What’s The Best Aquaponics Fish To Plant Ratio?

Growing healthy plants through the use of fish waste is an excellent way to generate a bumper crop. Whether you’re intending to grow tomatoes or marijuana this approach can really make your life easier.

However, there are several factors you need to get right before you can start successfully running your aquaponics system.

Understand Aquaponics

The first is understanding the different parts of your aquaponics system:

  • Fish Tank

You need somewhere to keep your fish. This should not be where the fish can access your plant roots. If they can they may nibble them and will produce waste that could actually be harmful to the plants; their solid waste can coat the plant roots preventing them from being able to absorb nutrients.

Having a separate tank will also make it much easier for your to create the perfect environment for your fish; which is different to the one that your plant’s need to flourish.

fish farm with aquaponics

  • Pump

The water moves from the fish tank to the plant base. You can have your plant roots soaking in the water or you can build a clay base above the water; allowing the plants to absorb what they want as and when they want.

Of course to move the water from one tank to the other you’ll need a pump. Gravity will not be able to do this by itself!

You’ll need to choose the pump according to the size of your fish tank; this will tell you how much water you need to pump. The general consensus is that the entire volume of your fish tank should be pumped round the system every hour.

Purchase your pump according to its specs and the size of your set-up.

  • Filter

Technically a filter should not be necessary as the bacteria in the water will convert the fish waste into nitrates for the plants. However, this process may not always be successfully completed; allowing solid waste particles to travel through the system potentially blocking it up.

A filter can ensure that the larger waste particles are removed; this will prevent the system from becoming clogged.

  • Plant Base

As already mentioned you can have the roots of your plants in your water or you can create a base to house them. Either way can produce successful results. Do you need a list of the best plants to grow in aquaponics? Check out this article.

Stocking The Fish

Once you understand all the elements that are involved you’ll be able to decide how big the plant bed is going to be and, therefore, how big the tank will need to be. Click here for a list of all the fish you can use with aquaponics.

A good starting point is to add 1 fish per 5 gallons of tank water. If you don’t know the size of your tank then simply multiply the height, width and length of your tank in feet. The answer you get is the size of your tank in square feet.

Simply take this figure and multiple it by 7.48; this will tell you how many gallons of water you have. Divide this answer by 5 and you’ll have the approximate number of fish you need for your tank.

tilapia fish

However, before you rush out and purchase all the fish you need to consider the amount of plants you intend to grow and the size of your fish. This guide to fish numbers is based on adult fish. If you are purchasing baby fish then you need to base your calculation on the number of full grown fish you need and then buy half of them.

As your plants start to grow you can increase the number of fish you have until you reach your target fish number. If you put all the fish in when the plants are very young then they will be swamped with nutrients; and be unable to process them all.

The alternative is to look at how many plants you intend to grow.

To do this you’ll need to calculate your growing area by multiplying your length and width. This will give you the square footage of your growing area. You can use the same figure as the number of fish you need.

For example a plant bed of 4 feet by 4 feet will yield 16 feet of growing space. This equates to 16 pounds of mature fish. As each fish requires 5 gallons of water your tank will need to be a minimum of 16 x 5; that’s an 80 gallon tank.


It is important to note that while this is an accurate calculation every system is different. You should assess what you are intending to grow and then create the number of fish that you believe will produce the right amount of waste. The above calculations should help.

You can then add your fish and monitor the water carefully to ensure the nutrient levels are remaining high while the plants appear to be healthy.

It is important to note that your plant beds should be allowed to drain and then be flooded. This is the best way of getting oxygen into the water to look after the fish. Ideally use an electronic timer hooked up to your pump and then allow the pump to run for 15 minutes with a 45 minute break between pumping session.

You should also consider how steep the hill is between the fish tank and the plant beds. If it is steep you may need to purchase a more powerful pump. It needs to pump a volume of water equivalent to the all the water in the fish tank; and it needs to be able to do this in just 15 minutes!

The Bottom Line

It is important to be aware that you will probably have male and female fish in your system. This can result in you needing to make an allowance for baby fish in the future.

You should also consider the type of fish you are using; not all fish produce the same quality or volume of waste. You’ll soon notice if your plants are looking undernourished; this should be your trigger to add more fish. Take a look at this post where i discuss the most popular fish for aquaponics: tilapia.

The real trick to getting this balance right is to adopt the basic principal supplied in this article and then monitor your progress until you get what works best for you.


Pro’s and Con’s of Having a Murray Cod Aquaponics System

Having a Murray cod aquaponics system is a nice idea in generating good returns out of fish. It is a popular new practice and a highly profitable business for aquaculture. Several fish species can be used in the aquaponics system. Some inputs are required to keep the system performing like air pumps, and feed that is given to the aquatic animal. Murray cod is used in different aquaponic systems.

Pros of Murray cod in Aquaponics Murray cod for aquaponics

  • Water temperature: 8 celsius to 24 celsius.
  • Oxygen levels: 50 to 200ppm.
  • PH: 7.0 to 8.0
  • If the tank is the right size and water conditions are kept well Murray Cod can survive upto 50years.
  • Small Murray Cod can peacefully co-exist with other fish like Golden and Silver perch.
  • The water source for the operation does not require chemicals e.g pesticides.

Cons of Murray Cod in Aquaponics

  • At large sizes they are not compatible with other fish since they consume anything that fits in their mouth.
  • They grow very fast to large sizes so it is important to grow them in large tanks.
  • They tend to consume particular food, not just any food.
  • They are highly susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections at high stocking densities.
  • At small size, water consumption is less but when they grow big they require large amounts of water to sustain them.


Generally, Murray cod are fresh water species and will not tolerate high salinity level which the common mistake many people tend to make. Having a Murray Cod aquaponics system is a viable project, especially when people know how to maintain a murray cod aquaponics system.

The Pros And Cons Of Having Tilapia In Your Aquaponics System

Aquaponics remains an upgraded hydroponic and aquaculture system that mutually benefits from both systems. Studies have shown that aquaponics does not need chemicals. It requires just ten percent of the water needed for field plant production and as well a fraction used to grow fish easily. Did you know that with tilapia aquaponics comes several benefits? Reading through the rest of this article will help you discover the pros and cons of having tilapia in your aquaponics system.

tilapia for aquaponics

Know Your Fish

It is important to be aware that there are different species of tilapia. You can choose the right one for your set up based on the way they look or the way they behave.

This mini guide should help you to decide which of the different species of tilapia is right for you:

The Hawaiian Gold Tilapia

Its scientific name is the Oreochromis mossambicus and the Hawaiian gold tilapia is actually yellow.

In fact it is thought to be a variant of the Mozambique tilapia; specifically developed by the Hawaiians to be beautiful. This species is often considered to bring luck and good fortune!

Hawaiian Gold Tilapia

Their yellow color is enhanced by the presence of 3 spines and 9 or even 10 rays. Their head can be considered medium sized and their eyes small. The Hawaiian Gold tilapia has a rounded caudal fin and a continuous dorsal fin.

Most importantly this fish is very tough. They can cope with temperatures between75°F and 98°F, poor water quality, pollution and even low oxygen. They are also largely disease resistant.

They can grow as big as 16 inches with a weight of 2.5 pounds!

It is also worth noting that consume diatoms, vegetation and invertebrates; they should be very easy to keep in your aquaponics system.

White Tilapia

The white tilapia is actually a hybrid version of the original blue tilapia. This means you’ll need to do some research on the specific variant you are getting. Depending on where and how it has been bred it could be a fast grower or a slow one!

White Tilapia

As you’ll probably want a fast growing one for your aquaponics it’s important to check first.

The white tilapia is similar in appearance to the Hawaiian gold tilapia except that it is a grey / white color.

The big difference with this type of tilapia, other than the color, is that it can handle temperatures as low as 50°F before it will die. OF course, it does prefer warmer waters and will be in a state of hibernation at low temperatures. But it does make them harder to kill.

Blue Tilapia

The blue tilapia is, unsurprisingly, blue. It also has a pink underbelly and although it looks similar in shape to the other tilapia; it takes much longer to grow.

blue tilapia

In fact the blue tilapia will take as long as 3 years to reach between 2 and 4 pounds; compared to the Hawaiian Gold tilapia and the white tilapia which can do it in roughly a year.

This species of tilapia is not the most tolerant of temperature changes but it can survive in salt water; although it does much better in freshwater!

Tilapia Feeding Habits

One of the most important questions you should ask if keeping tilapia is what do tilapia eat in aquaponics?

Your main role is to feed them and maintain the water temperature. In the wild they would eat diatoms and plenty of blue – green algae. But of course you’ll be doing your best to keep the algae at bay for the sake of your plants in your aquaponics system.

The best option for your system is to locate an organic tilapia food. While there are many fish foods on the market many of these have been developed by farmers looking to get rid of their waste.

In fact some foods are composed of ground up fish bones and the by products from farming. This is not idea fish food for any species.

However, if you choose an organic tilapia food you’ll find that the needs of the fish have been thought about first and the food prepared after; ensuring it has the best possible ingredients.

The difference to your system could be huge. The right fish food will help your tilapia grow to full size in as little as 240 days. With the wrong conditions your tilapia may never even be as heavy as a pound!

Getting The Tank Right For Breeding

It is impossible to overstress the importance of getting your tank right. Tilapias are relatively sensitive but they will help to keep your tank clean and provide plenty of nutrients for your plants.

However, it is essential that you monitor the temperature to keep it in the 80°F range.

One mistake that many tilapia users make is to keep changing the pH of the water; effectively trying to correct it.

Providing your plants are tolerant it is usually best to let the water take care of itself. Tilapias actually have different pH levels depending on what they are eating.

This is basic advice for all your fish. To ensure they tank is ready for breeding; these points will also be useful:

  • When ready for breeding lower the water temperature to the late 70’s. This will prevent them from breeding! Keeping the tank dark also helps.
  • You can then select the fish you want to breed; don’t let them just breed as they feel like it. Breeding fish stop growing and the males become very aggressive.
  • You may prefer to select the breeding candidates by placing them in a separate tank to observe them first.
  • When you’re ready, keep the ones you want to breed in a separate tank and warm the water to 85°F.
  • Then add light; make sure the tank lights are on for at least 12 hours although you’ll also have to make sure this doesn’t interfere with any growing or flowering cycle in your plants.
  • Add a substrate to the base of your breeding tank; this is for the female to lay her eggs in. Gravel is a good option for this.
  • As soon as the fry appear remove the mature fish and put them back into your aquaponics system. The fry won’t be preyed on and can be added when they are a little bigger.

Pros Of Tilapia In Aquaponics 

  • Easy To Harvest – Tilapia is always easy to harvest when used in aquaponics. It is often a good idea to purge the fish during harvest time. For this process to be performed, it is expedient to put them in a separate tank. This will help tilapia digestive system to be properly clean. In most cases, you will find people withholding feed for 3-5 days when using tilapia for aquaponics before harvest time. Ensure water is often exchanged during the time of withholding feed from tilapia. This will help to reduce temperature and as well improve water quality. Putting all these together will help to easily harvest tilapia in an aquaponics system.
  • Good Development/Growth Rate – Tilapia aquaponics will always lead to a good development/growth rate for this type of fish. Studies have shown that a 2-4 ounce tilapia fingerling can attain about 0.75 lb by the end of the growing season. Experiencing a good development rate is highly important. This is because you will have the opportunity of producing the same amount of nutrients with a smaller numbers of fish for the plants.

Cons Of Tilapia In Aquaponics

  • High Temperature – When the temperature of the aquaponics medium is too high, the fish may die or not be highly productive. Even at extremely low temperature, tilapia may not be able to perform effectively in an aquaponics system.

Bonus Section: Your Tilapia FAQ Answered

Here are some of the most common questions regarding tilapia and the answers to your tilapia FAQ’s.

Is tilapia a cold water fish?

No. You’ll need to maintain the temperature between 75°F and 90°F to have happy and healthy fish.

Below this they will become dormant and most tilapia will die if the water gets as lows as 55°F

What’s a Tilapia temperature range?

75°F to 90°F is the best temperature to keep tilapia at.

How many tilapia per gallon?

The general consensus is that a pound of tilapia will need 3 gallons of water. A full grown tilapia will weigh approximately 1 pound although they can grow larger.

This may mean you only have 1 tilapia per 3 gallons or even per 6 gallons of water.

You can increase the density of your fish by adding more grow beds; this will filter the water faster allowing more fish to be fed and stay healthy.

Where can I buy live tilapia?

You can find tilapia on the internet. However, it is important to do your research before you commit to buying any. You want to make sure they are as good as they appear to be.

For this reason you may prefer to visit your local fish store and see what they have in stock.

Don’t forget it is much cheaper to buy fingerlings than full grown fish. Alternatively you can get a male and a female and start breeding your own.

What’s the best tilapia for aquaponics?

Tilapia in general are very hardy fish; providing you monitor the temperature. This means that most species of tilapia will thrive in your aquaponic system.

As a personal preference blue tilapia is one of the best for an aquaponics system; regardless of your experience level.

What’s a good tilapia aquaponics tank size?

This will depend on the number of fish you wish to keep and how many plants you want to grow!

Most people start with a tank of at least 500 litres. This should give you approximately 130 gallons which allows enough room for between 20 and 40 full grown tilapia.

You can always expand the tank later.

Of course you also need to consider the size of your plant beds; the larger they are the more fish you can get in the same 130 gallons.

Using a Catfish aquaponics system. Any Good?

Aquaponics involves the growing of fish and plants together in an integrated system. Catfish aquaponics can be used with catfish since they adapt well to an aquaponic tank. In an aquaponic system, the fish waste acts as a source of food for the plants and the plants provide natural organics for the water the fish live in. The other organics include bacteria like microbes that thrive in the surrounding. They help in converting ammonia, the fish waste into nitrites, then nitrates. The solid waste is then converted to vermicompost that becomes the plant food.

catfish for aquaponics

In aquaponics, catfish are among one of the many types of fish one can grow. Since some fish are more durable than others, it is important to choose the type of fish that will adapt to your aquaponic system. There are several advantages to using catfish in aquaponics. The ideal temperature for catfish aquaponics is about 65F to 90F. Colder temperatures can slow down metabolism and food consumption. A warm surrounding improves the fish and plant growth. However, catfish can survive in most climates.

The recommended stocking density would be one fish per three to five gallons of water. This is to reduce stress and give them more oxygen. As the system ages and the water bacteria become stronger, the amount of water can be exceeded. Catfish grow faster in the first breeding years than as they mature. Most fish will take about two years to fully mature. The ideal oxygen levels for the catfish would be four to five ppm(parts per million). Dense tanks may need aeration at night since plants absorb oxygen at this time and may choke the fish. Extra aeration may also be required when temperatures go above 85F.

Catfish aquaponics is a great way to breed the catfish. This is because in the natural surroundings, they have to make their living under diverse environmental conditions.

Having a Koi Aquaponics System

Koi fish, a Japanese carp used in large ornamental pounds and outdoor water gardens for its large size and attractive colors, is becoming a popular choice for koi aquaponics systems. They’re sought out for their durability as they can withstand year round temperatures and are highly resistant to common parasites. Whereas the most used aquaponics fish, the Tilapia, need temperatures above 75 degrees to thrive, Koi can function in temperatures ranging from 35 to 85 degrees. This means less energy is needed for heating the pound so energy costs are lower. They’re great algae eaters so typically subsist on existing growth within the aquaponics system in addition to greens such as peas, watermelon, and lettuce. During winter they require less frequent feeding (once a day) and produce less waste whereas in warmer temperatures it is recommended they are fed several small meals throughout the day and they subsequently produce more waste. As cold water holds more oxygen, it’s important to add oxygen in the warmer months to ensure the health and functioning of your Koi.

koi fish for aquaponics

Koi are not considered a good fish for eating so for those looking to garner not only plants from their aquaponics system but also a protein source might be better off with a different fish such as Trout or Tilapia. However, Koi can reach lengths of up to two feet after four or five years if water quality and space in the tank are optimized, meaning their resale to hobbyists and pet stores may reap a profit. One of the challenges in this regard is that after a few generations, if selective breeding is not employed, the pretty sheen and color array will fade making the Koi look no better than common carp. Thus, the resale value will be diminished if their breeding is not managed properly. Another drawback is that when the Koi get larger they start to produce a lot of waste and can overload the system. The waste production must be monitored and a larger and more efficient filter may need to be installed.

As a final thought, Koi have been known to live up to thirty years and grow longer than two feet. As they grow larger more space will be required for them to thrive. Having several large Koi would require a tank ten feet in depth and over 1000 gallons of water. Considering this, it can be a great option for a koi aquaponics system for a few years as they grow from small fish to large and colorful ornamental fish, but when they get too big and start producing a lot of waste it may be time to swap the larger ones out for smaller ones.

Using Freshwater Aquaponics Shrimps for a Better Cycle

Using freshwater shrimps to create a better aquaponics nutrition cycle.

How is that possible?

In this article i’m going to tell you all about it.

Grab a drink and read on.

Why should you use freshwater aquaponics shrimps?

Using freshwater shrimp for aquaponics can be a beneficial addition to your already fish populated tank. Notice here when I say addition?

That’s right, I use shrimps or prawns as an addition to my tilapia fish.

Prawns are bottom feeders. They will eat anything they will find. This goes from organic matter to snails and fish waste.

The best way to incorporate shrimps into your aquaponics system is to have them in your fish tank, under yours floating rafts or in both of them. We will discuss both options right now.

  1. Have them in your fish tank – When you don’t have floating rafts this is the option to go after. The prawns will eat the fish waste and help to keep the bottom clean.
  1. Have them under your floating rafts – Remember when I told that shrimps like organic waste? Well, under your floating rafts there is quite a lot of organic waste like dead roots. Now to answer your next question if the prawns wouldn’t eat the roots; Normally they won’t eat the roots but when they are hungry (too much prawns) they might nibble on the existing roots. That’s when you know you have too many prawns in your system.
  1. Combination of the two – This might be the best option. This way they keep both your fish tank clean and your floating rafts.

What is the difference between a prawn and a shrimp?

The difference between prawns and shrimps is negligible. There are quite a few differences if you compare the two.

Both shrimp and prawns have five legs. Prawns have claws on their first tree pair of their legs while shrimps only have claws on their first two legs.

When prawn breeds they their release their eggs while the shrimp places the eggs on the underside of their body.

For more differences, check out the following image:

Difference between a Prawn and a Shrimp

Which one should you use? Prawns or shrimps?

Like I said in the beginning of the article, the difference between the two is quite negligible. Using prawns or shrimps for freshwater aquaponics is a choice you need to make depending on the availability in your area. The two won’t differ in maintenance or preferred environments. For now, we will just use the name shrimp.

Where can I find freshwater aquaponics shrimp for sale?

You can get freshwater shrimp locally or online. I do believe you should try to find them locally because they will probably be cheaper. If not, then the online option might be your best bet.

Separating the shrimps from the fish

When shrimps are small they can be eaten by your already existing fish. That is why you need to separate them from your fish. You do this by separating them with a birds mesh of .25 inches from your local store. Use PVC pipes to create a supporting structure.

When they are hungry they do eat each other and they are quite territorial. That’s why you need to make a place they can hide from each other. Constructing something like the following image is a good idea. It’s also made from PVC pipe and .25 inches birds mesh.

You will see these steps being explained in the video below:

Some useful information when cultivating shrimps

  • They take 4 months to reach market seize
  • Market seize is around 3 ounces per shrimp
  • They like 75 to 85 degrees the most (tilapia requires 75 to 90° which makes them perfect pairs)
  • They can survive in waters of 60 to 100 degrees but going that low or high is not optimal for their growth. Note when I say ‘survive’ it means they won’t die but will suffer from the cold/warmth.
  • You can harvest them 3 times a year because each grow cycle will be 4 months.
  • pH of the water should be between 7.8 and 8.5.
  • Organic shrimps are worth $8 to $10 per pound on fresh markets.
  • You need to have 2 square feet per prawn otherwise they become territorial.
  • Introduce half of your prawns first. Come back and check how they are going. If they appear lively you can add the other half in.
  • Aeration or airflow is important while keeping shrimps. You should have at least an air pump or a flow of water mixed with air to aerate the water for your shrimp.

Do I need to feed the shrimps?

Generally, you don’t need to feed them if you respect the area they need. But when you start to see that they are cannibalizing each other it’s time to give some more fish feed and watch it sink to the bottom where the shrimp can eat.


There is risk of diseases and monoculture by having shrimp in your aquaponics. If the system is not carefully monitored the risk is actually surprisingly high. It has the potential to kill you shrimp / prawns and even affect the growth of your crops. Monitoring the quality of the water and making sure the prawns remain healthy can help to mitigate this risk.

It is worth having a back up pump in case yours fails. You can use solar panels if you don’t want to be depending on the grid. If there would be a grid failure it’s best to have a running airpump.

Pros Of Shrimp In Aquaponics

  • Natural – using shrimp / prawns in aquaponics means that any plants you grow are produced in an environmentally friendly way. There is no need for you to artificially control or manage the water.
  • Pesticides – Because the process is completely natural you shouldn’t be bothered with pests on your plants. This means you don’t need to use pesticides or fertilizers to get the best growth of both shrimp and plants.
  • Flavour – It is worth adding shrimp to your aquaponics setup. Most people agree that the shrimp and prawn produced are of a superior quality and taste to that which you can get through traditional farming methods. This is also completely natural; not to mention a very healthy food for you to eat.
  • Eco- friendly – This method of producing fish, shrimps and prawns for both domestic and commercial consumption is extremely lucrative and environmentally friendly as it use no artificial aids. But more importantly aquaponics is becoming exceptionally popular as a way of creating crops and fish to eat even in the most inhospitable parts of the world. It could even be used to help feed the mission to Mars in the future!
  • Keep It Local – While large scale farming is the traditional approach to food shortages the aquaponics system can be started locally. This removes the need to travel long distances in search for food or reduce the quality of the food as it is in transit for an extended period of time. But it also allows the local community to become more self-sufficient and invest in their own future. This is particularly beneficial if the community is remote.
  • Increased Yield – The system enables the realization of faster growth and better yields with plants naturally fertilized. Once you get the setup right you’ll notice that your shrimp and prawns can be ready to harvest in just a few months.
  • Easy To Manage – The water from the fish is pumped below the grow beds of your plants, allowing them to have the right amount of water and nutrients for their needs; without drowning them. Once you’ve created the right balance in your water you don’t need to do anything other than feed the shrimp and test the water occasionally! There are no weeds to concern yourself with and no need to turn the soil or even have a large plot of land; you can create everything you need and leave it to look after itself!
  • Water Usage – An aquaponics system will lose approximately 1% of its water on a daily basis. This is due to evaporation and plant usage. You’ll need to replace the water periodically but it is significantly less than it takes to grow a crop normally.
  • All Year Round – You can control the temperature for your plants by growing them in a grow room or greenhouse. Obviously you need to regulate the temperature for your shrimp as well. Once you’ve got that set up properly you’ll be able to grow crops all year round!

Cons Of Shrimp In Aquaponics

  • Disease Risk – There is risk of diseases and monoculture by having shrimp in your aquaponics. If the system is not carefully monitored the risk is actually surprisingly high. It has the potential to kill you shrimp / prawns and even affect the growth of your crops. Monitoring the quality of the water and making sure the prawns remain healthy can help to mitigate this risk.

It is worth having a back up pump in case yours fails. You can use solar panels if you don’t want to be depending on the grid. If there would be a grid failure it’s best to have a running airpump.


The idea of using shrimp and prawns in aquaponics is good. They can, with a little care and attention, provide you with a good array of edible prawns and help you clean your system.

There are cons that you should be aware of but these can be controlled and the risks reduced; making shrimps in aquaponics a viable an attractive option.

Do you want to know how to make your own DIY aquaponics setup? I used this course and i learned a lot from it.

Pro’s and Cons of Using Rainbow Trout in Aquaponics

Aquaponics is basically the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. In short it requires you to nurture fish or other aquatic life. The by-products of these fish are microbes and waste. These are perfect as food for plants.

The plants then consume the fish waste and filter the water, providing the fish with a clean environment in which to live and breed. Aquaponics has been used for many years to encourage better plant growth. It is particularly effective in areas with poor soil quality.

In fact aquaponics can help you to avoid the issues that often ‘crop up’ (pun intended) when using soil based plant growing methods. These include issues with pests, weeds and insects as well as getting the watering schedule right.

Of course, hydroponics (growing plants in a balanced water solution) isn’t perfect; you still need to balance man-made chemicals and monitor the water regularly to ensure it is safe and helpful to your plants. You’ll also find that the water in a traditional hydroponics set-up will need to be changed often. This is why fish have been added into the equation to create aquaponics.

Suddenly you don’t need to control all the elements of your water mixture. Simply feed your fish and allow them to take care of your plants for you.

In fact, once you understand the process you’ll find it can be done even in your garage with the right equipment, attitude and time. Adding fish to your aquaponics system can make it much easier to grow any kind of plant.

Do you want to know how to make your own aquaponics setup? I used this course and learned a lot from it.

Why use trout?

Trout is undoubtedly the most widely farmed fish in the world, majorly because it is a prized food fish and is comparatively easier to culture.

Trout aquaponics can successfully grow trout fish right in your backyard or garage and isn’t it great to grow your own dinner?

Rainbow Trout in aquaponics

There are actually many different types of trout but the 3 main species are:

  • Brook – Also known as speckled trout it is generally found in cold water streams that border the mountains.

brook trout for aquaponics

  • Rainbow – These are perhaps the prettiest of the trout with a pink stripe, an array of black spots and a pink or red cover over their gills. They are also found in cold mountain streams but are much better at dealing with a variety of temperatures.

rainbow trout for aquaponics

  • Brown – These are actually European trout. Unsurprisingly they are brown in colour. They also have a splattering of spots; ranging in colour from black, to red and even orange.

brown trout for aquaponics

The best one of these to use in your aquaponics system is the rainbow trout.

This isn’t because they are the prettiest or generally the toughest fighters. The simple fact is that rainbow trout are the hardiest type of trout. This makes them easier to grow for farming purposes and much less maintenance for plant growing purposes.

Trout are generally fast growing, allowing you to increase your population. This can be useful if you want to sell the fish to generate additional funds or simply enjoy eating them.

But, the real reason to choose trout for your aquaponic setup is that their speed of growth will allow you to rapidly increase the number of crops you can grow.

The key element to choosing rainbow trout is that they can survive in a fairly wide range of temperatures; maximizing the production of nutrients to help your crops grow.

It is a good idea to consider Trout Fingerlings for Aquaponics. The first reason why this is a good idea is that the cost of purchasing fingerlings is significantly less than getting full grown rainbow trout.

But fingerlings are also more adaptable. They will respond to the climate you have created and flourish in it; even if it is not optimal for adult trout.  This doesn’t mean that you can have any system; you still need to monitor the ph levels and other chemicals.

Fingerlings are also incredibly good at creating waste; mainly because their digestive systems are still developing.

By adding fingerlings to your aquaponics you can increase the amount of nutrients available for your plants; this will either increase the yield from your crop or increase the number of plants you have!

Pro’s of trout in aquaponics

  • Low maintenance – When it comes to keeping the fish healthy there is very little you need to do with trout. They are the ones who can pretty much take care of themselves without added help.
  • Fast growing – They grow really fast. How fast? Marketable sized trout can be reached in about 9 months ( ~40 cms). The ‘pan-sized’ ones take about 12-13 months, which is pretty fast compared to other fish. Thus you can grow them fast and start the new cycle really soon as well.
  • Excellent food conversion ratios – Maximum weight of the fish can be safely consumed and is rather delicious. Also, since the diet of trout consists of molluscs, flies and crustaceans which are high in energy, lipids and fish oil (great for cholesterol); it all gets reflected in the nutritional value of the fish itself.
  • Great for cool temperatures – Living in cool temperatures? Don’t you worry, trout is here for you! They prefer water temperatures between 10 to 20 degree Celsius.

Con’s of trout in aquaponics

  • Large area required for their growth – Trout requires fast flow rates to be cultured at high densities and thus if you wish to grow trout, it is better to do so in large systems no more than 0.5kg per 100L of water.
  • High temperatures – Trout has the capacity to withstand temperatures between 0 and 22 degrees Celsius. However, optimum growth occurs only between 12 and 16 degree Celsius. Water temperatures above 22 degrees make the digestive system of trout inefficient and most of the feed will end up as waste.
  • Low oxygen levels in the water – If the water has oxygen less than 5.5mg/L. So in case the fish stocking density is too high (usually it is not) then it will be difficult for the fish to thrive as they need high oxygen levels in the water to survive.

Additional Considerations When Undertaking Aquaponics

If you are keeping fish it is possible to have them swimming round at the bottom of your plants. However there are two concerns with this approach.

  1. The fish need cool water; your plants may prefer the warmth making it difficult to get the right balance.
  2. It’s possible the fish will nibble at the roots of your plants; potentially ruining your crop.

The solution is actually very simple. You already know what PH, temperature and size of tank you need to keep your trout happy. Create this pond separate to where you are growing plants. Then simply use a pump to circulate the water round the system.

The fish will be kept healthy in their pond while their waste will effectively feed your plants.

You should also be aware that with aquaponics you will lose about 1% of your water to evaporation and to the plants; they do need to consume some! This is significantly less than all other methods of growing crops.

You’ll be saving money on water costs and nutrients while helping the environment and getting better quality crops!


It is important to cycle your aquaponics system before you start to use it. For example, if you are looking to grow marijuana then you’ll want to create a bedding area for your plants above the fish water. You must then add approximately 2ppm of ammonia to the water and allow it to cycle until the nitrogen levels and ammonia levels become zero.

At this point the water should have plenty of nitrates which are the bacteria responsible for turning fish waste into plant food.

Only when the water has enough nitrates can you start to introduce your trout and know that the bacteria will provide enough food for your plants.

This is actually true for most types of plants. You can even use trout aquaponics and a process known as the dual root zone to ensure your plants have all the nutrients they need. The better the system is at supplying the necessary nutrients the less work you’ll need to do to produce your crop.


All in all it is a great fish to culture. Trout Aquaponics is done at many places all around the world, especially in colder countries. It is low maintenance, the fish diet is easily available and they grow pretty fast, so not much waiting.

Trout aquaponics can provide you with healthy fish to eat but it is even better at providing you with a healthy crop of your chosen plant.  That’s the biggest benefit of aquaponics; you’re improving the environment while growing your favorite plant.

Do you want to know more about using fish in your aquaponics system? Check out our ‘fish’ category.

Best Fish For Aquaponics – Choose The Best Fish

There is no joy like the joy of harvesting fish from your own tank in your backyard. This not only gives the satisfaction of raising your own fish but again being sure that the fish you are eating are clean, healthy and are toxic free source of proteins.

fish tank with koiMany fish can be raised in a closed system and with aquaponics you can keep a very high variety of fish in your tank. It is highly recommended to research what types of fish are best for your local area by weather conditions and legality. Local fish species are easier to get and you won’t need a permit or license to keep these types of fish at home. If you are planning on getting foreign or exotics fish you may have some legal restrictions, and you will need to consult a specialist.

While many types of fish can thrive in a closed systems, some will need special care and some are very easy to maintain. Here are some of the best fish for aquaponics.

Tilapia is a clean and tasteful fish that adapts easily. It is a very tough fish and it will eat any fish food you’ll feed it. The harvest time for tilapia fish is between four to six months depending on the size you want and how warm the water is. To read more about tilapia click here.

Murray Cod
The Murray Cod is a great choice if you planning on stocking many fish in one holding tank. This fish will grow very fast even in a closed environment, if you stocking that type of fish just keep in mind that you have to feed it well and satisfy its appetite otherwise the hunger will take control over your fish tank and the fish will attack each other. This type of fish is recommended for people who have time for the maintenance involved. To read more about Murray Cod click here.

aquaponics fish tankCatfish
Catfish are great for aquaponics system, after adapting to the tanks they will grow fairly quickly, catfish does not thrives in dirty water and clean water in best for it, even though these fish are so adaptable that they known how to survive in a very harsh environmental areas like polluted ponds, so after adaptation these fish will be fine. To read more about catfish click here.

White Bass
The white bass is a one of the best fish for aquaponics. Its an eatable fish and its meat is a favorite to many, usually cooked through smoking the white bass is very easy to catch and should be considered as a fish for aquaponics.

Gold fish
In case you are not planning of eating fish from your tank you can aim toward ornamental fish. Gold fish is a great choice for aquaponics and it is easy to take care of. Goldfish are a very tough species and can live in a high level of water pollution. When it comes to breeding, no fish is easier to breed then the common goldfish. The only thing these fish need in order to breed in tanks is a thin cover of plant life.

Koi Fish
Koi fish are from the carp family but because these types of fish are normally sold as an ornamental fish they are in a different category. Koi fish usually lives in artificial ponds so it is safe to raise them in a tank. You can also mix koi fish with eatable fish just make sure they are not fighting and there is a enough space in the tanks for all of your fish. To read more about koi click here.

Having a shrimp aquaponics system is a good idea in raising profit out of fish. It is a gold mine. The small tasty creatures, hands down the number one sea food consumed in the world as the demand continues to grow for the beauties at a low rate. To read more about shrimps and Prawns click here.

Using trout in your aquaponic system will be great because the grow rate is very good. Trout has a very good temperature range. That’s why it is the perfect fish for indoor and outdoor aquaponics. To read more about trout click here.