When it comes to crappie, the first thing most people think of is catching them in freshwater ponds, creeks, and river. After all, crappies are not only great fun to fish but also taste delicious, making them one of the most popular fish to catch in the United States.
Yet many people decide to do something different with crappie, such as introducing them into their own fish tank or even using them as part of an aquaponics setup. While most people only think about fishing and cooking crappie, some have decided to use them for something different!
Can Crappie Live in a Fish Tank?
Yes! Crappie certainly can live in most domestic fish tanks, although it is important to make sure you give them a suitable habitat with enough space and the right food. For example, you want a larger fish tank for crappie due to their size, with a capacity of at least 80 gallons recommended for 2-3 crappies.
You also want to closely mimic their natural habitat in the fish tank. This means no bright colors and using something like sand or dark gravel for the base in the tank, which are close to their natural habitat.
Crappie like a place to hide too, so adding some large pieces of driftwood is a good idea, while you can also introduce large artificial plants for them to hide behind. Large dark rocks are also good for mimicking their natural environment and giving something else to hide behind.
As a quite hardy species, crappie don’t need too specific a water temperature to survive, with a range between 55–86 °F being suitable for them – room temperature water should suffice in most cases.
They require feeding every 12 or so hours, with natural food like insects, smaller fish, and crustaceans being their preferred diet. Certain fish food may work too although crappies are known to be picky with store bought fish food.
Can Crappie Be Used in Aquaponics?
If you’re interested in setting up an aquaponics system – a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics – then crappies are a great choice of fish. They do need to be kept separately from other fish however, as they’re quite defensive of their eggs when breeding.
Other than that, crappies are relatively easy to care for in an aquaponic system. As mentioned, they’re a very hardy species so a temperature range between 55–86 °F can be used, although their preferred temperature is closer to 70-75°F.
pH levels need to be closely monitored too, with a range between 7 and 7.5 recommended for crappies. They also reproduce very quickly so make sure to monitor the number of crappie and their overall size, as the fish grow between ½ and 1lb each year.
Of course, more fish means more waste for the plants, just be careful that the crappies don’t overpopulate your setup to the point where you cannot manage them anymore.