Salmon Aquaponics Explained – Is It Worth the Time?

salmon aquaponics

Given its unique taste and versatility, salmon is one of the most appreciated fish on the planet. It makes no difference if you want a healthy diet or some fancy meals – it is hard to find something negative about this fish. All in all, these reasons are good enough to start a salmon aquaponics system. It may not be the easiest fish to deal with, but the benefits are worth your effort and time.

Benefits of a salmon aquaponics system

So, why would you choose salmon over other fish? Its versatility will let you pair it with a wide variety of plants. Salmon will go with anything if you love cooking it. There are numerous ways to cook it, but it also comes with an incredible amount of nutrients. The bad news is that lots of salmon fish are farm-raised. In theory, there is nothing wrong with it. But then, you have no idea about its environmental conditions or what kind of chemicals it has been exposed to.

Starting your own salmon aquaponics system will ensure your food is 100% natural and organic. Forget about chemicals, poor living conditions or a bad treatment. Throw in a few homegrown plants, and you will end up with a highly versatile self-sustainable system.

Different subspecies of salmon

There are more types of salmon out there, and just like you have probably guessed already, each of them has its own particularities. One variety is referred to as the Atlantic salmon because it is mostly found in the Atlantic Ocean. The other varieties are referred to as Pacific salmon for obvious reasons. There are more options there – chum, pink, coho, Chinook, and sockeye.

The Atlantic salmon shares many particularities with the classic trout – rather than with other subspecies of salmon. The variety was common in more parts of North America, but commercial fishing has ruined it for everyone. Most of the Atlantic salmon you will find in stores today is farm-raised.

Atlantic salmon

Environmental requirements for a salmon aquaponics system

From all the fish you could grow in an aquaponics system, salmon is the least recommended one to beginners. It involves some effort and challenges, but it is worth it. You can still do it by ensuring a perfect environment and the ideal conditions. Extra attention and a bit of work will guarantee for good growth.

The stocking density is one of the first things to pay attention to. Do not exceed 40 pounds of weight for 260 gallons. This is a general, yet unwritten rule. No matter how tempting it is, avoid overstocking salmon because it will cause a plethora of issues in the long run. Think about the longterm goals and growth rate of an adult salmon. Even if you get young fish, you need to think in advance.

Different subspecies have different standards, but some salmons can grow up to 60 inches and may easily exceed 125 pounds in weight. The common Atlantic salmon is smaller though – around 10 pounds and 25 inches.

The tank size is also worth some attention – pure mathematics based on the above rule. If you go for Atlantic salmon, a 260 gallon tank should be enough in the beginning. If you start from the bottom – salmon eggs, you could do with 20 gallons. Of course, this is a scalable process, so you will need to invest in more tanks later on.

The water temperature is easy to figure out. Salmon fish tend to grow in cold waters, so they usually like it fresh. The water must move continuously. The temperature should go anywhere between 55 and 65 degrees F. At this point, it depends on the environment and climate you live in. In some areas, you may need to install a refrigeration unit by your salmon aquaponics system.

The same rules apply when it comes to sunlight. The constant exposure to sunlight could heat the water up, which your fish will hate. A bit of shade for the tank is ideal, but it does not mean that your fish can grow in complete darkness.

Think about the pH levels and oxygen requirements as well. The pH range should go between 6.5 and 8.5. Salmon will thrive in this range. As for oxygen, 6mg/L will be the minimum requirement. Opt for higher levels of dissolved oxygen to keep your fish happy though.

Most common health issues with salmon

All fish are exposed to particular diseases, and salmon make no exception. Such fish are more likely to develop the enteric redmouth disease than other species. The issue is more common in farm-raised salmon though and occurs as a direct consequence of poor living conditions. Hemorrhaging will inevitably occur, too – the main signs. You will see it around the eyes, mouth, and fins.

Overstocking salmon will also lead to fin rot.

All in all, as harsh as these issues seem to be, they can be easily prevented with proper care. Make sure the water quality is always high and stick to the recommended stocking density.

Best plants in a salmon aquaponics system

Different types of fish are better with different types of plants. Salmon works wonders with cold season plants, such as cabbage, collard greens, or broccoli. Leafy greens will also thrive in such an environment – arugula or lettuce. In theory, you can try to grow any type of plants, but these options are more suitable than others to maintain the right balance – they also have similar requirements in terms of temperature and pH levels.

Suggested article: 11 Best Plants For Aquaponics: Best Options & Less Common Plants


As a short final conclusion, a salmon aquaponics system is not easy to deal with. Salmon is more pretentious than other species of fish. It requires more attention and comes with some restrictions. While challenging, such a system is also rewarding. There will be a bit of trial and error, but maintaining the system by the book will give you great crops and large and tasty salmon for your dishes. What else can you ask for?​

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