Aquaponics involves the combining of hydroponics with aquaculture to grow healthy organic plants such as vegetables and herbs. This method gardening can also supply you with a good source of protein from the fish being reared in the aquaculture component of the system. Certain types of fish are best suited for this type of farming. Many these fish are a great source of protein.
The tilapia fish is commonly used in this method of gardening. This fish requires warm water to thrive in. The recommended water temperature for tilapia is 28-30 degrees C (82-86 degrees F). The growth rate will decrease dramatically if the water is colder than 20 degrees C (50 degrees F) and fishes will normally start dying at roughly 10 degrees C (50 degrees F). So if you live in a cool climate you will have to heat the water so you might want to choose aquaponics fish that are better suited for cool water such as trout. But the Tilapia are tolerant of high stock densities, can withstand very poor water conditions, consume an omnivorous diet and they are fast growing. So the tilapia is a good choice for aquaponics fish if you live in a warm climate or can afford to heat the water in the rearing tanks. Tilapia are also a good choice if you want to use it as a food source and still be able to provide the needed nutrients for the plants growing in the hydroponics component of your system. Tilapia can be harvested for food a number of times per year and still provide you with enough nutrients to feed the plants growing in your aquaponics garden.
Another good fish to use in this type of farming is the rainbow trout. These fish are more tolerant of cooler water and actually thrive in water temperatures between 10°C and 20°C. They are a fast growing fish and are good eating. If you live in a colder climate you might want to go with this type of, especially in the winter, to stock your fish rearing tanks. However because of the cold water you might find the selection of plants you can grow limited as many plants prefer the more tropical water temperatures. Unlike tilapia, trout are rather hard to please when it comes to cleanliness of water. Trout need pristine water conditions to thrive.
Another species of fish that is well suited to aquaponics gardening is the catfish. These fish are popular in the United States for use in method of gardening. Like Tilapia, Catfish thrive in warm water and prefer a temperature of 80 degrees F. They are bottom dwellers, so they will occupy the lower area of your fish rearing tanks. This makes for low fish density when they are raised alone. Some aquaponics gardeners raise them with other fish that will occupy the upper areas of the fish rearing tank and can thrive in the same water conditions.