So one of the most important components of Aquaponics is fish. You can do Aquaponics with almost any kind of fish from your pet store gold fish, to Bluegill, Trout, and Walleye, but the preferred fish is the Tilapia.
The pro's and the con's
The con's to raising Tilapia is that they are a warm water fish. Anytime your water gets below 40 degrees, you are in danger of loosing fish, and there is nothing more devastating than loosing all your fish and having to start over again. This is why some people have chosen to use cold water fish like Walleye, but even with the cold water fish, you must keep your water warm so their metabolism is active and they continue to eat. If fish stop eating, then they stop excreting, and their is not adequate Nitrogen to keep the plants growing.
The pro's however far outweigh the few con's to Tilapia. From a consumers standpoint the pro's are
They are beneficial for weight loss
Reduce the symptoms of aging
Boost brain health
Boost immune system
Reduce the risks of some types of cancer
improves bone health and prevents osteoporosis
improves muscle health and cellular repair
Helps lower unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels
The difference between Aquaponics raised Tilapia and Chinese Tilapia
You might be wondering, why should I pay $4.00 a pound for Aquaponics Tilapia when I can get a bag of frozen Tilapia from China for $3 a pound? I guess you have to ask yourself, do I want to eat fish that are fed a diet of exclusively human and animal feces, or a regulated diet produced by Purina or other reputable feed dealers?
I don't really feel like paying $3 a pound to have my neighbor take a dump on my fish sandwich do you? While fish can grow by eating many different things like bugs, duckweed, other fish, and excremental waste, they do best by having a regulated diet in a controlled environment.
Tilapia are like the Chickens of the Fish world
While Charlie Tuna may think he's the chicken of the sea, pound for pound the Tilapia beats out most every other fish. The Feed Conversion Ratio for Tilapia is 1.5, that is for every pound of feed you provide to the fish, you can expect 1.5 pounds of fish. As I said, this is very comparable to the average broiler chicken with a FCR of 1.6.
So while you are feeding the fish to produce the Ammonia and other waste minerals, you are also growing a healthy, economical, environmentally friendly, and sustainable protein source.
In our next article, we'll continue showing the different components of the Aquaponcis system.