What are the Alternatives to Fish in Aquaponics

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Aquaponics is great. You don’t need to eat fish to set up a backyard aquaponics system! But what if you wanted all of the benefits of aquaponics but none of the complexities of rearing fish?

As aquaculture is one part of aquaponics and it just not includes only fish. This can include shrimp cultivating, fish cultivating, ornamental fish development, oyster cultivating, Algaculture like kelp cultivating. So can other aquaculture techniques and aquatic animals can be used in aquaponics?

Or what if you can only grow fish during a particular season? What do you do to keep your planes going during the off-season?

Anyone who has operated their own aquaponic garden knows that you can grow food with fish waste, but can you grow food with other aquatic creatures? Can you grow food with turtle waste? Is it safe to eat? Here are the alternatives to Fish in aquaponics.


Why use Turtle instead of Fish?

  1. They poo a lot and produce more waste. More Nutrients. Good for plants?
  2. They have much more personality than fish.
  3. They are much hardier than fish.
  4. Much more interesting, varied diet.
  5. Turtles are reptiles. Interesting?
  6. You can keep them as pets.

Biggest concern keeping turtles in aquaponics is Salmonella. It is not as common as most people think although many animals, even dogs, can carry it. The reason turtles carry salmonella risk is usually due to poor care.  Also, If the risk of salmonella was so great with turtles nobody would own them.

Know more about the topic here Using Turtle in Aquaponics: Good or Bad?

Here is the list of Turtles you can keep as a pet


Ducks can be a great alternative and produce a large amount of waste for growing veggies in Aquaponics.

  • They also lay eggs! Maybe you get 2-3 weekly. (Fish lay eggs as well but you can’t eat them probably)
  • Poultry Meat: With its rich flavor and juicy mouthfeel, duck meat provides an indulgent way to reach your recommended protein food. Check recipes here
  • Snail & Slug control: These web-footed omnivores are tireless consumers of slugs, snails and a wide array of bothersome — and potentially dangerous — insects and grubs, including (but not limited to) mosquito pupae, Japanese beetle larvae, potato beetles, and grasshoppers.
  • They’re generally good friends to have around. Check this funny video out.

However, you will need a strong pump and good filtration to cope with the large particles coming through. Also, a compact design integrating duck pond with plants container. Check some guys have already set up a duckponics here


Using shrimps in aquaponics, you can grow plants and raise oceanic creatures by giving them the harmonious environment in a recycling loop.

  • They eat leftovers
  • They will also eat any dead fish before you get an ammonia problem
  • Easy to breed. You can breed beautiful cherry shrimp to sell for a handsome profit
  • They are a great source of food for your fish
  • Shrimp is a tasty and healthy food which is considered a high-quality commodity.
  • They can eat algae, larvae, plankton.

You can keep them in your current setup by making a partition between fish and them. They will control algae problem in your tank. As reported, they produce little waste. So you have to watch out if your plants are getting enough nutrients. Best thing is to integrate shrimps container with your current aquaponics system. The shrimp do not survive in water temperatures under 65 degrees or in water temperatures above 95. check this post if you want to start a home-based shrimp harvesting business.


Yabbies are so low on the food chain, it makes them very easy to look after and stock in your backyard aquaponics. Crayfish including yabbies can be easily grown in aquaponics at low densities.

If you are a backyard farmer, crayfish will make for an excellent, inexpensive and practical addition to your aquaponics system.

Most of the time crayfish grown in an environment like aquaponics with clean water they produce some wonderful colors and will fetch great ornamental prices at the local aquarium hobby shop.

You may find the harvest to be quite small and you can plan for around 10 crayfish per square meter if you have plenty of hides there.

While they may not have great value as food harvests, they contribute well to breaking down the wasted feed and poop from the fish.

If they are sold to aquariums shops and other enthusiasts it helps cover some of the costs of running the system. Anyways, it costs nothing to have the crayfish in your aquaponic system.


At the risk of stating the obvious, you’d normally have fish in the fish tank…..but with vermiponics, you substitute another ammonia source in place of the fish. You might be aware that worms populate mature flood and drain systems and that they help to mineralize the solids in the grow beds.

In vermiponics, worms serve the same function except that their food source is something other than fish poop (like finely chopped vegetable scraps or rabbit manure)…..and rather than putting the food into the water, it is placed into the beds. In extremely cold weather, you might look around for cold water fish species.

However, you should try an alternative ammonia source and rely on the nitrifying capability of the flood and drain process and the worms in his system to produce the nutrients for his plants.

So what are the advantages of vermiponics over aquaponics?

  • The risk of catastrophic failure is much less.
  • While worms need oxygen they can access it more effectively than fish.
  • Worms will survive a power or equipment failure much longer than fish will.
  • It’s much less expensive (in terms of energy costs) to run a vermiponics system than an aquaponics one.
  • It’s much cheaper to feed worms than it is to feed fish if vegetable production is your desired outcome.
  • Worms will also thrive on a much wider range of feedstuffs; many of which are so-called low-value wastes.
  • Worms will thrive in a much broader environmental range than fish will.

To summarize, when it comes to growing plants, vermiponics is cheaper, more efficient and is more risk-averse than aquaponics.

You can learn more about Verminponics here


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