There happen to be several fish varieties that are really good for Aquaponics and could be considered the best fish for Aquaponics systems. But in reality, there are many varieties that would work best in different situations.
The top 5 best fish for Aquaponics are:
Tilapia is, in my humble opinion, the best fish for Aquaponics systems. This fish is one of the leading fish for consumption in the United States. It has a mild fishy flavor which will appeal to many people, and can be a lot easier for children to handle. Tilapia are warm water fish so are ideal for summertime systems or year round if you live toward the equator. This fish thrives in waters from 55 degrees up to 100 degrees, although its optimum temperature is at 85 degrees.
This fish is hardy and will handle a wide pH range. For beginners, this fish is a good buy.
The huge caution on this fish is that it is highly regulated in several states. It might be the best fish, but if it costs you thousands in licensing fees, its not worth it.
For beginners, the goldfish or koi is probably the best route to go. The goldfish can be purchased for very cheap at local pet stores and it is very hardy. Goldfish will tolerate temperatures from 55-80 degrees, which is ideal for a spring, summer, or fall garden. Both Koi and Goldfish can be sold for ornamentation if you choose to breed them but they aren’t typically eaten. The benefit of raising goldfish is that the investment is relatively small compared to the other fish. If, for some reason, your tank does something funny and all your fish die, the loss won’t be as great as if you’d invested in more expensive fish. As your system matures and you gain more experience, moving to a different species of fish would be possible.
Research is showing that Bluegill fish might just be the up and coming Tilapia. It seems to be easier to raise Bluegill than many other fish because they tolerate water temperatures that swing from 40 degrees all the way to 90 degrees with an optimal being in the 70s. These fish also tolerate a wide swing of pH levels, which is ideal for a new system that hasn’t settled into its pH levels yet.
A downfall of the Bluegill is that it doesn’t spawn easily in captivity. In order to get them to mate, recreating their ideal habitat is necessary and not necessarily easy.
Catfish are similar to Tilapia in that they are warm water fish. They are a little less hardy and have troubles if the ammonia levels are too high or the oxygen levels are too low. They are bottom dwellers so makes the stocking density of your tank lower. If you choose this fish, it would be a good idea to stock a second type of fish that will occupy the top of the tank. The Bluegill would be the perfect companion for the Catfish.
Other popular fish are Barramundi, Carp, Perch, Cod, Crappies, and Bass as well as shrimp, muscles and crayfish! Typically, if it is legal in your state, lives in local rivers or lakes and you like the taste of it, it would grow well in your system. People are experimenting all over the world with local fish so if you have an idea for a fish not in this list, try it out and let me know how it works!
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