Best Fish for Aquaponics

So youre planning an aquaponics system… What type of fish are you using?

Now thats an exciting question! There are dozens of exciting possibilities, and raising fish can be fun and rewarding!

So.. Lets talk fish.

Best Fish gif

There are four factors which decide the best fish for you:

  1. Environment
  2. Costs
  3. Purpose
  4. Legality

Understanding aquaculture environment is key

Environmental factors include temperature (which is an easy factor to consider), as well as water quality, which is a compound factor requiring some scientific knowledge.

Temperature. Youll want to lean on a temperature range that is similar to outside temperatures on this to keep costs low.

If thats not possible, remember that its more costly to cool a system than to heat one.

tilapia Our tilapia is a hybrid that can tolerate the environmental factors of Laramie, Wyoming.

For example- Tracy Holz in Texas uses Mozambique Tilapia, which are used to warm water and tolerate the heat much better. As a result, Tracy is able to apply fewer and cheaper cooling methods and run more financially conservative system.

Water quality consists of several different traits, each of which interact with each other and the organisms around them in unique ways.

Before you begin to build, and even before you get far into planning, youre going to have to understand these interactions and science of the system.

Sound scary? Dont flip out, because…

a) weve already written, Youtubed, podcasted, and emailed hundreds of resources to make this simple for you, and

b) knowing the system science will eliminate mistakes from your future farm.

Do we have a deal?


The different factors of water quality are below.

For your quick reference, weve added links to some of the resources that explain them in further detail.

When it comes to costs, makes things easy on yourself.

As you look into fish types, consider the costs of stocking them, handling, processing, and selling them.

What are the costs of owning the fish and growing them to maturity? What return on investment will you be getting?

Another factor of cost is feed. Good feed is typically easy to find and keep in stock, so this factor should be a marginal one. The main point here is that you want a feed that is convenient for you to use and which matches your fish.

General Icons-35-blueQuick tip: Look for a fish feed with high protein and low (if any) feather-meal,which can gum up your plumbing. We prefer Skretting brand feed.

The part where you do whatever you want

The purpose of your fish is perhaps the most exciting part of making this decision.

What do you want to do with the fish? Eat them? Sell them? Keep them as pets or put them on display?

Maybe your fish exist solely to kick off nitrification. Maybe you want to use your fish in your classroom and plan on harvesting some to dissect with your students.

The great thing here is that you have the freedom to do what you want.

If you are raising fish for food, choose something that that there’s a demand for, whether that demand be the preferences of your family or the requests of a chef.

If you don’t like eating tilapia, then don’t raise it for your food!

goldfish in aquaponics

Maybe you’re raising fish for aesthetic purposes like a show pond, an indoor aquarium, or a display in the lobby of your company’s office building. In that case, you’ll probably want a fish with a bit of color and a nice shape. The favorites for these types of systems are koi and goldfish.

Maybe you hate fish and their scaly squirming ways with all your heart, and you only keep them as a necessary evil. In that case, you can raise any fish that is convenient for you.

(Also, you may want to see a therapist; this loathing of fish seems unhealthy.)


game anf fishBefore you set your heart on a species of fish, contact your local Game and Fish office and check to make sure that your fish are legal.

Not only will they be able tell you about legality, but these guys are a wealth of information and can probably give you fish advice and maybe even hook you up with fisheries in the area. Make friends with them!

Check out the video:

Happy with your fish choice?

Time to get planning!

Dive into our many resources, like our Aquaponics podcast or Elesif’s posts on timelines, break-even point, and more.