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Since the beginning of time, human civilization has relied on fish and aquatic animals as a primary food source. However, over the last few decades, fish have also begun to play a critical role in aquaponics systems by producing natural fertilizer for plants. Aquaponics allows for the sustainable cultivation of fruits and vegetables by combining many of the same components as hydroponics and introducing fish as the primary source of nutrients for the grow bed. The plants benefit by taking up the waste left by the fish and convert it into rich nutrients perfect for cultivation. The best aquaponics fish include some well-known names and a few that you may not have expected.
To get the best from your aquaponics system, it is essential to carefully select suitable fish that will help to create a thriving ecosystem. In this article, we’ll take a look at the 15 best aquaponics fish for your system.
- Yellow Perch
- Jade Perch
- Largemouth Bass
- Shrimp and Prawns
Tilapia is one of the most popular breeds of fish to use in aquaponics gardens, especially if you are a beginner. Their large size and rapid growth play a big part in their popularity, and they can also tolerate high stocking densities. They are also an edible fish, so they are perfect for creating a sustainable food source alongside your greens and vegetables. Tilapia favor a pH of 7-8 and water temperatures of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Tilapia in aquaponics systems.
2. Yellow Perch
Perch are another excellent choice for your aquaponics setup. They are another edible fish and are known for their rapid growth rate and hardiness. There are three main varieties to choose from: the yellow perch, the European perch, and the Balkhash perch. The yellow perch, commonly found in the US and Canada, is best for aquaponics as they prefer a moderate pH range of 6.5 – 8.5 and a water temperature of 67 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Without a doubt, Koi are among the most popular fish breeds used in aquaponics systems today. Not only do they look beautiful, but they are also a hardy species that can do well in your setup. Though not edible, Koi can greatly help in your crop production, as long as they are provided with the right growing conditions.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Koi in aquaponics systems.
Carp are popular freshwater fish farmed for its meat. However, with the availability of other more desirable fish types, the demand for Carp has declined. Still, it can’t be denied that this fish species can contribute to your aquaponics system. They’re hardier than tilapia, able to withstand low and high temperatures and can survive in low water quality.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Carp in aquaponics systems.
Goldfish are not only great ornamental fish species, but they can also help you grow high-quality aquaponics crops. The first thing to note is that goldfish need a big space to swim around and not just a plain fishbowl. There are two groups of goldfish you can use for your setup: the single-tail and the twin-tail breeds. Knowing how to care for this species will reward you with fresh, organic crops you and your family can enjoy.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Goldfish in aquaponics systems.
Trout are an excellent fish for your aquaponics garden as they are hardy species that can tolerate different temperature ranges. Keeping trout in your setup also allows you to harvest tasty fish. If you love to grow vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, you might want to consider keeping trout in your aquaponics system.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Trout in aquaponics systems.
Bluegill is a cheaper alternative to raising tilapia in your aquaponics system. They not only have firm, delicious meat but they’re hardier than tilapia, able to withstand both cold and warm temperatures. That said, you should be able to enjoy growing different types of crops with this sturdy fish.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Bluegill in aquaponics systems.
Catfish are a popular go-to fish species for aquaponics systems. They are sturdy and are able to adapt to different environments. While they prefer warm temperatures, they can still do well when in cold climates, giving you plenty of options for crops to grow in your backyard.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Catfish in aquaponics systems.
Instead of buying Salmon frozen from a grocery store, you can raise your own with aquaponics. Salmon love cold water and so they’re good to keep when you want to grow a supply of cold-water crops like lettuce or arugula. Raising Salmon in aquaponics systems gives you the peace of mind that you are raising fish that have incredible health benefits and are deliciously edible.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Salmon in aquaponics systems.
10. Jade Perch
Jade perch can be an excellent alternative to tilapia, especially for those living in Australia. They’re not only relatively easy to care for, but they also have tasty meat. If you want to raise fish for consumption as well as grow organic crops, jade perch can be an excellent choice for your aquaponics system.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Jade Perch in aquaponics systems.
Fish are not the only aquatic species that can help you with your aquaponic systems. Crustaceans like crayfish can also be a great addition when growing aquaponic crops. Not only do they come in beautiful bright colors but they’re fun to keep. In addition, they are edible and can be enjoyed in many ways as part of a healthy meal.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Crayfish in aquaponics systems.
12. Largemouth Bass
Largemouth bass may not be a popular choice for aquaponics. However, they can be a great addition to their system as they are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. This means you can grow different crops with largemouth bass, and you can also harvest them for their tasty meat.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Largemouth Bass in aquaponics systems.
Sturgeon are a fascinating sight because they are considered a prehistoric animal that can grow as big as 20 feet. There is an increasing interest in using sturgeon to grow aquaponic plants. This fish species is hardy and can tolerate a wide variety of pH levels. Keeping them in your aquaponics setup not only lets you enjoy tasty sturgeon meat but also some prized caviar. Remember, though, that sturgeon rearing is not for the faint of heart as they can be costly and take a long time to mature.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Sturgeon in aquaponics systems.
14. Shrimp and Prawns
Shrimp and prawns are excellent additions to your existing tank. A common practice is to raise them together with tilapia to create a healthy and efficient aquaponics system. Shrimp and prawns are hardy and relatively easy to care for. They can also grow rapidly, which makes for a quick harvest if you plan to keep them for personal consumption. Just remember, if you plan to house them with other fish, make sure to set up a barrier so your fish won’t eat them.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Shrimp and prawns in aquaponics systems.
Barramundi may not be an ideal fish for beginners, but it certainly is a good candidate for more experienced hobbyists because of their hardiness and rapid growth rate. You can harvest a plate size fish in less than a year. One interesting thing about Barramundi is that they are hermaphrodites – born as males and then later on turn to females. Caring for them will surely be a fun and rewarding experience.
Click here to see our in-depth article on caring for Barramundi in aquaponics systems.
Selecting the Right Fish For Your Aquaponics System
While these are the best aquaponics fish for your system, there are other species that can also do well and achieve great results. Play around with different species until you achieve just the right balance to create a thriving ecosystem full of happy fish and beautiful plants. Need help choosing the best aquaponics plants? Click Here.