Aquaponics Vs. Hydroponics: Which One Is The Best For You?

Wondering which is the best option for you - aquaponics or hydroponics? This article breaks down the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision.

Table of Contents

Aquaponics and hydroponics are two advanced methods of growing fruits, vegetables, and other plants without the use of soil. The systems have some similarities due to their watering processes but are quite different. Aquaponics uses water from a natural source with fish and beneficial bacteria processed by the water supply system to provide nutrients for optimal growth.

Hydroponics is rooted in chemicals as it utilizes store-bought nutrients for achieving desirable outcomes for indoor or outdoor gardening projects. Given these differences, understanding which method might be better tailored for your project can prove challenging—unless you take the time to research each approach thoroughly before you get started. Let’s dive deeper into aquaponics vs. hydroponics so you can decide what will work best in your particular circumstances.

Aquaponics Vs. Hydroponics


What Is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is an innovative and efficient form of farming that combines the principles of hydroponics, aquaculture, and other techniques to create a symbiotic relationship between fish and plants within one aquaponics system. Using this technology, farmers can cultivate fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other crops and sustainably raise fish for consumption.

The water from the fish tank is used to continuously flood the cropping area with nutrient-rich water since waste from the aquatic species is converted into natural fertilizer for the plants. All these beneficial aspects come together to create a self-regulatory environment with minimal input cost and maintenance requirements.

Not only does aquaponics promote sustainability by reducing chemical usage, water consumption, space requirements, and labor costs, but they also help provide businesses with healthy produce all year round.

What Is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is an innovative and fascinating method of growing plants without the use of soil. The plants are grown in mineral-rich water, often with the addition of nutrients, and various systems are used to deliver adequate light, oxygen, and other required elements.

This closed-system approach allows for faster growth and stronger plants, while an often-cited benefit is that hydroponics takes up less space than traditional farming methods. It also provides greater environmental control, making it possible to maintain ideal climate conditions leading to higher yields than soil-growing approaches.

This means that crops can be harvested more quickly, thus allowing farmers to have greater production cycles. Consequently, this technique has allowed for greater efficiency in agricultural techniques and increased competition for finite resources such as water, sunlight, and land.

The Differences Between Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics

When it comes to growing plants, there are several methods you can use. Two of the most popular are aquaponics and hydroponics. Although they share some similarities, aquaponics and hydroponics, differ in many ways, from cost to maintenance. Here’s an overview of the differences between these hydroponic and aquaponic systems.


Regarding cost, aquaponics is generally more affordable than hydroponics systems. This is because aquaponics uses fish feed instead of expensive chemical nutrients, which can be very costly over time. On the other hand, a hydroponic system requires more frequent nutrient solutions and maintenance to keep up with its high concentration of nutrients in the water.

Retain Nutrient Solution

In contrast to hydroponics, where users have to constantly monitor their nutrient solution levels to keep them at a safe level for their plants, aquaponic systems are much simpler when it comes to this task because they rely on natural bacteria and processes that balance out the nutrients in the water. While this mechanism may require some initial setup and maintenance, users don’t have to worry about changing or monitoring their nutrient solution frequently once it is running properly, like they do with a hydroponic system.

Ph Levels

Both aquaponic and hydroponic systems require specific pH levels for proper plant growth; however, when using an aquaponic system, users don’t have to worry about manually adjusting pH levels as often as those who use a hydroponic system because naturally occurring bacteria will help regulate pH levels as long as there is enough oxygen present for them to do so.


Hydroponic systems can be highly productive if proper management techniques are followed regularly; however, an aquaponic garden has an added complexity layer, making things easier for things to go wrong if not set up correctly.

Additionally, once an aquaponic garden is fully up and running, users may find that they need slightly less time spent on maintenance than with a hydroponic system since much of it relies on natural processes such as bacteria filtration and water circulation that don’t need human intervention every day for their work well. 

Aquaponics Vs. Hydroponics


Similarities Between Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics

The main similarity between aquaponics and hydroponics is that they both lack soil. Instead of relying on natural soil to provide plant nutrition, these two systems use nutrient-rich water circulating in tanks or troughs.

This allows for greater control over the growing conditions, resulting in higher production yields than traditional farming methods. Furthermore, this eliminates the need for large amounts of space since both aquaponics and hydroponics allow growers to stack multiple layers of containers or troughs on top of each other to maximize their yield.

Not only do aquaponics and hydroponics systems reduce space requirements, but they also offer significant environmental benefits compared to traditional farming methods. For instance, both systems require fewer inputs, such as water and fertilizers. While still producing high yields of food crops.

Additionally, they can be powered by renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines, reducing their carbon footprint. They also don’t require large amounts of land, which helps protect important habitats from human interference.

Finally, another similarity between aquaponics and hydroponics is their fast growth rate compared to traditional farming methods. Because there is no soil to contend with, most plants grown using either system will reach maturity much quicker than those grown traditionally. This means that growers can quickly harvest their crops and start a new cycle much sooner than would otherwise be possible with regular farming practices. 


Which Is Better, Aquaponics Or Hydroponics?

 The answer to this question depends on what the person wants and needs. Aquaponics is more complicated than hydroponics but can also be more rewarding and sustainable. Hydroponics is simpler and can grow plants faster. It is up to the person to decide which system is best for them.

Does Aquaponics Require Electricity?

Yes, aquaponic systems typically require some form of electricity for pumps and aerators that help circulate water throughout the system.

What Nutrients Are Lacking In Aquaponics?

Aquaponics systems need fish waste and other organic matter to help the plants grow. The main nutrient that is missing in aquaponics systems is nitrogen. This needs to be added with fertilizer or something else.



Overall, both systems have benefits and drawbacks that make them unique. When choosing between the two for your home or business, it’s important to weigh all the factors before deciding. While hydroponics may be easier to set up and require less maintenance. Aquaponics offers a more natural way to grow plants and doesn’t rely on harsh chemicals.

Ultimately, the best system for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Have you had experience with either aquaponics or hydroponics? What did you like or dislike about it? Let us know in the comments below!

Picture of Mindy van Orden

Mindy van Orden

I have grown hydroponic plants for decades, in different weathers. I'm a retired financial planner, born in Chicago, spent some time in Spain and Portugal. I currently live in South Carolina.

You may also like