... I can get 3-4" fish for .48$ a piece. I made a very large floating cage that I will keep them in until they are big enough to release. I want the tilapia to clean my pond only. I don't want the majority to be forage for my lmb. I hope it works. I will let you know next year. Good luck
Are you referring to Lakes of Danbury?
Regarding your cage idea, there may be another way of looking at that...
You may already know this, but Mozambique are sexually mature at 2 to 4 ounces. A 4 ounce female can produce 400 fry right off the bat in a pond. Those 400 fry will be sexually mature 3 months later and assuming 1/2 females thats approximately 80,000 more fry. Now of those 80,000 fry, let's say 40,000 are females. In three more months, that could be 16 million fry. It is very reasonable, and in fact happens every year in my ponds, that I can get third generation fish in one growing season. The numbers can simply get staggering, assuming a spawn every 28 days. Of course many of the fry are consumed but by almost any conservative assumption you can make, the numbers of Tilapia out there working for you are significantly higher if they are released to spawn naturally....even in the presence of predators.
Your cage idea will work, i.e. it is highly likely that you can raise your Tilapia to a larger size to protect them from predators. However, an argument can be made that from the standpoint of generating the most Tilapia for the money, and the resultant pond cleaning power, you may be considerably better off releasing the fish, taking your chances with predation, and leveraging on the spawning numbers.
They are not likely to spawn in the cages, in my experience, and they are not cleaning your pond while in the cages. The power of Tilapia as a pond management tool lies in their unique reproductive abilities. It is why I have said for many years that Tilapia are the greatest pond management tool available.
Just trying to give you something to think about.
I really look forward to you letting us know how it goes. Please document as much as you can so we may all learn from it. Thanks.