Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello everyone,

First of, I live in Sacramento, CA. I've searched on here and didn't see any discussions from anyone who lives in my area with same topic. Anyhow, I'm planning to add my first batch of fish into my tank this weekend. My system has been running for the last couple weeks, I tested the water and everything looked good I think I'm ready. I'm taking my time because I try not to kill as many fish as I possibly can.

So today I'm asking for help from all the experts who live in Sacramento. 

I have 4 grow beds from two 275gal IBC totes, one roughly 225gal fish tank, all sitting in my back in the open. I don't care about breeding fish or harvesting them I just need fish to run my system. Originally I was going with talapia because I was told that they are very hardy and can live in extreme weather, but someone just told me it might too cold for them outside. Winter is coming what should I know ahead of time so I can minimize death of livestock as well as plants and vegetable.


Any advice will be greatly appreciated.


Thank you in advance and have a great weekend everyone.



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Hi Tim!

I was looking for your discussion post on the Sacramento group page and didn’t find it, but I see you ended up here instead!

If you aren’t interested in eating the fish in your system at all then I would suggest using goldfish. They are pretty hardy and able to tolerate winter temperatures outdoors in our area. They are inexpensive options that can be found at the local aquarium stores easily and can also be replaced easily in the event of an “oops”. They also make great pets. Just stay away from feeder goldfish since they usually carry disease with them. You also don’t have to have a permit to own them they way you need to for some types of fish in California (tilapia are banned in Northern California by the Department of Fish and Game).

I am also preparing for my system’s first winter outdoors near Sacramento so I am no expert, but I can share with you what I am doing. I have a single IBC flood and drain system with a 175 gallon tank and a 4x4 grow bed on top of the fish tank. I have 12 shubunkin goldfish and 12 channel cats (I think I am a little overstocked for my system and plan to expand in the spring, but that’s another story). I am hoping to keep the system producing cool weather crops over the winter. It can get down to freezing around here and the fish stop eating and the bacteria stop growing (and eventually die off) if the water temperature gets too cold. My tentative goal is to try to keep the water temperature between 55 and 65 degrees in order to keep the system barely limping along on a very reduced feed level. To hopefully accomplish this I have erected a 9x9 pop-up greenhouse over the top of my system for the winter and I have purchased three aquarium heaters totaling 400 watts to heat the water. I am hoping that this will do the trick but we’ll see! Hopefully it won’t get too expensive to run the system in that temperature range!

I hope that helps a little. I would love to hear what you end up doing and how it goes for you! Sylvia’s book discusses the issues with trying to maintain a system outdoors through the winter. It’s a great book if you don’t already have it. Good luck!

P.S. I would try posting on the Sacramento group page again under the discussion box. I think you’ll get a lot more response there. If you want I will send a screen shot of where to post since it is not intuitively obvious.

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