Aquaponics Fish Basics 1

Legal Note: Check with your local fish and wildlife department if you need permits for the species you want to raise.

Importance of fish

Fish are the power house of an aquaponics system, they provide the nutrients for the plants and if your growing edible fish, then they also provide protein for yourself. Keeping fish may be a little daunting to some, especially those without any prior experience, however you shouldn't be discouraged. Keeping fish in an aquaponic system is more simple than keeping aquarium fish, so long as you follow simple guidelines then growing fish from fingerling size, to ready to eat fish can be extremely simple.

Choosing a fish species

There are many different species of fish that can be used in an aquaponics system, depending on your local climate and available stock. If you live in a cooler climate you might be looking at growing Trout all year round, or perhaps another locally produced fish species. In warmer areas of Florida people generally grow Channel Catfish, Largemouth Bass, Blue Gill or Koi year round, in most warm areas throughout the world Tilapia is the fish of choice.

In deciding what is the best species for you to grow, you should take a few factors into account, most importantly is what you want from your system. If you don't want to eat your fish then you probably won't want to grow edible fish, or you may want to grow an edible fish that can live year-round in your area, so that you're not having to harvest fish out seasonally. The second most important factor is 'What's available?' You need to be able to buy fish to stock your system, even with species such as Tilapia that breed readily.

Always check with your local fish and wildlife department if you need any permits for the specie you want to keep.

Here's a list of useful aquaponic species with a few details about each

Channel Catfish

Catfish are easy to farm in warm climates. Catfish have been widely caught and farmed for food for hundreds of years in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Judgments as to the quality and flavor vary, with some food critics considering catfish as being excellent food, while others dismiss them as watery and lacking in flavor.

Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is a member of the sunfish family. They are also known as black bass, bream, crappies and several other genera.

Amazingly little research has been conducted on growth of bass to larger sizes, their nutritional requirements, or suitability as an aquaculture species.

Fish tanks must be free of existing fish. 


The growth of the bluegill is very rapid in the first three years, but slows considerably once the fish reaches maturity. Many fish reach five to eight years old, and in extreme cases, can live 11 years.

Because of their size and the method of cooking them, bluegills are often called panfish.


The word koi comes from Japanese, simply meaning "carp". It includes both the dull grey fish and the brightly colored varieties.

The common carp is a hardy fish, and koi retain that durability. Koi are cold-water fish, but benefit from being kept in the 15-25 °C (59-77°F) range, and do not react well to long, cold, winter temperatures.


Tilapia is the fifth most important fish in fish farming, with production reaching 1,505,804 metric tons in 2000. Because of their large size, rapid growth, and palatability, tilapiine cichlids are the focus of major farming efforts.

They are often raised in aquariums as a food source due to their rapid growth and tolerance for high stocking densities and poor water quality.


Trout are a great fish for aquaponics systems where water temperatures are a little cooler. Trout prefer water temperatures between 50° F (10°C) and 68°F (20°C). They have extremely fast growth rates and excellent food conversion ratios.