Growing Oysters in my creek
There has been a lot of publicity recently on improvements in Virginia oyster growing. I am helping with this as I am growing 100,000 oysters from seed that I bought in May 2011 from the hatchery in Lottsburg on the Coan river. I started out with a couple of floating cages and some seed that I bought from Chesapeake Bay Oyster Company. After 18 months this seed yeilded the best oysters I have tasted, and my neighbors agreed.
These are the triploid oysters that don't reproduce, they grow much faster than the native diploid oyster, plus they are fatter, more plump.
You need salinity between 5 and 12, this is best. I check my creek salinity using a $5 aquarium hydrometer that I bought at Petco.
Since I am retiring soon from the Govt soon, I needed more do so I leased a small area at the mouth of my creek on the lower Potomac to grow more oysters. I am also building my own cages to hold them. I'd be happy to share my experience and knowledge, plus help others get started.
The oysters I started were especially small, they would nearly sift through window screen. 100,000 seed fit in a one lb coffee can. After 1 month most were 1/4 in, and now all are 3/4 in to 2 in. Most will be over 3 in this fall. Its a lot of fun, plus this fall I'll have all the oysters I want plus will sell the rest.
If any of you are interested, have questions, or want to get started I'd be happy to help out
Brandon, if you read this, how about creating an Oyster Growing Forum here on TF
Mike, I am on the Coan River (far eastern bank, Walnut Pt.) and also retired. I have tried growing once with no success. Could use some help. Please send private message with contact info. Thanks
Congradulations!! You're part of the SOLUTION!!
I've been eating "Choptank Sweets" all winter!! Raised oysters very plump!!!
Keep up the good work
Great idea for a forum...growing oysters (about 400,000) in creeks near 10 and 12. Just starting to loose a few, that were almost market size. we are on a similar growing pattern, Mike. Not sure if it was a water quality issue, salinity or maybe this funny little fish that are sucking onto the outside of the shells. Would love to hear more input.
Oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day
mudshanker, if they go through 2 summers there will be considerable mortality due to MSX and dermo. Despite increasing disease resistance among the oyster population, those evils are still around.
I am also growing oysters at my dock in 4 floats. I am not retired and can't go hog wild like Mike_Jackson Creek. However, I am pleased with the results I have had over the last 5yrs or so. Oysters are starting to grow on the breakwater stones and along the waterfront. I was able to harvest a 5 gal bucket full during the low tide in February by walking the shore line. I have done this twice in recent months. I try to buy the reproducing seed so that any that escape seed my shore.
Mike - Why don't you grow diploids to get natural reproduction and strike on your shells and shoreline?
Answers to two questions
1. From WhitestoneCharlie - Why not grow diploids so that they can reproduce themselves? Good point and have not given it a lot of thought. There is a guy in my creek thats done that and each time he planted small seed the cow nose rays came and wiped them out, thats why I didn't think about it much. Seems like the best option is for the seed on shell which is what VMRC sponsors. But I like growing them in my cages better, easier to see results though I do have the big expense for the cages.
2. Mudshanker, on those little fish eating a hole in the shell. I'll look at a book that I have and see what it calles them little suckers. Not sure how you get rid of them
Sounds good. I would be interested in starting the same but have a few simple questions:
1) Does anyone growing these oysters have problems with the otters getting into the cages, or would this not interest them. I keep live bait tied to the dock in late summer and had an issue with these rascals.
2) Not being a full time resident on the water, is there much upkeep with growing the oysters, ie, possible being away for a 2 week stretch
How about the concept of keeping say 5% of the oysters in your cages as diploids. That is enough to provide spat for any existing structure (shell?) in the waters local to your cages.
When they are to small the first year, you can sort them out and throw them back in the cages of small oysters until they get big enough to sell. A little give back to the public waters from your operation.
Just a thought.