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Fish for Aquaponics

There is going to be a more limited selection of fish to be part of your aquaponics system, and your choices will probably be based on simply what's available in your area. Plants are easy enough to find but livestock fish are tougher to get ahold of. Still, a little research is important before you pick a species.

If your system is in a greenhouse, then your fish should be appropriate for your climate though a heater can help warm things up if necessary.

Your fish choice should be a species that grow fairly quickly and will thrive in close quarters. Aggressive species will be a problem, as would very large fish. You can make large fish work as long as you are harvesting them before they get out of hand in size. Getting fish that are tasty to eat is a good idea too. Actually, that's a very good idea.

Here are the most common and popular fish for a typical aquaponics system:

Catfish - Catfish will grow quickly for you and can tolerate murkier water than some other species. They are pretty good eating once you get past their muddy reputation.

Carp - Tough and adaptable, these fish are really ideal for aquaponics. They reproduce easily too. Unfortunately, that has made them a terrible pest in many natural areas. This has led to legal issues when trying to acquire or keep carp. They may actually be illegal to keep, so take care on how you proceed with them. They're often cultured in Asia though.

Goldfish - This isn't really an edible fish but if you were interested in getting a "cash crop" for your system, large koi goldfish might be a different way to go. They can earn you money in the pet or pond trade and they do make a very pretty choice if you want something more attractive to look at. They also tolerate colder water very well, so that can be another benefit if you don't want to heat the water.

Perch - You can get several different types of perch, and they are all well-suited for aquaculture. They're omnivores (bottom feeders actually) and make very good eating at harvest time though they take a little longer to reach mature size. They'll do fine in cooler water as well.

Tilapia - Of all the choices, this is one of the aquaponics favorites. They need warmer water (75F) but will grow quickly and will breed easily. Tilapia will also thrive in poorer water quality so if you are getting started, they will be a tougher species to accidently kill while you're learning the ropes. They are omnivores and eat a wide mix of things.

Trout - Definately a delicious fish and one we are generally more familiar with as an edible fish. You can raise your own, particularly if your water is cooler. They're known as a bit of a dirty fish which can mean additional equipment to keep the water filtered.

Bluegill - Also known as bream, these fish prefer warmer water and will do better if you have a nice deep tank for them.They're omnivores and can eat a mix of insects or worms along with the usual fish pellets.

If you want something a little different, you can bypass fish altogether and experiment with a tank or two of freshwater crustaceans like shrimp or crayfish. Shellfish like mussels will also grow nicely in a tank for you. There is less information on there on raising these creatures at home, but its definitely a possibility.

When making your choice, you might be tempted to try a few of each to see how they thrive. You can mix some species (the herbivores) like tilapia and catfish, but those that like the taste of meat should be kept on their own. That would be trout and perch.

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