Aquaponic Gardening

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I am trying to choose which fish to stock in a commercial aquaponics system in North Alabama / Southern Middle Tennessee, where the average annual temperature is 63 degrees F. I like to eat Tilapia, but the heating bill would eat ME alive. The obvious choice is catfish, but I just don't like the taste. There is likely a pretty good market for the fish, but competition may well keep the cost low, since catfish is so common (haven't checked yet). Browsing the fingerlings for sale on the Dunn's Farm website, I came across the description for Grass Carp, which sounds like they grow really fast, and are good to eat (at least the chinese think so according to Wikipedia). Anyone had experience with these, or even heard of them before? Would I feed them the same commercial feed used for catfish? (The grass carp eat mostly vegetation in the wild - hence the name.)


I read of a system in a permaculture book where algae is grown in one section of a fish tank with a screen which keeps out the fish, but allows algae to pass through to feed the fish. I think it would be worth experimenting with a similar idea with fast growing underwater plants as feed for vegetable-eating fish.


Any other suggestions for mild temperature loving (65 to 80 degrees), fast growing marketable fish?

I am also getting the impression that there is very little profit in the fish side of commercial aquaponics, and that I should plan on the profit coming from the produce. If that is really the case, then I really just need good fertilizer factories for fish. I would like to prove this idea wroing, however....



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Hi Tim, good question. 

I agree with TC and think your best bet is to go with either catfish or bluegill. Then again it depends on what you have available as an energy/ nutrient input. Besides weather and geography, I always consult people  to find a bio-waste source as the major bio input (preferably free or haul for a fee even). What is available in your area? Spent grains, coffee grinds, manures, kitchen scraps/ waste (restaurant)?

Do you plan to do a pond/ green water culture or a confined/ controlled environment operation?

Also, besides fish, there are other options for nutrient input. Animal-ponics of all sorts, huma-ponics/ pee-ponics etc.

Sorry I can't write more at this time.

Cheers & good luck.

   I think of using carp,they sound tough,survival wise.I could see trying catfish also.Ive eaten it good and bad.I never have had carp,i heard about lots of bones.Trout is what they put in all the local lakes.

  Since im new im not sure what water temp is actually best for various vegetables?I just remember talapia as being a warm water fish.


I would recommend Bullhead Genus ameiurus.  Although they are a species of catfish brown and blacks are very common in the Northern US and very hearty is cold.  They remain very active up to 80 degree water and down to 50.  They are a very mild flavor and very easy to care for.  Omnivore by nature.  We raised bullhead at our college fish farm, and our primary buyers were Asian markets as for profitability they were our number one selling fish and lowest cost to maintain.  We also farm raised Char, Brook, Rainbow and Brown Trout, and Atlantic Salmon as well as rear Gar, Sturgeon and Pike and Pickerel.   The nice thing about the brown and black bullhead is they grow based on their environment.  The more non compete space they have the larger they grow.  When confined they will typically grow in proportion to their container.  We found they were usually 25% of the total space available.

Since bullhead dwell at the bottom they make great tank cleaners for the solids that are not picked up by the pump and that could leave room for another species to co-exist in the mid range of a tank.  They also eat dead fish so if you get a sinker that may otherwise raise your ammonia level, they will make quick work of getting rid of the dead ones.

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