The Top 5 Fish To Grow With Aquaponics

Your choice in aquaponics fish is often a deciding factor of an aquaponics system. The sustainable food production system that provides healthy, organic produce while simultaneously reducing water consumption combines two different forms of agriculture: hydroponics and aquaculture. The latter requires the right fish to be reared for the success of your system. We will shed light on the top fish for an aquaponics system in this post. 

You may use both freshwater and freshwater-saltwater (also called euryhaline) fish. Freshwater fish are an excellent option for anyone who wants to try their hand at growing fish easily with aquaponics. They can be difficult, but not impossible. These types of fish will grow well in an aqua-based environment because they are used to living near water sources like lakes or rivers where there is plenty of oxygen dissolved in it.

Top 5 Aquaponics Fish

When planning your foray into aquaponics farming, you should consider the top freshwater fish: Tilapia, Goldfish, Koi, and Catfish. Our fifth aquaponics fish, Barramundi, is both freshwater and saltwater fish.

We will also discuss all the important pros and cons of each type of aquaponics fish and how to prepare your aquaponics system to thrive.

Tilapia

Tilapia Aquaponics
  • Ideal Temperature: 82° to 86°F (28-30°C)
  • Growth time: 6-8 months
  • pH range: 6.5 – 9


Whether you are looking to start an aquaponics system or are already operating one, tilapia might be your best bet. With a wide range of conditions they can tolerate and the ability to live on varied sources as a food source, who is better than these hardy fish? They don’t get too stressed out by crowded pools or low oxygen levels and are immune to most pathogens, so there is less chance that the population will crash like it would with more fragile species. While their diet mainly consists of plants, tilapias also enjoy meat occasionally, making them perfect candidates for this type of sustainable food production. A new study has shown that GIFT tilapia are thriving in an integrated biofloc and aquaponics set-up, showing how this system is a viable alternative for resolving food insecurity.

Remember, tilapia can be a highly beneficial or troublesome aquaponics fish. They are beginner-friendly, but you should harvest them often to keep the numbers down because of their high reproduction rate. They need to be harvested every six months. Fortunately, they are delicious and easy enough for even beginners who have never liked cooking before. There are many good reasons to love tilapia, including the fact that they are high in protein and are vital components for commercial fisheries. Above all, they are an adaptable species that can survive in tropical or temperate climates. 

Pros

  • Delectable with a mild flavor
  • They can survive with very little oxygen

Cons

  • To ensure that your fish live, make sure the water is above 50°F.

Catfish

Catfish Aquaponics
  • Ideal Temperature: 75 to 86°F (24-30°C)
  • Growth time: 18 months
  • pH range: 7 to 8.5 (1)

Catfish are ray-finned fish that vary significantly in size and shape. If you are seeking a beginner-friendly option to start your very own aquaponic system, catfish are generally considered the best bet. The eel-tailed catfish (Tandanus tandanus), channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), brown bullhead catfish (Ameiurus nebulosus), and African Catfish or Clarias gariepinus make up some of the hardiest species. They can tolerate low oxygen levels and wide fluctuations of pH and temperature, making them an excellent choice for any gardener looking to start their first sustainable aquaponics farming project.

Catfish, while they lack practices that other fish might have, like fighting for territory or the need to be near a surface of the water because they are bottom feeders and scavengers. They can often live crowded with one another, so it is important to give them more horizontal room than vertical height in their tanks. The catfish is a versatile aquaponics fish that can eat plant-based food and insects, and other fish. The most common species are the channel catfish and blue catfish, which have high vitamin D levels in their meat.

Pros

  • Catfish are delicious. 
  • It is a versatile aquaponics fish that can survive in many different climates.


Cons

  • Avoid touching them as they are highly sensitive.
 

Barramundi

Barramundi Aquaponics
  • Ideal Temperature: 71 to 80°F (22-27°C)
  • Growth time: 12 months
  • pH range: 7.2 to 8


Barramundi is found in freshwater and saltwater rivers where they can live for most of their lives. They tend to venture into bodies of seawater just before spawning time which requires some expertise from someone who has experience with aquaponics systems. This is so as these guys get pretty sensitive about what goes on in the water. They require water temperatures between 23-30 degrees Celsius, so a reliable water heater is necessary for cool climates.  

Barramundi is one of the most delicious and nutritious aquaponics fish. These sequential hermaphrodites can grow two feet long in just five months if you provide them with proper care. It includes a carefully calculated stocking density for your tank that considers their need for at least 20 gallons of H2O volume. To ensure they reach harvest size quickly enough, it is important to feed these incredible animals properly and ensure they have an adequate living space where each adult needs around 200 square inches or ten cubic feet, so no one feels too crowded. Feed them with live food such as worms, beef hearts, shrimp, and small fish to ensure a quick growth rate.

Pros

  • There will be a lot of waste to feed your plants as these fish species have huge appetites.


Cons

  • Too much food consumption can make it difficult for the nitrifying bacteria to keep up, which will damage the system’s balance.
  • If you decide to breed barramundi, keep the fingerlings separate. Adult fish will eat them up.

Koi

Koi Aquaponics
  • Ideal Temperature: 59 to 77°F (15-25°C)
  • Growth time: (not for eating)
  • pH range: 7 to 8


Koi are a type of
aquaponics fish that is part of the same family as the common carp. Their color, patterns, and scales vary greatly, which has made them popular for ornamental purposes. Koi are prized fish, and as such, they demand a lot of care. Koi require huge tanks (200+ gallons per individual) with lots of depth for breathing room. On top of that, koi need additional filtration systems to keep the water clean enough for them to thrive.  

Koi are interesting fish with a variety of unique qualities. They can survive in cold waters, and they are resistant to many harmful pests and diseases. It is no wonder that they have so many different uses. Maintaining their tanks at 18˚C will keep Koi aquaponics fish healthy as well. Koi can live for up to 75 years in captivity, making them a worthwhile investment to your aquaponics system. However, as koi grow larger, more food and waste need to be taken care of. Therefore it is essential to think about the size tank you have for them when deciding if koi would be good fish for your system. If you love large-scale animal agriculture but want plants too, this type of fish could work out well.

Pros

  • Parasite resistant aquaponics fish
  • Can withstand varied temperatures


Cons

  • Stocking fish can become an issue as you cannot eat Koi
  • Keeping the system healthy is difficult as they produce a lot of waste.

Goldfish

Goldfish Aquaponics
  • Ideal Temperature: 78-82°F (25-27°C)
  • Growth time: Not fit for eating
  • pH range: 6 to 8


If you are looking for a way to make your aquaponics system look more ornamental, and less like the average
aquaponics garden with plants growing in nutrient-rich soil, goldfish may just be the right aquaponics fish you need. With dozens of varieties available at any size that will fit into an ordinary tank, the species is perfect since they can even be raised in indoor tanks. There is no end to how many species of fish you could have frolicking around. This would certainly keep things exciting without emptying your wallet every time one dies.

Goldfish are a hardy species and can thrive even in slightly polluted conditions. Though they grow to only 6 inches on average, some goldfish have been known to reach up to 24 inches. Goldfish are small, hardy fish that provide nutrients for your plants. They can thrive in various conditions and don’t need much care from their owner to do so. Goldfish are undemanding aquaponics fish that can thrive in even the most polluted conditions. They are tolerant of pH fluctuations and can do well with a wide range of filtration capacity, which is why you should keep them on hand for your aquaponic system.

Goldfish will thrive in cooler temperate zones. But if the tank is small enough, transfer indoors for winter. Regular heaters can be used to prevent water temperatures from dipping below 15˚C (59˚F). Hardier goldfish varieties also exist, which means you want to keep your fancier types outdoors all year round.

Pros

  • Beautiful to look at.
  • Very hardy fish

Cons

  • Never mix twin and single tails in one tank.
  • The common goldfish is not an edible fish, which may give you a problem with overstocking in the future.

Summing up

There are vital factors to consider before you purchase aquaponics fish. Some people prefer the convenience of buying them from their local pet store, while others will have a hard time finding non-harvestable options at these stores and must order online or over the phone. However, suppliers often carry lots more varieties that may be better suited for your garden than what is offered in some retail settings; they are also great resources to ask questions about any specifics. So, what are you waiting for? Use the information we have provided you with and get your aquaponics fish today.

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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.