Lettuce and Tilapia Aquaponics System

setting up your aquaponic

Lettuce and Tilapia Aquaponics System [Simple Method]

Integration of lettuce and tilapia : The integration of Tilapia farming in intensive system and Lettuce production, called “aquaponics system” is practiced successfully growing in these countries [USA, Australia and Europe] and others.  the residual water from intensive tilapia fish production provides sufficient qualitative characteristics for competitive production of lettuce without need adding commercial fertilizers.

lettuce and tilapia Aquaponics System

Make money from Lettuce and Tilapia aquaponics 

It’s quite possible to set up a commercial aquaponics business that is profitable from selling the Lettuce and Tilapia fish.

Many vegetables can be grown in water culture using nutrients either provided by chemical fertilizers (hydroponics) or produced by aquacultured  fish.

Why Aquaponics?

  • Aquaponics does not require soil.
  • Can utilize marginal land.
  • Supply both vegetable and fish.
  • More room for local production!
    • 89% of lettuce is imported
    • 44% of fish is imported

The post describes an experimental setup to growing lettuce, shallow trays were constructed  lined with plastic.

Lettuce plantlets were placed in small net pots inserted in holes in styrofoam panels suspended over the water by testing edges on the walls of the trays.

The lettuce roots took up nutrients in the trays from the water.

The nutrients were provided either by added chemical fertilizers or by effluent water taken from tanks in which fish were grown (plus some supplemental chemical nutrients added).

The water from the lettuce trays each time recycled to the fish tanks effluent water was added to the trays.

The only electrical component in the system was an air pump to aerate the fish tanks, providing the fish with oxygen and preventing denitrification.


Lettuce and Tilapia Aquaponics Setup:

  1. lettuce and tilapiaLettuce tray corner,  (2×6 side walls shown; 2x4s recommended). without plastic liner




  1. Lettuce tray with liner stapled in place, leveled with shims on lettuce and tilapiahollow-tile support.



    3. Spacing of holes in polystyrene panel






  1. Lettuce trays stocked with 2 week old lettuce seedlings







  1. Lettuce plants  grow  in  net  pots  supported  by  poly- styrene panels. Roots extend down through an air space below the panels and into the water.

lettuce and tilapia







  1. Lettuce plants under a PVC frame covered with 50% shade cloth







  1. Developing Red Sails lettuce







  1. Lettuce  seeds are sprouted in foam Oasis cubes and one cube is transferred to each net pot two weeks after sprouting.









  1.  A cattle watering pan with biofilter.







Shade structure construction

Lettuce plants  require  partial  shade  to  grow  well  in the warm climates found in Hawai‘i and other Pacific Islands, especially in the sunnier leeward areas.

In our experiment, lettuce grew well shade cloth under 50% .


Cross-section (width) showing elements of a lettuce tray

lettuce and tilapia


Read more about: Sizing and Placing Aquaponics System


Aquaponics Study in Hawaii:

  • Hawaii is the leader in the field of aquaponics – 5 commercial farms
  • For aquaponics to be an viable industry, we need to evaluate its economic feasibility
  • Is aquaponics here to stay or is it just a fad?


Individual Farm Analysis

 Farm A Farm BFarm C
Location Waianae, OahuKunia, Oahu Mililani, Oahu
Total raceway surface area (m2)107011422657
Total fish production capacity (m3) 5723284
Types of vegetablesLettuceLettuceLettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Beets
Types of fish TilapiaTilapia, Chinese CatfishTilapia, Chinese Catfish


Case Analysis: System Setup

  • 4 independent aquaponic systems.
  • Each system contain 8 vegetables.
  • Raceways (35.67 m2) and one fish tank (18.93 m3).

Lettuce Production
Number of days in nursery14 days
Number of days in aquaponics raceways31.5 days
Weight of a head when harvested 181 g
Harvest and delivery timing 2 per week
Tilapia Production
Number of days in breeding/nursery tank105 days
Number of days in aquaponics tank 395 days
Weight of a fish when harvested 567 g
Harvest timing 1 per week

Case Analysis: Baseline Results

Production size LettuceTilapia
Annual production per unit area or volume14.25 kg/m225.16 g/L
Annual production (kg)16,248 kg 1,905 kg
Annual production (heads, fish)89,549 heads 3,360

Cost and RevenueLettuce TilapiaTotal
Initial Investment cost$173,616 $43,462$217,078
Annual operational cost $52,406 ($3.23/kg)$13,777 ($7.23/kg) $66,183
Annual revenue$77,012$21,000 $98,012

Case Analysis: Decision Reversal Analysis

Lettuce Price ($/kg) 4.74 ( = $2.15/lb)4.10 (=$1.86/lb)-14.26%
Tilapia Price ($/kg)11.02 (= $5/lb) 5.53 (=$2.51/lb) -66.20%
Wage ($/hr)9.75 12.80+27.08%
Feed Cost ($/kg) 2.034.94+83.65%
Feed Conversion Ratio 1.874.56 +83.65%
Electricity ($/kWh) 0.21 0.36 +50.50%


  • Small-scale commercial aquaponics is economically feasible.
  • Economic outcomes are sensitive to the changes in output prices.
  • Organic certification can double the price.

Lettuce and Tilapia ( Conditions, Growing, Production, Selling )

Aquaponics Lettuce Conditions:

  • pH: 0–7.0Lettuce and Tilapia Aquaponics System
  • Plant spacing: 18–30 cm (20–25 heads/m2 )
  • Germination time and temperature: 3–7 days; 13–21 °C
  • Temperature:15–22 °C (flowering over 24 °C)
  • Light exposure: full sun (light shading)
  • Recommended aquaponic method: media bed, NFT and DWC

Aquaponics Lettuce Growing (Harvest)

  • Plant height and width:20–30 cm; 25–35 cm
  • Growth time: 14–32 days (longer for some varieties)
  • Number of days in nursery: 14 days
  • Number of days in aquaponics raceways: 32 days
  • Weight of a head when harvested: 181g
  • Harvest and delivery timing: 2 per week

Aquaponics Lettuce production:

  • Annual production: 25 kg/m2
  • Annual operational cost: 23/kg
  • Lettuce Price: 74 $/kg

Aquaponics Tilapia Conditions:lettuce and tilapia Aquaponics System

Tilapia fish are able to withstand a wide range of environmental conditions and high temperatures.

Including high salinity, high ammonia concentrations and low oxygen levels. This makes tilapia fish very suitable for aquafarming.

  • Temperature: 17-25 °C
  • Oxygen levels: 4 mg/L
  • Optimal pH: between 6 to 9.

Tilapia can survive in pH ranging from 5 to 10

Ammonia: Must be less than 0.08 mg/L

The tilapia can tolerate high ammonia. Increasing ammonia concentrations increases the stress on the tilapia.

Nitrate: 27 mg/L

Nitrate concentrations should be below 27 mg/L for optimal cultivation.

Aquaponics Tilapia Growing (Harvest)

  • Number of days in breeding/nursery tank: 105 days
  • Number of days in aquaponics tank: 395 days
  • Fish weight when harvested: 567 gram
  • Harvest timing: 1 per week


Aquaponics Tilapia production:

  • production: 25.16 g/L
  • operational cost: $7.23/kg
  • Tilapia Price: $11.02 /kg



 Find out :Tilapia Lettuce Wraps with Mango Papaya Salsa

Readers Comments (1)

  1. This aquaponics study Very useful, you helped me to understand it easy

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