How Do You Grow Vegetables In Aquaponics?

Discover the joys of growing your own vegetables in an aquaponics system with our comprehensive guide. This blog post offers valuable insights on how to cultivate a wide variety of vegetables using this sustainable and space-saving method.

Learn the ins and outs of creating a homemade aquaponics system and how to properly change water in your aquaponics setup.

Embark on your aquaponics gardening journey by diving into our blog and harvesting the knowledge needed for a bountiful harvest.

Aquaponic Farming Setup Beginners Guide
Aquaponics is a sustainable method of growing vegetables that combines hydroponics and aquaculture.
Fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, while the plants filter the water for the fish.
The ideal pH level for an aquaponics system is between 6.8 and 7.2.
The water temperature should be kept between 68°F and 86°F.
A variety of vegetables can be grown in aquaponics, including lettuce, spinach, and herbs.
Common fish used in aquaponics systems include tilapia, trout, and catfish.
An aquaponics system requires regular monitoring and maintenance of water quality, fish health, and plant growth.
Proper filtration and aeration are crucial for maintaining a healthy aquaponics system.


Water is the most important element in aquaponics. You can’t replace it, recycle it or store it. Aquaponic systems use up to 95% less water than conventional agriculture systems and they produce no harmful waste products (fertilizer runoff).

While you can’t control the weather, there are things you can do to ensure that your vegetables have access to plenty of clean water at all times:

  • Choose your location carefully – if possible, place your system in an area with access to lots of sunlight; this will help keep plants healthy and make sure they grow quickly
  • Make sure there’s enough water pressure from the supply line before connecting it to your system – sometimes an extension hose might be needed for this purpose
  • Place a few sprinklers around your garden so there’s always plenty of moisture around for plants

If you’re looking for a complete guide to aquaponics, Aquaponics: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide is a great resource. This guide covers everything you need to know about setting up and maintaining an aquaponics system, from choosing the right fish and plants to understanding the nitrogen cycle.


It’s important to keep in mind that the plants will need a supply of fresh air. You can do this by using an air pump, which can be purchased at any local hardware store. 

The amount of air required for your system depends on the size and type of your fish tank and how many plants you wish to grow.


A typical aquaponics system requires at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. If your system does not receive this much sunlight, you need to take steps to maximize the amount of light that is reaching your plants.

There are many ways to do this, including:

  • Add reflectors or translucent material around the edges of your growing bed
  • Move the grow bed so it faces directly toward the sun (if possible)
  • Install an additional lighting system

When it comes to growing vegetables in aquaponics, it’s important to choose plants that will thrive in a submerged environment. Check out our guide on What Vegetables Can be Grown in Aquaponics? for a comprehensive list of plants that will do well in your system


Now that you know how to build and maintain your system, let’s talk about what nutrients are needed to grow vegetables in aquaponics.

First off, what are the nutrients?

Nitrogen(N): Used for plant growth and photosynthesis.

Phosphorus (P): Used for root development and seed germination. Also used by bacteria as an energy source to produce nitrites from ammonia.

Potassium (K): Used for overall plant health and fruit set/flowering, especially important during seedling stage of growth when first leaves appear on plants with higher K requirements than mature plants have.

Essential Nutrients for Aquaponic Vegetable Growth

NutrientFunctionSourceDeficiency Symptoms
NitrogenPromotes leaf growth and chlorophyll productionFish waste, decaying plantsYellowing leaves, stunted growth
PhosphorusPromotes root growth, flowers, and fruit developmentFish waste, bone meal, rock phosphatePoor fruit and flower growth, dark-colored leaves
PotassiumRegulates plant water balance and photosynthesisFish waste, potassium sulfateYellowing and curling of leaves, weak stems
CalciumStrengthens cell walls and aids in the uptake of other nutrientsCrushed eggshells, gypsumStunted root growth, yellowing leaves
MagnesiumNecessary for chlorophyll productionFish waste, magnesium sulfateYellowed leaves with green veins, stunted growth

pH level

If you’re growing vegetables in your aquaponics system, then the pH level is an important factor to get right. 

The ideal pH level should be between 6.8 and 7.2. If it’s lower than that, it can lead to nutrient deficiencies and algae growth; if it’s higher than that, it can cause an imbalance in the bacterial populations which may lead to algal blooms and ultimately fish loss.

The easiest way to ensure good levels of pH is by using water conditioner (such as Calcium Hydroxide). 

This will help neutralize any acids in the water or soil so they don’t affect your plants’ growth negatively or kill off beneficial bacteria which can also affect plant growth negatively. 

Alternatively, you could add crushed limestone (or some other alkaline material) into your system; this will raise the overall alkalinity of your aquarium but may require more frequent water changes as a result since limestone reacts with certain substances such as iron from soil or rocks which could leave behind a residue inside containers where plants grow

Ideal pH Levels for Aquaponic Plant Growth

Plant TypeIdeal pH Range
Leafy greens (lettuce, kale, spinach)6.0 – 7.0
Herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley)6.0 – 7.5
Fruit-bearings plants (tomatoes, peppers)6.0 – 6.5
Root vegetables (carrots, radishes)6.5 – 7.0
Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)6.0 – 7.5

Maintaining an aquaponics system is key to ensuring the health and growth of your vegetable garden. If you’re wondering how often you should change the water in your system, be sure to read our guide on How Often Do You Have to Change Water in Aquaponics? for expert tips and advice


Temperature – As you might expect, temperature has a large effect on plant growth. Photosynthesis and respiration both occur more quickly at higher temperatures. 

This means that plants will grow faster when it’s hot out and they’ll use up their nutrients more quickly than they would if it were cold outside.

Plant Growth – Plants grown in aquaponic systems can actually put on more weight than those grown in soil or other hydroponic systems because of the shorter nutrient cycles associated with aquaponics. 

They also tend to reach maturity quicker than traditional plants because there is no root zone to fill up with minerals before you harvest them; all of that happens within 24 hours while they’re growing!

Air pump

You must have an air pump in order to provide oxygen for your fish. This can be placed inside the fish tank, but it should be connected to an air stone that is also placed inside the tank. 

The air stone will allow oxygen bubbles to come through and into contact with your fish’s gills so that they can breathe properly.

Fish tank (if you aren’t using a sump tank)

When you’re not using a sump tank, you need to have a fish tank. The size of your fish tank will depend on the size of your aquaponics system and how many plants or people you want to feed with it. 

For example: if you’re growing vegetables for yourself and your family, then maybe a small 10-gallon aquarium would be enough (have fun cleaning out all those algae stains every week!). 

If you are trying to provide fresh produce for an entire apartment building or school cafeteria then maybe consider something larger like 30-50 gallons per plant depending on how many plants there are in each area (it would also be easier if they were smaller so they could fit into smaller spaces).

When choosing which size aquarium works best for growing vegetables in aquaponics systems keep these points in mind:

  • Make sure that both types of fish will fit comfortably inside without overcrowding them too much;
  • Consider whether or not any other animals might accidentally fall into this container at some point–if so then make sure it has secure sides!

“Building your own aquaponics system can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Our guide on How Do You Make Your Own Aquaponics System? provides step-by-step instructions for building a simple and affordable system at home.

Media beds (if you are using a media-based system)

A media bed is a filter that uses various types of media to trap solid waste. This can be any type of organic material such as rock wool, bio balls and/or expanded clay pellets. 

Media beds are used in both recirculating and non-recirculating systems but are more common in non-recirculating systems because they do not require mechanical filtration or aeration.

Media beds are often made from either plastic or steel and come in all shapes and sizes depending on their intended use. 

The type of filter you choose will depend on the size of your setup, materials available locally, personal preference and budget constraints but there are a few things to keep in mind before making your decision:

Grow bed(s)

You will need to use media. Media is a porous material that holds water and nutrients for your plants. It can be made out of things like coco coir, perlite, gravel, or clay balls.

The grow bed should be filled with enough media so that it is at least half full of water. You don’t want all the dirt in your system to be covered in water though, because this will cause anaerobic conditions (places where there is no oxygen) which leads to disease and death within your plants’ roots

If you’re new to aquaponics, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how it works. Check out our article on What is an Aquaponics System & How Do They Work? for a beginner-friendly overview of this sustainable growing method.


Aquaponics is an excellent way to grow vegetables, but it’s not just for people with a lot of space. 

We hope you now have a better understanding of how to start your own aquaponics system at home!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources on aquaponics, hydroponics, vegetable gardening, and aquaculture:

The Technology Behind the Aquaponic Garden: Learn more about the technology behind aquaponic gardens.

What Vegetables Can be Grown in Aquaponics?: Discover the types of vegetables that can be grown in an aquaponics system.

Aquaponics: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide: A comprehensive guide to setting up and maintaining an aquaponics system.

How to Make Your Own Aquaponics System: A step-by-step guide on how to make your own aquaponics system.

Aquaponics: How Many Fish Per Litre?: Learn about the ideal number of fish to keep in an aquaponics system.

Grow Vegetables with Aquaponics: A beginner’s guide to growing vegetables with aquaponics.

Aquaponics Made Easy With Murray Hallam: A video tutorial on how to set up an aquaponics system.


What is aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a system that combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In an aquaponics system, fish waste provides the nutrients for plants, while the plants filter the water for the fish.

What are the benefits of aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a sustainable and efficient way to grow both fish and vegetables. It uses less water than traditional agriculture, produces minimal waste, and can be done in small spaces.

What vegetables can be grown in aquaponics?

A variety of vegetables can be grown in aquaponics, including lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, and herbs like basil and mint.

How do you maintain an aquaponics system?

An aquaponics system requires regular monitoring and maintenance of water quality, fish health, and plant growth. This includes monitoring pH levels, adding nutrients as needed, and pruning plants.

How much does it cost to set up an aquaponics system?

The cost of setting up an aquaponics system varies depending on the size and complexity of the system. A small, basic system can cost a few hundred dollars, while a larger system can cost thousands.