If you’re into aquaponics, you might be wondering which fish are the best choice for a more profitable system. Whether aquaponics is a hobby or a more serious venture, it can be immensely helpful to know how to make your time more profitable by strategically choosing the right type of life to cultivate within your system.
The 11 most profitable aquaponics fish are:
- Yellow Perch
- Murray Cod
- Arctic Char
In this post, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about these types of fish, including the specific conditions needed to thrive. I’ll also provide some valuable information to help you achieve the best return on your investment.
- Harvest time: 12-18 months
- pH level 6.5 to 8.5
- Temp: 65 – 80 °F / 18 – 26 °C
- Growth up to 12 lbs (5.44 kg).
Bass fish are pretty sturdy and can withstand low water temperatures. This is particularly ideal if you live in a colder climate. Also, if you have a lake or pond nearby your location, you can fish the bass out and put them in your system with relative ease.
When considering largemouth bass for your aquaponics, keep in mind that they’re sensitive to brightness. In general, they don’t cope well with excessive lights, and it’s necessary to accommodate this issue accordingly. In fact, if you can’t find an adequate location for your system, I suggest skipping this breed altogether, as otherwise, you’ll ultimately be setting yourself up for disappointment.
Another important issue you’ll need to keep an eye on is potassium levels in the tank. High potassium levels can make bass quite ill, and it’s essential that you constantly monitor these levels within your water if you own these fish.
Bass eat worms, shrimp, insects, or even fish pellets. But keep in mind that they don’t like to feed off the bottom of the tank. Instead, they prefer food that sinks slowly or lingers on the surface. Although, this makes it easier to keep an eye on how much they consume so you can adjust if needed.
When it comes to tank size, these types of fish need large tanks. They have a lot of growth potential, reaching one pound (.45 kilograms) within a little more than a year.
- Harvest time: 12 months
- pH level 7.2 to 8.0
- Temp: 71 – 80 °F / 22 – 27 °C
Barramundi is a delicious, high-quality breed that’s highly valued at restaurants. They originate from Asia but are becoming more popular throughout the West due to their delicious and nutritious meat. Barramundi can be a challenge to cultivate, so if you’re a beginner, you might want to avoid this particular type of fish for now.
Being from Asia, Barramundi fish tend to prefer warmer waters, which means the tank should be constantly heated. Additionally, they need a higher-quality environment and more oxygen dissolved into their tank.
It’s also important to note that barramundi is often aggressive and can attack one another. In order to ensure the adults don’t eat the fingerlings, you may need to separate them into different systems.
This breed is renowned for its big appetite, which means a lot of waste. In turn, that means more nutrition for plants in your aquaponics system. While this can be a significant advantage when it comes to profitability, you should take note of the amount of waste. An excess could affect the balance of your aquaponics.
Although they need a lot of maintenance, barramundi is one of the expert’s first choices due to their unparalleled growth sprouts. Additionally, their meat is very nutritious, abundant with protein and Omega fatty acids, not to mention, it’s very delicious.
- Harvest time: 12-16 months
- pH range 6.5 to 8.0
- Temperature range: 45 – 75 °F / 7 – 18 °C
Trout are among the most cultivated fish in the world and an excellent choice for an aquaponics system. There are three types of trout most common in nature: brown, brook, and rainbow. For aquaponics, in particular, rainbow trout is the most suitable option.
Trout prefers lower-temperature, clear water and can withstand harsh conditions, making it more suitable for colder climates. If you choose to farm trout, keep in mind that you must cultivate plants that can withstand the same conditions.
The flesh of the trout is usually quite tasty, known for their mild taste and delicate texture, though it depends on the particular diet of the fish. They typically feed on invertebrates, like shrimp and flies.
Trout can grow very quickly and need larger tanks to accommodate their growth. Still, this quality makes them sought-after even more due to their increased profitability potential.
Another factor you might need to pay attention to is the stocking density. Trout need their space to grow and thrive. Most importantly, trout need an oxygen saturation of at least 5.5 mg/L, so you’ll need to make sure that there is enough oxygen for each fish.
4. Yellow Perch
- Harvest time: 9-16 months
- pH range 6.5 to 8.5
- Temperature range: 66 – 70 °F / 18 – 21 °C
There are three main species of perch: European, Balkhash, and yellow. All three can be cultivated, but the yellow perch is the most suitable for aquaponics. Yellow Perch are sturdy, tasty, and can withstand harsh conditions; all traits that make them a good choice for a great system. They’re usually found in the United States and Canada.
This breed requires a moderate temperature and a pretty wide pH range, from 6.5 to 8.5. They breed once a year, but it’s crucial to change the tank’s temperature appropriately to simulate the change of the seasons. Keeping the temperature level and changing it to encourage breeding can be a challenge, which is why perch might not be a good choice for beginners.
Perch can thrive in smaller and shallow tanks and can reach up to 2.2 pounds (0.99 kg) in weight. Like barramundi, yellow perch are aggressive and can cannibalize the young ones. To make sure the fingerlings survive, you’ll need to separate them from adults.
Because they’re carnivorous, these types of fish will mainly consume food like other breeds and shrimp bugs, but they can also be trained to eat pellets. Their taste is excellent, and they can retain Omega 3 excellently, which makes them very nutritious. Perch can quickly adapt to different conditions, and their resilience is one of their most significant selling points.
- Harvest time: 6-9 months
- pH range 6.5 – 9.0
- Temperature range: 82 – 86 °F / 28 – 30 °C
Tilapia is popular, as it’s known for being very profitable. This is primarily due to their extremely high breeding and growth speed. The origins of tilapia can be traced to the Nile River in Africa, and they’re among the first known fish to be farmed. Generally, tilapia are tough and quite adaptable, with a diverse diet.
This breed thrives in high temperatures, which means the tanks require constant heating. However, under certain conditions, it’s possible to cultivate them in lower temperatures, as well.
As it were, this is often a route that farmers take to accommodate the plants of their aquaponics. With that said, if you’re considering choosing tilapia for your aquaponics system, be prepared to always keep the water temperature above 50 °F (10 °C); otherwise, they die.
Tilapia are very sturdy. They have a reputation for being almost “impossible to kill,” with an incredible resistance to parasites and diseases. Another advantage of keeping Tilapia in your aquaponics system is that they don’t require very high oxygen saturation levels.
Their diet generally consists of algae, insects, worms, and other plant-based foods. You can basically feed them anything (appropriate) without worrying about protein levels. Tilapia are edible and have a mild flavor.
The way these fish grow and breed make them very profitable and an excellent option for aquaponics. They can grow very quickly, up to 2.5 pounds (1.13 kg) in 7 months. Additionally, they breed every 6-4 weeks, which is incredibly efficient. Yet at the same time, additional tanks might be required for the fingerlings.
In general, tilapia is considered a generally good option for beginners because, as I mentioned, they’re very resistant and don’t require a lot of maintenance.
- Harvest time: 5-10 months
- pH range 7.0 to 8.5
- Temperature range: 75 – 86 °F / 24 – 30 °C
Catfish are among the most popular breeds to farm for aquaponics for many reasons. For starters, they’re adaptable, strong, and can grow extremely fast. And while their complex taste makes them a delicacy in restaurants, they’re not territorial. What’s not to like?
If you want to cultivate catfish in your aquaponics, take note that they require a temperature of around 78 °F or 26 °C, and the pH should be kept level. Other than that, little maintenance is required.
Catfish can even adapt to harsh conditions, such as murky or polluted ponds, and still have no problem thriving there. What’s more, this breed isn’t territorial and can tolerate higher stock density and other types of fish.
These resilient fish grow very quickly once they get used to the environment within the tank. They can reach a weight of 3 pounds (1.36 kg) in 12 months but can be ready for harvest in only three.
Being omnivorous, these fish have a diverse diet. They feed on small insects and larvae when they’re young and later move on to algae, seeds, snails, and smaller fish as adults. Although their diet is diverse, as an owner, it’s important for you to keep their protein levels high.
If catfish is your choice for your aquaponics system, take warning that they don’t like to be handled. This is because they’re not scaly, like most other fish, and therefore very sensitive. When handling is required and otherwise unavoidable, it’s best to move with a silicone net. Silicone is soft to the touch, making it less likely to harm them.
- pH range 7.0 to 8.0
- Temperature range: 59 – 77 °F / 15 – 25 °C
Koi is a species of carp. They’re considered to be among the most popular choices to use for aquaponics. Koi are tough, adaptable, and live a long life. Indeed, this is common for most of the fish I’ve mentioned in this post, because this is one of the main traits that makes a breed profitable to use in aquaponics.
Koi are actually ornamental fish and not considered suitable for eating. They eat just about anything, so it’s easy to find food for them. The temperature range in which Koi can survive is extensive, but they tend to thrive in the 59° to 77°F (15° to 25 °C) range. Thankfully, their ideal pH range is less forgiving. Koi are also quite resistant to disease and parasites, which is a significant reason why they live so long.
If you’re a beginner, these fish are an excellent choice. In general, Koi can be very low maintenance and budget-friendly. And since they’re not territorial, Koi can be kept in a tank with other edible fish–so long as space is adequate for all species–and kept for a long time. As a very sturdy and resistant breed, Koi can live up to 30 years.
On the other hand, Koi may not be desirable for your aquaponics system. The fact that Koi are purely ornamental and not suitable for human consumption could serve as a disadvantage. In addition to this, it’s vital for you to keep a constant eye on your tank filters. Plus, as Koi age, they produce more waste, which may result in necessary upgrades of the filters from time to time.
- pH range 6.0 to 8.0
- Temperature range: 78 to 82 °F / 25 – 27 °C
The good old goldfish–the same one typically won at a fair–is actually a good and profitable choice for aquaponics. They’re pretty tough, efficient, and relatively easy to take care of. As you may already know, goldfish aren’t suitable for eating, so they can only be ornamental.
Goldfish are sturdy; they can tolerate high variations in pH and have no problems even with high pollution levels. They usually thrive at temperatures of about 78-82 °F (25-27 °C), but you need to avoid rapid changes in the temperature, as this phenomenon can kill this breed.
There are two main types of goldfish: twin-tailed and single-tailed. While twin-tailed goldfish are more aesthetically pleasing to look at, single-tailed goldfish are faster and more aggressive. It’s not advisable to mix the two types in the same environment because the twin-tailed goldfish might not be able to compete with their faster, more aggressive friends.
Goldfish eat a lot of food and, as a result, produce a lot of waste. This could be beneficial to the plants in your aquaponics system, as goldfish waste is a source of nitrates. In the right space, this breed can grow up to one foot long and reach one pound in about a year. The weight, however, isn’t of much concern since the goldfish can’t be consumed.
9. Murray Cod
- Harvest time: 12-18 months
- pH range: 7 to 8
- Temperature range: 46 to 75 °F (8-24 °C)
If you’re looking for a fish that can tolerate high densities, consider choosing Murray Cod. They’re hardy and grow very fast, which is excellent for the profitability of your aquaponics system. The only real downside is that they require some maintenance.
Murray Cod can thrive in a pretty wide range of temperatures and tolerate quite cold waters. They can live in smaller tanks, even with other fish, especially some types of perch. You should be careful to satisfy their appetite, however. If they’re not fed enough, Murray Cod will attack and feed on other fish, which can affect the balance of your aquaponics.
The growth rate of Murray Cod is very high. They can hit one pound (.45 kilograms) within 12-18 months, at which point they’ll be ready to be harvested.
As they grow, Murray Cod feed on smaller fish. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep them in tanks with fish of similar size in order to avoid them eating one another. Murray Cod can live very long lives–up to 50 years. This is possible when they’re fed properly, conditions are ideal, and, of course, they don’t get eaten.
Although the fact that Murray Cod can live in high stock densities is a considerable advantage when it comes to profitability, this can also turn out to be a disadvantage. The higher the density in the tank, the higher are the chances of bacterial or fungal infections, which can destroy the system.
10. Arctic Char
- Harvest time: 8-12 months
- pH range: 6.5 to 8.5
- Temperature range: 32 to 68 °F (0-20 °C)
Arctic Char, like trout, is an excellent option if you live in a cold climate and want fish that can withstand lower temperatures. They can withstand arctic temperatures, have delicious fatty meat, and, as a bonus, are beautiful to look at. It’s relatively easy to find Arctic Char, and there aren’t any regulations for their use.
Given that Arctic Char fish prefer low temperatures, you’ll need to keep this in mind when selecting the plants to go in your aquaponics.
Another factor to consider if you’re planning on cultivating Arctic Char in your aquaponics is the type of food they eat. These fish are carnivorous, with a diverse diet. They typically eat zooplankton, shrimp, insect larvae, snails, clams, and more. This breed is known to be especially piscivorous, which means they prefer to feed on other, smaller fish.
Arctic Char can tolerate a relatively wide pH range, from 6.5 to 8.5. They can be ready to harvest within a year, but they can reach a weight of up to 8 pounds (3.62 kg). This growth rate also means you need to find a bigger tank to fit them.
- Harvest time: 3-6 months
- pH range: 6.5 to 8
- Temperature range: 57 to 84 °F (14-29 °C)
Shrimp might not be the first alternative that comes to mind when you’re wondering what you can cultivate in your aquaponics, but it is, in fact, a great and profitable choice. They’re small, tasty, and grow extremely fast. If you’re careful and keep an eye on creating ideal conditions, you’ll have struck a gold mine.
Shrimp are crustaceans. They thrive in moderate to high temperatures and can tolerate pH variation. Having said that, you’ll need to avoid any sudden change in water temperature inside the tank, as it might be fatal for shrimp.
Other than that, there’s not much need for maintenance or interference. You won’t need to spend time worrying about the type of food they eat, as shrimp can eat plant matter, snails, crabs, worms, dead fish, or any other organic decaying matter.
The breed can be ready to harvest in as soon as three months. They’re delicious and nutritious, which is why they’re in high demand around the world. Add this to the fact that their growth rate is very high, and there’s not much need for maintenance, and you can start to see why they can be so profitable to cultivate in aquaponics.
A possible disadvantage is that shrimp is also a food source for a large number of other fish. Therefore, if you put shrimp in the same tank as another larger breed, chances are high that they’ll get eaten. Shrimp can also become aggressive and attack each other, so you must provide plenty of food to satisfy their extensive appetite if you want to make the most out of your investment.