Many people choose catfish for Aquaponics. Catfish are very good at adapting to their environment, are not territorial and breed quite easily. They tolerate water temperature variations and come in a variety of breeds suitable for various locations. The warmer the water that you keep your catfish in, the quicker they will grow.
Are you are planning to eat the fish you are using for your Aquaponics system? Catfish are scale-less and have to be skinned. Furthermore, they mature fairly quickly and produce tasty white flesh.
Feeding Your Catfish
Catfish require a high protein fish food, and it is also possible to rear your own worms to feed them. You should use floating food and feed the fish three times a day. Feed the catfish as much as they will eat. One technique is to feed them, wait for five minutes to see how much of the food is eaten and then continue to feed them if they have eaten all the food.
The amount the fish will eat varies by the season and other factors. It will fluctuate from day-to-day.
You can purchase food or you can make your own, but you must use high-quality food. If you use commercial pellets, they should be small (1/8″). In any case, the food should be high quality so the fish can digest it well. Otherwise, you may find that your aquaponic plants have slime on the roots.
Other types of food that are good for catfish are insects like black soldier flies (and other wingless flies) and crickets.
As a guideline, aquaponic experts advice feeding the fish 2.5% of their body weight in food every day. The following calculator can help determine the amount that’s right for your system.
How to Introduce Catfish to Your System
You will probably purchase your catfish fingerlings (young fish) from your local pet shop or farm supplier. Place the bag of young fish inside your aquaponic tank this will allow the fish to adjust to the change in water temperature. Leave the bag for a few hours or overnight then open the bag and allow the fish to swim into the tank.
Catfish Used in Aquaponic Systems
Tandanus Tandanus (Eel Tailed ) Catfish
Eel tailed catfish are excellent fish for Aquaponics. They are bottom feeding omnivore, they can be fed sinking pellets and live food such as earthworms. The young fish are a mottled black and grey color. When mature these catfish can be brownish red, olive green or brownish purple in color. The tandanus have large spines that run along their pectoral and dorsal fins and their mouth is surrounded by four pairs of sensitive barbells.
Ictalurus punctatus (Channel) Catfish
Channel catfish are another popular Aquaponic fish, they too are omnivores and can be fed live food such as insect larvae or worms as well as high protein pellets. Channel catfish produce tender and good tasting meat. The color of a Channel catfish depends on the water it lives in, if it is clear (as it should be in an Aquaponics system) the catfish is very dark, almost black. If the water is murky the catfish can be yellow.
Ameiurus nebulosus Brown Bullhead Catfish
Although the brown bullhead catfish matures more slowly than some other Aquaponic fish, they are very hardy and will put up with a large variance in water temperature and water quality. As the name suggests the brown bullhead is an olive/brown color fading to cream on its belly. Another omnivore, bullheads can be fed insects, molluscs and pellets. The brown bullhead has a thick and rounded body sharp, sawtoothed, spines at the base of the dorsal and pectoral fins. Unlike most other catfish, the upper jaw of the brown bullhead juts out slightly farther than the lower lip.
Catfish are very suitable fish for Aquaponics, they are tolerant of a range of water temperatures, slow growing so will not outgrow your system and have pleasant tasting flesh.