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Best Ornamental Fish For Aquaponics (Easy Guide)

Best Ornamental Fish For Aquaponics

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Surprisingly, people who practice aquaponics have varying reasons for engaging in this sustainable method. The majority of followers implement the system as a means for their source of income and fresh food. However, not everyone has the same motivation, and you’ll discover others whose purpose in setting up an aquaponics garden is for purely aesthetic reasons. If you belong in this group, you might possibly wonder, what are the best ornamental fish for aquaponics?

The best ornamental fish for aquaponics are those with a variety of shades, shapes, and sizes. There is nothing more exquisite than a fish tank in your home thriving with vibrantly colored fish in various forms and patterns. Below we provide you the list of best ornamental fish for aquaponics:

  1. Koi
  2. Red Ear Sunfish
  3. Tropical Fish

In this article, we will identify the best ornamental fish for aquaponics and discover the characteristics that make them suitable for your system.  

Difference Between Ornamental and Edible Fish

Difference Between Ornamental and Edible Fish

Aquaponics practitioners can choose between ornamental and edible fish when deciding the type of fish they want to add in their system. Of course, if your objective in setting up an aquaponics garden is to produce fresh food, then definitely consider raising edible fish that are safe to eat. Aside from being harmless to consume, some edible fish quickly reproduce, which provides growers a stable food source. 

On the other hand, if your goal is to bring a decorative element to your home, consider exploring ornamental fish to add to your system. There is a variety of colorful and attractive ornamental fish you can grow. While these fish types are not edible, they can still produce waste that acts as a natural fertilizer to plants. We will discuss in the following sections the ideal fish you can raise in this type of setup.

Best Ornamental Fish for Aquaponics

Though a gardener may be cultivating ornamental fish for aesthetic purposes, note that the system requirements should still be in place. Factors such as light, pH range, air, and water temperatures should be routinely checked to ensure that the system retains the correct parameters. This is a task that every aquaponics practitioner should religiously adopt, whether they have an indoor, outdoor, large, or small garden. Thus, remember to keep an aquaponics system checklist to ensure your ecosystem will thrive. 

Take note also while you will be raising ornamental fish, you still need to consider the fish population in your tank. Hence, it is essential to check first the growth rate of the fish you plan to purchase while considering the size of your container. Overcrowding in a fish tank can lead to poor water quality. With that said, here are the best ornamental fish for aquaponics:


The ornamental Japanese Koi is a popular mainstay of aquaponics systems. These types of fish are known to boast hundreds of varieties. You will discover Koi in various shades of orange, white, yellow, black, etc. Aside from their vibrant, colorful skin, Koi are quite tolerant of diseases and parasites. They are incredibly adaptable to their environment, thus; making them a common choice for aquaponic gardens. 

For your Koi to thrive, these fish prefer a pH range of 7.5. And while it can survive a broad range of water temperatures, the ideal level is between 35°F to 85°F. To learn more about caring for Koi in aquaponics systems, click here

Red Ear Sunfish

A native of Southeastern, United States, the Red Ear Sunfish looks a bit like the Bluegill. Though this Sunfish is relatively more substantial, this fish features a dark olive green skin tone that softens to silver and green on the edges. 

Remarkably, Red Ear Sunfish is a hardy fish with an ideal water temperature range between 70°F to 75°F. Their preferred pH level is between 7 to 8.5. One of the benefits of cultivating this fish is that they consume other insects and snails, helping prevent disease and pests in your garden. 

Tropical Fish

Popular and colorful tropical fish such as Tetras, Guppies, Clown Loach, Cichlid, and Angelfish are some of the types of these fish that you can raise in your system. Being tropical fish, they prefer water temperatures between 74°F to 80°F. If you plan on cultivating these kinds of fish, but you live in an area with a cold climate, consider installing a water heater for your fish tank. 


An aquaponics system’s purpose is not solely for producing food and generating income. Others implement this kind of setup due to decorative purposes. And since the system’s primary goal is for aesthetic function, raising the best ornamental fish for aquaponics is ideal. 

With their bright and colorful skin tone, these fish will surely bring a certain charm to any home. To ensure the fish you will purchase is safe and without any diseases, remember to purchase only from a trustworthy and credible vendor. Follow also fish feeding best practices to ensure the success of your garden. 

The Campbells love finding sustainable and fun ways to increase their independence from traditional brick and motor supermarkets. Aquaponics provides a full lifecycle food source for families and a great hobby. #aquaponicslifestyle

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