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Tropical Fish - Is it possible?

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Hi everyone,

Is it possible to use tropical fish in an aquaponics system? I'm thinking about purchasing a Water Garden (https://backtotheroots.com/products/watergarden) and would like to fill the tank with a tropical fish, but do not know the effect on the marriage between the fish and plant. Do the fluctuating ammonium and nitrate levels effect tropical fish more or less? Let me know when anyone gets a chance!

Thank you kindly!

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i wouldnt hesitate to use any fish that i could grow in an aquarium in the same environment. Technically tilapia are tropical fish and closely related to oscars, jackdepsey etc. 

why would water chemistry fluctuate more in aquaponics than it could/does in a closed loop aquarium system?


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As a fish owner (pets) I strongly urge you: Do NOT use that kit.  It can only house 1 betta (no other fish species can be kept in something that small, and multiple bettas cannot be kept in that together-they will kill eachother) and needs an adjustable heater (they are tropical fish and need 76-82F water).  Its WAAAAAY too small to keep any group of fish in.  Also it has a LOT of bad reviews for a very poor quality pump.

Ammonia/nitrite/nitrate (depending where you are in the nitrogen cycle) fluctuation effects every type of fish, some are just more tolerant species than other (this doesn't make it ok to let water quality go to [censor] though-over time the tolerant fish can get sick or die from prolonged exposure to bad water quality or constant fluctuation in pH).  Some tropical species are more sensitive than others-example most wild caught fish (dwarf puffer) vrs tank bred species (tetra)).. ALL fish and inverts don't like sudden pH or temp swings and it can kill them.  If you can buy Seachem Prime-it dechlorinates but also can bind ammonia and nitrite (NOT nitrate) for up to 48 hours, most betta owners recommend doing 1-2 drops per a gallon every 24 hours while tank cycles (any ammonia or nitrite readings show-test when its dark too to see that the beneficial bacteria are absorbing and converting the ammonia, not just the plants).

You're better off getting a 10g aquarium at petco on the $1 per a gallon sale that happens 4 times a year and get a simple pump on ebay or amazon that has a 2' lift (maybe 300gph (gallons per an hour-flow rate) or more depending on fish you get) then use a tote/storage bin above the tank.  Pipe leading from submerged pump in tank to bin with grow media, and with a hole drilled in it to let water back down into the tank.

The larger the tank the more stable the pH, temp, and more water to dilute fish waste (trust me you want the larger volume).  Heck I'd go for a 20g long.. or 40g breeder.  The larger the tank the more fish species options you have. 

I'd suggest looking at seriouslyfish.com they have a database with a lot of info on many spices of fish, great place to find out minimum tank dimensions, temperament, pH and temperature ranges for species.  Only note: if it says they should be in school/shoal (group) get a minimum 6.

Edited by AquaAurora (see edit history)

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