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Can Tilapia Live With Koi?

Can Tilapia Live With Koi?

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The rewards of aquaponics go beyond producing sustainably raised fish and vegetables with a minimal carbon footprint. Aquaponics also gives practitioners the ability to experiment with various techniques to try and achieve optimal results in their garden, including mixing various types of fish. Given that Tilapia is one of the sturdiest fish popularly raised in aquaponics systems, it is not highly unusual to discover practitioners mixing them with other species such as Koi. However, can Tilapia live with Koi in the same tank? Will there be any issues with mixing the species?

Yes, Tilapia can live with Koi; however, similar to the combination of Tilapia and Bass, growers will need to physically separate smaller species from the mature ones to avoid feeding on the younger fish. Leveraging a floating or net cage that will isolate the little fish from the bigger ones is one way to deter predation. 

In this article, we will highlight the rewards of cultivating Tilapia and Koi together and learn the necessary criteria in caring for both fish.

Perks Of Raising Tilapia And Koi

Indeed, two of the most commonly raised fish in aquaponics are Tilapia and Koi. These freshwater fish both feature essential qualities that make them a practical option for gardeners. While Tilapia is a well-known edible fish with a pleasant taste, Koi, on the one hand, is an ornamental species. Let’s discuss some of the benefits of cultivating these fish.


Tilapia is an omnivorous fish that feeds on animals and plants. Though others provide alternative feed for Tilapia, the fact that this fish can feed on various aquatic plants and animals can lighten your budget. They are likewise economically priced, which is suitable for beginners with limited funds. Besides these, Tilapia are resilient fish that can tolerate water quality changes and disease-inducing organisms, and they boast rapid growth rates. 


In like manner, Koi are omnivorous species that are incredibly adaptable to their environment. They may be inedible ornamental fish; however, growers can profit from them by selling the fish to Koi collectors, local stores, or other gardeners. Similar to Tilapia, Koi are not picky eaters. In fact, this fish is known to be one of the best algae eaters. Aside from this, Koi are terrific candidates for aquaponics gardens because they can withstand various water conditions. 

Caring For Tilapia And Koi

Caring For Tilapia And Koi

Here are guidelines you can implement when cultivating Tilapia and Koi: 

Fish Edible Adult Size Growth Rate Water Temperature Dietary Preference
Tilapia Yes 1 to 4 lbs. 7 mos to 3 yrs. 75°F to 90°F Omnivore
Koi No 20 lbs. 3yrs. 59°F to 77°F Omnivore

Many growers have already experimented with raising a polyculture of fish in their gardens. However, the aquaponics industry is still currently short of published studies regarding this matter. To clearly understand the combination of Tilapia and Koi suitability, we will assess some of the specific requirements of these species and determine if they will survive in the same habitat.

Water Temperature

As seen in the table above, both Tilapia and Koi are hardy fish that can endure a broad range of water conditions. However, note that the immune system of Koi may deteriorate at 50°F. For Tilapia, the required water temperature will depend on the selected variety; however, it typically ranges between 75°F to 90°F. 

Dietary Preferences

Though Koi are inedible fish, both species have the same dietary preferences. They are omnivores, which allows them to coexist relatively well together. Again, since omnivores likewise feed on other animals, growers will need to separate smaller fish from the adult ones to avoid preying. Both Tilapia and Koi can also feed on fish pellets and flakes which makes their combination ideal.

pH Levels

When it comes to pH range, the ideal level for Koi is 7.5. The fish can withstand a pH level of 7. However, if it declines to the acidic range, the Koi can suffer from stress. Meanwhile, the pH range for Tilapia will depend on the variety you will cultivate. For example, the Mozambique Tilapia thrives in pH levels between 5 to 9. 



Got good pH?

Dissolved Oxygen

Most fish typically flourish on 4-5 mg/liter of dissolved oxygen levels. Though to ensure optimal growth of your Koi, consider maintaining 6 to 7 mg/liter of dissolved oxygen. Incidentally, the Mozambique Tilapia variety can withstand low dissolved oxygen levels of 2 mg/liter. 

Fish Tank

When selecting the size of your fish tank, growers should consider the mature size and growth rate of the fish they plan to cultivate. While most gardeners begin with a 500 liters tank, this will also depend on the number of fish growers want to start with and their plant bed size. However, with the mature size of Koi, consider getting a 1000-gallon fish tank. 



Got Tanks?

Risks of Tilapia Living With Koi

There are been known cases in which both Tilapia and Koi just don’t play well together in the same tank. Usually this comes down to a big discrepancy in size of the fish. Below is a video showing some of the risks of housing these two breeds in the same tank.

Conclusion: So, Can Tilapia Live With Koi?

Given the above points, we can definitely infer that Tilapia can live with Koi. Based on their specific parameters, gardeners will have no difficulty combining the two species in one tank. Their individual requirements are conducive to each other. 

Bear in mind also to plan ahead before making any fish purchase. Note that it is possible for some fish not to be accessible in all locations. Growers likewise should verify local policies to ensure fish varieties that will be grown in the system are legal in their area. 

If you want to explore other exceptional fish to eat, click here. Alternatively, if you want to check out other ideal species to raise in your garden, discover more about the best aquaponics prawns.

Where to Purchase Live Fish



Got Fish?

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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