How does Aquaponics work?
Aquaponics recirculates water from a fish tank into a vegetable growing bed. Nutrients from the fish waste (poop and pee) are converted into valuable nutrients (Nitrates) for plants, and the plants filter the water to keep the fish healthy.

It is a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship. The fish, bacteria and plants all need to be living together in balance and harmony for all organisms to thrive.

Aquaponics vegetables
Almost any vegetable can be grown with Aquaponics

What types of plants can be grown in Aquaponics? 

Below is a list of some common varieties of plants:
  • Most varieties of lettuce
  • Most varieties of herbs
  • Watercress
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Melons
  • Strawberries
Fish for Aquaponics
Tilapia fish tank

What fish can be grown in aquaponics? Aquaponics systems can raise common fish species such as:

  • Tilapia
  • Perch
  • Catfish
  • Peruvian Pacu
  • Oscars
  • Koi
  • Goldfish and some varieties of aquarium fish
  • Freshwater prawns
  • Trout

Can I do Aquaponics at home?
Absolutely. Most Aquaponic gardeners set up systems in their basements, back yards, living rooms or even in spare bathtubs. There are fancy designer starter kits available and less expensive DIY bathtub kits available to help you set up your first system.

What’s the Difference Between Hydroponics and Aquaponics?
Hydroponics is the water-based system used to grow most tomatoes, lettuce and basil in greenhouses during the winter in North America. While both Aquaponics and Hydroponics grow plants in oxygenated, nutrient-rich water-based solutions, Aquaponics is superior to Hydroponics for several reasons:

  1. Hydroponics needs expensive chemical fertilizers to feed the plants while Aquaponics uses inexpensive fish feed and compost worms to feed the plants.
  2. Hydroponics requires much more labor and maintenance (daily testing, checking and balancing) to make sure the chemical balances are right. Aquaponics relies upon a natural ecosystem to find and maintain the proper chemical balances for thriving fish and plants.
  3. Aquaponics is more productive than Hydroponics. A university study by the Crop Diversification Centre in Alberta, Canada has shown that a grower will see faster and better growing conditions with Aquaponics than with hydroponics.
  4. Aquaponics is completely organic while Hydroponics is growing in a sterile, man-made environment. Hydroponics relies upon the careful application of expensive chemical nutrients. In Aquaponics, a natural ecosystem is started where you rely on bacteria and compost worms to break down fish waste into plant food. It is an intrinsically organic process. In Aquaponics, if pesticides are applied to the plants, the fish will suffer. Likewise, if hormones or antibiotics are fed to the fish, the plants will suffer.

Aquaponics is better than Hydroponics because it relies on natural systems. Thus, Aquaponics is rewarded through lower costs, less maintenance, better growth and healthier plants.

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11 thoughts on “FAQs

  1. I have been interested in experimenting with aquaponics for some time and would like to start out with an IBC tote but I am having a very difficult time finding one cheap and close to home (Beaver County). Do you know anyone who has one for sale or better yet wants to get rid of a tote as long as it is not a leaker or not able to be cleaned out to support fish life.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Gregg,
      Ed Smith @330.550.3726 may be able to help you. Other AP gardeners got their IBC Totes from him. He is out of Youngstown I believe.
      Mark Berger

  2. I just purchased a 17′ X 80′ lot in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to start a aquaponic garden (with the fish tank kept underground). I have no idea where to start. the lot is located in a low-income neighborhood and I would like to get it started to help supplement the dietary intake of the resident of the city block the lot is located on. Please help, any advise would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Lynn,
      Come to Pittsburgh and meet with us. You are at the beginning of a long journey. You will to need advisors and crew.

  3. Hi! I am setting up an aquaponic system at home/work and need all the help I can get. Can I be in touch with someone that can point me in the right direction on certain aspects? I am located in Pittsburgh so I would also be interested in seeing some of the sites you have set up.
    Amy Peluso

  4. Hi. I’m I’m the process of starting a medium sized aquaponics system at home and I am looking to buy tilapia fingerlings without paying the high price of shipping them. Do you know of anyone near pittsburgh (I’m from beaver county) that sells fingerlings? Thanks

    1. Hi Dan. We’re done giving demo’s for a while. But keep your eye on this site, or subscribe to the newsletter, to be kept up to date on the latest developments in Aquaponics and sustainable local agriculture.

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