Preventing Fish Disease in Aquaponics – Healthy Routine Tips & Tricks

Preventing Fish Disease in Aquaponics

If you are experienced with aquaponics system, you probably know already that while the system is self sustainable, it does require some care from your side as well. Preventing fish disease in aquaponics is one of the most important things to consider – it is more important to prevent than to wait until disease strikes. But before finding out how to prevent such issues, you need to know what the potential problems could be.

Understanding fish disease in an aquaponics system

Fish disease will normally occur if you fail to look after the system. An unbalance in the system is likely to lead to various affections. For instance, pathogens like fungi, parasites or bacteria can thrive in humid environments. They can turn a good system into a problematic one that will most likely kill your fish.

Abnormalities in the system environment will also cause your fish to fall ill. For all these reasons, it is critical to ensure the water quality is high. Besides, you need to come up with routine prevention measures and make them part of the overall maintenance. Not only will you be able to prevent various diseases, but you can also boost the immune system of your fish and prevent further issues.

Preventing fish disease in aquaponics – Common problems

Ammonia poisoning is among the top problems out there. Ammonia is harmful for fish and such poisoning may have multiple causes – filter failure, the new tank syndrome in fish, low oxygen levels in the water, too many fish for the size of the tank, excessive food rationing, excessive amounts of protein in the food or a minimal water flow.

Nitrite poisoning is not to be overlooked either. It occurs when the levels of nitrites are too high. Causes are just as diversified. The poisoning can be caused by fish overcrowding, high amounts of fish food, low levels of oxygen, a low water flow or too many variations in the water temperature.

Temperature stress is just as problematic, especially if the temperature goes down drastically. The issue might be caused by a problematic thermostat, bad insulation or a faulty system management.

Fin rot is more commonly caused by bacteria. Your fish will have damaged fins and loss of color. The white cotton saprolegnia is quite a common issue too – a fungal infection that brings in brown, red or white cottony growths on the fish eyes, fins or gills.

Lice and anchor worms could cause various diseases in your fish too. Red spots of parasites can be noticed around the skin, gills and mouths.

With so many potential issues out there, preventing fish disease in aquaponics obviously imply staying alert and ensuring you keep an eye on your fish.

Now, how do you prevent such problems?

Preventing fish disease in aquaponics

Healthy management practices will help in keeping fish healthy and happy. Since many issues are related to the food, make sure your fish only get nutritious and healthy foods. Stick to whatever is recommended for the respective species and choose quality over quantity. It will pay off in the long run.

Suggested article: Aquaponics Fish Food Explained – What Options Do You Have?

When it comes to getting your first fish for an aquaponics system, avoid buying random fish from anyone. Stick to a professional facility. For instance, a random pet store may not be the best idea. Instead, you want a reputable breeder.

No matter what species you choose, make sure you educate yourself on the requirements. While fish can accept small variations in their requirements, providing an ideal environment is ideal in preventing fish diseases in aquaponics. Maintain the environment at the ideal levels.

Suggested article: 24 Best Fish for Aquaponics & a Few Great Alternatives to Try

best fish for aquaponics

If your fish left some food for later, make sure you remove it. Food will start rotting and cause various affections. It is a source of pollution and bacteria – infections are only a few steps away, so clear out everything once your fish is done eating.

Always keep an eye on your fish and assess their condition once a day. New fish require more attention than older fish. Look out for symptoms of various infections, unusual colors and behaviors. If you are just adding some new fish to your tank, consider having your fish swim around in a different tank for 45 days first – just a measure of quarantine.

It might be worth giving new fish a salt bath as well – it will eliminate some parasites and cure various infections.

Back to food – the food should be kept in a dry and cool place. If kept in the wrong conditions, food will develop mold. Once in the tank, it will spread and cause various diseases. The lack of aeration is another popular issue – maintain it at the right levels and keep an eye on the dissolved oxygen.

As for the fish tank, it should be kept in a safe place too. Direct sunlight can stimulate bacterial growth. Then, full darkness will also cause your fish to fall ill. The tank should also be kept away from birds, amphibians, rodents or snails – they usually carry pathogens or parasites.


In the end, preventing fish disease in aquaponics is not that difficult if you manage to maintain the optimal conditions for your fish and plants. Routine maintenance is a must, so keep an eye on your fish and plants and react as soon as you notice anything unusual. Small issues could lead to long term problems if you fail to react straight away – plus, prevention is always easier than trying to find a solution.

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