Once you have your fish and your aeration (if using) sorted, the biggest expense is the food. There are things you can do to keep the costs down. It is these, I would like to discuss today.
Delayed feeding. This is a hard one for people to get their heads around, especially if your are dealing with your first lot of fish. The idea behind this is your young fish will eat the algae in your pond or lake. If you have your fish in a cage or in tanks, this isn't an option for you. This is for free swimming fish in a mature lake where there is plant life and algae growing.
It is worth mentioning at this point that in many areas tilapia are put into canals and rivers to help clean them and also keep the mosquito population down. In some parts of Asia, they will put the fish in the rice fields, which are flooded. When the rice is ready to harvest the tilapia are also harvested. These fish in the wild would find food, so don't think they will starve if you delay their feeding.
For commercial growing however it is worth noting that the faster they get to a saleable weight the faster you get paid. If you delay their feeding for the first month you will save quite a bit of money. There will be a reduction of weight compared to those which have been fed from the first day but not a large difference, about 10%. If you have a mature lake and enough water, this is an excellent option to try.
The second method is to feed every other day. Just as in humans the metabolism changes to the amount of food being provided. This is something we did in our second year with excellent results.
Although we fed our fish every other day. On the days we didn't feed them commercial fish food, we fed them duckweed. This reduced our food bill by half, a huge savings.