BARRAMUNDI (Lates calcarifer)

The name barramundi is Aboriginal for “large-scaled silver fish.”

The barramundi or Asian sea bass ( species of catadromous fish in family Latidae of order Perciformes. The species is widely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific region from Southeast Asia to Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia. Known in Thai language as pla kapong, it is very popular in Thai cuisine.This species has an elongated body form with a large, slightly oblique mouth and an upper jaw extending behind the eye. The lower edge of the preoperculum is serrated with a strong spine at its angle; the operculum has a small spine and a serrated flap above the origin of the lateral line. Its scales are ctenoid. In cross section, the fish is compressed and the dorsal head profile clearly concave. The single dorsal and ventral fins have spines and soft rays; the paired pectoral and pelvic fins have soft rays only; and the caudal fin has soft rays and is truncate and rounded. Barramundi are salt and freshwater sportfish, targeted by many. They have large, silver scales, which may become darker or lighter, depending on their environments.
Barramundi are Australia's Iconic sportfish and are popular choices for Aquaponics and stocking ponds/lakes. Capable of growing to massive sizes, their reputation as an angling sportfish is well renowned, as is their eating qualities. Barramundi have a mild flavour and a white, flaky flesh, with varying amount of body fat.

Among the many attributes that make barramundi an ideal candidate for aquaculture are:

It is a relatively hardy species that tolerates crowding and has a wide physiological tolerance.

The high fecundity of female fish provides plenty of material for hatchery production of seed.

Hatchery production of seed is relatively simple

Barramundi feed well on pelleted diets, and juveniles are easy to wean to pellets.

Barramundi grow rapidly, reaching a harvestable size (12oz-6lbs) in six months to two years.

Barramundi live in freshwater, saltwater and estuaries (where fresh and saltwater meet).

Large female barramundi can produce upwards of 32 million eggs in a season

Barramundi have been recorded to be over 4 feet long and weighing over 90 lbs!

Aquarium Use

These magnificent fish have both elegance and fantastic speed; they are a real talking point and make a very worthwhile addition to the aquarium. They are usually a pale grey-green with a cop- per-silver shimmer. They generally exhibit a bright white stripe down the front of their face. Juveniles are a popular aquarium fish, and can be very entertaining, especially at feeding time. However, they do grow quickly, so they are recommended to be kept in setups of 130 gallons or larger. In an aquarium environment, they become quite tame and can be hand fed; they are not aggressive, but their feeding reflex is violent and sudden, so they cannot be kept with any tank mates small enough to be swallowed.

Barramundi require a large sized tank with a slow continuous flow of water with the temperature and hardness remaining consistent. They do not mind being in clear or turbid water. They also show a distinct preference for submerged driftwood, rock ledges and other structures, so making sure there is plenty of hides in the aquarium is essential.


Barramundi are carnivorous, feeding on live prey such as fish and prawns.

The success of your barramundi will be due to the least stressful environment you can create. Provided your system has an established grow bed, you haven’t overstocked, and the weather is warm, the more you feed them the larger and faster they grow (ensuring they are large enough to eat by the end of the season).

Commercial grow out in ponds or recirculating systems starts once the fingerlings reach 1-4 Inches. Fingerlings are stocked at up to 33 Lbs. per 260 gallons of water.

Stocking rates in tank systems vary, depending on the capacity of the system and the intensity of the operation.

The optimum temperature for barramundi culture is 82°F, with acceptable growth rates between 78-86°F. Temperatures below this range will result in decreased metabolism and growth. Barramundi generally stop feeding at temperatures below 68°F. To maintain acceptable growing temperature conditions, some existing farms rely on the use of warm subterranean bore water and climate controlled or insulated sheds. Expensive alternatives include the heating of individual tanks with electric submerged heaters. At optimum temperatures, barramundi can be raised to market size of (1 lb) in between 6-12 months.

Due to the carnivorous nature of barramundi, a high protein diet is required for efficient growth. Commercial diets are readily available from many feed manufacturers and are generally produced in a floating or sinking pellet.

In Australia, it is farmed in a variety of system such as ponds and open net pens or cages. In the U.S., it is usually raised in large tanks, isolated pools, or recirculating systems.

Barramundi are found ideal for farming because of their fast-growing and hardy nature. They spawn in saltwater, but they can be grown in varied environments – may it be fresh, salt or brackish water. They can also be stocked at higher densities. And while they are carnivores -- feeding on smaller fishes, and some shellfish -- they also feed on high-protein grain diets. Growth rates vary, but usually, commercial-sized one-pounder barramundi can be produced in six months.

Because they are farmed in the U.S. in closed systems and because of their low dependence on fish-based diet, they are considered more environmentally friendly fish to grow, particularly in comparison with salmon, which depend largely on fishmeal for their diet. In addition, in the U.S., they are raised naturally. That is, without the aid of hormones or antibiotics.

All barramundi are hermaphroditic and begin their lives as male.

They mature sexually at three to four years of age. Most of the fish mature initially as males and participate in one or more spawning seasons before undergoing a sexual inversion (protandry) and becoming functional females by the next breeding season.

Water Quality/Feeding

Barramundi are rapid feeders but along with that benefit comes a problem. What goes in – must come out. Barramundi are big poopers and fouling the water requires adequate system to deal with water filtration. You may find that what works well with tilapia which are a very tough fish species – won’t work as well when dealing with Barramundi. Their water requirements are more stringent. You will need lots of dissolved oxygen going into their tank, supplying good aeration. Barramundi need very good water quality in Aquaponics. An ideal fish for Aquaponics if you live in the tropics. An expensive proposition if you live in a cold climate. Some people prefer to grow Barramundi over the summer months in an Aquaponics system. Eat them in Autumn as plate sized fish and then over the cold winter months replace them with cold water Trout. A smart idea if you can get both types of fish in your state or country.

Feeding strategies Today most cultured barramundi are fed on compounded pellets, although ’trash‘fish or ’low value fish‘ is still used in areas where it is cheaper or more available than pelleted diets. Barramundi fed pellets are generally fed twice each day in the warmer months and once each day during winter. The fingerlings are fed a semi-floating pellet 5-6 times a day when they are small. This decreases to 1-2 times a day as they grow. Pellet size increases as the fish size increases. Feed your fish pellets until all feeding ceases.

It is common for Barramundi to not feed for a week after the initial introduction due to the stress of being moved, if this is the case it is important to be patient and slowly tempt your fish into feeding. If your Barramundi are not feeding, then don’t feed them. Uneaten feed will eventually sink to the bottom of the tank, foul your water, and exacerbate the problem.

Barramundi will readily accept a pellet, and can be aggressive feeders, preferring to take pellets from the surface. They are carnivorous in nature and require a high protein diet.

They are territorial and will cannibalize. It is important to ensure that all the fish in the tank are offered the opportunity to feed to ensure that not just the dominant fish get fed. It is important to grade this fish and keep fish of a similar size together to limit the aggressive behavior as much as possible. For this reason, it is often necessary to separate the larger fish in a tank and so several culture tanks may be necessary.

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