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If there’s one fish species popular for its rapid growth rate, it’s Barramundi. This very characteristic makes this predatory fish ideal for aquaponic use as you can harvest a plate size fish rather quickly when compared to other fish breeds. Barramundi are a highly versatile and nutritious fish, allowing them to survive in a range of living conditions and provide dinner meals for months to come. Note that caring for Barramundi in aquaponics systems may not be suitable for the inexperienced. However, if you are up to the challenge, you may find that raising this fish can be rewarding and truly entertaining.
In this article, you will learn interesting information about Barramundi and how you can let them thrive in an aquaponics setup.
Why Raise Barramundi in Aquaponics Systems?
The Barramundi, also called Asian sea bass or Barramundi Perch, is native to Southeast Asia. It is also widely distributed in Northern Australia, which makes it one of the more popular fish choices for aquaponics in the region, just like jade perch.
Barramundi is both a freshwater and saltwater fish. In contrast to salmon, they are catadromous, which means they are born in saltwater, spend most of their lives in freshwater, and return to their place of birth to spawn. Because of their breeding behavior and the fact that different stages of Barramundi have different water requirements, this fish may not be the best choice for beginners in aquaponics.
Still, many aquaponic gardeners, especially experienced ones who live in warm or tropical climates, find Barramundi very ideal for aquaponics systems because of their hardiness and rapid growth rate. As fast growers, Barramundi can grow to a half kilo in just five months or weigh one kilogram in seven months. With a spectacular growth rate and the fact that they are grown in a sustainable way without involving antibiotics or chemicals, you can have tasty, healthy fish meat in less time.
Requirements for Caring for Barramundi in Aquaponics Systems
Barramundi is generally considered a fussy fish, but if provided with the right growing conditions, they can thrive and provide a wealth of nutrients to your grow bed in return.
Ideally, you need five to ten gallons of water for each fish. If you plan to have Barramundi for a long time, you need to increase this to 10-20 gallons of water per fish. Stocking densities will also vary depending on the capacity and intensity of your aquaponics operation.
Barramundi can grow over a meter, so they need to be housed in very large tanks. You can start out with a 500-gallon tank, which will be enough for five Barramundi.
Barramundi love and thrive in warm waters so keep the waters in your tank between 74 deg F and 86 deg F. This makes Barramundi ideal for warm regions, but if you live in cold regions, you may need to consider investing in a water heater. You may also opt for a solar pool cover to keep your tank temperatures consistently warm.
Barramundi can benefit from sunlight as it warms the water, which they will love.
You should maintain a pH range of 6.5 to 7.2. Also make sure to use a quality pH meter.
Barramundi requires a high concentration of dissolved oxygen, ideally at four to nine ppm.
Fish diet/nutrient requirements
Barramundi are strictly carnivorous and highly predatory, and they need to be fed meat constantly. Meat sources include shrimp, small fish, beef heart, crayfish, worms, and Barramundi pellets.
Watching Barramundi feed is as satisfying and entertaining as watching Koi gobble up their food. But don’t feed them too much. It is recommended that Barramundi should eat three times a week.
How to clean the tank
During times when the fish are not feeding, clean out the tank. While they’re young, weekly water changes are needed, but as they grow, tank cleaning becomes more frequent – around once every two days.
There are different diseases, parasites, and pathogens that can affect your Barramundi. For viral diseases, the norovirus is the most common; for bacterial, it’s streptococcus; and for fungal, it’s red spot. Parasitic infections, such as Cryptocaryonosi and Oodiniosis, can also be a problem when raising Barramundi. For more discussion on the different diseases affecting Barramundi, click here.
Understanding the nature of the diseases and how they find their way to your system can help with prevention. One important way to manage fish diseases and health problems is to address the water quality of your system.
Aquaponics plants best suited for
Since Barramundi are heavy waste producers, you’ll need an efficient filtration system to ensure the clogging of pipes doesn’t become a problem.
Can they be mixed with other breeds?
Keep in mind that Barramundi are predatory by nature and will not hesitate to eat fish that are smaller than them. They will even start to eat each other while they are still young. For this reason, fingerling grading is being done to make sure that the same sizes of fish are kept together, with the smaller ones separated. However, Barramundi can still coexist with other varieties without problems as long as they’re of the same size.
One interesting bit to know about Barramundi is that they are classified as protandrous hermaphrodites. This means that they are all born as males and reach sexual maturity by three to four years. Once on their 6th to 8th year, they become females.
By that time, the female, which can release millions of eggs, will swim to join younger males in the spawning area. There, the males will release a cloud of sperm to fertilize the egg. When keeping fingerlings, you need to have a water salinity level of over 50 ppt for them to survive.