I've really been getting into gardening over the past year and have just started looking at aquaponics. I hope to one day build my own homestead, and want a big greenhouse with a central aquaponics "pond" for raising fish and shellfish.

After looking at lots of setups online, I see it's possible to grow lobsters, clams, oysters, tilapia and many many other critters using aquaponics. But I haven't stumbled across any that combine different species in the same water.

Question: Is it possible to have all four of those in the same tank? Or would they need to be separated? Any special considerations here?

I'm probably going to build a practice setup in my current house, just to get used to everything. So if they are compatible, in which order should they be introduced to each other? Maybe the tilapia first?

  • It might be important to distinguish whether or not you're talking about crawdads or actual lobsters that you would find in the ocean. Crawdads can be found in freshwater, lobsters on the other hand live in saltwater. I don't know of anyone making a saltwater aquaponic system before.
    – Spidercat
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 12:35
  • 6
    The problem is not that it's about aquaponics. We have plenty of questions about it. It's that we don't have a site that answers questions about farming livestock. You are of course always welcome to ask in the chat room either way.
    – Spidercat
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 19:10
  • Regardless of whether this is the right site for the question it would be helpful if you could provide more information on the climate you're living in and the space you plan to provide. What temperatures to you expect the water to be? How many litres of water do you expect to provide? You will need to take depth into account too and possibly a cover as some fish jump out and injure or suffocate themselves. From my experience with our small goldfish setup you will want to start the bacteria off with ammonia and get N02 and N03 showing up on a testing kit before you introduce animals.
    – Alpar
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 8:43
  • It is my understanding that you need different habitats for the different species of fresh water livestock. It is also not a beginners game. You can kill off all of your stock fish if you do the wrong thing, I am not sure how you would balance it with multiple species.
    – Critters
    Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 16:51

3 Answers 3


Speaking towards the tilapia, there species is chyclids. These fish generally have a strong pecking order, and any fish in with them that is not used to a pecking order tends to get pecked, a lot! I had some tilapia in my aquaponics system and as they grew they even pecked and ate each other.

I cannot talk towards clams or oysters, and I thought lobsters were also territorial and they expect a much colder water temperature than tilapia like. It might be costly to keep your tank cold enough for the lobster.

I would suggest going with the cheapest pet store goldfish first, in the beginning you are going to be a mass fish murderer, it's just the way things work out with beginner auqauponics.

I set up a small 5 by 5 foot (1.5 x 1.5 m) Hydroton bed with a 100 gallon (378 liters) tank over a year and a half ago and tried out aquaponics just to see if I could. It was quite fun and a great learning experience, but the clean up becomes annoying, the whole flow of the system does not catch all refuse and convert it.

Best of luck with your experiment, and have fun!


If you are doing aquaponics and you have to clean your tank, you are not doing it right. You should have an ammonia and nitrogen cycle going. I have two ponds, one on the top of my hillside and one on the bottom. I've had a permaculture food forest going for about 7 years now. I have a couple different species of fish in the top larger pond. That pond filters down through my Swales until it feeds into my smaller pond at the bottom of the hillside where I have shrimp, red claws ("freshwater lobster") and feeder fish.

I live in a Southern California and have found it possible to create different microclimates on my land. I recently just started my symbotic relationship between ducks and rice. I got to say it's going great, the ducks eat all the weeds and provide nutrients for the rice. Not to mention they are ready to be sold or harvested by the time the rice is harvested.

Anyway to the main question: no, you cannot. You would be better off having two or three ponds, especially if you want to start a homestead. Those ponds can also be used to water plants near by or for your animals to drink.

When building a homestead/permaculture everything should have more than one use in my opinion. I have a small, 3 acre farm that's done wonders. 40 chickens give me more eggs than I could ever ask for, kill bugs and turn over my topsoil. 30 ducks feed my rice field, while my rice field feeds my ducks. My fish pond feeds my nut trees, berries, fruits, veggies, spices, etc. while my crustacean pond feeds my herbs, leafy greens and water loving cukes and melons. I recently just got 6 pigs that I let roam free in my 1/2 acre of woods, where I have a bunch of nut and fruit trees planted. I'm hoping after they eat all the hazelnuts, acorns, apples, etc that fall on the ground that the flavor will be out of this world.


Producing these for food is not something to "stumble" upon.

About the easiest thing on your list is tilapia, and you are probably not aware that all tilapia in the USA and Canada food markets are males - the fry are treated with hormones to achieve this.

I would suggest starting with catfish in at least 1000 gallon (around 3800 liters) pond/tank. Look into it on the Internet. Carp would also be easy, but I understand they generally do not make a good food source.