Clarity Fish

Where Can I get Fish for My Aquaponic System?

Have you ever asked, “Where can I get fish for my aquaponic system?” If so, listen in today because we’ll be taking a look at this question and the various solutions to it.

You’re listening to Fish Grow Plants—A podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.

Hello, and welcome to Fish Grow Plants! In today’s episode we’re asking the question: “Where can I get fish for my aquaponic system?”

I grew up going fishing with my dad and brother monthly. For us, it meant a 4-hour drive to the nearest water source that could accommodate our boat and not feel like we were floating in a pond. Those memories are what I associate to fish—it’s a long, hot, trip and you go prepared. Now, we weren’t going to collect fish. Rather, we were trying our hand at the sport of catch and release. Usually though, we ended up just sunburnt, tired, and ready to go home—especially when we had not even seen a fish at all!

That’s not to say this is, or should be, everyone’s experience.

I too have had wonderful experiences around fish, but these fishing trips are the ones that come to mind about fish the most.

The take-away I would share with this story that is relevant to how you can get your fish, is the part about the long, hot trip and you need to go prepared.

Assuming that your trip is going to be long and hot will get your prepared for most any situation that could arise when handling fish—I mean this even if your next-door neighbor has offered you fish.

Assuming the worst situation could happen, and planning to mitigate those factors will only improve your chances of a successful transfer.

But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. There are several ways to get fish for your aquaponic system. And doing a little Q&A is a great way to figure out the best way for your situation.

Let’s dive in.

So, what kind of questions should you be asking yourself prior to getting fish for your system? Well, here’s a short list:

  1. What kind of fish do you want?
  2. How big is your system?
  3. Where is your system?
  4. What time of year is it and what season is that for you?
  5. Are any fish illegal in your area?
  6. Do you know of any local fish keepers, breeders, or transporters?

By answering these few questions, you’ll have a jump start on where to begin looking for your fish.

For example, think of getting fish for your aquaponic system as an apple pie. And the apple pie is all the fish in the world available to you. By knowing the type of fish you want, you can cut yourself a slice of pie, instead of worrying about the whole thing. Then, you can narrow that slice even more by knowing your system size; essentially, will you buy a lot of fish, or just a few? Then, the location of your system further narrows your slice of apple pie by what is possible to transport to your location (without all the fish dying). This is also impacted by the time of year and season you have going on—freezing or boiling fish is not a good way to start. And lastly, you can find that perfect size of pie by knowing if your fish are legal or not, and whether anyone locally can supply you.

As I say this, it sounds like a lot, but if you take the time to just write down your answers, you’ll probably see a clear solution form that may not have appeared to you before. (At least this exercise helps me.)

Ok, great. Now you probably want to know a little more.

Well, how about the options to actually fill your fish needs?

If I simplify all the variations that I’m aware of, I come up with essentially three options. They are:

  1. Order Fish (in person, online, or over the phone)
  2. Catch Fish (in a local pond, river, or lake)
  3. Barter or Trade for Fish (with a friend/neighbor, aquaponic guy across town, or a local fish expert.)

I’m a fan of ordering fish. Maybe I’m just not energetic enough to spend the time required for catching fish or trading for fish. But, in my defense, I’ve never lived where fish were naturally abundant. If I ever do, then catching or trading fish may be a lot easier.

As I’ve said it other episodes, it’s adult diapers, it depends. It depends on how you answered those six questions we started with, and what your unique situation and circumstances create and allow you to do.

So, before we conclude, I’d like to give you a few more tangibles to have for any of the three options you choose.

Again, I just want to re-iterate to make sure the fish you want are legal in your area and/or you have the proper permit or authority to have them. There is no sense in being in trouble due to ignorance of laws. If you are in doubt, a local county agricultural extension agent should be able to help you—at the least, they will know who to call to get the answer.

If you order fish, here are a few things I’d personally do to make sure their transition to your tank is a smooth and successful one:

  • Know the date of your pickup or delivery. If you can get the time, even better.
  • Have your tank setup and running with aeration for at least a day.
  • Have a proper net, or nets available.
  • Have extra dechlorinated water in buckets available (you never know if you need extra water, or will have to make an emergency fish hospital).

If you catch your fish, I’d recommend:

  • Standard fishing gear. (If you’re going this route, you probably have what you need. But if it’s new to you, take a look at what the Bass Pro Shops, or Cabela’s has. There is more than you’ll ever need.)
  • A good insulated cooler with some form of aeration to bring your fish back in.
  • And some of the same equipment mentioned above for an order of fish still apply once you get your catch back home.

And if you are going to barter/trade for fish, I’d focus on what you can offer the other person. If the fish expert just lost his bookkeeper and you are an ace accountant, why not offer to do some bookkeeping for some fish until he finds another employee? Or, perhaps you are a beekeeper who has a little extra honey you could swap for some fingerlings with your neighbor?

Keep your options open and think of how to sweeten the deal for your possible fish sharing friend.

That’s it. I hope you now have a better idea of how you will get fish for your aquaponic system.

Happy Aquaponicing!


Questions! Let me have them! Do you need clarification, more information, or maybe you just have a tangent thought—send all your thoughts my way. See the website for episode details, or just fire off an email to and I’ll get back to you.


So, was this episode good, bad, ugly, or other? Let me know! Comment, email, smoke-signals it doesn’t matter! I love to hear from you. Your feedback is immense, and I am always grateful for it. Likewise, thank you for taking the time to listen and share your thoughts. Have a wonderful day.

This has been another episode of Fish Grow Plants—the podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.

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