Hard to find outside of Australia, it’s described as the perfect beginners fish.
Why? Because it comes with a number of pluses that are hard to fault.
Barcoo Grunter or Queensland Jade Perch is the ideal fish to get started in Aquaponics. It has a reputation for being a hardy fish that also has a terrific side benefit. Its very good for you. An independent study by the CSIRO has found that Jade Perch trumped the Atlantic Salmon when it came to healthy fish oils.
The 1998 study revealed Jade Perch to have higher concentrations of Omega 3 fish oils coming in at 2483mg per 100 grams of fish fillet. Deficiencies in omega 3 fats have been linked to: depression, anxiety, mood swings, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD and ADD.
Max Wingfield of Queensland Fisheries describes Jade Perch as “” A hardy, omnivorous species, capable of achieving rapid growth rates on relatively inexpensive diets. It is, therefore reasonable to assume that this species can be grown at a relatively low cost of production. Furthermore, while jade perch do accumulate significant stores of body fat, they are well suited to filleting and provide a high recovery rate of flaky, white flesh.”
Jades have proven to be an easy to feed fish as well. Although their main diet when grown in tanks is processed fish pellets comprised of unsustainable sea catch, it is of growing concern to many Aquaponicists to look for alternative solutions to feeding their fish. Jade Perch are omnivorous and will eat all sorts of greens. Throw a lettuce into your fish tank and come back the next day and all you will find are the stalks and roots. The lettuce will be stripped very quickly. In fact you can feed your Jades alternative forms of feed such as duckweed.
Duckweed is normally found in stagnant ponds and streams of slow moving water. It can contain up to 43% of crude protein and many people grow it at home in their own tanks. All you need is a large tub and some nutrient for the duckweed to feed on to enable it to grow rapidly and multiply. Try not to disturb the water. Using fish water from your Aquaponics system is ideal.
So what are the advantages and disadvantages of Jade Perch?
If you are reading this post outside Australia, its going to be hard to get your hands on some Jade Perch as they are a relative new fish and haven’t “taken off” overseas, although numbers of Australian Jade Perch are available now in Asia, particular Malaysia where they are bred for the restaurant trade. You should check with your local fisheries department about importing Jade Perch into your country.
The disadvantage with Jade Perch is that they will not breed in your tank. Like a lot of Australian native fish they will only spawn in captivity when injected using a special hormone. They also prefer warm water conditions. If your region gets snow in Winter then its probably best to give them a miss as heating your fish tank would be the only way to get them through winter and that would make it an uneconomical activity. They will stop feeding if the water temperature drops below 16 or 17 degrees Centigrade and can become inert and die at temps below that zone. Larger Jades will tolerate cooler temperatures. It goes without saying that you must aerate your fish tank with oxygen. These fish are hardy but not bullet-proof and are not able to live without dissolved oxygen pumped into their tank using conventional stones and an aerator.
In warm water temperatures above 24 degrees Centigrade, Jade Perch pile on weight quite quickly. In fact they have a voracious appetite. But if the water temperature drops their feeding will slow down. A side benefit to keeping Jade Perch is that their droppings are almost transparent. Here at Ecofilms the fish waste from our Jades is continually pumped up to our Aquaponics growbeds making it ideal to grow all sorts of great vegetables. The water in the tank is always clear. The only maintenance is a periodic sweeping of the side of the tank with a broom to scrub away a little algae bloom that creeps into the tank because of the sunlight.
So what does Jade Perch taste like?
You can start harvesting your plate-sized fish at around 12 months. The flesh is white and flaky. It breaks apart very easily. The bones are large and easy to find and separate. Some people find the taste of Jades a little oily as you would expect from such a fish high in Omega 3. The good news is that there no off tasting smells or unpleasant flavours from growing your own fish in an Aquaponics system. Its also a wonderful feeling to be able to harvest your own fish, salad and vegetables – all grown at home.
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