When choosing which fish to use in your aquaponics system you just installed in your backyard you first need to decide how warm you want to maintain the water in your fish habitat. Tilapia are the decided favorite for current farmers but they will not tolerate the cooler temperate zones of North America. They require water between 70 and 90 degrees in order to reach maturity in 6 months. If water temperatures dip below 45 it will be curtains for sure.
Aquaponics is a very intelligent idea. But it’s also ugly – pipes going every which way, around large growing containers. I want one but I want one that looks good. I’m dreaming of a system that resembles an upscale outdoor water feature. I have not found a design to buy that I like. I’m gonna build one.
Don’t confuse hydroponics with aquaponics. Aquaponics is a system of simultaneously growing plants and fish: Fish fertilize the water with waste product. The nutrient water is then pumped to feed the plants. The plants in turn, filter the water and the clean water is returned to the fish. This is a closed system requiring a water tank for fish and growing beds for plants so that every aspect can be controlled.
FISH. The most popular fish for aquaponics is the tilapia. They grow fast and are tolerant of neglect. They are disease resistant, with a mild flavored, white flesh. Because of their tolerance for poor water quality and crowding, tilapias are well suited to recirculation systems. They eat dry cat food and algae. Fish are ready to harvest at about 1.5 lbs, in about 6 months. My husband and I, eating fish twice a week, would need to harvest 72 tilapia over 6 months. I plan for 1/3 of the population to be “fingerlings,” (slightly larger than a minnow) 1/3 to be juveniles and 1/3 to be adults, ready for immediate harvest.
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Using food fish that are native to your area may be illegal as there are regulations on possession limits of local sportfish. Ask your local authorities as to permits and laws that may affect your choices. If you are just using the fish for their waste then the simple goldfish should do just fine.