The main problem most people come across with Tilapia Farming is the uncontrolled reproduction. This will lead to overcrowding and stunt the growth of the fish. Another problem that has occurred is the newborns getting in the growth trays and eating the roots of the plants until they are dead.
The hybrid male tilapia will grow faster and be much bigger. If you combine this with the tilapias natural resistance to disease, you will have yourself the ideal fish for your aquaponics setup. You can also turn this into a great business opportunity, as table ready tilapia is a big seller almost everywhere.
Another way to go, is to get your own breeder rights set up and market to others who are setting up aquaponic systems. These are just ideas and most people just buy enough for themselves and are happy with that. But the opportunity is there.
The most popular tilapia is the blue tilapia. They are easy to find and are not as regulated as some other types of tilapia. This breed is often sex reversed to achieve an all male fish that is perfect for aquaponic systems.
Nile tilapia are also used quite often in aquaponic systems, but are not as easy to find and there may be restrictions in your area, so make sure to check.
Tilapia are a warm water fish and thrive in water around eighty degrees. This is beneficial to your plants also as they tend to like the water warm.
There are challenges when raising tilapia. If your fish are not genetically altered and they do reproduce, you might also have violence issues. Males tend to be violent toward the females during breeding and can go as far as having dead fish. The males have also been known to jump out of tanks. And females with eggs they are protecting have been known to batter any fish that is close by. So how do you stop this?
I strive to only get hybrid tilapia which cuts down on the reproduction, but the aggression will still be there. Some people have gone as far as to keep them crowded in the tank as this will cut down one being aggressive toward others and the aggression will get spread toward many.
Another popular way to control the reproduction is to keep the temperature lower. At below 75 degrees spawning will almost stop permanently. The fish will grow slower, so this might not be the best solution.
Another suggestion I have read about to keep populations down is to introduce a predator fish into your tank such as a bass or catfish. They will eat most of the young and keep the herd trimmed down. This is my personal choice, as you keep the growing conditions at their optimal rate and the population can be controlled. Trying to find fish that have been eating live food their whole life may be a challenge also. You do not want your predator fish eating all the tilapias pellets instead. So keep this in mind if you decide to go in this direction.