Catch the right fish!

Aquaponics is an amazing way to garden. And workhorses of an aquaponic system are the aquaponic fish. Aquaponics is a natural process whereby fish are raised in an aquarium or large size fish tanks and their waste is pumped into grow beds. Waste is then naturally converted into nutrients for the plant's roots to absorb within a grow medium. Plants, in turn, clean the water in this recirculating and symbiotic system.

Before we can grow our plants, we must first choose the correct aquaponics fish. Not all aquaponic fish are equal or have the same requirements for survival. Therefore, let's review some key considerations before choosing the best aquaponics fish for our needs.

Considerations for choosing aquaponics fish: -

Ornamental vs Edible: - While there are many aquaponics fish which do well in aquaponics systems, not all are edible. For example, goldfish and koi are great ornamental aquaponics fish just don't eat them!

Temperature: -

Some aquaponics fish thrive in cold water, while others do well only in warm water. Be sure we choose a species of fish that is hardy and adaptable for our particular indoor or outdoor conditions. Adding water heaters to


the system is an option.

Purchasing your Aquaponics fish: - Choose a species which is readily available to buy as a fingerling or juvenile fish. Selecting a suitable adult fish is also a possibility.

Breeding: -If you want to produce your own stock, select a species that is capable of breeding within an enclosed aquaponics tank. However, understand the government regulations for the same.

Popular Aquaponics Fish: -

Here are the best aquaponics fishes, we have included an ideal temperature range for each species. Please note that while most fish are able to tolerate varying degrees of the temperature outside of the ideal range, we recommended you keep your aquaponics fish within these parameters as much as possible

Tilapia: -

  • Tilapias are one of the most popular freshwater species to grow in aquaponic systems.
  • Why? For starters, tilapia is a great eating fish. It has a mild flavour, making it adaptable to many culinary styles. Tilapia is also a great fish for aquaponics beginners. They adapt to their environment and are able to withstand less than ideal water conditions. Other benefits of choosing tilapia include their fast growth rate (about 9 months from fingerling to harvest), ability to reproduce easily, and have an omnivorous diet.
  • One drawback to raising tilapia is the need to keep your aquaponics tank warm. Water below 55 degrees will cause tilapia to struggle. A constant water temperature of around 80 degrees is ideal. Adding a water heater is a viable option if water temperatures are fall low during winters, or you may consider choosing a different aquaponics fish altogether. Another possible drawback is their ability to breed quickly (every 4-6 weeks). If you have a small aquaponics system, be advised that it may quickly fill with young fish.

Key Considerations: -

  1. Ideal Temperature Range: 72 - 86° F
  2. Popular, edible, warm-water aquaponics fish
  3. Easy to breeding and fast growing.

Trout: -

Looking for an aquaponics fish that thrives in cooler water? Trout may fit the bill. They thrive in temperatures ranging in the 50s and 60s. making them ideal for cool environments. This species of fish has a high food conversion ratio and grow quickly, although it may take up to 16 months to fully mature. In addition, trout are a desirable food source, loaded with protein and omega fatty acids.

  • Because trout thrive in cold water, some aquaponics enthusiasts alternate between raising tilapia during warmer months and trout during cooler months. Trout is also a popular aquaponics fish to raise in indoor garages and basements.
  • It should be noted that trout are not as adaptable as some other fish, as they require pristine water and high dissolved oxygen levels to thrive. Close monitoring of "PH" levels is also important. Another possible downside is fewer plants choices. Because recirculating cold water may harm certain plants, be sure to pick hardier plants varieties. With that said raising trout may be too much effort for some, but the payoff at the dinner table makes this species a popular aquaponics fish.

Key Considerations: -

  • Ideal Temperature Range: 56 -  68° F
  • Edible cold-water fish
  • Requires pristine water, high dissolved oxygen levels, and close pH monitoring

Catfish: -   

  • Catfish are a popular bottom-feeding aquaponics fish. They vary in size and are often commercially farmed for their flavour and high vitamin D content. Another advantage to choosing catfish is their high food conversion ratio, meaning they convert their food to body mass quickly.
  • Raising catfish requires close monitoring of the aquaponics system. Water must remain pristine, temperatures must remain close to 80 degrees, and PH should be kept in check. Catfish feed on a variety of plants, bugs small fish, and pellets. They do not have scales, so skinning is required before putting catfish on the frypan.

Key considerations: -

  • Ideal Temperature Range:  78 - 86° F
  • Edible, popular aquaponics fish
  • High food conversion ratio makes them a fast-growing fish
  • Sensitive to water temperature,water quality, and pH

Perch: -

Silver, Yellow, and Jade varieties of perch are popular aquaponics fish. Because they are adaptable to various conditions, perch make a good starter fish for beginners. Perch typically thrive in water temperatures ranging in the 70's. However, they are able to withstand colder water down to the 50's.

  • The diet of perch is primarily carnivorous, consisting of small fish, bugs, and shrimp. This may turn some off to raising perch because carnivorous diets involve more expense and effort (compared to fish who simply consume pellets and plant matter). Another factor to consider is the longer time frame to mature. Silver perch, for example, may take up to 16 months to fully mature from the fingerling stage.  Overall, perch are a good choice for those looking for a tasty aquaponics fish and have the patience to wait for them to develop and the budget to feed them their preferred diet.

Key considerations: -

  • Ideal Temperature Range: 70 - 82° F
  • Edible, hardy, adaptable aquaponics fish
  • Slower to mature and carnivorous diet

Barramundi: - 

  • Barramundi is one of the most popular fish raised in aquaculture. They also make a great aquaponics fish and can be kept in both fresh and saltwater systems. As an edible aquaponics fish, barramundi has flaky white flesh and are regarded as a good species for eating.
  • Larger barramundi is known to attack smaller ones, so it is advised to keep these fish separated by size or risk young being injured or eaten. Many aquaponics hobbyists purchase larger juvenile fish instead of fingerlings. This cuts down the likelihood of losing fish to aggression. Barramundi also requires pristine water conditions and high dissolved oxygen levels.

Key considerations: -

  • Ideal Temperature Range:  78 -  83° F
  • Edible aquaponics fish, popular in commercial aquaculture
  • High food conversion ratio
  • Aggressive tendencies towards smaller fish

Bass: -

  • Large mouth, small mouth, and striped bass are another top aquaponics fish. However, this species is less adaptable to unfavorable conditions compared to others. Conditions must be monitored to ensure pristine water, and proper oxygen and PH levels. In addition, bass will not tolerate bright light or a poor feeding regime. Another downside is the long wait period to mature. Large mouth bass can take up to 18 months to reach its full size. Striped bass typically mature faster.
  • The upside to using bass as young aquaponics fish is that they are edible and fairly easy to acquire locally. Young fingerings can be trained to feed on pellet food but are generally carnivorous.
  • If you don't mind the daily monitoring of your aquaponics system, bass is a viable and rewarding aquaponics fish.

Key considerations: -

  • Ideal Temperature Range: 75 - 85° F
  • Edible and accessible aquaponics fish
  • Requires constant monitoring to ensure proper conditions

Koi Fish: -

  • One of the most popular ornamental fish is Koi. They are often found in decorative ponds. Like goldfish, koi produce a lot of waste matter and are easy to find at pet stores. This makes koi a popular aquaponics fish.
  • Koi are prized for their beauty and bright coloration. Surprisingly, koi are considered an edible aquaponics fish. However, we don't recommend eating them. Most hobbyist raise koi strictly for ornamental purpose.
  • Other advantage of koi includes their resistance to parasites, long life-span, and their simple omnivorous diet. A key disadvantage is the cost to purchase koi. While they are fairly easy to find at pet stores, koi tend to be more expensive than most aquaponics fish. Koi can live up to an astounding 40-60 year.

Key considerations: -

  • Ideal Temperature Range:  65 - 75° F
  • Ornamental, not typically eaten
  • Ornamental, hardy, and attractive aquaponics fish
  • Omnivorous, parasite-resistant, and lives a long time

 Gold Fish: -

  • Goldfish are one of the earliest species of the fish to be domesticated and among the most popular fish used in aquaponics today. They are attractive in appearance and are readily available at local pet shops. Generally speaking, these miniaturized carp species are hardy and adaptable to various water conditions.
  • They prefer a temperature in the 60s - 70s degree range. Goldfish are especially well-suited for smaller aquaponics systems but can thrive in an aquaponics system of any size.
  • Goldfish are known as a shy fish, Because of this quirkiness, they require plant cover to breed. For such a small species, goldfish produce lots of beneficial waste nutrients for aquaponics grow beds to absorb. Due to this small size and susceptibility to parasitic issues, goldfish are not considered edible fish.

Key considerations: -

  • Ideal Temperature Range:  68 - 75° F
  • Ornamental, not typically eaten
  • Small, hardy aquaponics fish
  • Produces lots of waste despite its size
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