t is also one of the essential components of the entire aquaponics ecosystem. They’re fish food if they want to save costs on maintaining their aquaponic system or if the commercial granulated feed is not available.
What should you feed your fish in aquaponics?
Feeding your fish the proper fish food will ensure that their system and plants are healthy. You need to know that younger fish and those that live in colder waters require more protein and fat than older fish or warm-water fish.
You have the option of providing your fish with commercial fish food or organic homemade fish food. Commercial fish food is packed with nutrients that will help your fish stay healthy while feeding them organic homemade fish food will ensure that your system and the plants in your system are organic.
Components and nutrition of fish feed
Proper nutrition of fish in aquaponics is essential because fish food must meet the nutritional needs of both fish and plants. Without proper nutrition, your fish will have slower growth, less reproductive success, and increased disease.
Fish requires a balanced diet and should be regularly fed healthy foods that meet its nutritional needs. Fish food should contain enough protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, phosphorus, and other vitamins and minerals for the fish to produce enough plant waste and keep the overall health of the tank at a high level.
- Protein: Protein is an important component for the formation of fish mass. Younger fish require a high protein diet during their growth stage to grow to an optimal level.
- Fish oil: Fish oil is a common component of fish food. Fish oil is rich in two types of fat, omega-3, and omega-6, which is also beneficial for humans.
- Carbohydrates: The most important and cheapest source of energy for animals. Carbohydrates consist primarily of starch and sugar, which help bind the food together to form a granule.
- Lipids: Lipids provide the energy and essential fatty acids necessary for the growth and other biological functions of fish. Fats also play an important role in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and ensure the production of hormones. Fatty acid deficiency in fish can lead to reduced growth and limited reproductive efficiency.
- Vitamins and minerals: they are necessary for the health and growth of fish. Vitamins are organic molecules synthesized by plants that are important for the development and functions of the immune system. Minerals are necessary for fish to synthesize their body components and cell structures.
Alternative food for fish in aquaponics
Still, you can also choose to feed your fish organic homemade fish food if you want to reduce the cost of maintaining your system or ensure that the crops you produce are organic. These are the alternative feed for fish in aquaponics.
Duckweed is a small, fast-growing, floating aquatic plant that does well in the nutrient-rich water of your aquaponics system. Duckweed is rich in protein and grows extremely fast and can double in just a few days. These fast-growing plants help create a healthy environment for your fish by utilizing excess nutrients in the tank, such as nitrogen and phosphorous. However, duckweed should be grown in a separate tank because it grows fast in calm, slightly shaded water. Duckweed is an excellent alternative food for tilapia, koi, perch, and trout.
AzollaAzolla is a water fern that grows by floating on the surface of the water. Azolla fixes atmospheric nitrogen and essentially creates proteins from the air. Azolla should be grown in a separate fish tank that is slightly shaded with a slow flow of water.
Insects and wormsInsects and worms can be included as alternative fish food in aquaponics because for centuries, they have been a natural source of food for fish and many other animals.
Carnivorous fish can be fed crickets, insect larvae, flies, tiny crustaceans, cockroaches, fish eggs, all kinds of worms such as blackworms, earthworms, and red flies.
Flies of the black soldier larvae of the black soldier fly are very rich in protein and are considered an important source of protein for livestock, including fish. The life cycle of this insect makes it an attractive addition to some agricultural systems in favorable climatic conditions.
When growing black soldier flies, food waste or manure is placed in a compost unit that has sufficient drainage and airflow. Adult black soldier flies are not a vector of disease nor are they attracted to any human activity. The adult flies simply mate and then return to the composting unit to lay eggs and die after a week.
An advantage of using black soldier flies is that they have been shown to prevent house flies and blowflies in the facilities in which they are found and help decrease the pathogen load in compost. However, before feeding the larvae to the fish, the larvae must be safely processed by baking in the oven (170 ° C for 1 hour) to destroy any pathogens, and the resulting dried larvae can be ground and processed as fish food
MoringaMoringa oleifera is a species of a tropical tree that is very rich in nutrients, proteins, and vitamins. Moringa is a valuable homemade alternative fish food for aquaponics.
Moringa is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tropical tree. It can be easily propagated through cuttings or seeds, but they are frost intolerant and could not survive in colder climates.
Other food alternatives for fish you can feed your plant-eating fish vegetables that can also be easily grown in your aquaponic grow beds, such as kale, lettuce, watercress, and fruits like bananas, apples, and grapes.
Here is a list of common aquaponic fish that you may be farming and what they prefer to eat in the wild.
- Smaller fish
- Aquatic insects such as water fleas, mayflies, etc.
- Salmon eggs
2.Largemouth bass: carnivorous
- Smaller fish
- River crab
- Small waterfowl
3.Bluegills and crappies: carnivores
- Small fry fish
- Aquatic insects
- Small insects
- Fruits: apple, watermelon, grapes.
- Vegetables: lettuce, broccoli
- Meats: shrimp, insects, crayfish, worms
- Small crustaceans
- Aquatic plants
- Small fish
- River crab
Since fish waste supplies the necessary nutrients for your plants, you need to ensure that your fish feed consistently. It’s also important to schedule how often you feed your fish to avoid overfeeding them. Overfeeding can contaminate the tank water and lead to fish illnesses. So, check your tank regularly and remove uneaten food.
Feeding your fish alternative fish foods can help reduce your system maintenance costs and ensure your fish and plants are organic. Both work well, and the choice is yours on how you want your aquaponics system to be.