The best 6 breeds or species of fish to grow in your fish pond: Nile vs Mozambique tilapia


There are actually 2 different types of fish farming: intensive and extensive. Extensive fish farming means that the company that raises the fish uses large ponds to raise them in. These fish live a somewhat natural lifestyle because these ponds have their own ecosystem, and the fish eat from that.

However, intensive fish farming is when the company utilizes smaller tanks to raise the fish in. It requires a lot of management (as you might imagine) in order to produce a lot of fish in such a small space.

There are really 4 main ways to raise fish in your backyard. You can raise your fish in a farm pond, backyard koi pond, a swimming pool, or you can go the in-depth route of aquaponics.

When purchasing stock for your do-it-yourself fish farming ponds, species is important. There are a few to select from, although one is easier than the others. Which you decide on will depend on the climate and your ambition.

Once the water in your fish pond is stocked with vegetation and food, it is time to consider the fish. What fish your do-it-yourself fish farm will raise totally depends on a variety of items; the dimensions of your pond, intentions for the breed and your experience will all determine what you will raise.

Typical fish grown by fish farms include salmon, catfish, tilapia, cod, carp and trout. At any rate several other kinds can be raised as livestock, the trout is the finest fish for a novice to start up with. It's among the strongest of the fish raised on a fish farm and they have got an excellent market value.

Salmon, though an excellent market fish, is a larger undertaking for an amateur. The initial breeding of this kind of fish is nearly equal trout. However, these fish require some time living in the ocean. This means they may require additional facilities to get them there, depending on the location of the fish farm.

In addition to the species of fish you want to primarily raise on your fish farm, consider some secondary species. One species to consider is perch. The fry make an excellent food source for other fish, especially trout and offer a bit of variety to your pond. Keep in mind that perch are very zealous breeders and should be kept under supervision.


After deciding which kind of fish to get, you need to decide how many. The holy grail of commercial aquaculture is one pound of live fish per gallon of water. However, achieving this incredibly dense stocking rate is extremely difficult without state-of-the-art equipment to maintain water quality – and a lot of practical experience.


Blue Nile Tilapia
This hybrid, sometimes sold under the name Rocky Mountain White tilapia, is one of the most popular varieties for small scale aquaculture systems. They are fast-growing, disease-resistant, tolerant of poor water conditions, very tasty, and quite beautiful.

Optimal water temperature: 75 to 85 degrees
Time to reach one pound: 5-7 months

Other Tilapia
There are various colors of tilapia to choose from (gray, gold, orange), though this refers to the scales, not the flesh. Other than that, the differences between them are relatively minor. Note that certain tilapia varieties are restricted in states where they are considered an invasive species.

Optimal water temperature: 75 to 85 degrees
Time to reach one pound: varies

These bottom feeders are super tough and adapt to a wide range of water conditions. Some people object to the strong flavor, but like other aspects Southern cuisine, catfish is having a bit of a moment – the key is how you season it.

Optimal water temperature: 75 to 85 degrees
Time to reach one pound: 8-10 months

There are a variety of perch suitable for small scale aquaculture, though yellow perch, a native of the Great Lakes, is the most common. They grow faster than most other perch, but still not as fast as tilapia. Unlike tilapia, perch thrive in cool water, and can overwinter outdoors in cold climates.

Optimal water temperature: 65 to 75 degrees
Time to reach one pound: 16-20 months

Though not a popular dinner item in North America, carp are one of the most widely consumed fish throughout the world. They are extremely tough, fast-growing, and help to maintain good water quality in your tanks. Check local regulations as certain varieties of carp are considered invasive in many states – that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t raise them, but you might need a special permit to verify that you’re keeping them in a way that prevents them from escaping into the wild.

Optimal water temperature: 70 to 80 degrees
Time to reach one pound: 4-6 months

Hybrid Striped Bass
It’s possible to raise other types of bass in small scale aquaculture systems, but this is the only variety commonly used, as it has been bred for such conditions, and is much hardier, adaptable and fast-growing compared to the various wild bass species. It also has a milder flavor than wild bass, and has become quite common in North American grocery stores.

Optimal water temperature: 65 to 75 degrees
Time to reach one pound: 12-16 months

Trout grow slowly and are a bit temperamental to raise, but their excellent flavor may be worth the time investment needed to learn how to raise them successfully. They’re tricky: Not only do they require cool temperatures, which can be hard to provide in summer in a small-scale tank system, but water quality needs to be top notch, too.

Optimal water temperature: 50 to 60 degrees
Time to reach one pound: 10-12 months

Salmon have similar requirements as trout, but are even more sensitive to poor water quality. An added complexity is that they are typically raised from eggs, rather than fry or fingerlings, which requires a bit more technical knowledge to pull off.

Optimal water temperature: 45 to 55 degrees
Time to reach one pound: 16-20 months

First choice is tilapia, mainly due to their ready availability and robust nature. But there are several species of tilapia available, and they may serve different needs. The two preeminent examples are the Mozambique and Nile tilapia, each of which comes in both wild and red colour forms.

While Nile tilapia are still subject to lengthy, involved permitting procedures that could tax the patience of potential users, these are undoubtedly the best growers.

The fastest-growing genetically improved strains will easily reach between 400g and 500g in a nine-month season if provided with warmth and high-quality water and feed.

Mozambique tilapia grow at just over half this rate but it is easier to obtain a permit for them, although hatcheries providing good stock are few and far between. There are many inbred, mongrel red, and wild strains that simply will not perform.

With both species, all-male fish are essential. This is because they utilise feed entirely for growth, and stunting and mass-production of unwanted fry are not problems. Such mono-sex fingerlings are available from a few of the more professional hatcheries.

Regrettably, some claims that the stock is all male have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The redbreast tilapia, T. rendalli, is a popular aquaponics species due to its herbivorous nature. It can be fed with many types of vegetable waste: carrot tops, lettuce and cabbage leaves, some herbs, and other green plants.

Its disadvantage is that growth on these feeds is very slow, which can outweigh the convenience factor. Redbreast tilapia also need water above 25°C to thrive, and will perish if kept below 15°C for long periods.