Your average carp might not exactly be a looker, but this industrious fish does well in a variety of aquaponics systems.
Once one of the most popularly farmed fish in the world, this hardy creature has fallen out of favor pretty much everywhere but Asia and parts of Europe.
It does well in a variety of water qualities, so much so that it’s considered a pest in multiple countries and states.
But this adaptability makes carp the perfect fish for an aquaponics set up and, unlike its domesticated cousins the goldfish and koi, this fish is actually for eating.
In today’s article, we will be going over some information about the carp and its needs as well as how you can work these utilitarian fish into your set up.
Please remember Carp produce ample amount of fertilizer make sure you check our article about Swirl filters click here.
Carp are Tolerant to a Range of Temperatures
If you live in the US or Australia then chances are the idea of using the Asian carp for aquaponics has not occurred to you as a viable option, but there are plenty of reasons to give this giant, wild goldfish a second look.
Chief among those reasons is their tolerance of a range in temperature and water quality.
While they prefer clean water with temperatures from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH between 7 and 9, they not only can live but still thrive and even breed well outside these parameters.
Basically, they’re hard to kill and this makes them the ideal fish for newcomers to the aquaponics world.
Those who live in cooler climates also find them a much harder choice than some of the more popular options.
Carp are Edible, But They Take on the Taste of Their Environment
If you’re simply looking for a fish you can raise at home for your own family, then the humble carp will serve you well.
They can be a little boney, but not too bad.
One of their bigger drawbacks, however, comes in the form of their taste and marketability.
Sometimes called the mud carp for their reportedly muddy taste, these fish store flavor in their fat.
In other words, they take on the taste of their environment.
Most often, that tends to be dirty, murky water that’s. well, full of mud.
If kept clean and fed a good quality diet, they have a light, mild taste that lends itself well to many different methods of cooking.
On the other hand, is being kept in poor conditions and fed an inappropriate diet causes them to taste terrible.
This negative reputation can make it difficult to sell as a food fish. But as long as you take care of them properly, you and your family should have a very reliable source of protein.
Carp can be a good choice in your aquaponic system. Before you choose what fish is right for your system, check out our fish recommendations click here.
Carp Produces Heavy Fertilizer
What they lack in marketability, carp more than make up for in their fertilizer production.
These fish poop a lot and can support a larger quantity of plants at lower stocking densities than most other fish.
Not only do you not have to buy as many for the same results, thereby lowering your upfront costs, but fewer fish also means you have to feed less food.
And that means you’re going to spend less money in the long run to get a healthy crop of vegetation and protein.
They might not be anything fancy as some other fish, but they’re one of the most sustainable options out there.
When it comes down to it, you just get more bang for the buck with carp.
If you have a smaller aquaponics system or you are trying to maintain and build a system on a strict budget, carp are a great choice for their cyclical fertilizer tactics.
Carp Are Medium Growers
Unlike their domesticated cousins the goldfish and koi, carp do not take years upon years to grow.
This is perfect for those looking to have mature fish quickly.
If water conditions are right and they are fed 2 to 5 percent of their body weight per day of a quality omnivorous diet, it can be as little as ten months before your fish are ready to go from the tank to the table.
While there are certainly faster-growing species out there, none of them can match the carp’s ability to continue growing so well in cooler temperatures.
This means they also need far less supplemental heating once they have adjusted to your environment and will, once again, cost you less money to continue to rise year after year.
Take Care to Cover Your Tanks
While the carp’s ability to survive in a variety of environmental conditions lends itself well to the aquaponics world, it can also be considered a drawback.
Take special care to prevent birds from landing in your tanks and accidentally carrying eggs away to other water sources.
Asian Carp are well known as an adaptable and efficient invasive species that can establish a population in nearly any aquaponic system.
It’s our responsibility as fish keepers to ensure that we’re not just giving our fish the best lives we can, but also to make extra certain that we’re preserving the safety of the natural environments around us.
Plus, building your setup under some sort of insulated greenhouse also means that you need to add less heat during particularly harsh winters. So in a roundabout kind of way, being responsible can even save you money.
Before you Buy Carp Check Local Laws
In that same line of thinking, before you decide that carp the absolute best fish for you at home aquaponics set up, be sure to check your local laws.
We have written a full review of laws and permits for different fish species. If you would like to find out what is legal in your area, click here to read our article.
Because they are so adaptable, raising carp in captivity is illegal in some locations.
In major parts of Australia as well as some areas of the US you can face heavy fines or even jail time for importing them and with good reason.
Asian carp are already making their way out of local aquaponics and up the Mississippi River.
Carp have also been found migrating into waters as far as Chicago and Upstate New York.
Much like snakeheads, Asian carp have become a major problem across the globe, pushing further and further into new areas and destroying the natural balance of the environments as they go.
We need to make sure wee keep Asian carp in our aquaponic system and out of our local rivers and lakes.
Be cautious and careful when deciding whether to use carp or not because although they are a great species of fish to use, if they are illegal it is obviously not worth it.
A big part of what makes the carp such a successful invader and a serious aquaponics contender is their prolific breeding capabilities.
Males can fertilize as early as one year old and females spawn as young as two.
Since they’re not picky about their water quality, fish growers tend to have little trouble encouraging them to breed.
Females can lay as many as 2000 of their sticky eggs each season.
If even only fifty percent of the eggs from a few of your fish hatch that’s still a staggering quantity of stock.
One male can service several females, making them one of the easiest to care for and most sustainable fish you can use in aquaponics.
If you have acquaintances or have plans to expand or build more aquaponic systems, the high reproductive rate of carp is heavily in your favor.
Before you buy ANY fish online make sure you stop by and read our article about buying fish online check it out!
Carp – The Garbage Disposals
But perhaps the best part of these aquatic powerhouses is that they are omnivores who will eat pretty much anything.
Options like veggies, meat, table scraps, and a variety of pellets make this one of the most affordable fish to raise.
Depending on how many fish you’re actually growing, you could scrape your plates at the end of a meal or go collect the scraps from your favorite local restaurant.
Essentially, aside from the startup costs, if you’re smart, then this can be a free fish to grow and feed.
They tend to do well on a lower protein diet that sinks to the bottom to help stimulate their natural bottom feeding behaviors.
While they’ll also be more than happy to go after floating pellets, this can cause a bit more waste and should be avoided if possible.
Anyone who is environmentally friendly or is fearful of food going to waste, carp are perfect for this reason.
In short, carp are an adaptable fish with the capability to live in waters at temperatures and qualities that most other fish would find impossible to tolerate.
They can indeed be eaten and make a wonderful protein source for the at home grower.
Unfortunately, the market for them is variable at best and their amazingly fast breeding can quickly overwhelm a smaller setup.
They produce mass quantities of waste and work best in low-density conditions, but grow fairly fast compared to their domestic cousins.
If a price is a quality in your aquaponic system that is big to you, consider using carp in order to remedy any fear or hesitations you have about your budget or spending money.
A long time ago I had Asian carp in my aquaponic system, I loved it but I moved to a better tasting fish.
Can I use river rocks in my aquaponic grow bed? Yes, you can but river rock has higher adicity you have to first neutralize the acid. To read more check out an article we wrote about the topic click here.
When I do a water change in my fish tank