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5 Things to Consider for Your Aquaculture System

You have a pond or lake on your property. It’s probably just been sitting there without much use for some time. If that’s the case you’ve likely been thinking, how can I maximise the potential of this water feature? Well, have you ever thought about trying aquaculture?

Hobbyist farmers across Australia are turning to aquaculture as a means to get the most out of their property’s water body. 

It presents a two-fold opportunity to enhance the natural beauty of the dam’s surroundings whilst serving as a functional means to establish a reliable fresh fish supply, straight from your backyard. 

When referring to aquaculture, it generally means the intentional cultivation of specific fish species, or any other seafood under specific conditions in order to gain more control of the surrounding environment.

There are a few things to consider before jumping into the proverbial deep end of aquaculture or aqua farming. So we’ve written this extensive guide of considerations for your operation before you embark on the journey. 

It can be a complex journey involving a plethora of design and operational nuances, so whilst reading, take the time to think about which applications and systems will best suit your land. 

1. Choosing the Right Aquaculture System

When it comes to choosing the right aquaculture system, you’ll find a variety of options available, which can be quite overwhelming. 

Take your time to consider the purpose for which your system will function. Will it be purely aesthetic? Are you a fish enthusiast who wants to nurture your own fish supply? 

Or are you looking to go commercial with this project? 

The three main types are traditional pond aquaculture systems, recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), and closed-system aquaculture. Here are the key differences: 

Pond Aquaculture Systems

The most traditional option out there is pond aquaculture systems. These systems are cost-effective and relatively simple to operate, making them ideal for hobbyist farmers who perhaps just want to rear a small supply of fish or improve the aesthetics of their land. 

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Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS)

Recirculating aquaculture systems are gaining massive popularity, at a rapid rate. Their ability to control environmental conditions whilst optimising fish production is no longer being overlooked. These systems recycle and reuse the same water which presents a two-fold benefit.

  1. a) The filtration system ensures continuously high water quality, and b) these systems reduce the need for large amounts or a constant supply of fresh water. RAS operations allow for high stocking densities which also make them suitable for intensive systems. 

Closed System Aquaculture

Closed aquaculture systems are similar to RAS, in the sense that they are designed to minimise water exchange with the external environment. They offer fantastic control over environmental conditions which, in turn, reduces the risk of fish escape, ultimately protecting wild populations. 

Another benefit is that they have low running costs, are efficient, and can be set up in various locations, including land-based production sites. 

2. Ensuring Optimal Water Quality

Ensuring optimal water quality is the ongoing battle for any landowner with a natural or man-made water body. Staying on top of this issue becomes of even more importance when operating an aquaculture system, as it directly affects fish health and growth. Here are some essential factors to consider: 

Dissolved Oxygen and Oxygen Levels

A healthy aquatic environment can be simply defined as having high quantities of dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen levels promote healthy aquatic plant life, which inhibits the growth of infectious bacteria while also providing food for your fish. 

The amount of organic matter, stocking density, and water temperature all influence oxygen levels in the water. Maintaining and monitoring oxygen levels is critical to keeping your fish stress-free and healthy. 

Temperature Control

You want to be able to adjust the temperature of your water body to suit your preferred fish. Different fish thrive in different temperatures (a lot like humans!), so invest in a system that allows you to control the temperature, we recommend recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) for this as they are especially effective in this regard, albeit a little on the expensive side. 

3. Selecting Suitable Fish Species

Choosing the right fish species for your aquaculture systems goes far beyond your preferences on a plate. Different species have differing environmental requirements in terms of water quality, temperature, and stocking density. Here are some of the more popular choices by Australian aquaculture enthusiasts: 

Murray Cod

Murray cod is a native Australian fish that thrives in ponds and recirculating systems. They are widely recognised for their distinctive taste and can grow to remarkable sizes, making them ideal for hobby farmers.

Silver Perch

Silver Perch is another native species popular in aquaculture. They are hardy fish that adapt well to different aquaculture methods and environments, including pond and closed systems. Silver Perch are known for their fast growth rates and mild flavour.

Atlantic Salmon

There’s not much debate when it comes to the prized species in the world of aquaculture. Highly regarded for its market value, high demand and unrivalled taste, Atlantic Salmon sits firmly perched atop the podium of aquaculture prizes. 

However, the fact of the matter is that all good things require work. Their environment demands specific conditions such as cooler water temperatures, which can be challenging for farmers in regions prone to year-round heat. 

If the goal is operating a successful salmon farm, our suggestion is to look into recirculating aquaculture systems. 

4. Understanding Environmental Management

Minimising Environmental Impact

Using closed systems or implementing robust mechanical filtration and wastewater management practices are a great way to prevent fish escape, which can ultimately harm wild populations further downstream. 

Designing your aqua farming operation to minimise its impact on the immediate and downstream environment is not just a case of moral upstanding. Applying sustainable practices will ultimately have a beneficial impact on the longevity of your system. 

Sustainable Aquaculture Practices

Implementing sustainable practices in your aquaculture system will ensure the long-term success of your operation. 

Your choice of fish will be a key component in this, whilst adopting environmentally friendly feeds and implementing processes that reduce resource consumption and waste production will also be helpful considerations. 

Regular Monitoring and Maintenance

Unfortunately, aquaculture systems haven’t quite reached the technologically advanced stages of being fully automated, just yet. They require regular monitoring of water parameters like dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide levels, and water temperature, which are all critical for detecting and addressing problems early. 

It’s worthwhile implementing a periodic maintenance schedule for essential equipment like filters and pumps which keep the system running smoothly, particularly in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). 

Understanding Oxygen Demand

Different fish species and stocking densities have different oxygen requirements in aquaculture systems. Understanding and carefully monitoring these needs is critical to avoiding oxygen depletion, which can cause fish stress and death. 

Investing in dependable oxygenation equipment like aerators or oxygen generators for RAS operations can aid in maintaining ideal oxygen levels.

5. Handling Emergencies

Any farmer is at the mercy of nature and technological failure and as a new aquaculture farmer, you are no different. Power outages and equipment failure are part of the deal, but you can put in some contingency plans to mitigate risk. 

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. So with that, consider emergency plans with backup systems and supplies like power generators, as well as storing emergency oxygen resources. 

Staying on top of water quality parameters like dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide levels is vital to the success of all aquaculture methods like pond culture, recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) and closed-system aquaculture. 

Factors like high stocking densities, organic matter loads, and water exchange rates influence oxygen demand.


Starting an aquaculture project can be incredibly fulfilling and offer a stream of year-round seafood while also supporting a sustainable environment. 

However achieving success in this endeavour requires planning, consistent care and a deep understanding of maintaining water quality whilst knowing what fish species to select for your environment. It is crucial to prioritise sustainability to ensure the long-term health and productivity of these resources.

Despite challenges that may come your way, the benefits of practicing aqua-farming are truly valuable. Whether you choose a pond setup, modern recirculating system or closed system, staying educated and actively tending to your ecosystem is essential.

By embracing the principles of aquaculture you have the opportunity to turn an under-utilised water body into a self-sustaining source of seafood while also promoting environmental responsibility. 

Through dedication and sustainable methods, backyard aqua farming holds the promise of a future where conscientious resource management and plentiful harvests become the norm for your property.