The Best Ornamental Fish For Aquaponics Systems

Most aquaponics growers practice aquaponics to be able to harvest fresh fruits and vegetables. However, if you belong to the group that wants to raise ornamental fish in their aquaponics system. The one question that often comes to mind is what are the best ornamental fish for aquaponics? This article discusses the best ornamental fish in aquaponics systems to hopefully help you choose the best ornamental fish for your system.

Why Raise Ornamental Fish in Aquaponics?

There are reasons why some people choose ornamental fish for their system. Here are some of them:

  • Ornamental fish tend to be hardy fish. They can survive in low-quality or polluted water. 
  • If your goal is to have a decorative fish in your home, consider raising a variety of colorful and attractive ornamental fish, such as a goldfish.
  • If you have a small aquaponics system. It might be an indoor or outdoor system that usually consists of a grow bed and a fish tank. 

Ornamental vs. Edible Fish

An aquaponics grower can choose between ornamental and edible fish when deciding what type of fish they want to raise in their system. If your main goal is to produce fresh food, you should consider raising edible fish that are safe to eat.

However, if your goal is to bring a decorative element to your home, then consider choosing an ornamental fish to raise in your system. There are several varieties of colorful and attractive ornamental fish you can grow. Ornamental fish are not edible, but they still produce waste that gives nutrients to your aquaponics plants. 

The Best Ornamental Fish for Aquaponics

Below is the list of ornamental fish you can raise in your aquaponics system.

1. Goldfish

Ideal pH range: between 7.2 to 7.6
Ideal Temperature Range:between 65°F and 72° F
Ideal Fish Tank Size: Goldfish need space to swim around, so it is essential to use a longer and bigger tank if you’re planning to keep more than one fish. To choose the right fish tank for your aquaponics system, check our article on how to choose the right fish tank for aquaponics.
Food Requirements: Goldfish are omnivorous, but it is recommended to feed them with pelleted fish feeds that are high in protein. 

Goldfish is one of the most popular ornamental fish in aquaponics. Not only are they inexpensive and look great in your home, but they are also a hardy fish species that is easy to take care of. Goldfish can survive in a wide range of temperatures, water conditions, and changes in water pH levels. They also produce large amounts of waste, which provides plenty of nutrients to your aquaponics plants. Here are the reasons why goldfish are ideal for aquaponics:

  • Easy to breed: Goldfish are hardy and easy to breed, which is an advantage in aquaponics systems. 
  • Readily available: Goldfish of different sizes are readily available all year round worldwide. 
  • Affordable: Compared to other aquaponics fish species, most goldfish are inexpensive. Their food is all cheaper and available globally.
  • Water quality tolerant: Goldfish are resistant to poor water quality conditions. 
  • Great indoors: Goldfish are great for smaller indoor aquaponics systems. Their beautiful colors can complement any indoor decorations and setting. 
Goldfish in Aquaponics

2. Angelfish

Ideal pH range: between 6.8 and 7.8
Ideal Temperature Range:between 78-86°F.
Ideal Fish Tank Size: Angelfish can grow quite large and requires an aquarium of at least 55 gallons or larger. 
Food Requirements:Angelfish feeds at the surface or mid-water, but they also swim to the bottom to look for worms and other small crustaceans. They are omnivores and thrive on flakes. They can also be fed with frozen and live foods to help induce spawning.

Angelfish is another popular ornamental aquaponics fish because of its long and majestic fins, graceful swimming behavior, and ease of breeding. Angelfish belong to the family of Cichlidae. They look good in aquariums and are admired for their classy swimming behavior. 

When buying angelfish, look for ones that are the size of half a dollar coin (2-3cm). Part of the fun of keeping angelfish in your aquaponics system is watching them grow from a young fish to full adulthood. While they are slender fish, don't pick overly thin ones. Look for a young, strong angelfish with a thicker head and meaty body. Also, avoid buying any fish with cloudy or damaged eyes. Buy only the healthiest ones possible for the best chance of a successful system.


Angelfish in Aquaponics

3. Bloodfin Tetras

Ideal pH range: between 6.0 to 8.0
Ideal Temperature Range: between 70° -80° F
Ideal Fish Tank Size: Minimum 30 gallons, The Bloodfin tetras, are easy to care for. These fish species appreciate it if their tank or aquarium is decorated to imitate their natural environment. You can add some driftwood, rocks, twisted roots, or some aquarium plants to make the aquarium like a neutral habitat for them. 
Food Requirements: They eat flake food, but they also like what they eat in the wild, so you can also feed them with worms, shrimps, and frozen food supplements to ensure the best nutrition. Bloodfin Tetras are very active and need to eat more frequently than other fish since they constantly burn the calories they consume. Feed them 2-3 times a day on whatever they can eat within 2-3 minutes for best feeding results. 

These small fish species with silver bodies and red fins are stunning to look at. Bloodfin Tetras are also extremely hardy fish and are adaptable to slight changes in the water quality as long as they have enough swimming space and vegetation. They are also very easy to please, making them an ideal ornamental fish to raise in small aquaponics systems.

Bloodfin tetras do well in slow-moving water, which mimics their natural habitat. They can live for a period of 5 to 8 years. They are peaceful and social creatures; they are schooling fish and thrive in a group of six or more. So if you're planning to raise bloodfin tetras, ensure that you have a large enough tank as they tend to nip each other if they don't have enough space. Bloodfin tetras are active breeders who produce a lot of young fish but will also eat their own young if given a chance.


Tetra in Aquaponics

 4. Danios

Ideal pH range: between 7.0 and 7.8 
Ideal Temperature Range: between 70° and 78°F
Ideal Fish Tank Size: Longer tanks with enough swimming room are the best for danios. Most danios are surface-oriented and show their best colors in a well-decorated aquarium. Danios are best kept in groups of at least six or more. 
Food Requirements: omnivorous and thrive on flakes and pellets. They can also be fed with frozen and live foods as treats or help induce spawning. Feed them twice a day on what they can consume in 2 minutes.

Danios are another hardy small fish species. They have bright stripes and can do well in almost any water condition, making them an excellent fish for small aquaponics systems. They are active fish species and like to live in groups. Most danios grow to less than 2," and they are typically surface-oriented.  


Danios in Aquaponics

5. Koi

Ideal pH range: 7.5
Ideal Temperature Range: between 35° to 85°F. 
Ideal Fish Tank Size: a 1000-gallon fish tank can raise 5 to 6 koi. 
Food Requirements: Koi are omnivorous fish species. They are not difficult to feed as they eat plants and animal matter. But for their optimum health, feeding them with flakes and pellets is the best because it provides them with a well-balanced diet. Feed koi once a day for what they can consume in five minutes. 

The Japanese Koi is one of the most popular ornamental fish for aquaponics systems for several reasons. Koi are highly adaptable, have a long lifespan, and are resistant to parasites and diseases. This fish species has a lot of varieties and is in various shades of orange, white, yellow, black, etc. Koi are omnivorous and can feed on algae, plant matter, and fallen debris.

Koi can live on fish tanks, but they are often raised in ponds. The most popular breed of Koi for aquaponics systems is the Gosanke breed, which includes the Kohaku, Showa, Sanshoku, and Taisho Sanshoku varieties.


Koi in Aquaponics


Your aquaponics system can not only produce food or generate more income, but it can also help bring beauty to your home. Your choice of fish to raise will depend on your goals and needs. It will also affect the success of your aquaponics system, so make sure to know and learn what type of fish will suit your needs to be successful. Thanks for reading, read our article, “fish health and diseases in aquaponics.”

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