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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Loving me some Bluegill...

Lepomis macrochirus, aka Bluegill

So in considering my outdoor aquaponics system, I was at a loss for what kind of fish I wanted to do.

Channel catfish were looking excellent. I figured out a layout if I were to do channel cats. TCLynx in Florida recommends at least a 300 gallon tank for catfish, but I worried because even she had a problem with fish deaths because it got cold and the channel cats stopped eating (while the automatic feeder kept dispensing). That's Florida cold, not DC cold.

I mean, what is OK in warm water and OK in near-freezing or even frozen water? What is legal for me to have outside (i.e., NOT tilapia)? What eats just about anything?

Turns out Bluegill may be just what the doctor ordered.

Bluegill will eat just about anything. They are pretty prolific, but in ponds are usually kept in check by larger predator fish (think largemouth bass). As for eating, it's a clue that they are called "pan fish."

They do OK in freezing temperatures. In fact, some ice fishers swear they are amongst the best fish to try for. They're fierce, making them a good sport fish, though they tend to run small.

And I finally found the list on the DGIF website for local commercial fish hatcheries. So now I know where to go to buy fish.

I'll have to ask about what size tank I'll need, and whether I should add a largemouth bass or two to help keep the eventual juvenile population in check. Since I need to be permitted for these fish as well, I'll be asking if I can amend the permit I already got for the tilapia (it's the same form).

So do I do bluegill or catfish?

The greenhouse layout with a 300 gallon tank I'd need for catfish would be 3 feet longer (18'x8'), which was getting a bit big for my tastes. And a 300 gallon tank runs a bit over $210, while I can get a 150 gallon tank I originally planned for is $130 (higher price per gallon, but lower unit price). At this time I don't know whether or not I'd need the 300 gallon tank for bluegill or not.

I see a bit more research in my future, but it's fun knowing I have multiple options for making this work.

1 comment:

  1. I do love my bluegill. They've survived outside for two winters and two summers, with only a simple hoop house (and I only covered the hoop house in January this past year).

    For those of you merely browsing to this post from a search, I ended up getting tapped to write The Complete Idiot's Guide to Aquaponic Gardening for Penguin Book Group. The book is now available for purchase at It includes lots of DIY plans as well as everything I wished I could have found in a book back when I was starting out (which wasn't very long ago...). So far the reviews are good!