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Aquaponics systems: how to get started

There are many, many different types of plants you can grow in your aquaponics system.

Some, obviously, are better than others and will work much better than others. Today we’re going to look at some of the plants you can grow in an aquaponics system.

We’ll look into the reasons why you should pick one plant over another and give you my personal suggestions on what would be the best plants for your aquaponics system to grow.

If you have any specific questions after reading the article please post them below in the comment section below and I’ll address them in response.

What is aquaponics System?

Aquaponics is a combination of two well-established food production methods, aquaculture, and hydroponics.

The name comes from the term aquaculture, meaning the rearing of fish, and the term hydroponics, meaning working water. There are many variations on the theme but essentially Aquaponics involves raising fish in tanks and using the nutrient-rich effluent for fertilizing plants in grow beds. The plants uptake the nutrients from their root zone and clean the water which is returned to the fish tank.

In aquaponics, there is no need for costly inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides and there is a minimum of waste produced. The system can be designed so that it uses its own bio-filter to maintain water quality – provided that you don’t overload it with too many fish or feed them excessively.

Some systems have been designed so that they operate with only one water pump so that they can use solar power to provide energy for pumping. This makes them completely self-sufficient apart from any source of external energy required for heating in cold climates.

Why grow in aquaponics System?

Aquaponics system is a relatively new food production method that combines aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (soilless plant culture). It’s an eco-friendly way to grow vegetables, herbs, fruits and raise fish. Aquaponics uses 90% less water than conventional gardening and can be practiced year round in any climate.

In aquaponics, the nutrient-rich water produced by raising fish supplies the nutrients needed for plant growth. The plants in turn clean the water for the fish. This makes it possible to raise fish and plants together in one integrated system. Because of the recirculation of water, aquaponics can be practiced anywhere, even where there are water shortages.

The combination of raising fish and growing plants creates a symbiotic environment with many benefits over traditional agriculture:

* Less space is needed to grow a given quantity of food because both plants and fish are being raised at the same time in an integrated system.

* The cost of shipping is reduced because more food can be grown near where it will be consumed.

* There are no weeds or pests to control because there is no soil for weeds to grow in and there are no pesticides used that could harm the fish.

* Water usage is greatly reduced because there


What do I grow in an aquaponics system?

Before you get started, you’ll want to do your research.

Decide on a system

There are a few different types of aquaponics systems, and the size and scope of the system that you choose will depend on the kind of plants and fish you want to grow. Here are some popular options:

Media-based system. With a media-based system, plants are grown in a substrate like gravel or coconut coir. This is one of the most common ways to grow plants in an aquaponic system.

Deep water culture (DWC) system. In a deep water culture system, plants grow in a raft floating on top of the water while their roots are submerged directly in the nutrient-rich water below.

Nutrient film technique (NFT) system. NFT systems use a channeled flow technique where nutrients flow over plant roots, making this an efficient option for growing leafy greens like lettuce or basil.

Aeroponic system. In an aeroponic system, plant roots are suspended in mid-air with nutrient-rich mist sprayed onto them as needed, requiring less water and energy than other aquaponic systems. Choosing plants to grow

Once you’ve decided on your aquaponics system setup.

You can grow a wide range of vegetables in an aquaponics system, including:



spring onions




chili peppers

cherry tomatoes



What do I need to know about the fish?

Aquaponic systems are more than just a way to produce food; they are an ecosystem in themselves. Just like any other ecosystem, it requires a healthy mix of animals and plants to stay balanced, but the most important element is the fish.

The fish you choose will have a lot of influence over the type of system you will build. Different species have different environmental needs. Some fish do well in lower temperatures while others thrive at higher temperatures. Some can adapt to almost any living environment while others are picky eaters who only thrive under specific conditions.

There are many types of fish that can be used in aquaponics from koi, catfish, and tilapia to bass and trout. The most common choice for aquaponic systems is Tilapia because they are easily raised in warm conditions, reproduce quickly and grow fast (reaching 2-3 lbs in their first year).

After your fish selection comes system design; specifically choosing between media-based or raft-based systems. Media-based systems use gravel or clay pebbles as a growing medium for plants which provides mechanical filtration for the water being pumped from the fish tank.

How can I keep my plants and fish healthy?

If you are growing food for an aquaponics system, you need to feed your fish so that they grow and produce waste. The waste from your fish will provide the nutrients for your plants. Your fish can eat any variety of foods, including store-bought pellets, worms, and other food scraps (such as vegetable peels).

The important thing to remember here is that the bacteria in the water converts ammonia into nitrates. Nitrates help plants grow. The more you feed your fish, the more they’ll poop and pee and the more ammonia will be available for the bacteria in your system to convert into nitrates so that your plants can grow faster!

You can keep your fish healthy in an aquaponic garden by observing the following tips:

Don’t stock too many fish in the tank.

Keep some space for oxygen to circulate in the water.

Change 10% of the water in the tank every month.

Ensure that there is adequate water flow in your system.

Don’t overfeed your fish.

Building your own or buying a kit

Build your own. You can build your own DIY aquaponics system from scratch using

  • A fish tank
  • Grow media
  • Water pump
  • Rockwool cubes
  • PVC pipings
  • Unsealed and bulkheads
  • A grow bed
  • Water Testing Kit

Get creative! If you’re handy and have the time and resources available, this will give you the most flexibility in terms of size and design. You can even find plans online for making your own


I hope that this introduction to aquaponics was educational and informative. In the end, aquaponics is a wonderful sustainable food production system that offers numerous benefits. This article only discussed a few of them, but there are many more factors to consider in order to make it work in a particular setting.

But in a nutshell, Aquaponics is an emerging technology that is changing the farming industry for the better. Aquaponics saves water, fish, and crops and it does it with high yields, low labor costs, and little to no chemical use.

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