The Top 5 Plants To Grow With Aquaponics

Aquaponics plants grow in a sustainable and water-wise method along with fish in an integrated system. The farming technique is efficient because it takes up less area than traditional farming (soil-based) methods. It combines the benefits of hydroponics with the natural filtration system found in an aquarium, creating a symbiotic relationship between fish and plants.

However, choosing a suitable crop (vegetables, flowers, or fruits) for your aquaponics system is one of the most challenging but rewarding choices. In this article, we will describe all you need to know about the five best plants for your aquaponic system. These plants are great because they help create a more natural ecosystem for your fish while also providing oxygen for the aquatic environment.

aquaponics system

The Top 5 Aquaponics Plants

The following are the top five aquaponics plants: lettuce, kale, watercress, strawberry, and spinach. Let us study each plant in detail. 

Lettuce

Leafy lettuces are the most commonly grown aquaponics plants, easiest to develop, and produce a high yield. They require little maintenance than most vegetables (perfect for beginners) and have high market demand. Start your seeds directly in the tank. This will save time and decrease seed loss on top of saving space for other plants.

Along with a short growing cycle, lettuce loves getting plenty of light from either direct sunlight or grow lights in your indoor garden. This requirement of lettuce is relatively easy to meet; however, if you are thinking about an indoor set-up, make sure there is enough light.

Best conditions for lettuce aquaponic growth
Lettuce will grow best when all the requirements mentioned below are met:

  • Water temperature: 70 and 74°F (21-23°C)
  • pH: 5.8 and 6.2
  • Spacing between two plants: 1 lettuce every 7 inches
  • Nutrient requirement: low
  • Aquaponics system: Floating Raft or Deep Water Culture (DWC)
  • Best lettuce varieties for aquaponic farming: Looseleaf, Butterhead, Crisphead, and Romaine.

 

Why is it suitable for aquaponics?
Everyone considers lettuce a good plant for aquaponic farming because it can survive well in water temperatures between 70 and 74F. Lettuce matures fast, typically reaching maturity at less than 30 days, so even if you get something wrong with the system, your lettuce will probably still be alive.

lettuce aquaponics

Kale

In an aquaponics system, kale can be grown quickly, even without a lot of attention. It prefers slightly higher pH levels than lettuce does. It means you don’t have to worry as much about balancing your nutrient ratio for them as you would with other plants. It will grow strong and healthy, but it may grow out of control if not harvested regularly.

Also, kale has a lower temperature tolerance, so make sure your greenhouse stays around 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when growing these green giants outdoors (although they prefer cooler climates). In order to maintain the right temperature for your aquaponics plants, you will need a cool place indoors or out. As this plant is sensitive to temperatures over 21°C as well as low levels in output.

Once ready after 6 to 8 weeks, this powerhouse vegetable tastes best fresh from its home garden bed – just wash off the dirt!

Best conditions for Kale growth
Kale will grow best when all the requirements mentioned below are met:

  • Water temperature: between 55 ° to 70° F
  • Air temperature: 60°F and 70°F
  • pH: between 6 to 7.5
  • Spacing between two plants: 18 to 24 inches apart
  • Nutrient requirement: low
  • Aquaponics system: Drip irrigation System
  • Best kale varieties for an aquaponic garden: Dwarf Blue Curled Kale

 

Why is it suitable for aquaponics?
Kale is an invasive species, and it is much easier to stop it from invading other vegetable beds when grown in a closed system like an aquaponics system. It is also a sturdy leafy green and can be matched with virtually any fish or system. And therefore, it is perfect for beginners new to aquaponics.

kale aquaponics

Watercress

Filled with nutrients, these quick-growing and easy-to-grow aquaponics plants are one of the best. You can start with just a tiny plant, but be careful–once it starts multiplying quickly (which will happen pretty soon), you might not have enough room in your grow bed. It could clog up on your system pretty fast. So, harvest it regularly. 

Also, watercress grows quickly from cuttings or seeds so that you could produce it continually without much cost involved. Don’t add it to fish tanks because the ammonia from their waste can kill the plants. It is an excellent filler for spaces between rafts where water is exposed, and you can harvest once weekly they are established without too much impact on the growth of other plant life.

Best conditions for watercress aquaponic growth
Watercress will grow best when all the requirements mentioned below are met:

  • Water temperature: between 50° to 60° F
  • pH: between 6.5 to 7.5
  • Spacing between two plants: 9 to 12 inches apart
  • Nutrient requirement: low
  • Aquaponics system: the floating raft 
  • Best watercress variety for an aquaponic garden: Dwarf Blue Curled Kale

 

Why is it suitable for aquaponics?
The watercress plant is naturally designed to grow in an aquaponics system. A study found that the Aquaponic Production Greenhouse (APG) is the most effective place for watercress to grow and thrive.

Strawberries

Strawberries are a fruiting crop, and they require more potassium than leafy greens. If you are looking to grow your produce, aquaponics is a great way. Strawberry grows well in an aquaponic environment and requires less care when compared with other crops such as lettuce or spinach. They grow quickly, multiply quickly, and taste delicious. 

As with any other fruit or vegetable, strawberries have specific needs that make them harder than simple herbs and leafy greens. They require a minimum of eight hours of sunlight every day. Fruits take four to six weeks after blossoming before they are ready for picking, and it is always best when the fruit is ripe all around. 

Best conditions for strawberry aquaponic growth
Strawberries will grow best when all the requirements mentioned below are met:

  • Water temperature: between 60 to 80°F. The plant can still survive a cold night as low as 22 deg F, so long as it is protected from frost.
  • pH: between 5.5 and 6.5
  • Spacing between two plants: 9 to 12 inches apart
  • Nutrient requirement: low
  • Aquaponics system: on media-filled beds, a vertical grow tower, or with the use of the nutrient film technique (NFT) 
  • Best strawberry varieties for aquaponic farming: June Bearing, Day-Neutral and Everbearing.

 

Why grow strawberries in aquaponics?
A strawberry is a sweet and tasty fruit, but it can be challenging to grow in the home setting. However, aquaponics allows you to cultivate your strawberries vertically and save space because of its growing vertical ability. The soilless system will also help them thrive with superior taste.

aquaponics strawberries

Spinach

Growing spinach in an aquaponic garden is effortless and fruitful. They don’t need much to produce. However, 10-12 hours of sunlight every day is a necessity. When it is warm outside, make sure you give them some shade – too much sun will cause bolting, which affects both taste and yield. Remember, spinach loves warm days and cold nights.

Harvesting these leafy green plants can be done in 30-45 days, and the leaves are best picked out at small intervals because they go bad quickly, so make sure not to take up plants altogether, or else there won’t be any left for next time. 

Best conditions for spinach aquaponic growth
Spinach will grow best when all the requirements mentioned below are met:

  • Water temperature: between 45° and 75°F
  • pH: between 6.0-7.0
  • Spacing between two plants: 4-5 inches apart
  • Nutrient requirement: low
  • Aquaponics system: NFT or Raft system 
  • Best spinach variety for an aquaponic garden: water spinach

 

Why grow spinach in aquaponics?
As the species suggests, water spinach loves water, making it a perfect contender for the aquaponics system. They are ideal as aquaponics plants because their roots do not go many inches deep.

spinach aquaponics

How To Choose Your Aquaponics Plants?

Before you choose your aquaponics plants, there are a few things you must consider. These include the following:

Type of aquaponics system: The aquaponics system is vital: NFT, media-based, or raft aquaponics system. This establishes the kind of root structure you can have. For example, vegetable roots grow well in grow beds, while plants with small roots are perfect for floating rafts.

Plant requirements: Consider the pH, water, and temperature requirements of plants before you decide to go with them. You will need a way to adjust your conditions so that they are ideal for plant growth.

Environment: The amount of sunlight, temperature, and rain is essential in growing a healthy plant. If you decide to grow outdoors or indoors with artificial light, choose your vegetable wisely depending on the type that will thrive best for each environment.

Some Of The Other Aquaponics Plants You Can Grow In An Aquaponics System.

Various types of plants can be grown in water-based aquaponics systems, including:

  • Tomatoes
  • Radish
  • Carrot
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Sage
  • Ginger
  • Eggplant
  • Beans
  • Chilli
  • Okra
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Chives, and more!

Conclusion

Aquaponics is undoubtedly one of the most sustainable ways to grow food, and it is a great way for city dwellers without much space to do so. The combination of hydroponics (growing plants in water) with aquaculture, or fish farming, means you can get fresh vegetables and protein at once. We have given you details of the top five aquaponics plants that are easy to grow with an aquaponics system – hopefully, this will help you start your own!

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.