If you are familiar with aquaponics, then you may be asking the question, "What Fish are the best for my system?" Good question. The answer depends on what you are planning to do with the fish, and how big your system is. There are several key environmental factors that will drive what fish you should raise for your aquaponics system. They are:
• Must be capable of reproducing in captivity
• Must have well-known requirements as far as how they are raised
• Must be adaptable to having other species in the tank
• Must grow fairly quickly and to a large size
• Must readily adapt to artificial feed sources
• Must be tolerant of crowding and high density conditions (living in a tank)
• Must have high survival or low mortality rates when raised in a contained environment
• Should be resistant to disease and parasite infestations
• Should not be cannibalistic or territorial because that would cause obvious problems in the tank
• Should be easy to acquire on the market as eggs, fingerlings, or adults
• If you are going to sell the fish, they should have a high market demand
• Should product a good amount of feces.
• If you are going to sell them, they should be good as a food source.
These limitations drive out a select list of fish that make the good aquaculture resource. The best fish to use in your tank are:
Small Home System:
• Channel Catfish
• Arctic Char
Goldfish and Carp are the easiest to use in your tank because you can find them in any pet store. Because they are so common, and are purchased as pets, they are easy to take care of. Just ask your local pet store owner about the water temperature they need, and the food pellets that they eat. They are obviously not going to be eaten by most of us, so you won't have to worry about replenishing them.
Tilapia is a warm water freshwater fish. If you have eaten in any local restaurant, you have probably seen Tilapia on the menu. Its flesh is white, moist and mild flavoured. Purchased as fingerlings, they are ideal for aquaculture because they are very fast growing. As a warm water fish, you will have extra costs from heating the tank. As far as what they eat, they are omnivorous, eating a variety of plants and animals. With Tilapia, you will be able to raise fish to eat, while at the same time growing plants to eat.
Channel Catfish are another common fish used in Aquaponics. Less of a delicacy than the Tilapia, the catfish is still a unique dish served in restaurants. Catfish are more commonly raised because of their versatility. They are less susceptible to temperature changes than Tilapia. They can handle cold water growing well below 70 degrees, and will keep growing when the water temp is hotter. They are very fast growing. To feed the channel catfish, you will need a protein pellet mixture. They will also eat live food such as molluscs, insect larvae, and worms. The resulting meat of harvested aquaculture raised catfish is tender and good tasting and lacking in that "muddy" flavour that you might find in a catfish caught in the wild.
Arctic Char are a unique cold water, freshwater fish. They have qualities of a salmon, and also that of a trout, and because of this, they are a sought after fish by many a chef. They are typically fed nutrient dense dry pellets. In the winter, in the cold arctic, they gather close together in the open pockets in the ice making them accustomed to very close quarters. This makes them used to living in close quarters, and ideal for aquaculture.