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The art of feeding fish in aquaponics

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

Albert Einstein

 young koi jumping out of cristal clear water during feeeding time at the aquaponic machine

Being new to aquaponics the first skill you should master is feeding your fish

This is the single most important action that connects you to your system, careful observation at this time will tell you all you need to know about your systems general health. Here are some tips about fish feeding that will help you get the most out of this experience.

The type of feed is important because it is what gives your aquaponic system the power to produce the food you will be eating. Don’t use aquarium flakes or feeds as food for pet fish have harmful chemicals used to increase colour so if you don’t want to glow red and yellow don’t use them. Those chemicals are not for human consumption.

Even the processed fish feed contains chemicals but most farmers compromise here because of the ease of using a feed. If you have an option to buy from a sustainable feed producer please do. The alternative food sources I know of all require more labour input than the maintenance of the system it self.

Glass tank outdoor aquaponic system with nice ornamental fish

Complete Diy fish feed for aquaponic fish

Makeing your own fish food is hard work but the type of fish can help, for example if you have fish like pacu they will eat most table scraps and piranha will eat cooked or raw meat. Oscars will eat most insects and tilapia will take duck weed and compost worms all day. The idea with natural based feed regimes is to get as much food into the system that can provide enough nutrients for the plants coming out.

3 factors that influence choice of feed.

  1. Floating or sinking feed? Floating you can see how much feed is getting used but having a pond skimmer you may have to stop the pumps during feeding. Sinking you can’t see what is being eaten at the bottom of the tank and that may be a problem but this choice ultimately depends on the type of fish you have, research and see if your fish are bottom feeders or surface feeders.
  2. The amount you should feed according to science says that it is 1% of the fish weight daily. Unless you weigh your fish regularly this can only be used as a guideline. I prefer to judge by feed response and it has worked very well for me.
  3. How often you should feed is determined by your availability to be there to feed, this is where auto feeders though expensive can save lots of time because fish digestive tracts are usually around 3 hours long so a feed every 3 hours is optimal. One draw back is that the big fish will be territorial and lock off the area closest to the feeders and the smaller fish will not feed or grow.
 aquaponic machine Tank of large red talapia at feeding time

Other tips and factors to watch

  • The size pellet has an effect on growth rate, you can buy big pellets and crush them for younger fish but big fish spend too much time to eat small size feed and small fish can’t get the big feed eat at all. Try to buy feed that is not so big that the fish have to spit out more than twice to eat.
  • You can store the feed close to the fish in a PET bottle so it is pet and water proof.
  • I started with dog and chicken feeds, I had to soak out the oil first until superior feed was available.
  • Fish can go weeks without food.

Everything I write is to get you to use our calculator because it is a easy way for you to document your aquaponic journey and let us help each other along the way to successful aquaponics.