Choosing Fish for Your Aquaponic System
When choosing fish for an aquaponic system it helps to look at the environment the system will operate in as well as what infrastructure (greenhouse, house, garage) will compensate for temperature fluctuations. Check out Tricia's video on Aquaponics where she tours an aquaponic system producing food in the middle of a cold winter! First and foremost the environment is going to dictate, to a large degree, the kinds of fish you are able to raise. Infrastructure, such as a greenhouse, will allow you to stretch your natural environment to some extent. Figure out what kind of water temperatures your aquaponics system will provide and match it to the types of fish that enjoy that environment. No sense in trying to grow trout in Arizona unless you are capable of providing for their needs.
Some key things to look for when selecting fish for an aquaponic system:1. Capable of surviving within your temperature range for your location. 2. What is legal to keep in your area. 3. What is available to you. With these three things in mind here is a list of common fish used in aquaponic systems and their specific qualities:
1. Tilapia - Commonly used in aquaponics - Warm water fish (74-78°F) - Tolerates pH shifts, temperature changes, high levels of ammonia and low dissolved oxygen levels. - Omnivorous - eats pellet fish food, duckweed and veggies - Grows to harvest size in about 6-9 months in ideal conditions.
2. Yellow Perch - Good for re-circulating systems (aquaculture) - Cool water fish (68-74°F) - Tolerates lower dissolved oxygen levels and adjusts to pH changes. - Eats pellet fish food and veggies. - Grows to harvest size in about 9 months.
3. Trout - More challenging to raise - Cold water fish (64-68°F) - Can be carnivorous and will eat smaller fish. - Sensitive to pH changes and water quality - Requires high levels of dissolved oxygen. - Eats pellet fish food. - Grows to harvest size in 12-16 months.
4. Bass, Bluegill, Catfish - Often raised in ponds and in re-circulating systems - Warm water fish (80°F) - More sensitive to temperature, pH changes and water quality. - Eats pellet fish food, bottom feeders - Grows to harvest size in: Bass 15-18 months, Bluegill 12-16 months, Catfish 5-10 months
5. Koi, Goldfish, Carp - Great for an aquaponic system in which you plan to not eat the fish - Cool water fish (65-75°F) - Omnivorous - eats pellet food or flake and bugs