Some people choose decorative fish for their aquaponics systems, while others try to gain as much as possible from this experience, growing edible fish. If you want something delicious that loves cool water, a trout aquaponics system is just what you need. Trout is not too picky, grows fast and has a delicious taste.
The trout culture is established in most countries out there. You can find this fish anytime, anywhere. It has been deeply researched, so it does not hide any secrets whatsoever. People know everything they need about ideal growing conditions, as well as the nutrition and other requirements. Now, what should you know before setting a new system up?
Main species to use in a trout aquaponics system
There are more species of trout out there, but some of them stand out in the crowd. Before digging into deeper details, you should know that trout is a fish that belongs to the salmonid group. The same group also counts the traditional Atlantic salmon. In particular, there are two species that you are more likely to find in commerce.
First, you have the rainbow trout. This type of trout was originally found around North America. Given its taste and benefits, it has been introduced in waters all over the world. It is suitable for numerous environments, hence its popularity. For instance, only in the UK, you can find more than 350 farms. Obviously, you can find a nearby farm pretty much everywhere, so it makes no difference where you live.
Then, you have the brown trout, which is just as common in trout aquaponics systems across the world. This type of trout was originally found in the UK. Compared to the rainbow trout, the brown trout is not as easy to find. The genetic loss and disease decimated the population, but governments have made significant efforts to protect this fish.
No matter what species you use, you should know that females tend to grow much faster than males. Therefore, most people will buy females. More and more people turn to triploid trout. Such fish are sterile, meaning that food goes towards the actual growth and not the reproduction. Such fish are not just tasty and easy to grow, but they also help the environment by protecting native brown trout.
Growing conditions for trout
Trout is not a picky fish, which makes it popular in aquaponics system everywhere – sure, the taste is not to be overlooked either. Some experts do not recommend it to newbies. However, educating yourself upfront and knowing exactly what to expect will give you a glowing system without any risks at all, so it is totally worth a try.
The water temperature ranges between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius. The ideal conditions range around 15 degrees Celsius. Trout is the type of fish that likes cool waters. Therefore, you will not have to be too protective with the tank in the cold season. You do not have to spend money on heating the water either – just pay attention during hot summer or very cold winters.
The dissolved oxygen is a must for every aquaponics system and trout aquaponics systems make no exception either. Normally, you will need about 7mg/l. This is the minimum requirement. Going a bit higher is ideal, but do not exaggerate. As for the pH, it goes between six and eight. Make sure the pH requirements of the trout match the pH requirements of the plants you want to grow too.
This is probably the most complicated part when creating an aquaponics system. Both fish and plants have growing requirements. They may vary widely, so some fish and plants are simply not suitable – you will support one party, but ignore the other. Ideally, you need plants that carry the same growing requirements.
Pay attention to the unionized ammonia too. This is not the total ammonia nitrogen. All in all, this standard should be no more than 0.02mg/l. The same goes for nitrite – not more than 0.2mg/l. Nitrate follows the rules – 150mg/l. Sure, the nitrate quantity is not that important for fish, but you still have to pay attention to it. It is more important for your plants. As for the carbon dioxide, it must not exceed 20mg/l.
Trout aquaponics systems – What to expect for your production
The production of your trout aquaponics system obviously depends on its size. A bigger system will require more fish and plants, meaning you will get more food in the long run. For instance, you can normally get about 350 grams within seven months, assuming you provide excellent growing conditions for your fish.
Trout is normally considered an oily fish, meaning it has heavy amounts of nutrients. It is a healthy fish that provides vitamins D and A, as well as omega 3 fatty acids, which are excellent for heart health. The flesh has a vibrant pink color and feels delicate as you taste it. It has an incredible taste and can be cooked in different ways. Up to 10% of all the trout is smoked though.
Even if you fail to provide the optimal growing conditions for trout, the good news is that your fish is quite forgiving and can still grow. However, the growth will be relatively slow. At the same time, ignoring these conditions can cause various diseases, meaning your fish is at risk. Pay attention to the conditions and adjust them accordingly instead.
How to feed trout
Trout is a carnivorous fish. It eats meat and it likes to hunt. From this point of view, protein is a must to keep it active and healthy. Normally, about 50% of the diet should consist of protein. With these thoughts in mind, feeding costs for trout are a bit higher than feeding expenses for other fish, but following every rule in the book will give you greater rewards in the long run.
All in all, the actual food is probably the highest cost in a trout aquaponics system, so there are no other major costs to be concerned about. There are particular foods designed for trout, but researchers are also trying to identify different sources of protein. While not fully considered yet, insects might be a viable option for the future.
Years ago, fresh fish waste used to be a common option for trout. Avoid such waste in your aquaponics system. Basically, if the water keeps circulating, it will get polluted, so it is out of discussion. On the other hand, dried pellets are probably your best choice. There are lots of different options out there, so you can always find something suitable.
Apart from the high protein requirements, trout will also need high amounts of omnivorous fish oils. For example, you could focus on tilapia or carp oils. Oils are normally less expensive than actual protein. They will provide your trout with plenty of energy for hunting and moving around, but they will also reduce the costs.
Suggested article: Aquaponics Fish Food Explained – What Options Do You Have?
How to design your trout aquaponics tank
There are various requirements when designing the tank for trout. Normally, wild trout loves high water flows. The waste is always flushed out of the system, while oxygen levels are kept at the optimal levels. Trout also dislikes static and warm waters, such as pods – the type of waters suitable for catfish, tilapia or carp.
Assuming you can provide these conditions, you should aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes retention times. Trout can be kept at higher stocking densities as well if you follow this rule. But then, higher stocking densities come with other requirements, such as maintaining a fail safe power supply. Normally, a beginner or a home producer should not go over 20kg/m3.
As a short final conclusion, trout is one of the most appreciated fish out there. It is tasty and healthy, but it can also be cooked in different ways. Growing it at home will bring in a wide variety of advantages. Not only do you have access to fresh food all the time, but maintaining a trout aquaponics system is not too difficult either.
Given the popularity of trout, the fish has been extensively researched, so you can find anything you need to know about it. There is no guesswork whatsoever, whether it comes to the growing conditions, food, dietary or space requirements. Follow all these rules and your system will thrive without having the fish or plants exposed to any risks at all.
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