Aquaponic Gardening

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Ok, so I am starting a new small system. I am very excited about it! Right now, I am almost through fishless cycling (tonights test results ph - 7.6, ammonia - 0, nitrites - 5ppm, Nitrates - 5ppm). I have a few questions.

First, what kind of fish should I consider? The tank is indoors, so no real temp fluctuations, but not big, only 33gallon. I would love to grow some food fish. Even if they don’t get plate size, I would be willing to eat them a little small. There are three people in my family, and I would be happy growing only three fish (one for each of us for dinner one night). So, I want something that is good eating (mild white flesh preferably), but and here’s the big catch, Id be happy with talapia (love it!), but my husband is a historian who studies the impact of invasive species, and as talapia is considered an invasive species here in Colorado, he will not consider talapia. Which leads to yet another question, where do I get live edible fish in land locked Denver Colorado. I have tried several google searches and I can find plenty of fish stores, but they just have tropical fish, not edible fish, except catfish, and how do I know if that kind of catfish is edible? Aren’t some disgusting? I am considering just starting with goldfish or tropicals, so if the edibles are out for now, that’s ok, but hopefully someone will have a suggestion.

Second, I have read in a couple of places that you may need to add extra nutrients for your plants. I would love a breakdown of typical nutrient deficiencies, symptoms and their safe treatments. Anyone know where I might find such information?

Lastly (for now), I know I am not using enough growbed space right now, (about 2cf), should I be running a carbon filter to help the plants keep up? I dont know if it makes a difference, but I am using continuous flow with auto siphons. The boxes take about 3-4 minutes to fill and about 1-2 to drain. 


I think that is it for me for now, I appreciate the time anyone takes to answer my questions.

Thanks so much.

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I am in the same boat trying to decide on fish for my new 200-gallon indoor setup. Since my indoor setup is in my basement and the temperature will be a steady 60 Deg F all winter I can select from most of our native NA fish. I really would like to raise some Atlantic salmon or Rainbow trout however this season I am going to focus on lighting and testing out LEDs vs fluorescents. I have yet to pickup my fish but I am leaning toward Yellow perch. I am also considering bluegill/sunfish and crappie for my edible fish.

One of the big pros about tilapia is their diet. Being able to toss in some duckweed or extra veggie scraps to help supplement their diet and offset the cost of fish food is wonderful. However, in my setup the reduction in fish food cost does not offset the cost to heat the water an additional 20 deg F for the tilapia.  

Diet, temperature, aggressiveness and growth rate are all things to consider when looking at your fish choice. Keeping in mind that fish are the source for the plant nutrients, and are essentially a bonus in aquaponics.

My kids took an interest in the outdoor aquaponics setup so we build a small 10 gallon windowfarm setup for their room using feeder fish from petsmart. Kids are happy with the goldfish and watching their lettuce grow, but it does have some stability issues based on its size and setup.

There is nothing wrong with starting with goldfish, especially in smaller systems.

To source your edible fish locally you can try contacting one of the aquaculture businesses in CO and see what they say. Expecting some loss, I would purchase 10-15 fish of the same size and cull a few as they get big enough.  

In a 30 ish gallon tank, I don't know if you are going to be able to grow much out to eating size very well.  Tilapia would have been my first recommendation but I do understand avoiding exotic species.  I personally really like channel catfish and bluegill.

The channel catfish grow to big for that tank though (might be ok for them for several months as small fingerlings but that's about it.)


Bluegill might be an option but I'm not sure how well they do in really small tanks.  I'm not terribly optimistic since my 100 gallon tank on the porch is the one that seems to loose the most bluegill.  I've only lost one in any of the other larger



With only 2 cf of media, I would say only 2-4 fish that you will harvest at 6-8 ounces.  But I'm not sure how well they will grow out in only 33 gallons of water.  Certainly in many bigger systems you can have more than one fish per 5 gallons of water but the overall space also needs to be looked at, will the poor fish be banging into the walls if they try to swim around much?  I have stuck a decent size tilapia in a 10 gallon aquarium before because it was injured and needed to be separated from the rest but the poor girl looked forlorn in a tank that was probably not that good for turning around in.

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