UTICA — Sometime in May, or maybe early June, Kelly Heald-Mossman, her husband, Chance Mossman, and her father, Ed Heald, expect to market their first crop and hope to take some business away from China. Right now, it’s swimming around in tanks, getting fat and sassy on commercial fish food.
They’re growing tilapia, a subtropical freshwater fish that has become popular around the world with the development of varieties that don’t taste “muddy” and have lighter-colored flesh. China currently provides about 60 percent of the world’s farm-raised fish.
Kelly said they want to produce all-natural, chemical-free, healthy food.
“Fish from China tends to be soft or mushy,” she said. “Ours will be firmer and taste better.”
They also plan to use the waste filtered from the fish tanks, by building a greenhouse behind the fish barn and using the waste to grow organic vegetables, such as lettuce and tomatoes.
“Healthy food is what we’re looking for,” said Ed Heald, who is a corn and soybean farmer. Meanwhile, they store the waste and spread it on the fields.
Right now, their largest fish are about 5 inches long. When ready for harvest, they will be about 9 inches long and weigh about a pound and a half each.
“We’ll be able to produce about 30,000 fish a year,” Kelly said, pointing to the five large tanks lining one side of the room.
Right now the fish are in large tubs, sorted by age, but they’ll be moved into the big tanks this weekend.