The Barramundi – also known as the Lates Calcarifer or Asian Sea Bass – is a species of catadromous fish that is widely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific region from Southeast Asia to Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia. Known in Thai as "Pla Kapong," the Barramundi is very popular in Thai cuisine.Click HERE to explore our juvenile Barramundi packages.
As both a salt and freshwater fish, Barramundi are Australia's iconic sportfish and a popular choice for aquaponics and stocking ponds/lakes. Barramundi have large, silver scales which may become darker or lighter depending on
their environment. Capable of
growing to massive sizes, their reputation as an angling sportfish is well known. People love to eat Barramundi, which have a mild flavor and
a white, flaky flesh, with varying amount of body fat.
Barramundi in Aquaponics
Barramundi is an ideal candidate for
aquaculture because it is a relatively hardy species that tolerates crowding and
has a wide physiological tolerance. They live in freshwater, saltwater and estuaries (where fresh and saltwater meet). The high fecundity of female fish provides plenty of
material for hatchery production of seed, something which is relatively simple. Barramundi feed well on pelleted diets, and juveniles are
easy to wean to pellets. They grow rapidly, reaching a harvestable size of 12 ounces to 6 pounds between six months and two years. Large female Barramundi can produce more than 32 million
eggs in a single season. Barramundi have been recorded to be more than 4 feet long and
weighing over 90 lbs!
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 copper-silver shimmer. They generally
exhibit a bright white stripe down the front of their face. Juveniles are
a popular aquarium fish, and they can be very entertaining, especially at feeding time. They do grow
quickly, so they are recommended for aquariums or tanks 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.
The success of your Barramundi depends on providing them with the least stressful environment possible. 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 will grow (ensuring they are large enough to eat by the end of the
season). Commercial grow-out in ponds or re-circulating systems starts once the
fingerlings reach 1 to 4 inches. Fingerlings are stocked at up to 33 pounds 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 is 82°F, with acceptable growth
rates between 78° and 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 pound in 6 to 12 months.
Ensuring Optimal Growth
Barramundi are carnivorous, feeding on live prey such as fish and prawns. Due to their carnivorous nature, 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, Barramundi is farmed in a variety of systems such as ponds and open net pens
or cages. In the U.S., it is usually raised in large tanks, isolated pools, or
Barramundi are ideal for farming because of their fast-growing and hardy
nature. They spawn in saltwater, but they can be grown in a variety of environments including fresh, salt or brackish water. They can also be stocked at higher densities. And while they are carnivores – feeding on smaller fish and some
shellfish – they also feed on high-protein grain diets. Growth rates vary, but
usually, commercial-sized one-pound 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 diets, they are considered an environmentally
friendly fish to grow, particularly in comparison with salmon, which depends largely on fishmeal for its diet. In addition, in the U.S., Barramundi are raised
naturally, 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.
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 an 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 systems and are considered an ideal fish for aquaponics if you live in the tropics, but an expensive
proposition if you live in a cold climate. Some people prefer to grow
Barramundi only over the summer months in an aquaponics system. You could eat them in the Fall as
plate-sized fish, then over the cold winter months, replace them with a more cold-tolerant species – a smart idea if you can get both types of fish in your state or
Today, most cultured Barramundi are fed on
compounded pellets, although "trash fish" or "low-value fish" are still used in
areas where it is cheaper or more available than pelleted diets. Barramundi that are 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 five to six times a
day when they are small. This decreases to one to two times a day as they grow. Pellet
size increases as the fish size increases. Feed your fish pellets until all
Eating After Moving
It is common for Barramundi to not feed for a week after the initial
introduction due to the stress of being moved, if this happens, 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.
Barramundi are carnivorous in nature and
require a high-protein diet. They are also 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, so several culture tanks may be necessary.