The Best Fish for Use in Aquaponics Systems

When you make the decision to grow your own organic fruit and vegetables at home, one of the cheapest and easiest methods you can consider is to set up an aquaponics system. Choosing the right fish for the crops you intend to grow is of the highest importance, as the fish will support the plants and vice-versa.

To begin with, you want to choose a fish that is well-suited to the climate and weather where you live. This may take a bit of research, but the time that you invest may ultimately determine if your aquaponics system is successful or not. Also, you want to choose a fish species that can spawn and that thrives in a closed system. Some varieties of fish do not spawn in a closed environment, and other types have a hard time surviving when they are not in the wild.

There will be an additional expense if you decide to go with a fish that will not reproduce in captivity. You will have to add baby fish to the system if you decide to take any out, or if any do not survive. This will maintain the biological balance that is required to produce enough food for the vegetation. It is a good idea to know how much space you have available, and how large you are envisioning your system to be at this point.

Another important factor to consider when choosing the perfect fish for your system is to pick a species that will develop and mature as quickly as you need them to. First, you need to get an idea of the types of fish that meet the other criteria above. When you have a handful that has made that cut, next you need to get a good idea of how often you intend to harvest fresh fish from your stock. Then you can make a decision on which fish types will grow at a rate that will satisfy your need for fish.


Tilapia is from the cichlids family, and typically are found in warmer climates. They are the most common fish used in aquaponics, mostly because they reproduce and survive well in closed systems. You can find Tilapia in different areas all over the world, and they grow and mature very quickly. The main reason why Tilapia is so popular is because they will provide a large harvest in a short amount of time.

They have a bad reputation as an invasive species, because other fish types do not survive well where there are Tilapia. Despite this reputation, they have delicious mild-tasting meat, which provides a high-quality source of protein.

Tilapia is one of the few species that survives very well in systems where the water is heated, so they can be raised almost anywhere as long as a consistent water temperature is maintained. They eat vegetation as their primary source of food, and do a good job of eating any weeds that grow in their holding tanks.

White Bass

White Bass is a carnivorous species of fish that is perfectly suited to a closed freshwater environment. They grow very quickly, like Tilapia, and have a tasty, tender meat that is often smoked for the best flavor. They are found in abundance in the Midwest, and primarily feed off of crabs and smaller species of fish.

It is easy to catch white bass, especially during mating season, when they are busy spawning hundreds of fingerlings. Since these fish reproduce in such a large quantity, it is easy to build up a stock of fresh fish in a short amount of time. It is common in the wild for the adults to spawn many young and to never return to the spot where they left their eggs.


Crappie is used in aquaponics systems almost as much as white bass is, and has a reputation for being an extremely hardy species of fish. If you use them in your system, they will grow rapidly when fed small fish and insects on a regular basis. Crappies tend to get bullied by other larger meat-eating fish, despite the fact they furiously defend their eggs and their young. You don’t want to mix them with larger meat-eating species like Walleyes or they probably won’t survive.

The advantages of raising Crappies are how flavorful and nutritious their meat is, and how easy they are to raise. The negatives of choosing Crappie as your aquaponics fish is that they usually won’t reproduce or mate during the first 2 years in a new environment. This is why most folks go with Tilapia, since they don’t need to adjust to their home before producing more fish.

Source by Sam Kinnis

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