You already know that your diy system involves a symbiotic relationship between plants and animals to create the perfect year round food source. Most people who begin this type of venture tend to have an idea of what types of plants they’d want to grow, but all too often make mistakes regarding fish for aquaponics options. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, this may not be an issue as you’ll simply be collecting or selling your fish supply.Therefore, you could use nothing but goldfish if you so desired. But for those who will be consuming all parts of their harvest, the straight forward answer is simple: use whatever fish you enjoy eating. However, the detailed answer deserves a bit more deliberation.
The Best Fish Options for Your Aquaponics Gardening System
A lot of people love to just jump in without a net and figure everything out through doing. And while that’s an admirable thought, it can be an expensive and time consuming mistake. There are a couple major problems with jumping right in without considering the basics here. First of all, fish tend to multiple and grow in size rather quickly. So adding too many at once can overcrowd the tank and your supply could die out before having the opportunity to become part of the growth cycle. The second major issue is that different fish require different living conditions. Depending on where you currently reside, you may need to consider warm or cold water fish, as either can suffer in the wrong climate. Again, dead fish aren’t helpful for this type of system. The following types of fish are the most common varieties to use, whether you intend to eat them or just use them to assist your plant growth.
Tilapia are found most often in shallow streams, lakes, and river beds. These warm water fish can survive on plant-based fish food or algae. They’re easy to breed, do so quickly and they grow very large. They can also survive poor water conditions.
Trout are carnivorous cool water fish that feed on smaller fish, mollusks, insects, and blood worms. They’re attractive fish that grow and breed very quickly. However, they do need very cool temperatures to thrive.
Catfish thrive in warm fresh water sources, but can adapt relatively easily as long as the water isn’t too cold. Some species may have specific diets, but most can survive on plant-based food as well as smaller aquatic life and insects. They are known for growing exceptionally large, however, so be careful not to over-crowd.
The oily freshwater fish is common in several different varieties. They reproduce easily and can adapt to different environments. They’re omnivorous, so they can eat algae, fish food, insects, mollusks, and smaller invertebrates.
Bass is a popular freshwater game fish that adapts to many environments, but tastes better when found in cold water. This is due to the cold water diet, but that may not be an issue if you’re looking to add them as your fish for your DIY aquaponics system. Younger bass feed on bait fish, small shrimp and insects. But larger, or adult, bass feed on small fish, snails, snakes, birds, and even small mammals.
This non-edible fish can eat insects, small marine life, or specified fish food. However, they create a lot of waste if overfed. They also require plant cover to breed. That’s good for your system. But they are known for attracting parasites, so do not eat this variety.
Other species include barramundi, trout, coi, jade perch, or whatever other species you prefer. But pay attention to their temperature needs, growth rates, and diets.
Cycling Your System
Fish must be added to your system first. Give them around 4-6 weeks to build enough ammonia before adding the plant beds. The ammonia (or NH3) will then be converted to nitrates for your plants. The capacity of a mature fish tank is generally 1 pound of fish for every 5-10 gallons of water. Only stock yours about half as full as your fish will grow and reproduce. Cycling fish tend not to survive long due to the toxins they have to produce, but they serve a purpose. So prepare yourself for the necessary sacrifice they’re about to make. There are also ways to enter your cycling mode without fish, such as using already toxified lake or pond water. In any case, testing of your water base must be performed to ensure the ammonia levels before continuing.
When your cycling is complete, the general rule of thumb is to stock 1 inch length of fish per gallon of water in smaller tanks, or up to 1/2 pound of fish per gallon of water used in larger fish tanks with proper filtration systems.
How many fish can feed a plant?
That depends on the number of fish used, their sizes, and the amount of food they eat daily. Scientists have discovered that 1 square meter of raft-based plants can be fed by feeding your fish 60-100g of fish food daily. When feeding fish, only give them what they’ll eat. In most cases, they can consume up to a tablespoon of fish food per 20 fish. Watch how much they consume within five minutes. One feeding is all they’ll need daily. However, if the water is clear each day within minutes of their feeding, you may wish to increase the food offering slowly, just to increase the nitrogen rate.
Once you’ve chosen your perfect variety of fish for aquaponics and taken the necessary cycling steps, you’ll be ready to focus on your plants. Yes, cycling is time consuming, but it gives your diy aquaponic gardening system the upfront push it needs to thrive.
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