There are no perfect aquaponics fish for an aquaponics home grown system.  However, there are several key traits that the aquaponics fish you do use need to have.  In order for the entire ecosystem to work properly, the fish you raise should exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Capable of Reproducing in Captivity
  • Must produce many hardy eggs and young
  • Must have well-known requirements as far as how they are raised
  • Must be adaptable to many types of culture systems
  • Must be adaptable to having other species in the tank
  • Must grow fairly quickly and to a large size
  • Must readily adapt to artificial feed sources
  • Must be tolerant of crowding and high density conditions (living in a tank)
  • Must have high survival or low mortality rates when raised in a contained environment
  • Should be easy to handle when it comes to harvesting and transporting them
  • Should be resistant to disease and parasite infestations
  • Should not be cannibalistic or territorial because that would cause obvious problems in the tank
  • Should be easy to acquire on the market as eggs, fingerlings, or adults
  • If you are going to sell the fish, they should have a high market demand
  • Should product a good amount of feces.  

If you are going to sell them, they should be good as a food source. Believe it or not, there are many fish that fit this long list of criteria.   Some of the best fish are:  Tilapia, Catfish, Arctic Char


Aquaponics Fish - tilapia

Tilapia has become the third most important aquaponics fish species.  The number one and two are carp and salmon.   Now here we are discussing Aquaponics, but there is definitely carry over from aquaculture (raising fish in tanks or ponds).   They are a tropical freshwater fish and as such they require rather warm conditions.
They have an omnivorous diet, their fry do not pass through the plank-tonic phase, they are very tolerant of crowded conditions, and they grow quickly.   This makes them a very profitable fish to raise.  They produce a white flaked meat with a mild flavor.

Tilapia primarily feed on plankton and small organisms.   The will grow rapidly for the first few months and then their growth will slow.  Eventually they will reach about 5 to 6lbs by 3 to 5 years of age.


aquaponics fish - catfish

Catfish are commonly raised because of their ideal fit for the criteria listed above, and they are the most commonly raised aquaponics fish in the United States.  The specific type of Catfish used in Aquaponics is the aquaponics fish catfish“Channel Catfish”.  They are also very popular as a food source in southern climates.  You will find them on many a high end restaurant menu.  

Catfish are more commonly raised because of their versatility.  They are less susceptible to temperature changes than Tilapia.   They can handle cold water growing well below 70 degrees, and will keep growing when the water temp is hotter.  They are very fast growing.

To feed the channel catfish, you will need a protein pellet mixture.  They will also eat live food such as molluscs, insect larvae, and worms.  The resulting meat of harvested aquaculture raised catfish is tender and good tasting and lacking in that “muddy” flavor that you might find in a catfish caught in the wild.

Arctic Char

aquaponics fish - arctic char
Arctic Char

 The Arctic Char is not commonly thought of as a fish suitable for aquaculture, but in the northern climates it isaquaponics fish artic char actually ideal.  They are closely related to salmon, another fish species used in aquaculture, and also to trout, and have characteristics common to both – making them an excellent aquaponics fish species.  They have low optimum temperature requirements meaning that they can be raised in a lower temperature water (less cost).  When harvested they will reach 2 – 5 lbs. in weight.  

They are a unique alternative to salmon and trout and this makes them a sought after fish on many a restaurant menu.  It is seen as a gourmet niche seafood product  and as a result can draw a higher margin for most restaurants.