Bluegill Aquaponics Systems – Are They Worth Your Time & Money?

Bluegill aquaponics

Choosing the right fish for your aquaponics system can be tricky with so many options out there, especially when you are new. Aquaponics is often about trial and error – this is how you learn. From this point of view, it pays off investing in forgiving fish that can tolerate small mistakes. This is when the bluegill kicks in. Bluegill aquaponics systems are quite common these days because of their capabilities to adapt to all kinds of conditions – with a few limits, of course.

On the same note, bluegill fish are extremely tasty and can make great meals in a variety of dishes. Bringing bluegill fish into your sustainable system will most likely work a very long way. Even better, compared to other fish, bluegill requires little to no maintenance. Looking after your fish will not really cost you too much, hence its popularity among beginners. Now, what else should you know about this fish, and what are its requirements when growing it?

Benefits of a bluegill aquaponics system

The bluegill is part of a larger family of fish referred to as the sunfish. It includes more species, such as crappie and largemouth bass too. Such fish are more popular in North America, but they can be found in other parts of the world too. They reside in more environments – from rivers to lakes. They are easy to catch and inexpensive to purchase.

To many, the bluegill is considered the easiest fish to keep in an aquaponics environment. Sure, different experts have different opinions, but the fish is certainly among the main options out there due to its hardy profile. It is less likely to require any heaters to survive and grow big. Plus, it will have no problems with the summer or winter weather.

On another note, the bluegill is a common choice for its meat too. Compared to other fish, it is not very flaky. The meat feels meaty and firm, so you can enjoy it better. Make sure you provide the right growing environment – with a few mistakes if you are new – and your bluegill fish will thrive in the aquaponics system.

Becoming familiar with the bluegill subspecies

Going to a store and asking for bluegill may give you more options because there are more subspecies out there. Three of them are well recognized and likely to be found out there – southwest, northern and coppernose. Obviously, each subspecies has a few characteristics that could help you determine the right option for your tank.

Northern bluegill

The northern bluegill is quite common in North America, but it can be found elsewhere too. It is the most popular subspecies and tends to grow in freshwater. It is easy to catch and tasty.

northern bluegill
northern bluegill

Southwest bluegill

The southwest bluegill is similar in appearance. It is more common around the southern part of North America. In terms of appearance, it is similar to the northern alternative, but it is a bit smaller in size.

Coppernose bluegill

Finally, the coppernose bluegill is mostly found around Florida. It is also kept in private ponds. It is tasty and makes a good choice for your system. Each subspecies comes with slight differences in terms of requirements. However, when choosing something for your bluegill aquaponics system, the northern subspecies is probably the one you will find everywhere.

Requirements for a bluegill aquaponics system

Every species has some requirements to thrive. Sure, some species are more forgiving than others and can adapt to various environments. Most fish can survive out of their comfort zone too, but this is not really recommended. Maintaining the optimal living conditions is essential to ensure your fish will stay happy and grow large.

Stocking density is one of the first things to keep in mind. How many fish can you keep in a tank? It obviously depends on the size of the system. Each species has specific demands. When it comes to bluegill, most experts recommend 10 gallons of water for every pound of bluegill – the number of individuals is not really relevant.

The size of the tank is just as important. Based on the above-mentioned general rule, a 55-gallon tank should be enough for five fish to live without any hassle at all. Keep in mind that bluegill will most likely reach a pound in weight. As for its size, it can grow up to 12 inches in length. The bigger the tank, the better the environment for your bluegill aquaponics system is.


In terms of temperature, bluegill will adapt to various conditions. The fish will grow both in the summertime and the wintertime. However, the perfect temperature is anywhere between 65 and 80 degrees F. Getting outside of this range can be tolerated, but the fish will not be very happy. Other than that, the fish should never get into hot water.

Bluegill fish love a bit of heat, but avoid extreme temperatures. Heat is one thing, and direct sunlight is another thing. You should have some hiding spots for your fish, as they dislike being directly exposed to sunlight. The pH level – just like the temperature – is forgiving as well. Bluegill can easily go between 6.5 and 8.5.

The dissolved oxygen requirements are not to be overlooked either. Generally speaking, bluegill will require a concentration of 5mg/L. This is the minimum requirement. If you can go higher than that, go for it. The survival limit is not always recommended, so try to go higher to keep your fish happy.

Feeding fish in a bluegill aquaponics system

Bluegill fish are omnivorous. They will eat all kinds of things. You can stick to classic pellets, but you can also come up with a variety of different foods – such as algae, larvae, insects, plant seeds, and vegetation. The feeding frequency asks for a bit of attention because your fish must be fed a few times a day. Let the fish eat as much as they want within the first 10 seconds. If they leave anything behind, take it out.

Apart from the frequency, consider some set feeding times too. If you live in a hot climate, most bluegill will fail to eat properly throughout the day. Therefore, stick to mornings and evenings only.

Common affections

All fish are exposed to various diseases, and bluegill make no exception either. The red sore disease is probably the most important one to look after. If you can see any red lesions on the dorsal fins, it means the disease is in an incipient stage. These wounds are slightly raised and only affect the tips of the fins.

Fail to treat it, and it will spread. Sooner or later, you will notice ulcers on the fin sides. Make sure you isolate the affected fish in a different tank. Salt baths with a 3% concentration are quite efficient in treating the affection.


Bottom line, bluegill aquaponics systems are extremely common because of the versatility, taste, and adaptability of this fish. The fish is suitable for numerous plants too – from grapes and raspberries to spinach. All bluegill subspecies are quite forgiving and allow small mistakes without getting severely affected, while the taste and firm meat will simply surprise you.​

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