Successful domesticating of trout in aquaponics lies in fine-tuning certain components leading to a healthy and profitable harvest. A cold-water fish growing trout is not that difficult because these fish do not require complex care. Even though there are numerous trout species available today, this article will focus on growing the most popular breed, which is the rainbow trout.
Why raise trout in aquaponics?
Trout is one of the most cultivated fish in the world, owing to its delicious flavor. They are typically fast-growing freshwater fish, allowing you to increase your fish population gradually. They can reach plate size faster than other fish types, and they have superb flavor and texture.
The rapid population growth of trout in an aquaponics system can also indicate a rapid increase in agricultural yield. Because the fish can withstand a wide range of temperatures, they are becoming a popular fish choice to raise in aquaponic systems.
What are the different species of trout for aquaponics?
To date, there are 14 different species of Trout in North America and the rest of the world. But the most common are five species: brown trout, lake trout, sea trout, brook trout, and rainbow trout. Here are some key characteristics of the species mentioned.
Brown Trout are not necessarily brown; therefore, the term may be misleading. Brown Trout come in various colors, including silver and golden, depending on where they inhabit. Even though they appear in a variety of hues, this trout species is relatively straightforward to identify.
Brown Trout have orange-red markings that are surrounded by a silver ring. Another distinguishing feature of brown trout is their more salmon-like appearance than some other fish on this list. This is due to the brown trout's resemblance to the Atlantic salmon, which explains why many confuse trout with salmon.
The lake trout is the largest member of the Char family. This is a large deep-water fish that can weigh up to 80 pounds. Their vast size is one of the qualities that distinguishes them from other species; nevertheless, they also possess a forked tail and creamy spots that give them a unique physical trait compared to different trout types.
The sea trout is essentially a freshwater fish, which means it is a regular trout migrating to the sea to feed. As a result, it flourishes best in low-salt coastal waters or brackish water environments. This fish can reach a length of 140 cm and a weight of 50 kg. Sea trout can live up to 38 years longer than the two species listed above.
Brook trout are a colorful freshwater fish that can be found in Canada and the northern United States. They are members of the Salmonidae family, which includes salmon. Brook trout, often known as speckled trout, are easily distinguished by their lovely yellow spots on an olive-green back. Brook trout can remain in freshwater their entire lives or live in saltwater and spawn in freshwater. Brook trout are migratory fish, and there are two distinct migratory populations known as salters and coasters.
The rainbow trout is the most well-known trout species in North America. The prominent pink stripe on the side of the rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, gives them its name; nevertheless, that is not the only method to identify them. The black dots on the dorsal fin and body of the trout and the square, broad tail are also telltale signs.
Which species of trout is best for aquaponics?
The rainbow trout is the ideal fish to utilize in an aquaponics system.
The main reason is that rainbow trout are, without a doubt, the most resilient trout species. This feature makes them easy to produce for farming and requires significantly less maintenance for growing plants.
Another good reason you would choose to use trout in your aquaponics system is that their rapid growth will help you expand the number of crops you can grow.
The main benefit of rainbow trout is that they can survive in a wide range of water temperatures, allowing them to produce more nutrients to aid crop growth.
Considering the commercial aspect of aquaponics, rainbow trout are commonly utilized for fish farming and refilling angling fisheries worldwide. They are widely farmed as a food fish for sale to restaurants, supermarkets, and consumers as a fresh, fresh-frozen, or smoked product. Rainbow trout is also low in fat, has a great flavor, is high in nutrition, and adds a lot of diversity to recipes and meals.
What are the factors to consider in growing trout in aquaponics?
Rainbow trout are huge fish that require large fish tanks. A tank with a capacity of hundreds of gallons (300-600 gallons) is required for trout measuring 2 to 3 feet. While this may appear extravagant, it will give them the space they need to improve mental health and dilute wastes without having to worry about water quality issues. The larger species (4 to 5 feet) will require a tank with a capacity of thousands of gallons.
Trout prefer water with a fast flow rate. This ensures that wastes are flushed away quickly and that adequate oxygen levels are maintained. They don't perform well in the warm, stagnant ponds where carp, tilapia, and catfish live.
The majority of growers agree that trout reach their optimal growth if the water has a pH range of 6.5 - 8. A study about trout and pH range suggests that the fish may suffer increased exhaustion if the recommended pH level is not provided.
As a cool-water fish, trout prefers the cold, with ideal growth temperatures ranging from 56 to 62°F (13 to 17 °C). They can withstand temperatures as low as 38 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but not for an extended period.
Higher Dissolved Oxygen(DO) in the contents of the tank water is an essential element for producing trout in an aquaponic system. Trout require higher levels than well-known species like catfish, tilapia, and perch, which are commonly employed in any aquaponics technique. In a system with trout, oxygen levels of up to 7.0 ppm or mg per liter are required to keep the fish healthy. This is not a difficult task to complete. A simple pump with an air stone on the end of the hose can provide enough air through bubbles to keep an aquarium aerated.
The volume and suitability of feed used in trout farming impact the profitability of production. Trout and other salmonids can digest predominantly protein-rich diets (usually from fish) and get some of their energy from fats and carbs to a lesser extent. Here are some of the guidelines you can follow in feeding trout:
- Ensure that the fish food is equally scattered across the top of the water in the tank.
- If you begin growing your trout from starter size, feeding should be eight to ten times a day. When the fish reaches maturation, feed your trout once or twice a day, being careful not to overfeed or underfeed them.
- The fish feed must be of the highest quality to ensure proper growth and metabolism and the health and flavor of the trout after they are harvested.
- The fish in your tank should be of similar size. You will have to sort your fish regularly based on their size. This situation will prevent territorial behavior and larger fish from gulping the food of smaller ones.
What are the pros and cons of growing trout in aquaponics?
Although trout is an excellent fish for your aquaponics setup, there are still some advantages and disadvantages you should be aware of.
- Low maintenance fish: Trout require very little attention when it comes to maintaining their well-being. These trout are simple to keep in captivity and need only a few necessities to thrive.
- Fast growers: Another good thing about choosing trout for your aquaponics is that they are fast-growing fish species. They grow quickly, about one inch per month at the ideal water temperature of 59°F (15°C), and reach a market size of 1 to 2 pounds between the ages of 10 and 15 months.
- Healthy food: Trout is rich in vitamins and minerals, so it is a popular food choice for many health-conscious individuals. This fact gives trout growers a robust market.
- Large tank fish: To thrive, trout require enough living area to equal their fully developed size. A tank with a minimum capacity of 200 gallons (nothing less) and an ideal capacity of over 1000 gallons is the best aquarium capacity to consider. With that in mind, even with the largest tank, you can purchase, you will only fit two to three fish in it.
- Dominant fish: Trout is a dominating species in the tank and must be sized and grouped. They have a territorial nature, and if they are not correctly mixed in the same tank, one dominant trout will likely control and even kill the less prevalent fish.
How to harvest trout in aquaponics?
Harvesting methods vary, but water levels in holding facilities are generally dropped, and the fish are netted out. The entire procedure is carried out to minimize stress and maximize meat quality.
Trout aquaponics can offer you healthy fish to eat while simultaneously providing you with a healthy crop of your preferred plant. There is a growing number of trout aquaponics practitioners today. You can be part of them and have a healthy trout aquaponics system by noting the salient points I laid in this article.