Growing Rainbow Trout in an Aquaponic System

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The rainbow trout is popular sportfish and recognized as a tasty, nutritious dinner for all diets. This easy to rear fish can be cultured to grow plants in aquaponics.

This hardiest type of trout is easier to grow for farming purposes and much less maintenance for plant growing purposes.  They are ideal to use for aquaponics in Nordic or temperate climate regions, especially in winter.Rainbow Trout in Aquaponics

Rainbow trout are long, thin and scale-less fish, usually blue-green and spotted on top with a red stripe on the sides. Their environments differ and they can have dramatically different coloration and patterns, which acts as a camouflage when they move to different habitats.

NameRainbow trout
Scientific Name:Oncorhynchus mykiss
Family:Salmonidae
Optimal water temperature:14–16°C (57-60°F)
Vital temperature range:10–18°C (50-64°F)
Dissolved Oxygen:> 6 mg/l
pH:6.5-8
Unionized Ammonia:< 0.01 mg/l
Nitrite:< 0.8 mg/l
Hardness:50 - 200ppm
Diet:Carnivore: needs high 40-50% protein
Growth Rate:1000 grams in 14–16 months
Average Adult Size:12 kg (27 lbs)
Lifespan:7 - 11 years
Habitat:Cold Fresh water
Distribution:Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America.

Rainbow trout are a cold water species of salmonid which are distributed widely around the world. They have been cultured into dams and rivers in every continent except Antarctica, and are possibly the best known freshwater sporting fish in the world. They are also raised in aquaculture systems, sea cages, flow-through tanks and ponds in the USA, Canada, Europe, parts of South America (Chile, Peru), tropical and subtropical upland areas of Africa and Asia and Australia.

Uses

Rainbow trout are widely used around the world for fish farming and restocking of angling fisheries. Rainbow trout is lower in fat, tasty, highly nutritious and wholesome food that can offer an endless variety to menus. They are extensively farmed as a food fish for sale as a fresh, fresh-frozen or smoked product to restaurants, supermarkets or consumers.

They are a fast-growing and crowding-tolerant fish, making them well suited to captive breeding. When used for aquaculture meat production, the fish are purchased as fry and reared to marketable size or are hatched onsite in tanks from eggs and sperm obtained from broodstock. When reared for angling, most are stocked at a harvestable size for rapid removal either to public waters or private ponds. Stocking densities and average weights are dictated by the economics of the angling demand.

Feed & Diet

The freshwater forms feed on invertebrates and fish, but reared strains do very well on grain-based artificial diets. The diet of young trout consists of a variety of aquatic and terrestrial insects and their larvae as well as fish and other vertebrates.

Due to the widespread use of all-female or sterile triploid strains, spawning is uncommon or nonexistent in some commercial (sterile-hybrid) strains. Trout require a high protein diet compared with carp and tilapia meaning greater amounts of nitrogen in the overall nutrient pool per unit of fish feed added. This occurrence allows for more cultivable areas of leafy vegetables while maintaining a balanced aquaponic unit.

Water quality

Rainbow trout evolved in mountain streams. Unlike tilapia, trout require cold, well-oxygenated waters. Like most salmonid species, dissolved oxygen levels should never fall below 5.0 ppm. Since dissolved oxygen in water is proportional to temperature, a few air stones need to be added as the temperature rises. To successfully raise trout in aquaponics, You need frequent water quality monitoring as well as backup systems for air and water pumps.

They grow best in water temperature maintained at about 59°F. In well-aerated water, they are capable of surviving in waters as high as 85°F. However, with temperatures increase above 70°F (21 °C), their growth rates significantly decrease and may not be able to properly utilize DO even if available. The refer neutral pH with an acceptable range of 6.7 to 8.2. Spawning begins in early spring as water temperatures approach 50°F. Eggs numbers may be as high as 12,000 per female.

Although trout do not handle dirty water well, they are very tolerance to salinity. Many varieties can thrive in freshwater, brackish water, and marine environments.

Challenges

Trout not only require cool temperatures, which can be hard to provide in a small tank during summer but water quality also needs to be top-notch.

To minimize water temperature fluctuations, You may need a larger fish tank to keep trout at home in the backyard. In summer, insulation and a water chiller are essential to maintaining the temperature range for this cold water fish.

The vegetable growth in the aquaponics system is likely to be poor at the temperatures preferred by this species (11- 17°C). It can be difficult to balance and cater the need of warm water of plants and colder water for fish.

Since, You already know what pH, temperature and size of tank you need to keep your trout happy. Keep the fish container separate from where you are growing plants and use a pump to circulate the water. If the temperature outside is more on the warmer side, then keep your plants outdoor and trout indoor. If it is cooler outside, grow your plants indoors using grow lights.

Their excellent flavor may be worth the time investment needed to learn how to raise them successfully. You should also be aware that you’ll be saving money on water costs and nutrients while helping the environment and getting better quality crops!

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