Introducing Fish Into Your Aquaponics System

620 320 Suburban Farmer

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. After all you’ve done most of the hard work, setting up and cycling your system, so why stop now 😊

Having just arrived home with your batch of new Fish/Marron 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, differences in Environmental conditions like, temps, pH levels, water hardness, light and overhead protection, predators etc.

Introduce Water To Acclimate.

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. What can we do?

When you buy your Fish/Marron, the supplier will place them in a transport container with water and oxygen from the tanks that the fish were taken out of.

Next, equalise the water in the transport container with the water in your fish tank by tipping quarter to half an ice-cream container’s worth of water from your fish tank into the transport container. Do this every 2-3 minutes for 10 minutes. This helps minimise the transition and helps balance out the water differences and translocation stresses.

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 carefully lift up (with the help from some friends) and tip over the fish into the fish tank. Remembering not to thunder them in (like being in a washing machine) and to gently place them in.

After the fish have been introduced into your system, it is worth spending the next few minutes and days 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 or on their sides “Flashing”.

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 and sometimes, I leave them be, feed free, for 2 days. Checking, of course, to see if any negative signs are coming about.

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 or three 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.

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 small handful of feed into the water, using high quality “Floating” pellets. This way you can monitor how much they have eaten and scoop out what isn’t eaten. Leave it for at least 20 mins before removing excess or uneaten feed.

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.