INTRODUCTION TO AQUAPONICS
Top 8 best fish for Aquaponics
Ballal Pathare, Co-founder, FARMVARY
Aquaponics growers are experimenting with different fish across the globe.A choice of right fish for your system is always a tough decision.Before choosing fish for your aquaponics system you should understand factors affecting this choice.
1. Environmental Conditions
Consider your environment and how does it change throughout the year. Is it hot, cold or tropical? Understanding which fish thrive in your environment is the first step to choose fish for your aquaponics system.
2. Feed Sources
Understand your local fish feed market and what feed can you get access to. Floating pellets, sinking pellets, small fish, bugs, and shrimp, frozen bloodworm, duckweed are some of the options to feed your fish.
Do you want to eat fish from your aquaponics system or do you want them just to produce waste?
What is the cost of buying the fish? What is the cost to grow them to maturity? What return on investment will you be getting? What is the cost of feed?
Aquaponics grower should check the availability of fish seed, fish feed, needed tank size before buying the fish.
Check legality of fish you wish to own with the local fishery department before purchase.
Now, we know what factors affect a choice of fish in aquaponics. Let’s understand what fish are used in aquaponics and their features. Tilapia, Catfish, Barramundi, Trout, Perch are edible fish and used for commercial as well as hobby aquaponics. Koi, Goldfish, Betta fish are non-edible. They are used only for hobby aquaponics.
Tilapia is one of the most liked fish in aquaponics community.Temperature around 21-29 °C is favoured for tilapia. Tilapia can withstand higher water temperature but can’t survive in colder water. Tilapia is omnivorous and eats almost anything.An easy source of food would be floating pellets which is rich in protein. Tilapia like eating algae too.Hobby growers use different feeds like spinach, chicken intestines, duckweed but it’s not recommended for commercial farming.Tilapia are hardy and can survive in poor water quality. One concerning factor is Tilapia breed readily. If growers are breeding in their own aquaponics system then they can use sex reversal hormones to control breeding. Tilapia can be harvest in 8 to 12 months period, depending upon the market size requirement.
Catfish is one of the popular fish for aquaponics. Like tilapia, catfish can eat almost anything. They clean tank walls and keep algae in control. For commercial growers sinking feed is recommended.For water temperature anywhere between 18 and 26°C is preferred. Catfish has lower FCR meaning they need lesser food to get bigger.Catfish do well at lower as well as higher water temperature.They provide ornamental value and is a good replacement for tilapia.Catfish are also hardy fish and are not prone to disease or illness, but can get stressed if threatened by larger fish. Catfish can be harvest in 5 to 10 months.
Barramundi is one of the most popular aquaculture and aquaponics fish especially in Australia. Larger fish tend to attack smaller once, hence grower should keep fish of different size in different tanks. Barramundi requires pristine water conditions and high dissolved oxygen levels. Barramundi prefers warmer water, in a range of 26 to 30°C and takes 12 months to become plate size.
Many aquaponics growers are experimenting with trout. Trout not only has good taste but also has less FCR. Trout prefer good water quality and cannot thrive in warmer water. Trout prefer cold water temperature, in a range of 10°C -20°C. It takes 12 to 16 months to get trout to a plate size. Trout are omnivorous and can be fed frozen bloodworm and dried shrimp.Trout is a good option where water-temperature can be maintained low.
Silver, yellow, jade perch are different types of perch used in aquaponics systems. 18 to 23°C is favored water temperature for silver perch and 20 to 28°C for jade perch.Perch is carnivorous and should be fed small fish, bugs, and shrimp. It takes 9 to 16 months to get perch to a plate which is a concerning factor for commercial growers.
Koi is one of the best fish for home and hobby aquaponics. Koi prefer water temperature in a range of 15 to 25°C. Koi are resistance to parasites and have a long life (40 – 60 years.). These fish are remarkably beautiful and come in different colour.Koi are omnivorous and prefer floating pelleted food.
Your darling childhood pet is a good choice for aquarium aquaponics. Goldfish will survive just nicely on flake fish food and prefer a temperature of around 10 to 23°C (50 to 74 °F). Due to their small size and susceptibility to parasitic issues and prefer pelleted food.
Betta fish is a gorgeous looking fish with goldfish like body and flowing fins and tails. Betta fish is a tropical fish and need the water temperature in a range of 25 to 26°C. They are fighting fish and should be kept alone in a tank. They prefer live brine shrimp and bloodworm for diet. Betta fish is a good choice to start home aquaponics.