damage to the cages can result in the escape of fish.
- Making a larger cage than necessary is helpful to help prevent disease outbreaks, which can spread very quickly.
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