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 bacteria then consume the fish waste and provide nutrients to the plants. Aquaponics has been used for many years to encourage better plant growth. It is particularly effective in areas with poor soil quality.
Of course, hydroponics (growing plants in a fertilized 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.
Suddenly you don’t need to control all the elements of your water mixture. Simply feed your fish and allow them together with the bacteria to take care of your plants. If you want to know more about how aquaponics works, check out this article.
Why use trout?
Trout is one of the most farmed fish in the world, majorly because of its great taste.
With trout aquaponics, you can successfully grow trout right in your backyard.
Different Trout Species
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.
- 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.
- Brown – These are actually European trout. Unsurprisingly they are brown in color. They also have a splattering of spots; ranging in color from black to red and even orange.
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 strongest 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 aquaponics system 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 number of nutrients available for your plants; this will either increase the yield from your crop or increase the number of plants you have! Check out your local fish farm if they have fingerlings available.
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? Market-sized trout can be reached in about 9 months ( ~40 cm or 15 inches). 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 – The diet of trout in nature consists of mollusks, flies, and crustaceans which are high in energy, lipids, and fish oil. Because we cannot feed them these, there is a special trout feed that will suit them like this one for sale on amazon.
- Great for cool temperatures – Living in cool temperatures? Don’t you worry, trout are here for you! They prefer water temperatures between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius or 50-68°F.
Con’s of trout in aquaponics
- Large area required – 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.
- Low temperatures – Trout has the capacity to withstand temperatures between 0 and 22 degrees Celsius (32-72°F). However, optimum growth occurs only between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius (53-61°F). Water temperatures above 22 degrees (72°F) make the digestive system of trout inefficient and most of the feed will end up as waste.
- High oxygen requirement – Trout require at least a dissolved oxygen level of 5.5mg/L. So, in case the fish stocking density is too high, then it will be difficult for the fish to thrive as they need high oxygen levels in the water to survive.
Trout isn’t an easy fish to cultivate in your backyard. Normally, they are cultivated in runways with a lot of running water. To mimic this you need a lot of water flow, more than with tilapia. This is to create the natural environment that they are used to, a small stream.
Make sure you cultivate them in a cold climate, cooling your water is expensive!
Check out this useful video by TheRealMartian on youtube:
All in all, it is a great fish to cultivate. 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.