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Aquaponics - Fish Types for Your Garden

Updated on December 29, 2016
Tricia Deed profile image

Tricia Deed writes about many different hobbies and one which is very popular is gardening and landscaping. Earth and water.

Channel Catfish - Popular Fish for Aquaponic Farming

Channel cat in its natural surroundings.
Channel cat in its natural surroundings. | Source

Aquaponics Fish for Home Tanks

The most popular fish utilized in aquaponic aquariums are tilapia, trout, and catfish. However, bass, crappies and others may be used. A good rule of thumb is to raise fresh water fish which can tolerate crowding and any additional use of potassium which helps to supplement plant growth.

The channel catfish is very popular for aquaponics. The blue catfish may be used; but channel cat seems to be preferred by the home farmer. It is fast growing and appears to be preferred over tilapia. These fish can grow up to 40 pounds. It will be your choice which size will be placed on the grill or fried with your favorite recipe.

Farming with the aquaponics method allows for other edible varieties of marine life which you may want to add to your menu. Word of caution. Do your research.

Use fish specific to your state's local waters as these will be regarded as warm water or cold water fish.

Are you considering this method of farming for earning an income or becoming a commercial producer? You will need to be licensed. There are rules and regulations to abide by. There will be inspections of the fish and the plants.

Warm Water Fish - Tilapia

Tilapia fish.
Tilapia fish. | Source


The tilapia is a warm water fish and popularly used in the southern states. They tolerate temperature changes and any other shifts which may occur in the water when changes or adjustments are being made. Under ideal conditions they will be ready for your dinner plate in approximately six to nine months.

Cold Water Fish - Trout

Trout | Source


The northern states or cooler regions prefer this species as they like colder water. They are more sensitive to any changes or adjustments which are made in the water tank. They do have a tendency to eat smaller fish. Depending on the size of your aquarium; this may or may not be a good thing. They take an additional 3 or 4 months more than tilapia to be ready for your dinner plate.

Edible or Pet Shop Fish - Koi

Koi fish.
Koi fish. | Source

Fish Selection

After identifying the edible fish you will be using net or trap them from your local waters. If you prefer to purchase the desired fish; know your licensed seller. The purchased fish need to be healthy and free of any infectious problems.

Specific fish species are recommended for different states. There are different types of species of your favorite fish. The Fish and Wildlife services are concerned that if the wrong species is released into local waters these fish are so prolific that they could over take and overpopulate local waters ridding the waters of their local fish. Also a high risk of contaminated water and disease should infected fish be tossed into these waters is of utmost concern.

I reside in the state of Florida and the Department of Florida Fish and Wildlife allows the home owner to use any local fish. However, they do not permit any fish used by the home owner to be thrown into local waters.

If you are not a fish eater consider using Koi or gold fish. These fish are of the carp family and are edible, but, many of us do not wish to eat them because of their attractiveness.

Use them in a backyard water feature such as an outdoor pond or a water garden. These fish will truly bring beauty to a tranquil setting. These decorator fish can be sold to pet shops for a decent profit. Do check with your State Fish and Game for any rules and regulations which govern raising these types of fish.

Aquaponic Information

There is much education on aquaponic farming. Research can be done with publications and eBooks, trade magazines, online resources and community forums, work shops and seminars. as well as online videos and webinars.

Aquaponics: What is Aquaponics? Using Fish, Plants, And Rocks to Replicate Earth's Natural Cycles

Aquaponics - Self-contained Farming System

Farming with Aquaponics systems does not harm the environment.

This method of farming is a self-contained system:

  1. Fish waste is food for the plants. The plants are constantly receiving their proper water and organic fertilizer and produce healthy food for human consumption. The water returning to the fish is clean.
  2. Feed the chosen fish whatever protein and organics are needed to keep them healthy. If mixing species be sure they are alike in their need for food, water temperature, oxygen and habits. Know how to care and medicate fish.
  3. Have a carefree environment for the fish. They are easily stressed. Avoid knocking, thumping or any sudden noises against the walls of the tank. Do not add medication or other additives which do not belong in the tank.
  4. Keep the appropriate number of fish for the size of the tank. As a general rule one fish will need approximately 21/2 gallons of water. However, the type of fish, singular species, or a mixed tank of fish will determine the amount of water needed. Beginners may wish to start with a 150 gallon tank capacity which will house 3 to 5 fish per gallon of water and support a 2' x 3' garden bed.
  5. Be prepared with another tank to quarantine or to help fish adapt to a new environment before releasing them into the main tank. Through personal experience I have learned that fish are very sensitive living creatures. It is important that they have a healthy environment. If one fish gets sick and dies, carefully monitor your tank before the same malady happens to the other fishes.

Beginning Aquaponics Gardening

Start small and slowly grow as you see the benefits of healthy plants which produce very well. The advantage of starting out slow is to move according to your budget, time, and labor. After you experience the cost savings, small amount of time invested, and very little labor; this will be your gardening method. Aquaponics is not for everyone; however, by experiencing a small setup it will be a learning experience as well as determining if it will be a hobby or a commercial endeavor.

No more tilling and digging of the soil, no more weeding. no fertilizing and using insecticides, no more aching arms or back or the agony of a sunburn.

Gardening with fish and water could not be any easier.

Cheap and Easy $35 Aquaponics/Hydroponics Setup

Aquaponic Farming

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