Aquaponics - The Best Of Both Worlds?

If you're interested in growing plants hydroponically, you might also want to consider trying your hand at running an aquaponics system.  Aquaponics involves growing plants in water but also incorporating fish into the system.  So, how do the two systems compare and can you really have the best of both worlds?  Read on for more information.

The advantages of hydroponics and aquaponics

Both systems use just water and chemical nutrition in which to grow plants, and presents a number of advantages including:

  • a stable, controlled system without the pest problems often encountered when growing crops in soil  
  • consistent, high crop yields  
  • a pesticide-free environment in which to grow plants and veggies  
  • less requirement for water as the water in the system is recycled and reused

Hydroponics and aquaponics compared

In essence, both hydroponic and aquaponics systems are the same in that they both involve cultivating plants in a water-only environment.  However, an aquaponics system presents a number of advantages.

  1. Instead of using expensive chemical nutrients as you would in a hydroponics system, aquaponics uses only fish food, which is cheaper.  The fish produce waste, which is in turn utilised by the plants as a completely natural fertiliser.  
  2. In a hydroponics system, the water needs to be periodically uploaded in order to remove an accumulation of chemicals and salts, which can become harmful to the plants.  However, in an aquaponics system the fish waste provides a natural balance of nitrates so the water never requires replacement.  You only need to top-up water levels from time-to-time due to evaporation.  
  3. Once your aquaponics bio-filter has become established, you will generally experience much quicker and better plant growth than you would do with a hydroponics system.  
  4. In general, an established aquaponics system is less maintenance intensive as you only need to monitor pH and ammonia levels weekly and nitrates once each month.  A hydroponics system requires daily monitoring.  
  5. Once your fish have become established in the aquaponics system, they will breed, increasing the population and replacing mortality naturally.  This means that your initial investment will quickly become self-sustaining.

In conclusion

If you're already into hydroponic growing, you might want to join many other enthusiasts by progressing to an aquaponics system.  Your local hydroponic store will be able to provide you with more advice on setting up a successful aquaponics system, and they will also be pleased to supply you with everything you need to get started.