7 Reasons To Choose Catfish For Your Aquaponics System

You’re planning to build a catfish aquaponics system in your house. But you have no idea what type of catfish to choose? There are 3,000 species worldwide with unique features. How can you decide which ones fit your needs? We’ve come up with a list to help you choose them.

Let’s start with understanding whether they are good or not.

Are Catfish Good For Aquaponics?

The adaptable, non-territorial catfish is an excellent fish for those looking to grow them in an aquaponics system. It thrives in various environments and can be bred easily with some patience. The temperature variation doesn’t bother them because they’re used to it.

How is it significant in building an aquaponics system?

The key to starting your catfish aquaponics system is getting everything balanced appropriately from day one. However, you may find this difficult at first, but once you get into a groove of keeping things going smoothly, maintaining balance, and raising catfish in aquaponics system is easy.

Catfish being so adaptable makes things easier. However, they love warm water. So, if you can provide them with that, they will grow really fast.

Catfish Aquaponics

What Is The Best Catfish For Aquaponics?

The general rule of thumb is that catfish thrive in an aquaponics system since they are accustomed to varying environmental conditions. However, four specific species grow best and provide optimal nutrients for your plants.  

Channel Catfish

The first best catfish for aquaponics preferred by aquaponists is the Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). These are omnivores in nature, and you can feed them with high-protein pellets and live food such as worms or insect larvae. Fish eaters can relish the tender yet tasty meat of this scaleless fish. However, the color of their meat depends on what type and clarity of water they live in. For instance, if they grow in clear water, they are slightly dark. However, if the water is murkier, the color turns yellow. 


Channel catfish produce more dissolved waste than tilapia, which results in better mineralization; plus, they’re not as prone to diseases or parasites, so there’s even more significant potential for a good harvest. The common length is 22 inches, but some people have seen them grow as long as 52 inches.

Brown Bullhead Catfish (Ameiurus Nebulous)

Another species apt for catfish aquaponics is Brown Bullhead Catfish. It is a hardy fish that can withstand large fluctuations in water quality. It has an olive/brown color fading to cream on its belly, making it perfect for those who need something more than just colorful tanks. The brown bullhead of the omnivore can be fed with insects, mollusks, and pellets. It has saw-like tooth spines at the base of its dorsal fin and pectoral ones. Unlike most other catfish, you’ll find this one with an extended upper jaw compared to a lower lip.

They’re not the most flavorful of all the fish. But if you grow them in an aquaponics system with mechanical filtration and recirculation of water they’ll taste much better. Also, the bullhead catfish is one tough fish. It can handle some periods of no aeration as long as it’s not high on stocking density and the water in your tank stays shallow.

Eel Tailed Catfish

Eel Tailed Catfish or Tandanus Tandanus is the third type of catfish perfect for the aquaponic system. It is a freshwater catfish native to eastern Australia. These bottom feeders eat everything from sinking pellets to live food like earthworms. The young of this species have mottled black/grey coloration to match its omnivorous habits. Eel Tailed catfish have large spines that run along with their pectoral and dorsal fins and a mouth full of sensitive barbells. They can be any color but are typically brownish-red or olive green when mature.

Typically, Eel Tailed catfish are bottom feeders but will eat anything left over. They eat things moving down at the bottom of a system and in all those little spots where waste can hide away from you. This means they’re helpful for cleaning up. Temperature tolerance is also wide, making them apt for your catfish aquaponics system.

best catfish for aquaponics

African Catfish

The African sharptooth catfish or Clarias gariepinus is a large, eel-like fish found in dark gray or black coloration on the back. It has a fading to white belly and feeds largely upon dead animal matters for food sources as its wide mouth allows them to swallow larger prey. For the same reason, add the same sized fish to avoid any blood baths when keeping it in a catfish aquaponics system. Also, cover the top with netting so that these creatures don’t swim off into other tanks. 

It’s an excellent choice for aquaponics because it tolerates chaotic conditions better than other fish, which means there will be less chance of mortality in this type when voltage goes down or if your power source has issues. Moreover, the African Catfish is a fish that can withstand high ammonia levels and low dissolved oxygen, a problem aquaponic systems face often.

If you still aren’t convinced about building a catfish aquaponics, let us sum up the top reasons why you should go for it.

  1. The growth rate of a catfish is quite impressive. They can grow up to 3 pounds in just one year, implying more yield.
  2. Catfish are actually quite hardy, and they can survive in a fairly wide range of environments.
  3. The catfish is a mild-flavored fish that can be added to virtually any dish. This makes it desired and even seen as a delicacy in some places.
  4. The catfish is the most popular fish for beginners in aquaponics who want to grow them even with a poor power supply.
  5. The ability of catfish to survive in high concentrations of dissolved ammonia and low DO levels makes them an excellent choice for stocking densities that would be too intense lifespan-wise with other types.
  6. These fish don’t seem to have any territorial desires and can coexist with other species in your tank.
  7. They are immune to most fish diseases.

Some additional reasons to start your catfish aquaponics:

  1. Their bodies are so efficient that they can convert food to body mass in just a few days.
  2. They’re a fast breeders.

Summing Up

Are you still undecided about choosing a catfish for your aquaponics system? Hopefully, this article has helped sway you in their favor. Catfish is an excellent choice for any aquaponic system and can provide benefits for you and your plants. Why not give the catfish aquaponics system a try?

Catfish Aquaponics
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Welcome to The Aquaponics Guide

Hello! We are the Johnsons and the faces of The Aquaponics Guide. We have been avid gardeners for many years and growing our own food is one of our key priorities. We have found sustainable Aquaponics farming to be a life changer, which is the reason we have created The Aquaponics Guide.