Aquaponic Gardening

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So, I'm Mack, brand spanking new here! I have a hydro set up, looking to convert it to an AP and am doing a little research.

I was looking around the forum for a list of compatible fish for AP and didn't find any. Any thoughts?

What I would like to try are Red Ear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus), just wandered if anyone had any experience with these?

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Hi Mack,

Lets see looks like you are in GA.

Sunfish, Bluegill, and Channel Catfish are all good native choices for aquaponics.  You might also be able to do Bass but I don't know too many people with experience with those.  Many people seem to think tilapia is the way to go but I feel they are over rated unless you "have" to produce your own feed for them, or you "Have" to breed them ongoing to supply yourself with fish.  They are over rated because you "HAVE" to keep their water warm.  They don't eat much or produce much plant fertilizer for you if the water is below 70 F and they will die on you if the water gets too much below 55 F.  55F is where my catfish and bluegill stop eating though they don't eat much below 60 F.

So I don't know redear sunfish in particular but I see no reason you couldn't grow them provided you can find a source of them from a hatchery.  If you are talking about catching them wild to raise, sometimes there are issues getting wild fish to take pellet feed and trying to provide live feed to fish is an awful lot of work.

Sounds great Lynx!

Getting the sunfish shouldn't be a problem, I'm pretty sure most hatcheries stock them in this area.

How do the catfish and other panfish compare to tilapia as far as feed conversion? I personally would prefer raising the catfish and panfish just because it's what I'm used to eating, but I'm also open to tilapia if they're just as tasty! 

Another question I had was about summer time heat. What do you do to control high temps in the dog days of summer, in both your fish tank and grow beds?

Also, regarding the tiapia when you say "have" do you mean that is the only source of fish or no source of fish food available to them at their specific location, or am I missing something?

I think the catfish compare very well but I've never weighed everything in/out of the system though so I don't have numbers to back up my opinion.  Tilapia taste fine but I'm not willing to heat my water to grow them and we do like the catfish and bluegill.

Summer, I've done well enough as long as I have at least a 300 gallon fish tank and if the system is in full sun, I'll probably put up a bit of shade cloth directly overhead and make sure I have supplemental aeration for the tanks in summer.

As to the Tilapia, some people insist that they need to grow tilapia because they are easy to breed a continuing supply of fish stock for them selves.  Others want to grow tilapia because they think they can avoid buying commercial fish feed since tilapia are omnivores.  Often they find that growing enough duckweed and other things to feed the tilapia enough to provide excess nutrients to grow veggies is easier said than actually done.

yeah I have had those in my systems before,   bream seem to be hard to keep going,  catfish are way easier and dont mind the climate change too much.   I snagged my first fish from my ponds,  eventually I bought some channel cats, free fish are much better.

I had problems with the bluegill dieing when I had them in a 100 gallon stock tank fish tank but since I moved them to the 300 gallon tanks, I think I have maybe lost 1 fish out of 100 which is about the same average I seem to run on the catfish in even bigger tanks.

I followed Mack over here, good read and some excellent advise, thanks guys.


I am trying to decide on the best fish to begin growing and the bluegill sounds good (I live in Georgia).  But what do they eat?  Will they eat regular pelleted foods or do they have to have live food?

TCLynx said:

I had problems with the bluegill dieing when I had them in a 100 gallon stock tank fish tank but since I moved them to the 300 gallon tanks, I think I have maybe lost 1 fish out of 100 which is about the same average I seem to run on the catfish in even bigger tanks.

Bluegill are easy John.  They will eat pellet feeds just fine once they are big enough and as long as you have a big enough system/fish tank that the temperatures won't swing too drastic from a hot day to an unexpectedly cold night, bluegill are definitely a good fish to have. 

(I did have the market system running when we had one of those extreme temp swings here and the 200 gallon tank wasn't big enough to hold temperature well and the bluegill suffered the most followed by the catfish and the goldfish/koi hardly seemed phased by the outrageous temp swing, BUT, they all recovered and survived.)  Moral of that story, a 200 gallon fish tank is too small to handle going from a hot afternoon to an extremely cold freeze night without a little extra attention.  My 300 gallon tanks at home, the fish didn't seem phased by the swing so I'm guessing they didn't swing so much.

My 440 gal tank with 375 gals or so of water is mostly in the ground and water temp swings are much lower than the air swings.  We'll see how it goes this summer.  Bluegill are feeding well with water temp 72-74.

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