Aquaponics Garden: Are Aquaponics and Hydroponics the Same?

So you have done your research already for your aquaponics garden and suddenly got wind of hydroponics from the neighborhood. Now, you are thinking of considering the latter as well. It will not be that hard to maintain since they both involve plants, right? But are indoor aquaponics and hydroponics the same?

Let us tackle them more so you will know the equipment and maintenance you will be needing for your hydroponics and aquaponics garden.

Aquaponics vs Hydroponics

What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is the method of growing plants in the same environment where fishes are. The surrounding bacteria in your aquaponics greenhouse will convert the fishes’ waste into nitrates. This contributes to the plants’ growth and health.

In the event the waste in the tank becomes toxic for fishes, the bacteria added to the water in your aquaponics garden will convert the waste into essential nitrates that will protect the fishes from being harmed.

Types of Aquaponics Garden System

Media Beds

The media beds system uses gravel and clay in containers for the plants’ roots. The bed contains flooding water with rich nutrients for the plants’ essential nutrients and oxygen.

This system is not complicated at all. It’s also not expensive. All you need to do is to set these media beds in your aquaponics greenhouse.

Deep Water Culture

In this aquaponics garden, floating rafts are used in this system to suspend the plants’ roots into the nutrient-filled water. Since this type requires more water, fluctuations in temperature may occur in cold seasons. If you are in the warmer parts of the world, this system will be advantageous to you.

Nutrient Film Technique

This system uses a shelf or vertical plane to grow crops. Thus, this indoor aquaponics only requires a lower overhead cost and saves space. It is widely used in the commercial industry because of the practicality it offers. The plants can be easily accessed for maintenance and harvest. If you don’t have much space in your home, this will help you create the aquaponics garden you dream of.

What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics, on the other hand, requires water and chemical nutrients. However, they will also not need soil to grow the plants. It’s similar to how an aquaponics garden is nurtured. The roots of the plants just need to be suspended in this water-based solution to access the rich nutrients they need.

Tomato, basil, and lettuce are only some of the crops that grow and survive practically through this farming method. If you want higher production with the consistency of results, you would certainly go for the hydroponics system.

aquaponics vs hydroponics

Types of Hydroponic Garden Systems

Aeroponic Systems

This is known to be the simplest type of hydroponic system out there that anyone can use. This is also the only system that does not require electricity. The nutrient-filled substance will be absorbed by the plants straight down while nylon wicks are positioned around them.

Drip

The solution is sent straight to the plant base with the drip system through a tube. Every tube has a drip emitter that will control the solution that is filled to the plants.

Wick System

This is known to be the simplest type of hydroponic system out there that anyone can use. This is also the only system that does not require electricity. The nutrient-filled substance will be absorbed by the plants straight down while nylon wicks are positioned around them.

Water Culture

An air stone or diffuser is used to send oxygen to the nutrient-filled water where the roots are placed. The nutrients can be easily absorbed by the plants because they will only need net pots to be secure. This gives them bare access to the oxygen and nutrients they need.

Ebb and Flow

Flood and drain is another term for the ebb and flow system. The grow bed is where the crops are planted. Afterward, the bed will be filled with a nutrient-filled solution, just enough that it does not overflow.

Nutrient Film Technology

The nutrient solution in this system is kept in a reservoir. From that, channels will pump the solution to the roots, and excess nutrients flow back to the reservoir.

Similarities Between Hydroponics and Aquaponics Garden

Rapid Growth

These plants are not like the ordinary ones because they both don’t require soil to grow. This means that because of the more accessible nutrients they get, they also experience faster growth compared to those planted in soil. Additionally, they can grow up to 50 times faster than traditional crops and plants. Moreover, hydroponic and aquaponic gardens need less space to thrive.

Growing Season

Since you can plant both of these indoors, you can also grow them all year long. Off-seasons don’t work when you get all the nutrients and oxygen you need to grow your plants. It’s one of the reasons why hydroponics and aquaponics gardens are being used in the industry.

Reduced Pest and Weed Issues

Your plants will grow without soil which is why you will also expect lesser unwanted environmental impacts. Growing your plants in soil requires many chemicals in your garden which will affect the environment.

Better Harvest

Because of these systems’ convenience and easier ways to grow plants, yields produced are also 30-40 percent higher than the traditional planting method. The hydroponics and aquaponics gardens give consistency to their plants which also lead to consistent production.

Benefits of Aquaponics

The Differences Between Hydroponics and Aquaponics Garden

Pesticides

Hydroponic systems may require pesticides to shoo away insects such as spider mites. Indoor aquaponics, on the other hand, does not need these pesticides to ensure the safety of the fish.

Chemical Nutrient Cost

Hydroponics will need nutrient-based solutions that pertain to chemicals to grow the plants. The ones of the best quality usually are costly. Aquaponics greenhouse only needs the fishes and fishes only need their fish feed.

Maintenance

The hydroponic system requires power and electricity to operate. An aquaponics garden will only need you to check pH levels and ammonia a few times a month and the nitrate levels once a month.

Organic Growth

Since the hydroponic system was invented by men, it will also require a lot of chemicals that are not environmentally friendly. With aquaponics, the natural process dominates because fish wastes are just converted. This also means that an aquaponics garden grows organically.

Productivity

Aquaponics greenhouse only takes more or less six months to have its garden fully working. Afterward, they will grow rapidly compared to hydroponics.

pH

Hydroponic systems usually require slightly acidic water. When plants grow through an aquaponic system, you will expect that their water required is just at neutral levels.

Best Plants for Hydroponic Garden Systems

Spinach

Spinach will grow fast as long as you give it a highly oxygenated nutrient solution. You may choose from Tyee, Red Cardinal, Savoy, Bloomsdale, Regiment, Smooth Leafed, and Catalina. The best system for this is the Nutrient Film Technique.

Strawberries

Strawberries are pretty and tasty but very seasonal. With hydroponics, you can have them all year long. Just use the ebb and flow system and you are good to go.

For small crops, you can go along with nutrient film technique and deep water culture. These will grow for about 60 days and you can choose from Tioga, Brighton, Douglass, Chandler, and Red Gauntlet. Buy cold-stored runners instead of strawberry seeds to save time.

aquaponics strawberries

Lettuce

Lettuce has about 30 days of growth time and you may choose from Buttercrunch, Bibb, Romaine, Boston, and Iceberg. Because of their shallow roots, tie stakes are no longer needed for their hydroponic way of planting.

Best Plants for Aquaponics Garden Systems

Basil

Basil can survive in a wide range of pHs and promises crops that are of high value compared to the others.

Watercress

If you are a beginner, then this is highly recommended by experts. Watercress plants multiply at a high rate. However, just be mindful of its rapid growth that may also suffocate your other plants.

Leafy Lettuce

This can survive between 21-23 degrees Celsius of water temperatures. So study and decide if you wish to have it in germinating trays first or just directly begin with your seedlings.

Indoor Aquaponics

Cucumbers

Plant cucumbers 30-60 cm apart so that the nitrogen will be distributed to the other plants fairly as well. Cucumbers consume a lot of nitrogen and other nutrients that is why this is something to look after for.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower can survive mostly despite the pests and diseases around. This makes it less maintained. To have it grow bigger, cover it with its leaves so that it will not be directly exposed to the sunlight.

Other Plants You Can Have in Your Aquaponics Garden

Here is a long list of the crops and plants you can grow in your aquaponics garden:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Chives
  • Kale
  • Pak Choi
  • Radish Sprouts
  • Swiss chard


If there are plants that thrive through aquaponic garden systems, there are also ones that do not work well with them. These are Chrysanthemum, Blueberries, and Mint.

Conclusion

To sum everything up, Hydroponics and Aquaponics gardens are the same in a way that they don’t require soil to grow. However, their designs are different from each other because the former is organic, while the latter requires a lot of synthetic chemicals.

Depending on the plants you want and the maintenance you can live for, you can choose whether to stick with hydroponics or nurture your aquaponics garden even more.

aquaponics experts

Welcome to The Aquaponics Guide

Hello! We are the Johnsons and the faces of The Aquaponics Guide. We have been avid gardeners for many years and growing our own food is one of our key priorities. We have found sustainable Aquaponics farming to be a life changer, which is the reason we have created The Aquaponics Guide.