It is an anxious time when you introduce new fish into an aquaponics system, and it pays to get them off to the best possible start. Here are tips for making the introduction less stressful for you and your fish.
Having just arrived home with your batch of new fish it is important that you get them into your aquaponics system as soon as possible. However rushing this process will stress your fish at a time when they are already stressed, due to the actions of catching and transporting.
Introduce Water To Acclimatise.
Most people are familiar with acclimatising goldfish to a new aquarium. Floating a plastic bag filled with water and oxygen is a good way to equalise temperatures, however it does nothing to prepare the fish for the differences in water ph, hardness, and other water elements. Lucky goldfish are tough!
You need to take more care with more sensitive species.
OK, so you will have your fish in the transport container with water from the fish tank that the fish were taken.
Next, equalise the water in the transport container with the water in your fish tank by tipping an ice-cream container’s worth of water from the fish tank into the transport container. Do this every 2-3 minutes for 10 minutes.
Your fish are now ready to be added into your fish tank, however the transport container has likely become too heavy to lift. To prevent injury or potentially spilling your fish outside of the fish tank, take out several containers worth of water from the transport container. Now just tip the fish into the fish tank.
After the fish have been introduced into your system, it is worth spending the next few minutes observing their behaviour.
Check that the fish aren’t sluggish, swimming on the surface, or swimming in strange patterns such as swimming around in a tight circular pattern.
Once you are satisfied that all seems ok, give them some time to become familiar with their surroundings. Put the lid over the fish tank if you have one and just generally avoid them for the next few hours.
Check on them after a few hours and observe that they are behaving as expected.
Don’t bother feeding the fish.
After the stressful events of the day your fish are very unlikely to want to feed the same day they were introduced (unless they are trout who are always up for a feed!).
My advice is to give it a day before attempting to feed.
As mentioned, trout will be ready to feed and it will be very unlikely that you will ever have any problems getting them to feed. However the more nervous and shy fish, Sliver Perch, and especially Barramundi are unlikely to want to feed for a day or more. You can read more about tips for feeding Barramundi HERE
After a few days it is worth throwing in a pellet or two every time you approach the fish tank. This should help train the fish to identify your presence with a food source. If they look hungry then throw a handful of feed into the water.
TIP: You can test the water in the transport container to give you an idea on the water conditions the fish were living in. This is good practice especially if you have problems after your fish have been introduced i.e. you can compare the water test results from the original water to the water in your fish tank.