If you enjoy eating clean fresh fish, then a fish system might be the perfect way to treat yourself and your family to healthy fresh on a regular basis. I know how difficult it can be to find reliable information on what the best aquaponics fish species to use are, and how to introduce new fish into a newly created system – so if that is what you are looking for then it is lucky that you found this page.
To create a self-sustaining grow beds fish system, you have to make sure that all the required parts of the system are present, and that they are carefully balanced with each other. The essential parts of an aquaponic system include freshwater fish, bacteria, and vegetation. The fish need the plants to clean and filter their water; otherwise the water will become toxic and your fish will perish if exposed to too much ammonia and nitrates.
The plants absorb the nutrients that fish solid waste and decomposed ammonia provide, and may not survive without these vital nutrients. Both plants and fish must be present in the correct proportion in the system for it to function properly, and if one or the other gets out of balance, the system can stop working altogether.
One of the most common mistakes that people make is not properly cultivating the bacteria BEFORE introducing the fish. I hear from folks all the time that either have to change the water in the fish holding tank to maintain healthy conditions, or that have vegetables that grow very slowly, if at all. Nine time out of ten, when we look at the root cause of the problems we find out that there is just not enough bacteria to convert the fish ammonia and waste into a usable form for the plants.
The aquaponics fish and plants both are dependent on the bacteria to break down the ammonia into nitrates. The plants can only absorb these nitrates, and the water will not be clean enough if the plants do not filter them out of the water. All three parts are needed in the right amounts for the system to work.
The Best Aquaponics Fish
Freshwater fish form the foundation of the system. The most popular fish that people use for their system is tilapia. Other types of freshwater fish that are popular for aquaponics include koi fish and crappie fish. Tilapia can be used for any size aquaponic fish system; however, it is important to know if local laws permit them to be raised in backyards in warmer parts of the United States.
The best fish choice is often tilapia is good for aquaponics systems because they grow rapidly, they taste delicious, and they tend to be the most likely to survive in conditions that are not perfect. They belong to the cichlid fish family, and are typically found in warmer climates.
How many fish should you start with in the holding tank? The number can vary, depending on the filtration pump being used and how much space you have to work with. A common rule of thumb used by small-scale commercial producers is to make sure there are two gallons of water in the tank for every pound of fish that is added.
To figure out how much plant life can be supported by your aquaponic system, you have to consider three things:
- How much fish feed is consumed by the fish, and how much is left over each day for the plants
- How large the fish are, how much they weigh, and how mature they are
- The total number and volume of fish in the holding tank
How Much Vegetation Do You Need?
Other things that have an effect on the amount of vegetation that the system can support include the setup and the types of vegetables that you intend to grow in the system.
For example, if you are using elevated growing beds, you will need approximately sixty grams of fish food each and every day for each square meter of fruit and vegetables. These elevated grow beds are known as a simple raft setup.
If you want to grow squash, the amount of fish food that you will need each day will be higher than with less demanding vegetables. In the example above, you would need at least 100 grams of fish food each day to grow squash. Since the plants are entirely dependent on the fish solid waste and the excess feed present in the water, it is important to consider each factor when you are planning your aquaponics fish system.
The vegetables (such as aquaponic tomatoes) must have enough fish waste and nitrates to grow and flourish. This is why the amount of fish and fish feed is so critical to the success of the entire system.
You have to also be careful not to overfeed the fish as well. Too much fish feed will result in excess waste in the water that will not be absorbed by the vegetables. If this occurs, the fish will not survive because the excess waste and nutrients will end up poisoning them.
The most important part of developing successful aquaponics systems is to make sure that there is a natural biological balance that will sustain both the fish and the organic fruits and vegetables. After the system is running well, the maintenance will consist of ensuring that this balance is maintained and that there are not too many fish or vegetables to throw everything out of whack.