Tilapia is one of the most popular fish for aquaculture ranking third behind carp and salmon. Consequently, it has become a frequent choice for aquaponics. Tilapia grow rapidly and reach eating size in 6 to 7 months and are a good fish to eat. You will find Tilapia on the menu in many restaurants.
Historically, tilapia have been a food source for centuries and are sometimes called “St Peters Fish” in reference to biblical fish caught in the Sea of Galilee. They are an important source of food worldwide and are farmed in many countries.
Advantages of Tilapia in Aquaponics
Tilapia grow fast and can tolerate high densities which means they can be kept in numbers that will provide plentiful nutrients necessary to grow your plants. Although they are a freshwater fish, they can tolerate extreme water conditions and have even survived in the Salton Sea which has water so salty that it kills marine fish. They will eat algae and plant-based food which will reduce your fish food costs.
As a food source, tilapia provide are high in protein and have a mild flavor which is good for those who do not like a fishy tasting fish. For those that like more flavor, the mild taste may be a draw back.
Tilapia are relatively inexpensive to buy and can be purchased from several online sources and even on eBay. Simply do a search on “where to buy tilapia” and you will find many places from which you can purchase tilapia.
Disadvantages of Tilapia in Aquaponics
Although tilapia can tolerate poor water conditions, they are sensitive to temperature and do not do well in water below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you choose tilapia, your aquaponics system will probably have to be indoors.
Many states in the USA and some countries either ban or restrict tilapia because they are considered an invasive species that will crown out native fish is they are released in local waters. Some states, such as Nevada where I live, require a permit or license to grow or keep tilapia.
Tilapia are a good and popular choice for aquaponics, especially if you want to grow fish as a food source. They can tolerate poor water conditions although that is not an excuse for not maintaining good water quality in your system. If you decide to raise tilapia, make sure they are legal in your area and get the proper license of permit if required.
Image By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22958472