What Is An Aquaponics System? How Do They Work?

Aquaponics has been around almost as long as agriculture itself, but it’s only now that we’re starting to see it being used on a large scale. Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics that uses waste from fish to fertilize plants. 

It can be used in many different ways, including home gardens and commercial farms. 

In this article, we’ll explain what aquaponics is, why you should use it to grow your own food, how it works (and doesn’t work), and where you can find resources online so you can start building your system today!

What is Aquaponics and How Does it Work?
1The aquaponic garden relies on the technology of growing fish and plants together sustainably.
2A step-by-step guide is available to set up an aquaponic garden easily.
3Discover what vegetables thrive within an aquaponics system through our guide.
4Aquaponics can provide a sustainable and financially viable option for gardening enthusiasts.
5Proper planning and investment are required for an aquaponics system, but costs can be reduced with the right tips.

What Is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way to grow plants and fish together. It’s the combination of aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) and hydroponics (growing plants in water). 

The fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, which cleanse the water before it returns to them. The cycle continues as this nutrient-rich water is used again for irrigation or other uses by those who live in proximity to the system.

An aquaponic garden relies on the technology that allows fish and plants to grow together sustainably. Get a detailed understanding of this technology through our article on the technology behind the aquaponic garden and start growing a bountiful garden today.

Why Should We Use Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is the natural way to farm, and it’s a sustainable way to produce food.

Aquaponics uses the waste from farmed fish as a natural fertilizer for plants. This means you don’t need any chemicals or pesticides in your system, which means no harmful chemicals are coming into contact with your fish or plants.

Table of Plants and Fish for Aquaponics

1TilapiaTilapia is the most commonly raised fish in aquaponics and a staple in many diets.
2CatfishCatfish is another popular fish that grows rapidly and tolerates various water types.
3LettuceLettuce is an excellent choice because it grows quickly, reproduces easily, and responsive to hydroponics nutrients.
4TomatoesTomatoes thrive when grown on a trellis, making them an ideal choice for an aquaponic system.
5HerbsHerbs like basil, parsley, and mint grow quickly and are easily maintained in an aquaponic system.

How Did Aquaponics Start?

If the picture of a little fish swimming around in a glass bowl is what comes to mind when you think of “aquaponics,” then it’s time for education. Aquaponics isn’t actually about raising fish it’s about raising plants, which means that there’s no need for any sort of tank or aquarium. 

Instead, the roots from your crops absorb nutrients from the water from your fish tanks below them. 

Because the two components are connected in this way, this type of system is called an integrated one: both components work together as one unit to produce their food source and keep themselves healthy at the same time!

Want to create your own aquaponic garden but don’t know where to start? Our comprehensive article on aquaponics: the complete step-by-step guide provides easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your own sustainable garden at home. Follow our guide to grow your own fresh produce and fish.

What Are The Benefits Of Aquaponics?

Imagine a world where you could grow all the food you need, sustainably, in your backyard. This is the promise of aquaponics. 

On top of that, kids can be involved in the garden (and kitchen) every step of the way. They’ll learn to appreciate what it takes to grow their food and how important science is to this process.

Is It Easy?

Aquaponics is a low-cost, environmentally friendly way to grow food. It’s also an easy and fun activity that you can do at home.

If you have a garden, then you don’t need to learn anything new – the same skills will work for both types of gardening. If not, then aquaponics has many benefits:

  • It’s easy to set up and maintain
  • The cost is much lower than other methods such as hydroponics or soil-based plant growing because you only need one system instead of two separate environments (one for plants, another for fish). 

This means there are fewer things that might go wrong while trying to maintain both systems simultaneously!

How Many Types Of Aquaponics Systems Are There?

Three main types of aquaponics systems are NFT, media-filled, and deep water culture. Each one works differently and has different requirements for the amount of water you need to maintain it.

The nutrient film technique (NFT) system is a shallow channel that runs along one side of a fish tank. The channel contains layers of gravel, worms, and bacteria to filter out nutrients from effluent waste produced by fish. 

Then it carries this filtered solution across to plants which absorb it as nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Table of Aquaponics Equipment

1Grow bedThe grow bed is filled with medium and where the plants are grown.
2Fish tankFish are raised in the tank, while their waste creates nutrients for the plants.
3Water pumpA pump circulates water from the fish tank and to the grow bed.
4HeaterThe heater helps maintain a favorable temperature for plants and fish.
5AeratorThe aerator oxygenates the water to support the fish’s respiration.

What Is The Main Difference Between Them?

Aquaponics can be done in two ways: open- or closed-loop systems. Open-loop systems are usually less expensive to set up, but they require more maintenance. Closed-loop systems are more controlled and therefore easier to maintain, but they’re often more expensive as well.

The first step toward understanding how an aquaponics system works is to understand the fundamental difference between an open system and a closed system.

Aquaponics is an excellent way to grow different types of plants at home. Wondering what vegetables are grown in aquaponics? Read our article on what vegetables can be grown in aquaponics to discover the different types of vegetables that thrive in an aquaponic system.

Can I Use Any Fish In My System?

The answer is simple: yes, you can use any fish in your system. While some species of fish do well in an aquaponics system and others that do not, the choice is ultimately yours. 

The best way to determine which type of fish will work best with your system is to look at some basic factors such as cost and availability. Some types of fish are less expensive than others while some types may be harder to find or breed more easily than others.

The next step would be considering what kind of environment you want your aquaponics system to have; is it going to be a freshwater aquarium or saltwater aquarium? 

Each has its benefits and drawbacks which we cover below in our full guide on choosing which one works best for your needs!

Can I Use Any Plants In My System?

Yes! Aquaponics systems are great for growing plants, so you can use any plant that you’d like in your system. The types of plants will depend on the climate where you live, but there are several options out there. 

You can even try cultivating crops that aren’t typically grown in pots and garden beds by using aquaponics. 

Many people choose to use leafy greens (like lettuce) because they don’t need much water or nutrients, but some people have had success growing tomatoes or peppers in their systems as well. 

Just make sure that the plants you choose won’t be harmed by being submerged in water during the heat of summer months or by freezing temperatures during winter months; otherwise, they may die quickly when placed into an aquaponic setup!

If you’re worried about having enough room for all those pretty flowers growing out of buckets full of dirt (or even just one container), don’t fret: plenty is going on underneath those buckets too! 

With proper management techniques such as pruning back excess growth regularly and cleaning out any dead leaves/petals every few weeks.

So there isn’t any buildup down below which could cause mold problems later on down road I would love seeing what kind of results other people got with their system once these start becoming available online after initial launch date gets closer.”

Aquaponics is a great investment that can benefit your health and wallet in the long run. Still unsure if aquaponics is worth it? Our article on is aquaponics worth it? Hint: yes, they are! will provide a thorough understanding of the benefits of aquaponics and how it can be a financially viable option for gardening enthusiasts.

Does Aquaponics Have Disadvantages?

Aquaponics is a growing industry, but it’s not perfect. One of the big disadvantages is that you need to take care of the system. It can’t be left unattended while you go on vacation or come home late from work. 

You also have to clean up after fish waste and monitor the water levels in your grow beds as well as your fish tanks regularly (weekly).

If you’re still interested in getting started with an aquaponics system for yourself, read on for some helpful tips!

Building an aquaponics system requires careful planning and investment, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Our article on how much does an aquaponics system cost explained breaks down the costs associated with an aquaponics system and provides tips on how to save money along the way. Start planning your aquaponics system with our expert guide today.


Once you get started with your aquaponics system, you will find it easy to maintain and enjoyable. 

You can grow a variety of plants and fish in one place. This means that even if you only have a small space available for growing food or raising livestock, there is still room for both!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources for learning more about aquaponics systems:

Aquaponics: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide: This guide provides detailed instructions on how to set up an aquaponics system from start to finish.

What Vegetables Can Be Grown in Aquaponics?: This article explores the types of vegetables that can be grown using an aquaponics system and provides tips for success.

How Often Do You Have to Change Water in Aquaponics?: This article discusses the importance of water changes in maintaining a healthy aquaponics system and provides guidelines for how often to do it.

How Much Does an Aquaponics System Cost? Explained: This article breaks down the costs involved in setting up and maintaining an aquaponics system, including equipment, fish, and plants.

How to Make Your Own Aquaponics System: This article provides a step-by-step guide for building your own aquaponics system using readily available materials.

What is Aquaponics and How Does It Work?: This article explains the basics of aquaponics and how it works in a simple, easy-to-understand manner.

What is Aquaponics and How Does It Work?: This article provides an overview of aquaponics and its benefits, as well as some tips for setting up your own system.


What is an aquaponics system?

An aquaponics system is a closed-loop system that combines aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) to create a mutually beneficial ecosystem. The fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, while the plants filter and clean the water for the fish.

How does an aquaponics system work?

In an aquaponics system, fish are raised in a tank or pond, and their waste creates ammonia and other nutrients that can be toxic in high concentrations. The water is then pumped into a hydroponic grow bed, where bacteria convert the ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate, which is then taken up by the plants as fertilizer. The clean water is then returned to the fish tank, completing the cycle.

What are the benefits of an aquaponics system?

Aquaponics systems are highly efficient, using less water than traditional farming methods and producing both fish and vegetables in one system. They are also sustainable, as they use organic waste as a resource and can be operated without the need for synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

What types of fish can be raised in an aquaponics system?

Many types of fish can be raised in an aquaponics system, including tilapia, catfish, trout, and perch. The choice of fish will depend on factors such as climate, water quality, and personal preference.

What types of vegetables can be grown in an aquaponics system?

A wide variety of vegetables can be grown in an aquaponics system, including leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and more. The types of vegetables that can be grown will depend on factors such as the size of the system, the lighting available, and the temperature of the water.

How do I set up an aquaponics system?

Setting up an aquaponics system involves several steps, including choosing the type of system, selecting the fish and plants to be grown, and installing the necessary equipment. It’s important to do research and plan carefully before beginning the setup process, and it may be helpful to consult with an experienced aquaponics farmer or professional.

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

The cost of setting up an aquaponics system can vary widely depending on factors such as the size and complexity of the system, the materials used, and the types of fish and plants being grown. Some basic DIY systems can be built for a few hundred dollars, while larger, more sophisticated systems can cost thousands of dollars.

Is an aquaponics system easy to maintain?

Maintaining an aquaponics system requires regular attention and monitoring to ensure that the fish and plants are healthy and the water quality is maintained. Tasks such as feeding the fish, monitoring water quality, and pruning plants will need to be done on a regular basis. However, with proper planning and setup, aquaponics systems can be relatively low-maintenance and require less work than traditional farming methods.

What are some common challenges of aquaponics farming?

Some common challenges of aquaponics farming include managing water quality, maintaining proper pH levels, preventing disease and pests, and ensuring adequate light and nutrient levels for the plants. It’s important to be aware of these challenges and have a plan in place to address them before starting an aquaponics system.