Freshwater aquaculture


Contact Fisheries Queensland on 13 25 23 to ensure your proposed aquaculture farm is compliant with industry regulations.

Freshwater aquaculture requires a development approval before undertaking any land-based aquaculture development (such as pond construction).

To prepare to launch your new aquaculture operation:

The species you choose to farm will influence what type of site and production system you’ll need.


Production systems

Freshwater production systems use ponds, tanks, raceways, aquariums and hatcheries. The species you plan to culture will determine your site requirements and production system.

When selecting a site, an abundant water supply is critical for freshwater systems. Your site should have room for settlement ponds and holding dams so water can be reused.

You may be able to use a recirculating aquaculture system to reduce your reliance on an external water supply.

Water quality and supply

The ideal water temperature, oxygen requirements and tolerances should be based on the species being farmed. For example, 'soft' water low in calcium can cause under-developed, soft-shelled crayfish.

The chemical characteristics of water suitable for freshwater species growth are:

  • pH levels—6.5 to 8.5
  • total alkalinity—75mg/L to 250mg/L (less than 500mg/L as CaC03)
  • total hardness — 75mg/L to 250mg/L (less than 500mg/L as CaC03)
  • total alkalinity and hardness must be no less than 20mg/L.

Do not use:

  • domestic water, which may contain chlorine and can be expensive
  • water that contains high levels of organic matter
  • bore water with excess levels of nitrogen, carbon, total dissolved salts, minerals and gases.

You need a reliable, abundant, high quality supply of freshwater to support your farm. Determine:

  • how cost-effective potential water sources are
  • if seasonal changes will affect water quality and quantity.

Potential sources include:

  • dams
  • rivers and creeks
  • run-off
  • irrigation channels
  • underground bores.

Check dam water for contamination from pesticides or heavy metals. Generally, water that is safe for livestock or supports wild fish is safe for aquaculture.