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What Is an Aquaponic System?

By on 07/14/2016

What Is an Aquaponic System?

Are you thinking of farming plants and growing fish? With aquaponics, you can do both at the same time using a single system. 

An aquaponic system is a way for you to farm both fish and plants together, using a cycle that mutually benefits both plants and fish. It’s actually a system that’s been in use for hundreds of years all over the world. It’s been in use for the longest time in rice paddies in Thailand and China. Even the Aztecs developed a similar system.

How Does It Work?

The basic idea is quite simple. The fish produce waste, which eventually become ammonia and nitrates. They’re bad for the fish when they build up too much, which is why you need to replace the water on a regular basis. On the other hand, they’re great for plants as fertilizer. The plants use up these nutrients, and so their roots filter out these dangerous compounds from the water. That’s just great for the fish as they get the recycled clean water.

Aquaponic System Diagram

Usually, you have two main components for the system, with one each for the fish and plants. A small pump can then move the water between the two systems.


The convenience and simplicity of using just one system to grow both fish and plants is, of course, a good reason enough to switch to aquaponics. But here are some other advantages to consider:

  1. Save a lot of water. That’s because you can recycle the water between the 2 systems. The water you use here is only 10% of the water you’d normally use when you grow plants in the ground.
  2. Year-round growing. You can use this system to grow your plants at any time of the year, and in any country.
  3. Soil savings. You also don’t even need soil at all. You can plant in beds with a bit of clay and gravel, and their roots hang out in the water.
  4. No chemicals. You also save money because you won’t have to buy chemical fertilizers. In fact, the use of the fish attests to your purely organic methods, because even the most “organic” (supposedly) chemical fertilizers can harm the fish.
  5. The growing cycle can be very short. If you’re growing cucumbers, it may take less than a month.

What's An Aquaponic?

What Fish and Plant Species are Ideal?

For fish, you may want to start with sleepy cod, although barramundi is okay as long as you use a small water heater for the cooler months. For the plants, many Asian vegetables are appropriate. You can also go for various herbs, as well as eggplants, melons, cucumber, basil, and tomatoes. You can also try watercress, chives, and lettuce.

Setting up an aquaponics system is actually very easy. You can buy readymade systems, but you can just build your own using cheap materials and household items. Finally, you can’t ignore the fun factor. It’s great to have nice fish to look at, and with an aquaponic system, you may even have fresh fish for dinner with your veggies!

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