Fish food is the main input in an aquaponics system, therefore it is important to feed your fish the right nutrition not only for the health of your fish but also because fish food becomes fish waste that is the main source of nutrients that feed the plants.
Each fish species has different nutritional requirements that must be met to survive. In their natural environment, fish can seek food that will provide them with their nutritional needs. However, in aquaponics, the fish cannot search for their own food, so they are dependent on the farmers to provide the correct balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that they need to grow healthy.
Tips in Feeding Fish in Aquaponics
- If you have multiple fish varieties in one fish tank, ensure that they all have similar dietary needs, like all fish should be herbivores or omnivores in one tank.
- Choose fish food that will provide your fish with all their nutritional needs. Each fish species has certain nutritional requirements that should be met to survive and produce good food for the plants. The fish feed should contain the correct balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. (1)
- In determining how to feed your fish, decide how much and how often you will feed them. Your fish should be able to eat all the food in around five minutes. (2)
- Remove leftover food from the tank.
- You may need to feed you fish more frequently if you have a small amount of fish in your tank so they will produce the amount of waste that your plants need. If you have many fish for your plants can reduce the number of times you feed them. (2)
To get the most of your aquaponics fish, it is important to have routine over-all maintenance on your system to ensure that the three main components are working well. On fish maintenance, give your fish quality and well balanced food. You have the option to give them commercial fish food or homemade fish food. The fish you have in your fish tank will determine which type is better for your feed. Commercial fish can be carnivorous or omnivorous. Commercial fish food is packed with nutrients that will help your fish stay healthy.
Advantage of Commercial Fish Food.
- Most of the commercial fish food supply all the necessary nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals) needed for optimum fish growth and health.
- The nutritional content of the fish food depends on each fish species.
Dis-advantage of Commercial Fish Food
- The vitamins and minerals in the fish food are heat sensitive, so they need to be stored properly.
- Commercial fish food have limited shelf life.
- Preservatives such as antimicrobials and antioxidants are often added to extend the shelf life of commercial fish food.
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Although commercial fish food is liked by many, a lot of aquaponic farmers have made their fish food. Making your organic fish food can be a great way to save more money and make your aquaponics system more sustainable. Here are a few of the most popular homemade fish feeds, that you can try doing at home.
Advantage of Organic Fish Food
- Organic fish foods such as worms provides fish to mimic the habit of feeding in their natural environment.
- Using organic fish food is inexpensive to produce and can be produced with almost no cost at all.
- Fish produce is safe, palatable and safe for human consumption.
Dis-advantage of Organic Fish Food
- Requires preparation time.
Duckweed is a water plant and growing duckweed is one solution to lessen the cost of feeding your aquaponics fish. The nutrient-rich water in aquaponics is well suited to grow duckweeds which are 30% to 40% rich in protein. Many fish eat this tiny plant that is an excellent supplement to feeding your fish. (3)
Duckweeds are easy to grow and maintain, it just takes about 4-6 days after harvest to completely regrow and cover a tank again. To grow your duckweed, refer to this video
Vegetables and Garden Plants
You can make your fish food by grinding vegetables and other plants from your own aquaponics garden. Treat you fish with slices of fruits and fresh vegetables. (3)
Worms and Insects
You can grow your worms and insects to feed to your fish. Vermicompost is very useful in aquaponics as it helps enhance plant growth, crop yield and help improve the root structure and development of the plants.
Worms grow fast, multiplies quickly and can be an occasional protein treat to the fish. Insects such as dragonflies, wingless flies can also be grown to become fish food. These worms or insects have different proteins on them.
How and what you feed your fish is one of the important decision that can affect your aquaponics system. Commercial fish foods and homemade fish food have it’s own benefit and advantage. The choice is up to you on what is suitable to you and your system. Remember experimenting is part of the fun of managing your own aquaponics system. If you want to learn more join our Facebook Group.