aquaponic system

Aquaponic system (Photo credit: Scrap Pile)

With Aquaponics, most beginners are often confused with the idea of “choosing” an aquatic animal crop for their systems. Personally, I think this is because, there are a number of people out there who make it sound like a system “Must” have Tilapia in order to work…. The truth is that absolutely any animal that live in (or near) an aquatic environment will produce waste that can be used in an Aquaponic system.

That being said, I would never recommend the use of Reptiles, Birds or Mammals. While there are examples of systems like this in operation around the world, I personally do not recommend this because of the fact that there are documented cases where pathogenic bacteria have been spread from these animal to humans. While the chances of this are very small, I personally would still not recommend this to anyone. Through the use of fish, crustaceans, snails, and even amphibians, there have been no documented cases of pathogen transfer. (If you know of some, please let us know so we can research them.)

For the beginning Aquapon, the questions really become, “How do I select the right species for me? and What factors do I need to look at to determine what I should raise?” I really think that when you begin researching the potential species that work best in your area, you need to make sure that you research the seven characteristics that follow. Over the next seven days we will delve deeper into each of these individually and help you determine the questions that are most important for your particular system.

Anemone Fish Eggs

Fish Fry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reproductive Habits: Basically is there clear, understandable, and repeatable knowledge that can be found and followed? If you cannot breed the species yourself, is there a reliable source for fingerlings or larvae? Has any work been done to “improve” the species? (Better body-form; disease resistance; increased growth rates)

Egg and Larval Requirements: Is it possible to breed this species with the setup that you will be able to create? Are the larvae large in size and order viagra online relatively hardy? (Size of larvae will determine the initial feeds you can provide.) What is the reproductive capacity of the species candidate – what quantities of eggs are produced (fecundity); how often will individuals spawn; are there any peculiar spawning behaviors?

Shishila temple fish conservation - feeding fish

Shishila temple fish feeding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Feeding Habits / Nutritional Needs: Where is the species on the food chain – High or Low? (Low species can feed on diets with lower protein content – cheaper.) What are the specific nutritional needs (Protein/Carbohydrate/Lipid) for the species? What is the normal lifestyle – Diurnal or Nocturnal?

Polyculture Capability: Polyculture is defined as raising more than one species of animal together in the same space. There are some combinations of species that will work together FAR better than others. If your goal is to raise multiple species in a single system, it is very necessary to determine how compatible they are prior to integration.

Fish Soup or Koi Pond Feeding Frenzy?

Fish Overcrowding (Photo credit: InspiredinDesMoines)

Crowding Adaptability: Many species of aquatic animals have the capability to handle extreme crowding for short periods of time. Benefits from increased animal density are greatly increased harvest production per a given unit of area. However, the drawbacks include problems related to minimal O2 density, increased waste production, uneven feed dispersal, and more.

Disease Resistance: Aquaponic systems by their very nature are resistant to many problems, disease included. Additionally, there is not much that can be done when your fish get sick, other than to remove the affected individual — after all we can’t really add antibiotics and steroids to our systems… So when considering your culture species, you will need to consider the native disease resistance of the species. Are there  specific diseases you will need to watch for?

Market Demand:  This is generally only important when you have an interest in raising your animals for sale. This decision will generally bring about a whole host of other questions and decisions, but initially you should consider the following: What will the market bear? What does the market want/need?

(Content derived in part from an Aquaculture curriculum developed by The Council for Agricultural Education, Alexandria, Virginia 1992.)
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