Once you’ve got your tank/pond/water set up, it’s time to move on to what is arguably the most fun part of setting up an aquaponics system – selecting your fish.
While you can technically have nearly any kind of fish that you’d like, this step isn’t as simple as just popping down to your local aquarium and bringing home whatever fishy friends catch your eye. Although aquaponics systems are designed to produce two food sources from the one set up, you don’t necessarily have to eat your new fish, but you do need to think about whether you want to before you select which species to stock.
Once you’ve made that decision, check out our recommendations below for both edible and ornamental options.
When You Want To Eat Your Aquaponics Fish Choose:
Silver Perch are a hardy species that is native to Australia. These little guys are suited to most environments and have an omnivorous diet.
In nature, Silver Perch will eat aquatic plants, snails, shrimp and aquatic insect larvae but in a domestic setting, they will also happily eat fish food.
This species can be considered an ideal starter fish as they are easy to take care of, are readily available and make great eating if you feel inclined to do so.
Just make sure your water is kept clear or that you transfer them to a holding tank a few days before you want to eat them as they can take on a muddy taste from murky water.
Freshwater Catfish are one of very few species that can breed in a domestic environment when presented with the correct parameters. This makes them ideal for those looking to establish a self-sustaining system – however it should be noted that this will take a few years to get set up if you’re purchasing fingerlings.
Scientifically known as Tandanus Tandanus, Freshwater Catfish are native to the Murray Darling Basin and can make for quite good eating. These little guys reach maturity at three years of age and if you’ve got plenty of pebbles for them to turn into a nest and good water quality, they might just start multiplying for you.
Another great thing about Freshwater Catfish is that they have the ability to tailor their size to their environment. This means that they won’t outgrow their new home. The downside to this, of course, is that you’ll need a larger pond or water body for your aquaponics system if you want nice, big, catfish.
A few things to note about Freshwater Catfish:
- They should only be kept with species that are the same size as them or larger. While they are technically community fish, and don’t mean to be aggressive towards their housemates, like all catfish, they’ll eat whatever fits in their mouth.
- They have a little spine behind their head that can cause injury so please be careful when handling them.
Trout are another commonly kept aquaponics fish, however, they are harder to care for and the conditions they require are less conducive to a community style set up.
Those who wish to keep Trout will need to ensure that their water is well aerated and circulated at a higher rate than standard. In systems that are attached to ponds, this can be achieved with the addition of a pond aerator and a submersible pump that sends water from your system to a waterfall or similar feature. In smaller aquaponics set ups, however, Trout most probably aren’t the ideal fish for you.
When You Just Want Some New Fishy Friends:
Goldfish are one of the most commonly kept pond fish.
These little guys are relatively easy to care for as long as your water is kept in good condition and they’ll provide relaxation for adults and entertainment for kids.
Goldfish like to live in a planted environment so it is a good idea to add some aquatic plants to the water portion of your aquaponics system when stocking them. These plants can be either edible (such as Water Chestnut) or purely ornamental in nature, just be aware that if you intend on eating the plants grown directly in this section, you’ll be sharing them with your fishy friends.
Koi are beautiful fish and if you’re lucky enough to live in a state where they’re legal, they could be the perfect option for stocking in your system.
Not only will the addition of Koi provide a zen feel to your aquaponics set up (you can build a gorgeous zen garden around the water section if you’d like) but they’re also quite dirty fish which means they’ll provide plenty of nutrients for your plants to consume.
Other Ornamental Or Pet Fish Species:
It is also possible to stock *most* ornamental or pet fish in your aquaponics system as long as you take note of, and cater to, their specific requirements.
Tropical fish, for example, won’t do too well in a pond aquaponics set up as they require warmer water to maintain good health.
Likewise, it is not advisable to stock small species in an outdoor setting, as they’ll probably just get snapped up by birds or other predators.
Care should also be taken if selecting aquarium fish unless your system is attached to a tank as they generally require different water parameters to pond fish.
Please Note: These are not the only things which must be considered but they are some of the main factors.
So Which Fish Are Best For Aquaponics?
At the end of the day, the fish you choose to stock in your aquaponics system will be determined by personal preference and environmental factors. The options provided in this article are great choices but appropriate research should be undertaken before selecting any type of fish for your system.
Once you’ve decided what type of fish you want, you can get you plants set up in your grow bed and bring your new friends home.