Chili peppers have been proven to have a lot of health benefits when included in a diet. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, natural pain-reliever, has cardiovascular benefits, boosts immune system and can help to loose weight. Red chili peppers are a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and dietary fiber. They are also a good source of iron and potassium

There is a large variety of chili cultivars which can be grown in an aquaponic system. One of the easiest species to grow and maintain is birds-eye chilli. The plant grows as a thick bush and is quite forgiving.

Jade Perch is a fish native to Australia where it is also one of the more popular choices in aquaponics as well. It is an omnivorous fish, well suited for tank environment. Suitable water temperature ranges from 10 to 30 degrees celsius, in lower temperatures their growth will slow significantly. Ideal temperature is around 25 degrees celsius.

Jade perch has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as much as around 2500 mg per 100g of fish

The fish reaches harvest size in about 12 months

Tilapia is one of the most popular fish in aquaculture and aquaponics as well. They are large in size, grow fast, are tolerant in terms of environment and taste good.

The recommended temperature for Tilapia is 28 to 30 degrees celsius; the growth rate will decrease significantly below 20 degrees. Most aquaponics farmers keep the water around 23 celsius, which is a compromise between the requirements of the plants (photosynthesis decreases in temperatures over 32 celsius) and the fish. This temperature also supports the bacteria breaking down the nitrites.

Nutritional value/100g Calories 96 Fat 2g (of which omega-3 220mg) Protein 20g Good soure of phosphorus, niacin, vitamin b12 and selenium

The fish keep the system going through the waste they produce. Even though the fish in the aquaponic system do not have to be edible, it is an opportunity to provide protein that is guaranteed fresh, ecological and locally grown. It is not any more difficult than keeping an aquarium, perhaps even easier. To grow a fish from a fingerling to eating size requires surprisingly little effort. 

The fish you can grow in the system are numerous as well.  However, pay attention to the relationship between the fish and the plant; for example some fish species prefer colder water than is desirable for some plants. Therefore choosing the fish to grow is one of the important steps in becoming an aquaponic farmer. If the system is outdoors, climate naturally has a big influence on the choice – however in Finland, year-round outdoor solutions are not very plausible.  Solutions are therefore mostly indoors, which leaves much more options available.

There are a few requirements a ”good” aquaponic fish should have. To give a few examples, the fish should be relatively tolerant in terms of culture systems and conditions suitable for captivity. For example, it is able to reproduce, is not cannibalistic or otherwise aggressive and of course is readily available as fingerlings. Good taste and nutrition levels aren´t minus factors either. 

A very popular choice is Tilapia, which has been found to be extremely successful in an aquaponic system. Other options include barramundi, jade perch, silver perch, trout, sleepy cod and carp. Also fresh water shrimp, mussels and crayfish can be grown in an aquaponic system. The number of fish in a tank is a question which requires some thought, as in theory one can stock the fish densely as in an aquaculture system (around 1 fish per 10 litre of water is the best solution to ensure balance).  A large population increases the risk of something going wrong, and more attention is needed in terms of following the water quality. It doesn´t necessarily require a massive amount of fish to keep flourishing grow beds.  Because of the slower turnover to produce plate size fish (6-8 months), the main harvest of an aquaponic system is the plants which grow at an impressive pace.

Species >  Oreochromis niloticus

Common Name > Tilapia

Origin > Middle East and Africa

Species >  Scortum Barcoo

Common Name > Jade Perch

Origin > Australia

Pike-perch (also known as Zander) belongs to the perch family and is among the most esteemed food fishes in Europe. The meat is light and firm and has a pleasant taste and the bones are scarce and easy to remove. Even if it is not bred for food in a large scale, it still seems to be adaptible enough to be sustainable in fisheries.

Zander likes dark waters and is a quite a slow grower, but can reach a weight up to 20kgs. The fish is farmed currently in Finland which makes the fingerling easier to access.

Nutritional value/ 100g Kcal 96 protein 20,5g fat 1,2g.  Good source of calium, phosphorus and vitamin D

Species >  Sander Lucioperca

Common Name > Pike Perch

Origin > Europe

Sturgeon is a primitive bone fish whose fossils have been dated back to 200 million years ago. Part of the durability of the species is the vast scale in terms of living environment; another one is the big size which makes natural enemies few in number – an adult sturgeon has the average weight of 150 kgs. In total there are about 25 known species of sturgeon. It has been traditionally fished because of caviar, but the meat is also considered to be of high quality.

Nutritional value/ 100g Kcal 184 protein 28g fat 7g of which omega-3 753mg

Species >  Acipenser sturio

Common Name > Sturgeon

Origin > Eurasia and North America

Rainbow trout is the most popular aquaculture fish in Finland. It can survive in a variety of environments, but prefers cold water rich in oxygen and a pH above 6. Fingerlings eat plants, bu once grown, rainbow trout is a carnivore. The farming of rainbow trout is popular all around the world and has been criticized for polluting the waterways. In aquaponics this problem is, of course, nonexistent.  The meat of rainbow trout is tender and has a mild flavor. It is also

rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Nutritional value/100g Kcal 179 protein 18,6g fat 8g  Good source of kalium, iodine, selenium and vitamins D, E and B.

Species >  Oncorhynchus Mykiss

Common Name > Rainbow Trout

Origin > North America

Growing crayfish in a tank requires creating an environment in which the crayfish can survive and grow. They dont like direct sunlight and should have rocks, large plants or other suitable objects to give protection. Optimal growth rates are achieved with relatively low densities. Crayfish are omnivorous.

The water temperature for crayfish should be between 27 and 32 degrees celsius, and the pH level between 6.5 and 8.

Nutritional value/100g calories 72 fat 1g (omega-3 174mg) protein 15g good source of niacin, folate, magnesium, potassium, copper, vitamin b12, phosphorus and selenium

Species > Pacifastacus leniusculus

Common Name > Signal Crayfish

Origin > North America

The most common plants used in aquaponic systems are different kinds of leafy greens and herbs. They thrive in the environment the system provides, and the turnover is considerably faster than in traditional farming. The mentioned plants are not naturally the only ones successful; one can grow tomatoes, cucumber, beans, chili, aubergine, cauliflower, berries, cabbage, shallots, celery, pepper and broccoli to name a few; suitable plants are numerous in number. 

The turnover period naturally depends on the plant and conditions.  Trials have shown that some vegetables and herbs grow up to four times faster than in hydroponic systems which is already more prolific than traditional farming. The major advantage aquaponics has is that the plants have continuous access to nutrient-rich water; especially when the weather is warm, the plants use a huge amount of water - which is limited when growing them in the soil.

Plants can be planted either as seeds or seedlings; if using the latter, you should rinse out the soil from the roots to prevent any possible contamination coming from the dirt. 

The growth of the plants also depends on the balance between the fish and the greens.  The system balances itself in a way that when there are a lot of nutrients, a lot of fish, the plants have a vast reservoir of nitrates and thus grow quicker. On the other hand, when the fish are small or low in numbers, the plants still develop at a quick pace.  In a smaller system plants such as leafy greens and herbs are more recommended as they don`t require as much nutrients as the more demanding plants. Additional supplements to speed the plant growth are not usually required or even recommended, as everything that goes into the system for the plants also goes through the fish. More often than not, it’s better to stick to the natural way of things.

Strawberries are cultivated around the world in large quantities. The cultivars vary in their characteristics; often they are divided into two main groups, namely June-bearing (bears fruit early in the summer) and perennial (bear several crops throughout the season). Strawberries are an easy plant to grow, so it is very suitable for aquaponics as well. It should however be kept in mind that cerain plants (eg. eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes) may carry a fungi which causes the strawberry plant to rot, so they cannot be grown in the same system. A pH of 5.3 to 6.5 is optimal, but strawberries will grow with a pH between 5.0 and 7.0.

Nutritional value/100g calories 43 fat 0g fiber 3g good source of folate, potassium, vitamin c , manganese and flavonoids.

Species > Fragaria Ananassa

Common Name > Strawberry

Origin > Hybrid of North American & Chilean Species

Species > Capsicum Frutescens

Common Name > Bird’s Eye Chilli

Origin > Central and South America

Spinach is a flowering annual plant which grows to a height up to 30cm. It has a very high nutritional value and is rich in anioxidants. In traditional farming spinach takes 4 to 6 weeks from seed to harvest; in aquaponic systems the growing rate is much faster.

Nutritional value/100g calories 23 fat 0g fiber 2g

Good source of niacin zinc, vitamins a,e,k,b6 thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calsium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese

Species > Spinacia Oleracea

Common Name > Spinach

Origin > Central and Southwestern Asia

Green bean is a general term for the unripe fruit of any kind of bean, eg. yardlong bean, hyacinth bean, winged bean and especially the common bean (phaseolus vulgaris). they are widely cultivated because of their fleshiness, flavor and large variety of uses. Green beans are found in two major groups, bush beans and pole beans, based on their way of growing. Pole beans grow in the form of vines, whereas bush beans are short plants about half a meter high and require no support. depending on the species, green beans will mature in about 10 days from flowering, which in turn happens (in soil-based farming) in about two months after planting. in an aquaponic system the turnover is faster, as with every other plant farmed in that way.

Nutritional value/100g calories 31 fat 0g carbohydrate 7g fiber 3g protein 2g vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin A, dietary fibevr, potassium, folate, and iron. Good source of magnesium, thiamin, riboflavin, copper, calcium, phosphorus, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and niacin.

Species > Phaseolus Vulgaris

Common Name > Green Bean

Origin > Mesoamerica & Andes

Broccoli is a part of the cabbage family. It has numerous health benefits, and its usage in Finland has steadily increased since the beginning of 1990s. All above-ground parts of the plant are edible; broccoli is as its best when the flower heads are small and the yellow of the leaves in not visible. The plabt requires a sprouting time of about 4 weeks before planting; after that, harvest can be expected in less than two months when using traditional cultivating methods. In aquaponics this time is shorter, as it is with any other plant. Good harvesting size is about 250g.

Nutrition/ 100g Kcal 30 protein4,6g fat 0,3g fiber 2,5g

Good source of A-,C-vitamins, folic acid, flavonoids, potassium and fiber.

Species > Brassica Oleracea

Common Name > Broccoli

Origin > Europe

Botanically tomato is a berry. The size, color and weight of the edible fruit vary a lot, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. Nutritionally speaking tomato is an ecxellent food as according to studies the lycopene in it can prevent a heart attack. When growing tomato it must be noted that it requires warmth; therefore the cultivation often has the best success when taking place in a greenhouse. Tomato doesn´t produce fruit without a succesfull pollination, so it is good to shake the plants a little bit when in the flowering phase.

Nutritional values/100g Kcal 23 fiber 1,4g protein 1,0g

Good source of lycopene, kalium, manganese and vitamins E, B6, C and K.

Species > Solanum Lycopersicum

Common Name > Tomato

Origin > South America