Aquaponics Licenses & Permits

Aquaponics Licenses and Permits

Aquaponics combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) and can be a commercial or private venture.

Interest in private home aquaponics systems is increasing, and Floridians should be Aquaponicsaware of the regulations that pertain to personal aquaponics projects.

Commercial aquaponics is also becoming popular.  These businesses include vendors that sell food products to the public and vendors that sell supplies for aquaponic systems.

Aquatic species that are left over from aquaponics projects may not be released into Florida waters.  It's illegal to release any nonnative species in Florida.

Permits to use aquaponics for producing food

For production and sale of aquatic animals (fish, crayfish, prawns) by commercial businesses or private individuals

  • Aquaculture Certificate External Website of Registration issued by the Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS)
  • Restricted species authorization (if using species whose use is restricted such as Nile tilapia or Australian red claw crayfish) issued by DOACS
  • Food permit External Website (if selling products for human consumption) issued by DOACS
  • Herb, leafy greens, and vegetable production may be regulated by DOACS Division of Fruit and Vegetables External Website 

For personal use only (no sales of aquatic animals)

  • No permit needed if aquatic species are produced for personal use only (not sold)
    and acquired in Florida
  • Resident Fish Dealer's license if purchasing fish from sellers outside Florida
  • Conditional aquatic species cannot be used
  • Conditional species permits are not issued for personal use

Permits for vendors that sell aquaponics systems

  • Resident fish dealer's license (RFD) issued by FWC if selling live fish to the public (the RFD does not allow for the sale of conditional species)
  • Conditional species permit issued by FWC (must be held in conjunction with an RFD) if selling those species to customers that also possess a conditional species permit

Aquatic species for aquaponics systems

Blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus)

  • Pure blue tilapia (not hybrids) can be used in commercial aquaponics systems,  and home aquaponics in the South, Southwest and Northeast FWC regions, and in Citrus County in the North Central region
  • Permit requirements for blue tilapia vary by FWC region
    • No permit is needed to possess blue tilapia in the South, Southwest and Northeast FWC regions, and in Citrus County in the North Central region
    • A conditional species permit is required to possess blue tilapia in the Northwest region and the North Central region (except for Citrus County)
  • Vendors that sell aquaponics systems may use blue tilapia in the South, Southwest, and Northeast FWC regions, and in Citrus County in the North Central Region

Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and Mozambique tilapia (O. mossambicus)

  • May be used in commercial systems only under an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration and Restricted Species Authorization issued by DOACS
  • These species and their hybrids sometimes called "red tilapia"

Spotted tilapia (Tilapia mariae)

  • Not allowed for use in any aquaponics systems (no prohibited species allowed for use in aquaponics systems)

Australian red claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus)

  • May be used in commercial systems only under an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration and Restricted Species Authorization issued by DOACS

Malaysian prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii)

  • May be used in commercial or personal systems
  • No permit is required for personal systems
  • An Aquaculture Certificate of Registration is required for use in commercial systems

Florida crayfish (Procambarus alleni)

  • Native species that may be used without permit in personal systems
  • Can be harvested from local areas
  • An Aquaculture Certificate of Registration is required for use in commercial systems 

Links to other resources



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