How to Care for Fish in Aquaponics System
Generally, when people talk about aquaponics, the very first impression that comes in mind is that aquaponics is a rather complex or rather sophisticated method of caring for fish. In this guide, you’ll learn exactly how to care for fish in aquaponics system, correctly.
Nonetheless, aquaponics is actually the opposite of complex and sophisticated; it’s a rather exciting method of caring for your fish.
In simple terms, aquaponics is a system that combines both conventional aquacultures of raising such as fish, crayfish, prawns, snails among other aquatic animals with hydroponics, which includes cultivating plants in water within a symbiotic environment.
Generally, in aquaponics, both the aquatic animals and the plants depend on each other and for that one can’t do in the absence of another.
The aquatic animals depend on the plants for food, while the plants depend on the animal’s excretions for nutrients.
To this effect, both hydroponic and aquaculture techniques form the basis for an aquaponic system.
Basically, before someone sets up an aquaponic system, there are a few things that they need to familiarize themselves with and most especially for the purpose of caring for their fish.
What to Consider When Choosing Your Fish
Ideally, before considering which type of fish to use in your aquaponics system, there are a few things that you should put into considerations despite the reasons for rearing the fish. Some of these things comprise of:
Size and Space Requirements
Size and space are quite important essentials that must be put into consideration since it helps you know how much food you can use within your given space, size, and what types of plants to bring up in your aquaponic.
Importantly, different species of fish require a varied level of temperatures, with some of them requiring cold water to thrive while others warm water.
Before choosing your fish, it’s quite important that you get to familiarize yourself with either your indoor or outdoor weather conditions.
By so doing, you will be able to choose the fish species adaptable to those conditions.
Additionally, plants also have different temperature requirements, and for that, you also need to make sure that the weather conditions are adaptable to your plant’s specifications.
The filtration capacity is also another thing that needs to be put into considerations since it determines how many fish you can keep in your fish tank, and for that, a balance needs to be kept between the fish needs and the capacity of the plants.
It’s important to make sure that you don’t over-populate because an overcrowded aquaponic system can disrupt oxygen levels in the water.
It’s advised that you have a 2-inch fish length per gallon of water.
Fish Type and Maintenance Difficulty
Consequently, some fish might require little care due to their hardy nature, while others might require a higher level of care due to their costly and sensitive nature.
So, choosing a fish species that will meet your budget and level of care is quite crucial.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort caring for your system, then you should choose the hardy fish which are immune to disease as well parasites.
Importantly, it’s normal to want to eat species which can bread as well reproduce easily as well quietly.
It’s also important that you get to choose a fish species that can be easily monitored when it comes to its breeding habits in the spawning seasons.
It’s also crucial that you consider separating breeding fish from the young fish and, by so doing, promoting healthiness on the overall care.
The Best Fish Species For Your Aquaponic System
Despite its nature of being tasty as well adaptable within various culinary styles, this species can withstand less idea water conditions as well adapt any environment which makes the species among the best fish within an aquaponic system.
Tilapia is naturally a hardy fish that can survive any worms, algae, or even disease.
It’s also important to note that Tilapia can be harvested from six to eight months.
In other rare cases, up to 15 months depending on how warm the water is, how much the fish are fed, the size of the fish as well as how warm is the water.
Some of the advantages of Tilapia comprise of the fact that they have a rather fast growth rate.
They can easily adapt to any environment and most especially due to the fact that they are hardy fish, they have an omnivorous diet, they are top feeders, they easily reproduce among other advantages.
The disadvantages, on the other hand, comprise of the fact that they require warm water above 55 degrees Celsius.
Even in cold climate, you are required to keep the water warm without forgetting the idea that their ability to easily reproduce can be an issue if at all you have a small aquaponics system.
Salmon is a great tasting fish species and which can be healthy be raised in an aquaponic system without difficulties.
They usually require a rather large fish tank to thrive and can take up to two years to reach their full size before harvesting. They require temperatures of between 55-65 degrees Celsius with a pH range of about 7-8.
Some of the advantages of raring salmon in an aquaponic system comprise of the idea that they can easily tolerate cold weather conditions, it is a tolerant, social and friendly fish with other species as well as the fact that its delicious and healthy to eat.
The disadvantages, on the other hand, comprise of the idea that they require much more food compared to other species without forgetting the fact that they are more likely to contract diseases than any other type of fish.
This species is one of the best-farmed fish without forgetting the fact that their taste makes them popular.
They are top feeders, valuable scavengers and can withstand a wide range of water conditions.
They are not territorials; they are easy to breed. They grow relatively faster as they can be harvested within a period of 3 months.
Advantages of Catfish comprise the idea that they can be raised with other equal-sized fish, they can tolerate different water conditions, they can feed on a variety of plants, pellets, small fish as well bugs, they can be easily raised and breed.
The disadvantages, on the other hand, comprise of the idea that they have no scales, and for that, they can be easily injured.
They are also sensitive to water temperatures, pH, and quality and require food rich in proteins.
Trout are usually perfect for either indoor or outdoor systems, give the fact that they have good temperature ranges.
They prefer cooler waters and thrive in temperatures ranging from 56-68 degrees Celsius, which makes the species perfect for cooler environments.
The advantages comprise of the idea that it’s an ideal species for cooler climates, it’s a top feeder, and it can feed on a variety of diets.
The disadvantages, on the other hand, comprise of the idea that they have a slow growth rate, they require plenty of space to breed, they require clean filtered water.
They also can’t be kept with other species of fish, they feed on a fewer plant choice given their cooler water environment.
They require close monitoring of their pH levels as well as the idea that they need high dissolved oxygen levels in the water.
Koi fish are actually the most common species used in aquaponic systems as they have a longer lifespan compared to other species.
They can be raised easily and breed without any difficulties within the aquaponic system.
The species can also survive with quite a variety of food. They are also parasite and disease resistant. They require temperatures of about 65-78 degrees Celsius and pH levels of 6.5-8.
The advantages of Koi fish comprise of the idea that it is parasite and disease resistant, it can survive in a wide range of temperatures.
It has a longer lifespan without forgetting the idea that it’s an attractive and ornamental fish.
The disadvantages, on the other hand, comprise of the idea that it produces an excess amount of waste as they age, and for that, they might require much more cleaning.
It’s also not a very good fish to consume.
Caring for Your Fish in an Aquaponic System
Importantly, the health as well overall being of any fish species highly depends on what they live in, and for that, any changes in the water will directly affect their overall health and well-being.
Usually, changes within an aquaponic system are mostly invisible to the eye; however, you can keenly use their behavior and color to care for your fish.
It’s also advisable that you test the water on a regular basis to ensure that they are within their favorable temperature and pH levels.
To get the most out o your aquaponic system, you need to feed them with high-quality food and, most especially, one that is rich in proteins.
Importantly, the waste from the fish will be used by the plants to grow within the aquaponic system, and for that, good quality food will ultimately provide your plants with the nutrients they require to grow.
If it happens that you have a small amount of fish, you will be required to feed your fish more often, and by so doing, you will be providing the pants with the right amount of waste for your plants.
On the latter, if your fish can’t finish the food you are feeding them, you will be required to remove the leftovers and reduce the amount of food you are feeding the fish and choose the right feeding times.
The uneaten fish food will sink to the bottom and release ammonia into the water, which is deadly to your fish.
Causes of Fish Diseases
In most cases in an aquaponic system, diseases are usually introduced in the water by new fish, plants, and live food.
Even the equipment used in the system, and to this effect, you should be on the lookout.
Again, there should be a delicate balance in the fish tank and, by so doing, ensuring that the fish remains healthy.
Just like other animals, fish carry with them bacteria, fungus, parasites as well as viruses; some of these microorganisms are harmful while others are not.
Nonetheless, before introducing new plants or fish in your system, you need to treat them.
Some of the factors that cause fish disease comprise of fish stress which is a result of environmental changes, poor water quality, unbalanced and poor diet and not getting along with other fish species.
Fish Related Disease Symptoms
Some of the fish disease symptoms comprise of a hollow stomach, cloudy/swollen eyes, rapid movements of the gills, unusual behavior (darting around the tank, being unusually shy or unusual swimming patterns), wounds, color skin changes, clamped or frayed fins among others.
How to Prevent Fish Diseases?
The very first step towards preventing fish disease is to quarantine new fish species in a separate tank for about two weeks or so before introducing them into the aquaponic system and feeding the fish with high-quality food and a variety of foods.
Add extra aeration, reduce the frequency of closing and opening the system’s lid and minimize scooping fish out to inspect them.
Ensure the water is within the required pH levels for a particular fish as they vary from fish to fish. Keep the water clean and treat any disease as soon as they are identified.
Conclusively, before choosing which species of fish to use in an aquaponic system, it’s crucial that you choose the right fish to grow in the aquaponic system and one that can be raised in favor of your water quality.
It’s also important that you get to establish routine maintenance to improve the overall fish care and well-being, thus preventing the fish and plants from any diseases.
Importantly, feed your fish the right food an not only for their health but also yours in case you plan on harvesting and eating them.