What Are The Best Suitable Aquaponics Fish

Aquaponics FishWhen deciding to take on the adventure of aquaponics some thought must also be given to what type of aquaponics fish will be raised in this environment. Some fish are raised for the purpose of eating while others are more ornamental.

There is a wide variety of fish species that can be grown in an aquaponic environment and with the right plant life and other aspects of this ecosystem, fish will grow healthy and strong.

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Aquaponics Fish For Eating

The top favored aquaponics fish to be raised for the purpose of eating are tilapia, trout, and bass. Each of these fish species has specific needs that should be adhered to for achievement of best results. Also, you want to make sure that fish you are putting in the water tank are compatible. You would not want to go out and find that some of your fish have been eaten.


Bass prefer mildly cool water ranging between 59 – 96 degrees with 75 – 86 degrees being the preferred range. The younger fry need water just a tad cooler. Keep in mind that bass are big fish when grown, so you would not want to take on this species of fish if you only have a small area to work with.


Trout grow to be a descent size when cared for properly. This fish species is a coldwater fish, but is an excellent aquaponics fish because it grows fast. They prefer temperatures around 32 degrees to 80 degrees. During the fry stage, the minimum temperature for trout is 41 degrees.


Tilapia are a warm water fish, and it is recommended to not have water temperature below 55 degrees. If it falls below this margin tilapia become sick and when water is below 50 degrees, they will start dying off.

Aquaponics Fish For Decoration

The best aquaponics fish species for decoration are koi, goldfish, and perch. Many people raise koi for income purposes.


When possible it is best to purchase koi at an early age when they are not as expensive. There is a tidy little profit that can be made by the raising and sale of this fish species. A few years back a prize koi was sold in Japan for nearly $400,000.00.


The perch is a very adaptable fish, and makes a good starter fish for aquaponics enthusiasts. Perch come in several colors, but the three most used as aquaponics fish are the yellow, silver, and jade variety.

Aquaponics is an excellent way to get the best of both worlds in fish and plants without chemical interaction. The symbiotic relationship between fish and plant can work to the advantage of the grower by providing food for the table. It may be the fish that was raised, or the plants that benefited from the fish.

For the various species of fish that are used in aquaponics gardening, there are just as many plants that benefit from this closed ecosystem. There are currently over 300 plant species that have been tested and shown success in an aquaponic environment. This is a great hobby for someone to pick up, but is also an excellent learning opportunity.  More importantly, it is a great way to ensure that there will always be something to eat for one or for the masses.

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  1. Coby says

    Hi, I love salmon. I guess salmon is out of the question for an aquaponics system, but I was wondering if you could grow another type of fish other than salmon such as catfish or tilapia. What type of fish would you suggest?

    • says


      The fish that are the easiest and least expensive to raise are freshwater, warm water herbivores. Perch is a favorite, but require animal protein which is mostly in the form of ocean fish ground up and powered. Tilapia is an easy fish to raise and are readily available. They also taste great.

      • alex says

        Larry – just saw your sight; I’m a retired lawyer, now teaching HS and have a few students very interested in this field but we’re in Alaska – has there been any research/work done raising cold-water fish, such as Dolly Varden or Arctic Char (similar water conditions for Trout)? They’d like to do a school independent research product on this for science credit and a quick literature search did not reveal anything (other than for trout)…..

  2. June says

    I am thinking about installing an aquaponics system in my greenhouse. What has to be done to care for the fish?

    • says

      Very good question.

      Believe it or not it is easier to take care of fish in an aquaponics system, than a normal fish aquarium. And that’s because once the aquaponics system is cycling the water between the fish tank and the grow bed, you have little concerns about filtering. Your biggest concern is just feeding the fish on a regular cycle.

      Good Luck with your aquaponics system!

  3. AquaPatriot says

    I am putting my first system together this weekend. I live in Ohio and am getting mixed reviews as to which type of fish to raise? I originally planed on trout from October to April and tilapia from April to October. I found out that they will not grow fast enough to be of edible size and a very experience indoor traditional fish farm says that trout cannot work at all in aquaponics??? What would you suggest? I am leaning towards catfish because they are hardy enough to withstand out winters and our summers in local ponds.

    • says


      I agree with you that trout and tilapia are good edible fish but they are slow growers. You suggestion to use catfish is a possible solution because they are hardy enough to withstand the winter and summer temperatures. They are very tasty as well and grow a little faster. I enjoy the favor of fresh water catfish.

      Hope this helped you!


  4. Paul says

    How long do barramundi and tilapia take to fully mature ? If you had a tank about the size of a standard bath size could you put new fish in say every 3 weeks so fish are continually maturing ? Would there be a problem with water temperature with barramundi and tilapia in same tank ? I hear that tilapia can ” cannibalise ” other fish . What happends when you go on holidays for say 5 – 6 weeks ?

    • says

      The barramundi juvenile fish develop into adults over the course of three or four years. They become sexually mature (at three to five years of age).
      Tilapia total time period to reach market size generally takes 7-8 months on average. Tilapia come into sexual maturity at about eleven weeks old, which is several months before they are fully grown out (1 lb. or so).

      Both barramundi and tilapia like warm water so they could live together.

      Both barramundi and tilapia will cannibalise other fish. You just have to watch for it.

      I suggest you have someone watch the fish and plants while you are gone. Provide them with good instructions.

      Hope this helps.


  5. christian uy says

    hello sir Larry,

    im christian uy from cagayan de oro, philippines. ive been keeping koi for almost two years and suddenly got an interest in making my pond an aquaponic too, my question is that, is it not risky for the koi (specially that it is my collection) to have parasites or deseases?

    thnks for your reply


  6. jhalter says

    is there a certain ratio of fish to plants that should be followed to keep the fish safe and the plants healthy with plenty of nutrients?

  7. says

    I have koi for my aquaponics system. They are a really hardy specie and easy to take of, which makes them great for the job. Tilapia is another one of my favourites. They are delicious and grows readily. Great article Larry. Thank you for sharing.


  8. Windy Elliott says

    How many koi can I keep in a 300 gallon tank that feeds my three aquaponic beds? I’ve been told they need 10 gallons per inch of fish, but I don’t think that would create enough waste to feed my beds. Please advise.

    • says

      Another way to measure is “for about 300 gallons of water you could have about 100 pounds of Tilapia for a gallons of water to pounds of fish ratio of about 3:1.

      Hope this helps!

      Enjoy your aquaponics systems.


  9. Sonny says

    How about catfish? I live in a very cold climate in the winter and I am going to house them in a grain bin with wood heat.

  10. Monte says

    I’m not clear on what you mean by ‘warm’ water. I live in Phoenix, AZ. It will get to be 100F by May and get as high as 115 until Aug or Sept. I had to bring my worms inside. What fish and what max temp should I strive for in an outdoor aquaponic system?

      • Monte says

        Thanks Larry,
        I saw a post/You-Tube from another person in AZ and what they did to compensate the the high temperatures. Most of it revolved around the movement and aeration of the water. I think he still suffered from water that was in low 90s. What fish can sustain that temperature? I believe the other guy also mentioned that the grow bed media also heated the water, so he had to shade the grow beds some.

        I was hoping on growing fish that I could eat, but with the heat situation, I may have to settle on Bullheads or carp of some sort.

        • says


          I suggest you find someone or a group in your area that can help you with managing the water temperature in AZ to raise fish you can eat since it gets so hot out there. I have seen several aquaponics groups and communities online in AZ.

          Good Luck and happy aquaponics gardening.


    • says


      I would not recommend putting bass and tilapia together.

      Bass is much less tolerant to unfavorable water conditions than the Tilapia. It can be successfully grown in an Aquaponic system, but it requires a vigilant and patient grower to do so because it takes between 16-17 months to produce a table-ready fish and a lot can go wrong. They do not do well with less than delicate handling. Nor do they like bright light and cannot tolerate poor nutrition. They are one of the most sensitive fish to raise; and their water temperature and oxygen levels need to be monitored daily. The young fingerlings need to be trained to feed on pellets.

      Tilapia are tough fish–not to chew–in that regard, they’re as soft as butter. Rather, they’re rugged, resistant to disease and parasites and can tolerate lots of beginner learning-curve issues. They can handle a wide range of water quality and temperature challenges; and they can survive longer in a toxic water environment with low oxygen and/or high ammonia levels. Tilapia thrive in water temperatures between 60-80 degrees F preferring the 80 degree end of the scale; but they are usually raised in temperatures between 72-74 degrees F to better serve the plants. They are also easy to breed; and they grow to maturity faster than most other cultured fish. In the best of environments, a Tilapia can grow to 2.5 lbs. in seven months. That’s the up-side.

      I would also be concerns the bass eating the Tilapia.

      Hope this helped,


  11. Ra says

    In Michigan, need help with converting an in ground pool enclosed in a greenhouse to an aquaponic system. What type of specific circulating pumps and other pumps do I need.

    What type of filtering system is easy to clean and very effective at ammonia removal.

    Believe pool is 12 ft deep, kidney shape.

    • says


      I suggest you seek someone in your area that knows a thing or two about pumping and filtering water for you pool. They will need to measure and calculate how much water needs to be moved and how best with the right pump and filter to move it to your grow beds.

      Good Luck,


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