What Do You Need To Start Aquaponics? (Find OUT)

You’ve got the space, you’ve got the sunlight and you’ve got the water. Now all you need is a fish tank, grow bed or trough, water pump and nutrients to get started with aquaponics. 

This guide will help you decide which items are needed for your aquaponic garden system and how to set them up for success!

Starting an Aquaponics System | How to Start & What You Need
Key Takeaways
Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics.
The three main components of an aquaponic system are fish, plants, and bacteria.
The fish provide the nutrients for the plants, and the plants help filter the water for the fish.
A variety of fish species can be used in an aquaponic system, but it’s important to choose fish that can tolerate the conditions of the system.
The plants that grow best in an aquaponic system are those that are adaptable to a hydroponic environment and don’t require high levels of nutrients.
The ideal pH range for an aquaponic system is between 6.8 and 7.2.
Water temperature is also an important factor to consider, as different fish and plant species have different temperature requirements.
Regular testing and monitoring of the water quality is crucial for the health of the fish and plants in the system.
In addition to the fish and plants, you will need a few key pieces of equipment to set up an aquaponic system, including a fish tank, grow bed, pump, and filtration system.

Fish Tank

The first thing you’ll need to get started with your aquaponics system is a fish tank. This is where the fish will live, and it also serves as their waste treatment area (more on this later).

The size of your tank depends on how many fish you want to keep in it. The general rule of thumb is that each 1 gallon of water can support one inch of fish length   so if you have an 18-inch long goldfish, you should have at least 18 gallons of water available for them!

The depth requirements are different depending on whether or not your tanks are indoors or out: indoor tanks should be at least 2 feet deep; outdoor ponds should be built to hold 10 gallons for every 1 foot deep they are.

 So if your pond measures 5 feet deep from the bottom up, then there should be 50 gallons of water available for each foot depth (50 gallons x 5 feet = 250 total).

To grow a thriving and sustainable vegetable garden, you need to understand the key components involved. Learn more about growing vegetables in aquaponics with our helpful guide that will help you achieve success in your aquaponics system.

Fish Stock

Aquaponic fish stock is a combination of two different types of organisms: fish and plants. The plants will be grown in the water that the fish excrete, which we’ll call “waste” here. 

Because this waste contains nutrients for the plants, it’s called “nutrient-rich water”—or just “nutes.” In other words, the fish produce nutes.

The first step in stocking an aquaponics system is to choose your fish type(s). There are many options available; some popular choices include tilapia and perch (which tend to breed well). 

If you’re interested in creating an organic ecosystem for yourself or your family but don’t have access to land where you can grow vegetables yourself (or if you simply want extra variety)

There are also several high-quality starter kits available at hardware stores or online retailers such as Amazon – one example being this kit from Modern Aquaponics Canada Inc., which comes complete with everything needed for a basic setup except seeds/seedlings!

Fish Stock Table

Fish SpeciesIdeal Water TemperatureIdeal pH RangeGrowth RateFeed Type

Grow Bed Or Trough

Now that you know what an aquaponics system is, you’re ready to dive in and start growing your own vegetables! In order to do this, you’ll need a grow bed or trough.

A grow bed is essentially an area where the plants will grow. In an aquaponics system, it’s important that all parts of the plant are submerged in water so that nutrients can flow from fish waste through the roots into their bodies. 

A trough can be made out of many different materials including wood or plastic (see below for step-by-step instructions on how to make your own).

Troughs are usually smaller than grow beds because they don’t have much room for plants to grow in them in fact most people use troughs as containers for lettuce greens rather than other crops like tomatoes or peppers!

Aquaponics is an increasingly popular method for producing fresh, healthy produce year-round. Learn about the different types of vegetables that are ideal for growing in aquaponics and how to care for your plants with our comprehensive guide.”

Aquaponic Medium

Your choice of medium will be the deciding factor in how well your aquaponic system performs. It must be able to hold enough nutrients and oxygen to support the plants, but also need to be porous enough that water can pass through it easily. 

The medium also needs to have enough structure so that air bubbles can move through it, allowing for gas exchange between the roots and fish waste (which is what feeds the plants). Some examples of common mediums include:

Rock wool cubes – Made from molten rock-wool fibers, these are ideal for systems with a high density of plants or where there isn’t much room between each plant because they’re very compact.

Clay pebbles – This type of substrate allows for good water circulation and aeration while still providing a firm base for roots to grow into. However, they’re not ideal if you want to grow tall crops since they’ll eventually become too compressed under their own weight!

Perlite – Perlite is made up of volcanic glass beads that provide excellent drainage while holding onto a significant amount of moisture as well; however they are also quite light so if your system has a heavy load then this may not be right option either!

Aquaponic Medium Table

Medium TypeDescriptionAdvantagesDisadvantages
GravelInorganic material made of small stones, provides a high surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonizeReadily available, durable, long lifespanRequires periodic cleaning, can be sharp and cause injury
Expanded Clay PelletsLightweight, pH-neutral, made of baked clay, great for plants with large root systemsGood drainage, reusableExpensive, can break down over time
Coco CoirShredded coconut husks, organic and biodegradable, excellent water retention propertiesGood for seedlings, helps buffer pHLimited lifespan, may require additional support for larger plants
PerliteLightweight, made of volcanic glass, provides good aeration and drainageInexpensive, sterile, pH-neutralCan float to the top of the bed, requires frequent replacement
VermiculiteLightweight, made of expanded mica, high water retention and nutrient capacityExcellent for seedlings, pH-neutralLimited lifespan, can compact over time

Water Pump

A water pump is a mechanical device that moves water. They can be used to move water from one location to another, or they may simply be there to move a small volume of water from one part of your system to another. 

In the case of aquaponics, the main goal for your pump will be moving water from the fish tank into their grow bed. 

This can sometimes be done with gravity alone, but it’s important to have a backup method in case your system has high or low levels at some point over time.

Another thing you’ll need is a timer/controller for your pumps and lights (if applicable). Most pumps come with these built in already, but if yours didn’t there are many different options out there for timers and controllers specifically made for aquaponics systems!

Aquaponics is a powerful way to grow your own fresh produce, and building your own system can be a fun and rewarding experience. Check out our step-by-step guide on making your own aquaponics system to get started on your personal journey to sustainable gardening


A sump is a container used to collect the water before it is pumped back up to the grow beds. This can be made from plastic, metal or glass. 

It’s best to place it under your grow bed so that you can easily access it when it’s time to clean out debris and waste matter. 

The sump can also be used for other purposes such as storing fish food or providing extra oxygenation in an aquarium where there isn’t enough natural flow over the surface of its water source.

Tank To Sump Tubing

The tubing will be used to transfer the water from your fish tank to your sump. It should be made of food grade plastic and flexible enough to bend around corners if necessary. 

It should also be long enough so that it can reach from your fish tank to your sump without being stretched too tight or bending sharply with too much kink in it.

Nutrient Solution Circulation Pump

The next thing you’ll need is a pump that circulates the water from your fish tank to your grow bed. 

You can use an airlift pump, which uses bubbles of air to lift water up and into the grow bed. Or, you could use a submersible pump and place it at the bottom of your fish tank so that it pushes water through hoses and into your grow beds.

Many aspiring aquaponic gardeners are hesitant to start their own system due to concerns about the cost. With our helpful guide on the cost of aquaponics systems, you can get a better understanding of the price ranges involved and identify ways to save money while still achieving great results

Nutrient Solution Circulation Pump Table

Pump TypeDescriptionPower ConsumptionFlow RateHead Pressure
SubmersibleImmersible pump placed within the nutrient solution30-250 W100-4,000 GPH4-20 ft
ExternalPlaced outside the nutrient solution, connected to a water inlet and outlet50-500 W500-9,000 GPH10-50 ft
Air-DrivenPowered by air pump or compressor, oxygenates nutrient solution via airstone2-10 WUp to 20 LPMLow Pressure

Growbed To Sump Tubing

Your next step is to buy the growbed-to-sump tubing. This is simply a length of piping that will connect your growbed with your sump. 

The proper size will allow water to flow freely through it, while still being flexible enough for easy installation.

The most common type of tubing used in aquaponics is polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC. 

The other popular option is rubber hose, which can be good if you’re worried about leaks or have limited access to PVC fittings because they are more expensive than rubber hoses and harder to find at hardware stores.

Maintaining proper water conditions is essential for the success of any aquaponics system, but how often should you change the water? Our guide on changing water in aquaponics provides important insights into why and how often you need to change the water in your system, helping you ensure your plants are receiving optimal care

The Aquaponics Grow Tray Stands

The aquaponics grow tray stands are used to hold the growbeds. They should be at least as deep as the growbed, so that water can drain through it easily.

The stand is made out of a material that allows water to drain through it, such as wood or plastic.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources on aquaponics that you might find helpful:

The Technology Behind the Aquaponic Garden: Learn more about the technology that makes aquaponics possible.

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

What is an Aquaponics System? How Do They Work?: An introduction to the basics of aquaponics and how it works.

What Vegetables Can Be Grown in Aquaponics?: A list of vegetables that can be grown successfully in aquaponic systems.

How Much Does an Aquaponics System Cost? Explained: A breakdown of the costs involved in setting up an aquaponic system.

Aquaponics: Growing Fish and Plants Together: An overview of aquaponics and how it works, as well as tips for setting up and maintaining a system.

Aquaponics Supplies: A guide to the supplies needed for a DIY aquaponic system, including fish tanks, grow beds, and pumps.


What is aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a system of growing plants and fish together in a symbiotic relationship. The plants use the waste produced by the fish as fertilizer, while the plants’ roots filter the water for the fish.

How does aquaponics work?

Aquaponics works by circulating water between a fish tank and a plant grow bed. As the fish produce waste, bacteria break down the waste into nutrients that the plants can use. The plants absorb the nutrients and filter the water, which is then returned to the fish tank.

What are the benefits of aquaponics?

Aquaponics has several benefits, including the ability to grow fresh produce and fish in a small space, the use of less water than traditional farming methods, and the ability to produce food year-round in any climate.

What kind of fish can be used in aquaponics?

Many different types of fish can be used in aquaponic systems, including tilapia, catfish, trout, and perch. The type of fish used will depend on factors such as climate, water quality, and personal preference.

Is aquaponics difficult to set up and maintain?

While setting up an aquaponic system can require some initial effort, it can be relatively simple to maintain once it is up and running. Proper care of the fish and plants, as well as monitoring water quality, is important for the success of the system.