Aquaponics vs Hydroponics Gardening: What’s The Difference? 

 May 18, 2022

By  admin

Hydroponics is growing plants without soil. It uses mineral nutrients and water to feed the plant, while Aquaponics involves growing plants in a tank of fish waste that are fed by the output from another system or process such as hydroponic gardens.

Aquaponics is a system of raising fish and plants together in water. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without soil. The “aquaponics vs hydroponics pdf” will help you understand the difference between these two systems.

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Hydroponics and aquaponics are two relatively new farming systems that are sometimes misconstrued. This is due to the fact that both hydroponics and aquaponics utilize water instead of soil to produce plants. 

They do, however, have one significant distinction. Aquaponics seeks to maintain a balance between supporting fish and plants, while hydroponics concentrates entirely on plant development using water. 

This article compares and contrasts aquaponics vs hydroponics gardening to assist all DIYers in choosing the best solution for their gardening needs.

What is Hydroponics, exactly?

Hydroponics is a gardening method that allows plants to be grown without the need of soil. This approach relies only on chemical fertilizers and water to keep the plants alive. Hydroponic systems, contrary to common opinion, may help grow plants and vegetables quicker than traditional soil gardening.

The nicest thing about hydroponic systems is that they can be utilized all year round, and the plants frequently produce more than traditional gardens. Furthermore, compared to traditional gardens, this technique takes less area and water, conserving resources.

The five major parts of hydroponic systems are as follows:

  • Freshwater with a pH range of 6-6.5
  • Allowing space between the plant’s base and the water reservoir for it to breathe
  • Vermiculite, perlite, or coconut fiber provide root support.
  • The water’s nutrient solution
  • sufficient lighting

Other elements, including as CO2 supplementation, must be addressed while growing plants in a hydroponic system. The ones indicated above, however, are the most crucial.

What is Aquaponics, exactly?

Aquaponics is a hybrid of aquaculture and hydroponics, as the name implies. It’s a long-term solution for growing fish and plants together, allowing plants to thrive with less water, land, and effort.

The nutrient-rich water from the fish tanks is delivered to the plant growth beds using this method. This functions as a fertilizer, helping these plants to grow. As a result, water emitted by these plants through transpiration is returned to the fish tanks.

It functions similarly to a well-balanced ecosystem that can function without human intervention. Fish tanks provide nutrients to the plants, while the plants provide pure water to the fish tanks.

These systems are often utilized in households, schools (as a biological cycle model), food banks, and missions, as well as in the commercial sector.

Aquaponics and Hydroponics Benefits

There are various benefits to both aquaponics and hydroponics. DIY gardeners can tell the difference between aquaponics and hydroponics by looking at the same thing.

An aquaponics system has the following advantages:

Aquaponics systems enable plants develop significantly quicker by delivering nutrients and an oxygen-rich environment using nutrient-rich fish tank water. Aquaponic veggies not only grow three times quicker than normal gardens, but they also taste better. This is because the plants may concentrate on healthy development rather than stretching their roots in search of water. 

Controlling the quality of the water in which fish reside is similar to controlling the quality of the crops produced in aquaponics.

An aquaponics system aids in the removal of any pollutants that might otherwise enter a fish’s body, ensuring that they are nutritionally sound. 

The aquaponics system has few pests to handle whether put up inside, in greenhouses, or within an insect mesh. Pesticides, which would ordinarily be hazardous to an aquaponic system, are no longer required.

Because no chemicals are allowed in this method, the veggies and fish cultivated are toxin-free and fully organic. 

Aquaponics, unlike traditional gardening, enables you to produce veggies and herbs all year. This may be accomplished by employing a greenhouse to provide comfortable temperatures. 

Traditional planting uses 90 percent more water than aquaponics. In an aquaponics system, water is constantly circulated between the plants and the fish tank. Thus, the sole sources of water loss are evaporation from the fish tank (when exposed) and transpiration from the plants.

There is no requirement for rich farmland since aquaponics may be done effectively everywhere. It includes any land, cement surfaces, rocky surfaces, and even drought-prone areas that are not suitable for traditional gardens.

Aquaponics also has less waste build-up in the system, which prevents water from becoming hazardous. Instead, the waste is transformed to nitrates, which are utilized as a fertilizer source by plants. 

For the reasons stated above, aquaponics is a popular method of plant cultivation. Hydroponic gardening methods, on the other hand, are no different. 

The following are some of the benefits of a hydroponic farming system:

Hydroponic gardens take up less land than traditional gardening. They require almost 99 percent less area than standard planting methods when paired with vertical gardening. 

Because the roots of hydroponic plants do not have to extend out in search of nutrients and moisture, these systems have a smaller footprint. Instead, water and nutrients are delivered directly to the plant using this method. 

As a consequence, each plant’s roots take up significantly less area, allowing plants to flourish in smaller locations. 

Traditional farming uses more water than hydroponic systems. To clarify, hydroponic plants use up to 98 percent less water than traditional plants.

The plant uses around 0.1 percent of the water absorbed in via its roots. Evapotranspiration discharges the bulk of the leftover water into the atmosphere.

In hydroponics systems, recirculated water is utilized to allow plants to absorb what they need and then return the remainder to the system.

Creating ideal conditions ensures that plants get the proper quantity of nutrients, which are sent straight to the roots. Microclimates also allow for year-round growth and crop rotations that are shorter. All of this adds up to much higher yields than conventional farming approaches.

Tilling, weeding, herbicide and pesticide application, and other labor-intensive agriculture duties are all eliminated with hydroponics. It can be handled with much less manpower. This minimizes the expense of growing vegetables while also giving you more time to do other things in the garden.

Aquaponics and hydroponics both have advantages. A DIY gardener might choose a method that is more suited to their gardening needs based on their preferences. 

DisAquaponics and Hydroponics Benefits

Aquaponics, like anything else in gardening, has certain drawbacks to go along with its benefits. Some of these drawbacks include:

  • Setup and maintenance are both expensive. 

One of the most major downsides of an aquaponics system is, predictably, its high cost. The expense of setting up and maintaining an aquaponics tank increases as the tank size increases. 

However, there are many inexpensive DIY aquaponics systems available. 

Some fish and plants may not be suitable. 

Tuberous plants and root crops, for example, cannot grow in aquaponics systems since they need soil to develop and flourish. Large crops are difficult to produce in aquaponics systems because they need more nutrients and water. 

Some plants that cannot be cultivated in this system include:

  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Blueberries
  • Radish
  • E Chrysanthemum

A few fish species are not suitable for aquaponic systems. Trout, salmon, and yellow perch are examples of them. 

  • Electricity use is high. 

Temperatures in fish tanks are supposed to be kept consistent throughout the day. Water pumps run continuously throughout the day, using a lot of energy. As a result, aquaponics systems are difficult to operate in regions where energy is not available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • It Must Be Installed by a Professional 

The aquaponics system is complex and requires a lot of knowledge and skill to set up and maintain. Fish and crop/plant losses will occur if it is not constructed appropriately, wasting time and money.

Aquaponics producers often lack knowledge of fish, microbes, plants, and other minor components of the system. As a result, they make blunders like overcrowding fish tanks, utilizing ineffective pumps and pipelines, and failing to clear trash on a regular basis.

Our circular ecology is modeled after an aquaponic system. This system will fail if all of its components are out of balance. Remember that fish and plants need near-ideal circumstances to grow. 

Hydroponic systems are not without their drawbacks. Some of these drawbacks include:

  • Power Outages Pose a Risk 

These operations will come to a stop if there is a power loss, which will be harmful to plants.

To work properly, all hydroponic systems need a constant supply of energy. This is due to the fact that energy is used to power the many components of a hydroponic system. Even if one of these components fails, DIY gardeners may incur hundreds of dollars in damages.

The fans, grow lights, water pumps, and aerators are among these components.

  • Maintenance and constant monitoring are required. 

Traditional plant production requires less monitoring and micromanagement than hydroponics. To produce a perfectly controlled growing environment, all system components, including illumination, temperature, and many nutrient solution parameters, such as pH and electrical conductivity, must be continuously monitored. 

The nutritious solution must be drained and replaced on a regular basis, and the system components must be cleaned often to prevent excess buildup and clogging.

A hydroponics system costs more to purchase and install than a traditional garden. A system’s price is determined by its kind and size, as well as whether it is prefabricated or constructed from individual components to create a custom design.

Despite these drawbacks, a well set-up hydroponics system is highly long-lasting. 

Additional Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics System Differences

Even though both aquaponics and hydroponics use water instead of soil to produce plants, there are many distinctions between the two methods. Some of these distinctions include:

  • Components and System Design 

The construction of the grow beds is the fundamental distinction between aquaponics and hydroponics. Hydroponics typically need a 6″ deep grow bed in which roots may spread freely without becoming compacted. Aquaponics requires a grow bed that is at least 12″ deep to enable the fish to roam around freely. 

Even the components of the two systems differ. Hydroponic systems are sterile, and their plants do not need any growth material. Aquaponics, on the other hand, requires a microorganism-friendly environment surrounding the roots. 

An aquaponic system and a hydroponic system have different start-up costs due to the fact that an aquaponic system requires more supplies. In general, an aquaponic system is more costly since it needs growth medium and fish to operate. 

Aside from that, the start-up times of both systems are different. After assembling a hydroponics system, the nutrient solution must be cycled for a few days to settle before introducing plants. 

Aquaponics systems take longer to set up and operate because of the fish. The nitrifying bacteria required to break down fish waste takes at least a month to generate. It might take up to three months for most aquaponic systems to regulate the environment sufficiently to add plants.

Because it does not need external nutrients to work once set up, an aquaponics system is more sustainable than a hydroponics system.  

Sustainability refers to the ability to sustain a constant level of activity without depleting natural resources beyond their regeneration capacity. It also implies that the system is maintained in a non-destructive way. 

With this in mind, we may infer that hydroponics is not long-term feasible since nutrients must be continually provided in the aquatic solution. Aquaponics, on the other hand, is sustainable since every component provided is essential for the system’s survival, and little inputs are required.

The most significant distinction between aquaponics and hydroponics systems, apart from their makeup, is the fertilizer component. 

All gardeners must regenerate fresh aquatic solutions on a frequent basis while growing plants in a hydroponics system. The solution should then be blended with fertilizers to get the desired nutritional levels. 

Aquaponics has minimal quantities of unnatural nutrients. Fish waste, on the other hand, works as a natural source of nutrients in the water, helping plants to thrive.

Once the system is up and running, gardening with an aquaponics system needs significantly less supervision than gardening with hydroponics. In hydroponics, the EC, pH, total dissolved solids, and fertilizer concentrations must all be checked on a regular basis. However, the pH and ammonia levels in aquaponics must be checked regularly or if the fish look stressed.

There is no need to cleanse and replace the nutrient solution due to the sustainability of aquaponics and the naturally occurring processes that maintain nutrient levels in check.

Bonus Tip: As salt levels in hydroponics grow, it’s critical to drain and refill the aquatic solution on a regular basis.

Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics: Which Is Better? 

There is no apparent winner between aquaponics and hydroponics since each offer distinct advantages and drawbacks. Despite their many variances, none of them makes one system superior to the other.

Aquaponics is a preferable alternative for some individuals since it enables them to raise fish as well as plants. It also creates a self-sustaining system by transferring nutrients from the fish to the plants. 

Many overworked DIY gardeners would prefer an aquaponics system since it needs significantly less care. Hydroponic systems, on the other hand, are extensively employed by both amateurs and commercial producers. 

The main reason for this is because a hydroponic system is easier to set up, looks better inside, and provides a higher return on investment. 

As a result, it’s impossible to say whether aquaponics or hydroponics is the best farming system. One method to pick between the two is to make a list of the variables that are most relevant to your gardening objectives. 


Growing plants in water is a common premise in both hydroponics and aquaponics. However, due to significant variances, they cannot be utilized interchangeably. 

All DIY gardeners may make a precise, planned choice and start realizing their gardening ambitions quickly by learning the distinctions between aquaponics and hydroponics.

Bonus Read: These 7 outdoor hydroponic system setups can provide you ideas for getting started if you’ve chosen to invest in hydroponic systems.

Hydroponics is a type of gardening that uses water and nutrients to grow plants. Aquaponics is a system in which fish waste fertilizes the plants. The “hydroponics vs aquaponics pros and cons” are the differences between hydroponic and aquaponic systems.

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Emil Schoene

Born and raised in Austin, TX I come from a background of home renovation. By helping my family in my younger years with their construction business, I learned the ropes quickly and as I grew it became my passion that I still do today. Looking to share my knowledge with others. I invite you to leave comments on any post as I know you will have questions that you are not finding anywhere else.

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