Fish For Aquaponics System

An aquaponics system is a reliable survival food source for your family in times of chaos. Stored food will never give you all the proteins and vitamins you need to thrive in a doomsday scenario… that’s why aquaponics is a good addition to your survival plan.

One of the key steps in running your aquaponics system correctly is to choose the right fish. When you choose the fish for your aquaponics system keep in mind these three aspects:

  • The water temperature of your system.
  • What kind of food your fish will need.
  • And your overall goal for growing the fish

1. By water temperature

First of all, you must understand the effect that climate has on aquaponics. So here are some tips on what kind of fish work best for different water temperatures:

Cold water fish

  • Arctic char is a cold-water fish native to the Arctic, sub-Arctic and alpine lakes and coastal waters.
  • Silver Perch are native to the Brisbane area (Australia) and handle the cold very well.
  • Yellow Perch are also cold water fish. They tolerate lower dissolved oxygen and adjust well to pH changes. This type of fish eats common pellet fish foods and veggies.
  • Trout grow in colder climates and can handle winter well.
  • Cod and Salmon need very fresh and cold water, so are not well suited to the recirculation systems.

Observation: Keep in mind that the cold water makes the selection of plants more limited. Be careful because these cold water fish live in a temperature range between 50 and 68 F.

Warm water fish

  • Tilapias are a tropical fish species. They tolerate pH shifts, temperature changes, high ammonia, and low dissolved oxygen. They are omnivorous fish so they eat pellet fish food, duckweed and veggies from the system.
  • Catfish thrive in warm water and prefer a temperature of 80 degrees F.
  • Bluegills prefer warm water with abundant vegetation. They can tolerate temperatures up to 95 F.
  • Sunfish is a native tropical fish as well.
  • Other warm water fish species: Pumpkinseed, Black Crappie, White Crappie, Ozark Bass, Sacramento Perch, Warmouth. .

Fish that is great in any climate

  • Koi fish are brightly colored, miniaturized Carp. Koi are tolerant to a variety of water conditions.
  • Goldfish are also miniaturized Carp and like their relatives – Koi fishes, they thrive in any water conditions.
  • Hybrid Striped Bass are resilient to extreme temperatures and to low dissolved oxygen.

 2. By feed sources

The second aspect that you must consider is the type of food you’re able to provide for your fish. Here’s a list of what type of food your fish can eat.

  • Koi/ Goldfish: You can feed them greens like peas, cucumbers or lettuce. Make sure to chop it small enough so that they can fit in their mouths. You can also give them bread crumbs.
  • Tilapia: They love plants, especially protein-rich duckweed.
  • Carps: Eat algae, other water plants, insects, earthworms, aquatic worms, snails, mussels, crayfish, and rotifers. They also eat old dead plant parts from the bottom
  • Catfish: They love to eat sinking carnivore pellets, prawns, algae wafers and smelt.

Observation: Fish food is not universal. Different fish require different food.

 3. By purpose

And finally, the third aspect you must keep in mind is that your aquaponics fish have a purpose. You can choose to keep your fish for circulating the system and have ornamental fish, but you can also add fish to use later as a food source.

Ornamental fish:

  • Koi fish and goldfish are the best choice as ornamental fish
  • Angelfish
  • Guppies
  • Tetras
  • Swordfish
  • Mollies

Fish for food:

  • Catfish
  • Tilapia
  • Carps
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch
  • Silver Perch
  • Sunfish
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Sunfish
  • Cod and Salmon


This article has been written by Alec Deacon for Survivopedia.


[Photo source]

Written by

Alec Deacon is the owner of Backyard He’s very passionate about survival and he’s constantly looking for the best ways to protect his family - his wife Ana and the two boys, David and Andrew, that are the world to him. He used to work as a hygiene officer in a well-known US company, being in charge with food safety. In the time spent there he learned a lot about food: cooking, storing, freezing, transporting… basically everything that has to do with food safety. He is also a huge fan of outdoor living. Fishing carp is one of the things he loves most and it just happens that fishing is also one of the oldest and most basic survival skill.

Latest comments
  • I liked all of your info on the fish and temps.

  • Thank you for sharing this. This confirms what we want to choose for our aquaponics solution – tilapia. We live in Central Texas, so, while it can get cold here, more times than not, it’s hot. We also want to be able to eat the fish from the system. I like that they eat duckweed, that can help remove excess nitrogen from the system. Sounds like a win for us all the way around.

    • I raised trout in a pond with lotsa predators, in Northern Idaho, it still worked. For an enclosed environment, like aquaponics, you will still have to pay attention. All in all, the systemic concept makes sense.
      Tilapia sounds like a good mix of survival needs. It begs the questions, where do I get the fish, and what is the best diet for them?


    • Keep in mind that tilapia can only take water temps down to between 52-55 degF
      I’m in San Antonio, had hundreds of fish in a 28ft round above ground pool. When temps went below 50 for 24/7 for over a week water temps dropped below 50. Lost all fish, over 275lbs of them, all ages… least I was able to feed my pigs good for a week. I have not restocked until I can make sure I can keep the water temp up during winter. Looking at trying a regular 16ml solar pool cover and maybe wrap insulation around the metal sides of the pool. I had just a plastic cover previous winter and it worked, just that wind storm destroyed it at the beginning of this past winter and I didn’t get it replaced in time. My point, is have a backup ready for those cold winter nights and 40 deg. days with Tilapia.

    • Just make sure to keep talapia in your closed system and never put them in a creek or pond that could flood and release them to the ecosystem : )

  • How can very cold water be circulated for trout, cod and salmon and still be able to grow a garden in such cold water temperatures? Will a garden still grow the same amount in cold water as it would in warmer as for Talapias?

    • If you are growing only greens, you can allow the temperature to go as low as 40 F at night.

  • Alec Deacon has delivered information that may very well be the key to living through what is headed our way. Now is the time for all wise men (and women)to come to the aid of thier families, by being prepared to feed them when bad times overtake us.

  • Tough call, I live in a area of single digits in the winter time, a temperatures in the 90’s during the summer. I like the idea of Bass. I have been considering a worm farm as a source of fish food and fertilizer for my regular garden.

    • Excellent idea. I raised worms as a boy. Very easy, just dump lawn clippings and a little dirt into a large non-biodegradable container (almost any container lined w/plastic), add a couple of night crawlers, and voila, tons of worms. This would do best in the basement, if you have one (fairly constant temp.)

    • I have very similar temperature concerns since I live in Colorado. Is this system something that needs to live indoors or outside? If it is in my basement, the temps are much less extreme. Not crazy about having it in the finished part of my house, but if it has to be indoors, I don’t have any other choice except the chicken coop where I no longer have chickens, but it is NOT insulated.

  • I live in the mid-Atlantic region, along the coast. Here the temps are pretty toasty in the summer, but in the winter it gets pretty frosty – we can certainly have long stretches of below-freezing temperatures. Will tilapia (my preferred choice) survive that? Do I need to heat the water somehow? Maybe I could make a solar heating system, but if there’s no sun for a stretch, that would also need a back-up. Any thoughts?

  • As one who follows news and has an intrest in history, I have a great deal of concern for what the future holds. Being for warned is being for armed to deal with coming events. So I ordered your complete package, not being really sure what my money was buying, however I appears I hit the jackpot. I now can see exactly how to invest in a way to deal with what are highly likely to be very uncertain times. Being independent, and self sufficent is a way to preserve democracy. Food and guns are a basic part of remaining a free people, remove government control over those two areas, will insure a certain amount of options as to the lives we will be able to live. I had the first and now feel I have a very good chance at the second. Thanks for the valuable information and I am looking forward to constructing my Aqauponics project. I also had spread this info to everyone on my contact list. This information should be distributed especially in the inner city areas. That would be a worthwhile undertaking to change America

  • Will tillapia survive water that freezes over in the winter?

    • No, it will not. Get an aquarium heater.

  • I like the idea of supplementing our diet with fish but how do you keep a system going if chaos happens, i.e. buy fish to grow etc.. I live in florida and can’t find these fish at a reasonable price. My tank would have to be around 150-175 gallons. Would this be a feasible size to use as a food supplement.

    • I have a small system in the house, the grow bed is a 2 foot by 4 foot bed and the fish tank is a horizontal 45 gallon plastic drum. I have 24 trouts in the tank and 28 plants in the bed. The bed is a floating bed and houses primarily herbs.

      In my shed, I have my 250 gallon tank and a 3′ x 4′ grow bed with an additional 4′ x’ 8′ grow bed. I will be raising 200 trout to start and the water there will be much colder than the house system to better raise the trout. The trout in the house unit will move to the large tank and I will then get some Talapia for the indoor system.

      Start small and add as you go. An IBC can hold 330 gallons and are dirt cheap, that’s a good place to start, but if you already have a 150 – 175 gallon tank, git ‘er dun!

      • Raising trout in Florida? Now that I’d like to know how your doing. How do you keep the water Temps low enough in Florida? Thought they needed cold water temps. Let me know how this is coming along please. Thanks

      • what is a IBC

  • Any edible species thoughts (with fins and scales) grown in the hottest area in the US? This week we will reach 126 in temperature. Looking to start in fall, but need to plan for the heat. Talapia and Bluegill seem to be it??? Love yhe info!!!

    • Temp range for Tilapia 55F to 96F…. you might get away with a few deg. either way for very short periods of time….But believe me….they will start to die at either end of temp spread….been there done that…here in Texas…..lost fish at both extremes….cold is worse than heat though. So unless you have a way to control the temp within that range, forget about Tilapia as you must stay in that range.

  • The fish supplier in OR has recommended bigmouth bass for my system in Seattle. I have a pond in the ground enclosed in a greenhouse tunnel. VH


    • What size is the pink granite? Is it available in larger quantities at a better price?

  • You know what would be great is a map of the US showing the temperature belts and the types of fish that would work well in those climates.

    • Well, the zone hardness map for plants will give you a good idea of winter low temperatures. Average high temperatures can help determine how heat tolerant your fish need to be. However if you can shade or expose your tank to sun it can change the water temperature by several degrees.
      Most of the country can have high temperatures over 100 degrees.
      The monthly mean temperature you may get from local weather bureau is just an average of daily high and low temperatures and does not show how wide a swing there is between the high and low.

    • Where is the best place to check state regulations? Someone told me it is illegal to keep Tilapia in many states of the US.

      • Try your local State and Game Department.

        • opps Try your local state Fish and Game Department.

  • I am starting my first tank I live in Missouri our temp swings are huge. I am guessing I will have to install a heater of some kind to keep this a year round ting outside. My swimming pool gets over 90 degrees in the heat of the summer. Any comments would be appreciated. God help us all

  • I am planning to start an indoor system (Alaska). How many tilapia can be raised to maturity in a 300 gallon IBC system. How long will it take to raise them, and how heavy will they be, or more usefully filleted meat weight per fish. I know it will very on many conditions and my individual system will even very, but I am just looking for a rough estimate, of how many fish to get and possible yield. Thanx

    • Plan for one to two lbs. per ten ga. of water. Harfest your fish as they approach the 2lb./10ga. max

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  • Thanks for the fantastic post. Your tips are very helpful, especially what type of fish to choose and the water temperature…

    I am starting out in Aquaponics and with all the information online it can be quite overwhelming to know what system to follow that gives all the info in one package. From building the system to choosing the right fish.

    Mark Davies
    Chapel Hill

  • Have two IBC tanks and just got the first up to speed using goldfish as part of the cycling process. Been reading about different types of filters and seems a swirl filter (made from a 5 gal water bottle) is easy to make. Also a sand filter afterward then into a bed of crushed granite then into the filter media (blue/white from PetSmart), then that flows into another small tank with the polystyrene balls (spoked wheels) with an air stone keeping it churning then that flows into the sump with the pump that sends the clean water with high nitrates to the grow beds (fill and drain). These drain into another sump which is pumped back to the fish tanks. The four grow beds are 4′ wide by 8′ long and 8″ deep with that expensive clay pellet stuff. So far tomato plants, squash, cucumber, onions, and beans have all started and looking great. The IBC tanks with Fish are inside barn, one 10″ deep grow bed on top of IBC, and then other grow beds outside barn. Raised the outside grow beds to 3′ above dirt on treated 4×4 posts with “T” or “Y” at top to hold beds steady. Used CMU blocks as steady rests at 3′ intervals and grow beds slope 1/2″ from water inlet to bell syphon drain at opposite end. Tried making an activated charcoal filter but just got water dirty in process so removed it. Building swirl filter today to replace all that!

    • What is a IBC tank? Where do I get them? Thanks

      • Intermediate Bulk Container

  • thanks for sharing it was very helpful.

  • Good information, but lacking. When the SHTF do you really believe that the electric will continue to work? When the dollar collapse comes how are you going to pay for electric if it does exist? I have built a barrow system one for the fish tank laying on it’s side, one cut in half top to bottom making two grow beds, another laying on it’s side to be the hatchery all arranged on a 2X6 wood frame creating three levels for the water to gravity feed back to the fish tank. The pump that I choose is a 12 volt DC, 700 GPH bait pump that also aireates the water (West Marine or marine supply) and will install a solar battery charger to opperate the system. The grow beds will have pea gravel and a auto siphon system.
    When the SHTF (that is a given, don’t know when) my system will continue to operate. I am still not sure as to which fish I will choose because am in NW coastal Oregon and today there is about 6 inches of snow on the ground so cold is a problem. My point is to address the point that most of you are not thinking about and that is how you will maintain your system when the lights go out. Everyone really needs to think about that…;o)
    If you have the space then you should consider adding Rabbits to your survival system because of the value it offers. One doe can produce 36 kits (babies) a year or more. So a family of 4 would need 4 does, and 2 studs this equals 144 rabbits a year. The droppings make a great compost pile for raising worms to feed your fish, and the trimming from you garden will go for food for the rabbits. Rabbits are vegetarians so all you need to do is cut grass to feed them (hay). This requires very little space as a cage is generally 2 1/2 ft by 3 ft by 18 inches high and they can be stacked. This makes a fairly good ECO System.

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