Aquaponic Gardening: Growing Fish and Vegetables Together

What if I told you that you could catch fish for dinner right in your own backyard? And if you did, what if I told you that right up until you caught those fish, they were growing the veggies for the rest of your dinner? Would you believe me? You should! This is all withinreach using a new style of gardening called aquaponics.

Aquaponics is, at its most basic level, the marriage of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water and without soil) together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides organic food for the growing plants and the plants naturally filter the water in which the fish live. The third and fourth critical, yet invisible actors in this symbiotic world are the beneficial bacteria and composting red worms.

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Commercial Aquaponics: 10 Things to Consider Before Taking the Plung

I feel the need to talk about commercial aquaponics because recently there have been three important news stories about its potential. Two of them (‘Industrial Organic Aquaponics: Like Industrial Organic Agriculture but Better’ and ‘Fish Farms, With a Side of Greens’) were quite positive, describing the potential of commercial aquaponic facilities in urban areas, mainly by focusing their lens on Sweetwater Organics in Milwaukee.

The third (‘Aquaponics Businesses Grow, but Profits Prove Hard to Reap’) however, focused on a commercial basil grower in Hawaii who is having difficulty finding a market for his produce because so many aquaponic farms are now operating there and serving a relatively small resident population.

These three articles really struck me because when I discovered this amazing growing technique called aquaponics, the first thought I had was to start a commercial aquaponics operation. This led me to months of researching, analyzing, and interviewing before I finally concluded that commercial aquaponics just wasn’t the right direction for me. However, I learned a lot along the way and I’d like to pass some of my lessons learned on to you just in case you are considering the same idea.

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A great source of organic gardening fertilizer

Sometimes finding оrganic gardening fertilizer that is truely оrganic, at a reasоnable cоst and that’s user friendly can be quite a prоblem. Sоmetimes tо get genuine sоlutiоns, we have tо check nоt in the package but in the nearest pond supply store. There is anоther fоrm оf оrganic farming that prоtects the soil from erosion, while reducing the tоtal amоunt оf time and wоrk spent with gardening.

What I am speaing frankly abоut is called aquapоnics. A biоlоgical ecоsystem is created by aquapоnics tо grоw yоur plants in, that supplies natural natural fertilizer tо the plants quickly. It dоes this by incоrpоrating fish with plants. Fish are a fantastic sоurce оf plant nutrients created by their wastes. These wastes are excreted straight intо the water where they’re quickly absоrbed by plants. By circulating water thrоugh a develоpment bed where the plant rооts are, the plants get all оf the water and оrganic nutrients they need.

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Benefits Of Aquaponics

Now that you have an understanding of how Aquaponics works, you can probably guess some of the many benefits of such a great system. However, there may be some benefits that you overlooked or never even thought about. The primary reasons people set up this organic sustainable food production method are:

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What Plants Grow in Aquaponic Systems?

There have been over 300 different aquaponic plants that have been tested that will be happy in an aquaponic system. The major group that will not grow in an aquaponic system are root vegetables. Basically the aquaponics plant list is too long to write and is dependent on your location. If it is an above ground plant that grows well in your area and does not mind getting its roots wet then you should give it a go.

Our aquaponic plants absolutely thrived in the aquaponic system with the water from the fish supplying nutrients directly to the roots of the aquaponic plants. We have found that the aquaponic plants grow and produce faster in the system than in a traditional garden.

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Can You Use Aquaponics In My Home?

Although aquaponics is usually used in commercial food production, it is actually quite easy to set up an aquaponics system in your backyard, patio or even on your roof.

If you like eating organic products you can grow your own organic vegetables and even fruit using this method. And because fish are part of the system, you can have lots of fresh fish, like trout or tilapia, to eat too.

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Do You Have An Aquaponic System? Tables, Information, Handy Definitions, Everything You May Need To Help Understand Different Aspects of Aquaponics!

Posted on August 1, 2015 by Garden Prepper August 1, 2015

Sustainability has many faces, and it should! We all have different strengths, our regions have different needs, and we can all contribute in different ways. So sometimes you can contribute to sustainability by gardening with no water, and sometimes you can contribute by using only water. Using water as the growing medium allows us to grow a lot of produce in small spaces.

Aquaponic gardening isn’t limited to expensive, elaborate set ups like hydroponics, and it isn’t as prone to bad bacterial overgrowth as aquaculture.

After learning what aquaponic gardening is and how it is implemented, you  may want to give it a shot!

What is Aquaponic Gardening?

Aquaponics is the marriage between two water-based cultivation methods. Hydroponics grows plants in nutrient-fed water, while aquaculture is the raising of fish. Combining the two methods into one process makes the entire system more efficient and productive.

Hydroponic plant growth yields intensive results – several times what normal growth brings. But the plants must be fed heavily. The water in both aquaculture and hydroponics has to be cycled out and replenished frequently, as well which can be both wasteful and work intensive. On top of that, hydroponic systems can be unwieldy and expensive.

Aquaponic methods grow plants in water, but they are fed by the growing fish. The fish create beneficial bacteria  and waster that help to feed the plants, and the plants keep the water cleaner when the water is cycled back to the fish. Because the two work together, the negatives of each are minimized so you are growing both plants and fish.

And both elements are healthier as a result.

Where Can You Make an Aquaponic System?

Did you ever imagine you could raise fish in your garage? Don’t be overwhelmed! Aquaponics can be set up in any space, for a reasonable investment and effort. In fact, the simplest aquaponics demonstration is some herbs pulled and floated on a mini pond.

Start with one aquaponics container to get a feel for it. You can purchase a system, but DIY is just as effective and much more affordable. A patio or porch, backyard, or garage work well for aquaponics. You want access to drain it if necessary and not run into problems should something go wrong and spill!

Hydro growing methods have high intensity yields – you will get a lot of return!  If you start with one, you can get an idea of the effort and yields. Then you can plan to establish just the containers that you need. If you already grow your fruits and veggies traditionally, you will be surprised at the increase in volume!

Aquaponic Resources for Further Learning

Before you get started, learn all you can about potential aquaponics methods. There is no one way to make it work, as long as you can facilitate optimal bacterial growth. Learning from the mistakes and successes of others will help you to avoid frustrating and potentially costly experimentation.

Aquaponics methods and background.

A step by step tutorial for a backyard aquaponics system.

Aquaponics systems can be a great experiment for the bored gardener, a new way to be sustainable, and a high efficiency way to get big returns from a small space. Take some time to look into the details, then let us know what methods you plan to use.

If you’ve already started an aquaponics system, what did you learn in the process?

There are many really useful diagrams out there that people have posted but I can never remember where to find them, even some of my own that I have uploaded to the forum several times and I feal bad using more space for diagrams that.

And here is a diagram of one way to do an NFT system but using a gravel filled grow bed to provide filtration.

Another Simple  system design

 pH and tap water information.

I want to make sure everyone knows that the pH of your tap water immediately after you draw it from the pipes, may not be real pH of your tap water.

This is some info that I didn’t originally know it is caused me all sorts of confusion. Water from the pipes or well is often depleted of O2 and full of CO2 the carbon dioxide in the water forms a weak acid which will give a lower pH to the water if measured right away. If you take that same water and let it air (run it through a system or put it in a bucket with a bubbler) to let the CO2 escape then test the pH again, the pH will often be much higher. Example, my well water comes out of the tap with a pH of about 7 usually and after outgasing, it will have a pH of about 8.

This is important to know when doing water changes in a system that is likely to settle with a much lower pH or if dealing with a system that is not fully cycled and you are having high ammonia since higher pH makes ammonia more dangerous to your fish.

It is also good to know this info about tap water when dealing with pH balancing issues. If you are trying to hold a pH around 7 and adding lots of tap water causes pH to go up, then you want to keep water changes and additions small so the system can bring the pH into line without lots of bouncing.

Water hardness and fish health

Each species of fish has its own very narrow range of pH preference and levels outside of this range will cause health problems. For example, koi prefer a range between 7 and 8.5, while some tropical fish prefer water that is slightly acidic. There are several ways that pH can affect fish health

High acidity or alkalinity can cause direct physical damage to skin, gills and eyes. Prolonged exposure to sub-lethal pH levels can cause stress, increase mucus production and encourage epithelial hyperplasia (thickening of the skin or gill epithelia) with sometimes-fatal consequences.

Fish also have to maintain their own constant internal pH. Even small fluctuations of blood pH can prove fatal. Extreme external or water pH can influence and affect blood pH, resulting in either acidosis or alkalosis of the blood.

The other consideration is diurnal shifts in pH, mainly as a consequence of photosynthesis as explained above. Large, fluctuations – even though they may still be within the preferred range – are likely to be stressful and damaging to health.

As well as fish we should bear in mind that nitrifying bacteria in the filter also have a narrow pH range preference between 7.5 and 8.6.

Changes in pH will affect the toxicity of many dissolved compounds. For example, ammonia becomes more toxic as pH increases.

Variances in pH will also exert an effect on some common disease treatments, so it is important to take account of pH (and usually water hardness) when using treatments. For example, chloramine-T is more toxic in at low pH, while potassium permanganate is more dangerous at high pH.

Aquaponic Advantages:

  • Probiotic environment: The presence of good microbes makes it much harder for the bad kind to establish themselves. For example, a key battle in hydroponics is root rot and pythium. This is usually not a problem aquaponics. In hydroponics, you are always trying to maintain a sterile system to keep bad microbes out, whereas in aquaponics, good microbes do the job for you.
  • One input for two outputs: Although hydroponics is less expensive at the start, aquaponics has the advantage of reusing waste as an input for another product. So for your one input, you get a protein source on top of the plant harvest.
  • Water conservation: Hydroponics may use less water than soil growing, but you still have to dump the solution usually after each harvest due to the build up of salts and bad microbes. In aquaponics, water changes are rarely required and water loss is usually only from evaporation and plant respiration.
  • Education and Fun: Aquaponics is also great way to get kids interested in healthy eating. It’s much more fun and educational and it’s a great teaching tool for biology, chemistry, and physics.
  • Healthier Plants that Taste Better: Aquaponics has also been shown to outperform hydroponics once the system has reached maturity (usually takes 6 months). Plants can grow more quickly, more healthily and often taste better in a well-balanced optimized aquaponic system. This is offset however by the fact that it’s easier to get a hydroponic system up to it’s peak potential.

These lists are not meant to be comprehensive but are a starting point to help the hobby grower make some decisions. On the commercial level there are many other considerations not listed here starting of course with the market you are going after as well as the risks and costs involved with each method.

Recommended Plants and Fish in Aquaponics

The fish and plants you select for your aquaponic system should have similar needs as far as temperature and pH. There will always be some compromise to the needs of the fish and plants but, the closer they match, the more success you will have.

As a general rule, warm, fresh water, fish and leafy crops such as lettuce and herbs will do the best. In a system heavily stocked with fish, you may have luck with fruiting plants such as tomatoes and peppers.

Fish that we have raised in aquaponics with good results:

  • tilapia
  • blue gill/brim
  • sunfish
  • crappie
  • koi
  • fancy goldfish
  • pacu
  • various ornamental fish such as angelfish, guppies, tetras, swordfish, mollies

Other fish raised in aquaponics:

  • carp
  • barramundi
  • silver perch, golden perch
  • yellow perch
  • Catfish
  • Large mouth Bass

Plants that will do well in any aquaponic system:

  • any leafy lettuce
  • pak choi
  • kale
  • swiss chard
  • arugula
  • basil
  • mint
  • watercress
  • chives
  • most common house plants

Plants that have higher nutritional demands and will only do well in a heavily stocked, well established aquaponic system:

  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • cucumbers
  • beans
  • peas
  • squash
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • bananas
  • dwarf citrus trees: lemons, limes and oranges
  • dwarf pomegranate tree
  • sweet corn
  • micro greens
  • beets
  • radishes
  • carrots
  • onions
  • edible flowers: nasturtium, violas, orchids

 If you want to be successful in aquaponics, start with a proven system! 

We offer systems for:

  • home food production
  •  aquaponic systems


Aquaponics is a great alternative to the current farming methods and can improve food security. Here are several reasons why this is the case:

  • It doesn’t rely on oil
  • It doesn’t depend on low welfare standards
  • It doesn’t depend on high feedstuff input
  • Prolific chemical use to meet margins is not required

Aquaponics mimics biology and can be used on a small scale in your own backyard or house, and also on a community level which would educate and enable people to grow their own food to benefit many on a personal and economic scale.

Easy and Cheap DIY Aquaponics: Let the Fish Grow Your Organic Food

Posted on May 5, 2014

Note that this is a review: if you’re looking for Easy DIY Aquaponics website then please click here.

Why am I writing this? Well, when I was thinking about buying Easy DIY Aquaponics, there weren’t many real reviews around so I thought I’d write one quickly to help any of you who are in the same position I was.

But be warned, I’ll be going into both the good and the bad points, so if that’s something you might not want to hear, then you may as well leave now…

I do want to point out that a few weeks back I took a look at a course titled Aquaponics 4 You: Step-by-Step How to Build Your Own Aquapoics System which initially got me excited about aquaponics. Actually, I was interested and excited BEFORE I found the course… hopefully you are too.

And, while I’m still glad I reviewed it, one of my biggest complaints about the course was that I “felt like I jumped right into the middle of a story that I wouldn’t have honestly understood had I not already spent some time researching the subject beforehand.”

And, so, if you’re new to the idea of aquaponics then it might not be the best place to start. Instead, this Easy DIY Aquaponics course might be a better fit… a much better one, in fact.

Rather than boring you to death with the details, suffice it to say that this course led me by the hand quite a bit better. Specifically, it took the time to explain what aquaponics and hydroponics were, how the system works, about the different parts needed, about the fish, and so on. You get the idea.

Click here to learn more about the course that help me to finally LOVE aquaponics.

Obviously, the guide discusses putting the system together (e.g., layout, plumbing, nutrients, etc) and included some diagrams but the video was actually more useful in this regard.

Among the things I liked most were that the course includes a nice parts list that shows actual pictures (and descriptions) of all the parts needed, how many of each item, and a checklist to ensure you’ve got it all. That would be super-handy for me because I can just see myself making half a dozen trips to the hardware store because I forgot something or bought the wrong parts.

There’s also a lengthy troubleshooting guide as well covering all the essentials, from start-up to problems with your fish, there are dozens of problems discussed with solutions to each. Heck, they even thought to create a handy maintenance log to ensure you regularly check the important stuff… yup, I need that.

I was actually quite impressed with all that the course thought to include. Anyway, similar to the previous aquaponics course, this one added a handful of bonus references, including:

  • backup source of fresh drinking water for an emergency! a special report that puts “Backyard Liberty” on over-drive, and turns it into a special filtration system, your family will have hundreds of gallons of fresh drinking water at their disposal… so they’ll never be thirsty in a rough time situation… and you won’t have to worry about storage.
  • Surviving an Economic Collapse a special report that will teach you real-life lessons from recent events. You’ll learn how to barter with desperate people … what to do when hospitals are closed…what the best currency is when the dollar is worth nothing… and a lot more.
  • 27 Items you need to hoard. Most people get this wrong, and stock on the wrong items. Yet minutes after a disaster, stores get looted by desperate mobs, and you’re left fighting over scraps. This special report lists the absolute essentials… that many so-called preppers never even consider… and you’ll get it for free, when you test the Backyard Liberty training.
  • 12 months of unlimited email access – where you get to ask just about everything related to Backyard Liberty. That’s one full year when you get to ask us as many questions as you want!

And, although, the aforementioned references were a bit more interesting this time around, I didn’t much care about the bonuses… just about the aquaponics information.

Now, can you find freely available information online that you can piece together instead of purchasing a course such as this? Sure you can. But, if you’re like me then you prefer to have everything you need in one place with somebody saying “do this, do that, now do this…” until you’re done. That’s just the way my brain is wired.

Sadly, because I’m renting right now aquaponics isn’t something I can try my hand at anytime soon. Seems I’ve got to wait until I can buy. But, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t learn as much as I can for when I’m ready and able. Certainly, you can do the same! In fact, I’d suggest that this Easy DIY Aquaponics course is the best and most complete I’ve found yet.

Aquaponics: 20,000 Pounds of Fish & 70,000 Pounds of Vegetables on a 1/4 Acre [Video]

Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in water only), in a carefully designed, hyper-productive closed-loop system. There is no pesticide, no fungicide, no fertilizer, no watering the garden, no bending down to weed the garden, and you produce food year round, no matter the climate or soil conditions. This can work in the Sahara Desert or in Antarctica.

Using this system, each 25 SF of grow space can feed one adult 25% of their protein and all of their table vegetables, year round, forever! On-site local food production is the ultimate form of food storage. With a full set of videos about setting up an aquaponic system from start to finish and how to maintain it, Backyard Liberty is the best guide out there for aquaponics. Give it a try and you wont regret it, it is very simple.

Aquaponics; Which Style is Best Suited to Me?

So there are the basics of aquaponics, it really can be as simple or as complicated as you like, if you want to start off small and simple take a piece of polystyrene, cut some holes in it, stick some mint cuttings or water cress cuttings through the holes, and float it on the surface of an aquarium or pond, within no time you’ll end up with a mass of floating herbs, and you’ll have cleaner water for your fish.

Through lots of experimenting over the years, and through the trials of members on the online discussion forum, the flood and drain media based system, has been found to be the most reliable and the simplest method of aquaponics, especially for beginners. It can be done very simply using a wide range of different containers. The flood and drain media bed system, also requires minimal maintenance.

We are going to concentrate on the media bed style of system, you can mix different styles of system but for the moment just straight media filled beds will do. Even with just straight media beds there are a number of different ways you can run the system.

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