The type of fish that you grow on your aquaponic system will depend on a number of factors such as climate, available fish species and local government regulations. Since there are various species to choose from, being clear about your expectations and what you want from your aquaponic system is very important.
The first choice for most aquaponics system owners is tilapia. It is one of the most common farm-raised fish species in the world next to carp. Tilapia is a general term for the close to a hundred species cichlid fish. They are commonly found in freshwater such as streams, rivers and lakes. Only a few of these species are found in brackish waters.
What makes tilapia popular in aquaponics? It has a high profitable value since it is second to carp in worldwide production and demand in the US reaches up to $1.8 billion annually. Here are some of the reasons why tilapia is the number one choice of fish breeders for aquaponic systems.
Easy to Breed
Tilapia don’t really require much. They only have 4 fundamental needs: air (oxygen), food, clean water and a considerable area for swimming. If you provide these essentials, then tilapia will grow fast and healthy. This fish will eat algae or any type of plant-based food, which makes it perfect for the aquaponic technology. They don’t require high technology and are easy to manage once you understand their breeding patterns. Aquaponic systems provide the best and most cost-effective way of breeding this type of fish since they are easy to feed. Plus, tilapia can tolerate a wide range of pH in the water and can survive low temperatures as well.
One thing about tilapias that makes them very commercially important is their fast growth rate, which allows for multiple harvests in a year. Tilapias are also prolific breeders; one female in a tank with males can produce a tank-full of young tilapias in just a short period of time. It’s not always a good thing though because once they start breeding, they really can’t stop and mature males can become more violent and aggressive when there are more fish in their swimming space. This requires management of excessive spawning since females can spawn eggs every 5-6 weeks.
High Economical Value
With a simple aquaponic system that is affordable, breeding tilapia even in your own basement and backyard is rewarding because of the high commercial value of the species. Since tilapia is an accepted edible fish in most areas, breeding this type is very advantageous because it is a good source of protein. Plus, it can be transported live and can be frozen for export. The consumer market for tilapia has become worldwide over the years. Consequently, the demand comes mainly from the local and regional markets and reaches even up to the global fillet markets.
There are many brood stock suppliers in the country that can help you start your own tilapia aquaponic farm system. Based on research, aquaponic systems yield higher densities of fish compared to other system and can be productive especially if you breed tilapia.