How Aquaponics Work

How Aquaponics Work

Typical farming drains the soil of nutrients unless the soil is constantly being replenished with nutrients or fertilizer. Aquaponics is farming without soil. The plant sits in water with nutrients in it, sort of like Gatorade for plants. The plants are able to soak up the nutrients and water without needing soil to grow into. Nearly all plants are able to be grown in an aquaponics system. 

Aquaponics systems utilize three major components: the water cycle, the nutrient cycle, and photosynthesis. A tank is filled with water and a pump is added to the water to circulate the tank. Plant roots are submerged in the tank and nutrients are added by either adding fish and feeding them, or by simply adding nutrient or fertilizer liquid mixes. There are many different ways to set up an aquaponic system. 

Water is soaked up by the roots of the plant and carries the nutrients to the plant, which helps the plant perform photosynthesis and grow. The plant returns filtered water back to the system, if fish are in the system the plants are purifying the water by growing. The system can be composed of baskets that the plants are in or rocks that the plants grow into where the roots reach down and absorb the water. 

Having a pump in the system is crucial, it keeps the water circulated and gets air in the water. Adding air or oxygen to the water is a process called aeration and is done through waterfall type flow in the system or by adding an oxygen pump or bubbler. To help dissolve nutrients into the water, the water must be circulated in some way since plants only absorb the smallest nutrients and nutrients will keep dissolving until they are absorbed by the plants. 

Aquaponics, Hydroponics, and Aeroponics are all very similar. There are only small differences between the three. Aquaponics is often nutrients that come from fish living in the environment and no nutrients are added, only fish food. Hydroponics is when there are only plants in the system, and no other animals. Aeroponics differs from both of these in the way that it is hydroponics, meaning there’s no fish in the system, but there’s no tank the plants sit in. Instead plant roots are sprayed with nutrient-rich water through misting nozzles, which lets them breathe and grow.

There are all sorts of builds and forms being created, Wick, Ebb and Flow, NFT, Water Culture, Drip. At the end of the day, all of the systems are very similar and are based around plants growing without planting them straight into the dirt. It’s arguable which system is the best, or which is the most likely to replace dropping plants right into the ground. Regardless, all of the systems are more sustainable than traditional farming and require less or no GMOs. None require massive amounts of farmland while offering larger plants due to being able to force more nutrients into the plants. 


Keywords: aquaponics system, aquaponic farming, aquaponic garden, aquaponics fish tank

What are your thoughts on Aquaponics, Hydroponics, and Aeroponics? Comment below!

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