Recommended Plants and
Fish in Aquaponics
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The fish and plants you select for your aquaponic system should have similar needs as far as temperature and pH. There will always be some compromise to the needs of the fish and plants but, the closer they match, the more success you will have.
As a general rule, warm, fresh water, fish and leafy crops such as lettuce and herbs will do the best. In a system heavily stocked with fish, you may have luck with fruiting plants such as tomatoes and peppers.
If you have flexibility here, (1000 litres) or larger seems to create the most stable Aquaponics system. Larger volumes are better for beginners because they allow more room for error; things happen more slowly at larger volumes.
Must be made of food safe materials and should not alter the pH of your system (beware of concrete, for example).
20kg of fish per 1000 ltrs. This is a very safe stocking density for new systems.
Steps for Planning your System
Determine the total grow bed area in square metres.
From grow bed area, determine the fish weight required (kg) using the ratio rule 5 kg of fish for every square metre of grow bed surface area, assuming the beds are at least 300mm deep. Determine fish tank volume from the stocking density rule above.
For example, if you plan to have 2 x 1 sqm grow beds, total of 2 sqm of growing area. Plan to stock so you have a mature weight of no more than 10kg of fish which will require 500 litre fish tank.
When to add plants
As soon as you start cycling your system, but accept that they may not grow well for the few weeks required for cycling to occur.
If you add Maxicrop Liquid Seaweed to your tank when planting or Seasol at the rate of ½ litre per 1000 litres, your plants will establish themselves much more quickly. (then at the rate of one CAP full per day until system is established)
Plants that will do well in any aquaponic system:
- any leafy lettuce
- pak choi
- swiss chard
- most common house plants
These plants need a lot more light than their leafy green friends, so they do well outdoors (climate allowing) or in an indoor setup with a large amount of light like a greenhouse. Although leafy greens are an excellent choice for your aquaponic system, they are not the only edible variety you can grow. With an established system or a larger quantity of fish, you can grow vegetables and fruits that require a higher dose of nutrients to perform well. This includes some of the mainstays of a vegetable garden like tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, bean varieties, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts. In fact, aquaponic tomatoes are one of the main reasons you are able to get tomatoes at the store in the fall and winter months.
Plants that have higher nutritional demands and will only do well in a heavily stocked, well established aquaponic system:
These are of the other crops that has been grown in aquaponics:
- dwarf citrus trees: lemons, limes and oranges
- dwarf pomegranate tree
- sweet corn
- micro greens
- edible flowers: nasturtium, violas, orchids