What’s The Best Aquaponics Fish To Plant Ratio?

Growing healthy plants through the use of fish waste is an excellent way to generate a bumper crop. Whether you’re intending to grow tomatoes or marijuana this approach can really make your life easier.

However, there are several factors you need to get right before you can start successfully running your aquaponics system.

Understand Aquaponics

The first is understanding the different parts of your aquaponics system:

  • Fish Tank

You need somewhere to keep your fish. This should not be where the fish can access your plant roots. If they can they may nibble them and will produce waste that could actually be harmful to the plants; their solid waste can coat the plant roots preventing them from being able to absorb nutrients.

Having a separate tank will also make it much easier for your to create the perfect environment for your fish; which is different to the one that your plant’s need to flourish.

fish farm with aquaponics

  • Pump

The water moves from the fish tank to the plant base. You can have your plant roots soaking in the water or you can build a clay base above the water; allowing the plants to absorb what they want as and when they want.

Of course to move the water from one tank to the other you’ll need a pump. Gravity will not be able to do this by itself!

You’ll need to choose the pump according to the size of your fish tank; this will tell you how much water you need to pump. The general consensus is that the entire volume of your fish tank should be pumped round the system every hour.

Purchase your pump according to its specs and the size of your set-up.

  • Filter

Technically a filter should not be necessary as the bacteria in the water will convert the fish waste into nitrates for the plants. However, this process may not always be successfully completed; allowing solid waste particles to travel through the system potentially blocking it up.

A filter can ensure that the larger waste particles are removed; this will prevent the system from becoming clogged.

  • Plant Base

As already mentioned you can have the roots of your plants in your water or you can create a base to house them. Either way can produce successful results.

Stocking The Fish

Once you understand all the elements that are involved you’ll be able to decide how big the plant bed is going to be and, therefore, how big the tank will need to be.

A good starting point is to add 1 fish per 5 gallons of tank water. If you don’t know the size of your tank then simply multiply the height, width and length of your tank in feet. The answer you get is the size of your tank in square feet.

Simply take this figure and multiple it by 7.48; this will tell you how many gallons of water you have. Divide this answer by 5 and you’ll have the approximate number of fish you need for your tank.

tilapia fish

However, before you rush out and purchase all the fish you need to consider the amount of plants you intend to grow and the size of your fish. This guide to fish numbers is based on adult fish. If you are purchasing baby fish then you need to base your calculation on the number of full grown fish you need and then buy half of them.

As your plants start to grow you can increase the number of fish you have until you reach your target fish number. If you put all the fish in when the plants are very young then they will be swamped with nutrients; and be unable to process them all.

The alternative is to look at how many plants you intend to grow.

To do this you’ll need to calculate your growing area by multiplying your length and width. This will give you the square footage of your growing area. You can use the same figure as the number of fish you need.

For example a plant bed of 4 feet by 4 feet will yield 16 feet of growing space. This equates to 16 pounds of mature fish. As each fish requires 5 gallons of water your tank will need to be a minimum of 16 x 5; that’s an 80 gallon tank.


It is important to note that while this is an accurate calculation every system is different. You should assess what you are intending to grow and then create the number of fish that you believe will produce the right amount of waste. The above calculations should help.

You can then add your fish and monitor the water carefully to ensure the nutrient levels are remaining high while the plants appear to be healthy.

It is important to note that your plant beds should be allowed to drain and then flooded. This is the best way of getting oxygen into the water to look after the fish. Ideally use an electronic timer hooked up to your pump and then allow the pump to run for 15 minutes with a 45 minute break between pumping session.

You should also consider how steep the hill is between the fish tank and the plant beds. If it is steep you may need to purchase a more powerful pump. It needs to pump a volume of water equivalent to the all the water in the fish tank; and it needs to be able to do this in just 15 minutes!

The Bottom Line

It is important to be aware that you will probably have male and female fish in your system. This can result in you needing to make an allowance for baby fish in the future.

You should also consider the type of fish you are using; not all fish produce the same quality or volume of waste. You’ll soon notice if your plants are looking undernourished; this should be your trigger to add more fish.

The real trick to getting this balance right is to adopt the basic principal supplied in this article and then monitor your progress until you get what works best for you.


What Is The Right Aquaponics Floating Raft Material?

A successful aquaponics system requires a mixture of fish, plants, pumps and testing to ensure all the elements remain in harmony.

But one factor that is often overlooked is the use of filters to improve the efficiency and reliability of your system.

The floating raft is widely regarded as one of the best systems you can utilize to remove hard waste and excess fish food. This prevents your pipes from getting blocked and allows the plants to absorb nutrients; allowing them to mature into strong and healthy plants.

If you’re growing crops to consume then you’ll appreciate the power of a good filter.

What Is A Raft Filter?

The basic principle of your raft filter is to remove the solid waste particles which cannot and will not be destroyed by the bacteria present in the tank.

The filter consists of three chambers where the water overflows into the next chamber. The particles sink to the bottom and the compartmental divides absorb any stray bits; allowing the water to move round the system without clogging the pipes.

raft filter for aquaponics

When the clean water goes to the plant beds you can also implement a floating raft system. The main difference with this is that it is not looking to collect debris. Instead it provides a surface to grow your crop which flats on the water; allowing the plants to dip their roots in the water and get as much water and nutrients as they need.

Your Choice Of Material

There are several options regarding the Material used in your floating raft system:

  • Polystyrene Sheets

These are cheap to buy and surprisingly effective in your floating raft system. You can purchase huge sheets of these and cut them to fit the size of your tank or tanks.

This is a good choice as the cost is minimal and the holes can be easily made or enlarged to accommodate your plants.

floating raft aquaponics

What is also great about this system is that you can select a tank large enough to have several different stages of plant alive at the same time. The boards float and will gradually move on the water. By planting seedlings you’ll be able to add more seedlings after they have moved and created a space big enough for the next batch of seedlings.

The plants will gradually float across the raft; becoming fully grown by the time they reach the other end. This allows you to pick them out and then plant new; effectively creating a never ending cycle.

This is actually the option that many commercial aquaponic set-ups use.

  • Foam

This is another option for your floating raft tank. It is not as effective at floating as the polystyrene sheets. Unfortunately the foam will not last for as long as the polystyrene; adding to your costs. In many cases foam is only good for one season.

  • Plastic

Another option, although not one that is used often, is plastic sheets or guttering pipe. This can have holes drilled into it for the roots to dangle in the water.

Plastic will last for a long time but you may have issues with stability and this can be a more costly solution to the material issue.

  • Home Made

In order to keep your costs low you may wish to consider adding some plywood to plastic or even pieces of foam that you have lying round. Providing the material floats it can be put on the water and used to accommodate your aquaponics plants.

However, you need to consider whether the material is likely to rot in the water or not. If it does then you’ll need new material every year which can be time consuming and expensive. This makes it a good option for when you are experimenting with aqauponics but not a worthwhile long term solution.

It is also worth considering what wood you are using. Plywood is glued with glue which contains formaldehyde; it is likely to stunt the growth of your plants and fish; it could even kill them.

  • Organic Styrofoam

If you are concerned about your environmental footprint you may like to purchase organic Styrofoam boards. These work in the same way as the polystyrene boards but are certified to be environmentally friendly.

It is even possible to paint these boards although you’ll then need to face the discussion regarding environmentally friendly paint and whether darker colors are better or not.

White is said to attract more algae which is not good for your system. However, many people consider white as a better color for seeing the algae and maintain that it is not responsible for increased algae production.

The Right Aquaponics Floating Raft Material

The bottom line is that the material you use will depend on what type of setup you have, your current budget and your level of experience.

It is fair to say that polystyrene boards are the cheapest and easiest option in most instances. However, if you are concerned about the environment you may wish to choose organic Styrofoam and if you are simply experimenting with the possibility of aquaponics anything that floats can work.

But don’t forget that you need to consider the effect that your float material may have on your setup; it could introduce undesirable toxins. The same is true for any paint you decide to add to your float; make sure it will not have a detrimental effect on your set-up!

It is also essential to remember that a good raft will float freely inside your trough. Don’t be tempted to narrow the trough in order for the raft to fit snugly and eliminate the potential for algae to form. It may work in this respect but it will not allow the plant to move through the tank as it grows; creating the never ending cycle. Instead you’ll have to keep moving it.

The bottom line is that it is best to invest in some polystyrene sheets and test out your aquaponics setup; you can always upgrade your raft material later if required.

Understanding Aquaponics Filtering Systems

Getting your aquaponics system just right takes time. However, it is worth making the effort to get the system right. Your reward will be a good quality yield of healthy crops with the minimal of intervention from you.

Setting up an aquaponics system is actually fairly straightforward. Unfortunately if you’re not aware of the filtration issues; then you’ll quickly discover that the small pipes moving water round your system can get blocked. This is because the waste particles created by fish are generally small but solid. Without the right help the flow of water is interrupted and the plants cannot get the nutrition they need.

The Aquaponics Filtering Process

Bacteria in your water will convert the ammonia produced by your fish into nitrates which are needed by the plants to ensure healthy growth.

This is a natural process which occurs in the wild as well as in your aquaponics system. The plants help to keep your fish healthy by filtering the water and removing toxic elements.

But, not all particles in the system are dissolved. Larger particles of waste and eve left over fish food will be sucked into your pipes. They can then block the flow of water; preventing the plants from getting the nutrients they need and depriving the fish of clean water.

The most likely places to find a clog in your system are the nozzles and piping which carry the water; these are the narrowest parts.

Fortunately this can be prevented by filtering the water when it leaves the fish tank, before it enters the plant base.

Types Of Water Filter

Your fish need clean water in order to remain healthy; this is why it is advisable to filter the water in their part of the system. You can choose between these filters:

  • Swirl Water Features

These are filters that are shaped like small barrels. Inside the barrel is a basket; much like one you would use for your washing. At the base of your basket you can add your choice of filtering material.

swirl or vortex filter

You then allow the water through from your fish tank. This comes in half way down the barrel wall. The fore it arrives with creates a swirl inside the barrel. As the swirl slows the water rises and can go out of the tank and into the plant bed through a pipe at the top of the barrel.

The key to this approach working is that the barrel is large enough to create a good swirl. The high level of flow allows the larger particles to sink to the bottom of the basket and stay there; preventing the hard particles from blocking up the system.

  • Raft Filters

This type of filter looks a little like a raft floating in a large tank.

The large tank of water is split into several sections. Water from the fish tank flows in at the top of the first chamber; where you’ll need to place three types of filter.

raft filter for aquaponics

It is normal to use large foam pieces as the filters; these will trap the larger waste particles and even dirt particles; allowing clean water to move onto the next chamber. The majority of the waste simply floats to the bottom of the tank.

The water only moves between chambers when it overflows. It is a good idea to use two foam pieces to create each wall; this will ensure that you can remove one for cleaning without affecting the next one.

Once the water has been through all three chambers it is clean enough to be pumped back into the plant tank.

Again, the water must be removed from the top. Entry and exit at the top is important to ensure the particles which have settled are not dragged into the plant tank.

It is important to note that the raft system is one of the best you can install but it requires a fairly large tank. You will also need to shut the water off periodically in order to remove the sludge which starts to build up at the bottom of the tank.

  • The Mechanical Filter

It is possible to adapt the above systems to fit your specific needs or even to purchase a pump that is designed to filter water and remove certain materials. However, these are generally very expensive and may not produce any better results than the filters mentioned above. After all a mechanical filter simple applies the same technology as the swirl filter; but with power behind it.

One way of achieving this is to get a pair of tights and cut several sections out of them. These can then be secure over the inlet and outlet pipes of your filter. The tights will be an extra filter, preventing the larger particles from getting into your small pipe work.

You’ll need to empty the tights periodically to ensure they don’t become the source of any clogs.

The Bottom Line

Solid waste particles are heavier than water and will settle given the opportunity. This makes it easier to remove them and protect your system. However, it is worth noting that you can reduce or even eliminate the amount of particles in your system just by following a few simple rules:

  • Don’t over feed your fish; this will prevent fish food clogging your pipes.
  • Don’t use the cheap fish food; it won’t help your fish and it will increase the amount of waste.
  • Don’t have too many fish! Always calculate fish numbers based on the size of the fish when they are adults. Too many fish equals more waste than the plants or your system can handle.

If you are not sure about the quality of your fish food or the filters simply take a look at the roots of your plants. If they are slimy and grey or brown then there is too much debris in the tank; you need to reduce and change the fish food. Getting this one factor right should eliminate the need to add any filtration system unless you’re planning to go into large scale production.

Lava Rocks For Aquaponics

black lava rocks for aquaponicsThe principle behind aquaponics is that the system will take care of its own needs. In return for monitoring the water and perhaps adding a few essential nutrients you’ll have a gradual increase in fish stock and excellent plant growth.

The increase in fish quantities can be used to service more plant beds or you can simply consume them; depending on your tastes and what fish you have chosen to use.

However, the real trick to getting such good results is in taking the time to set your system up properly. You’re probably aware of the need to create nitrates in your water before you add the plants; this simply helps to ensure the whole system starts working straight away.

But, you may not have heard about using lava rocks for aquaponics; they can make an excellent grow media.

What Is The Grow Media?

The fish are kept in their own tank and their water is pumped through to where you are growing your plants. The water needs to be available to the plants but also to circulate back to the fish; ensuring the cycle keeps going and both the fish and the plants are healthy.

It is possible to place boards on the water and position your plants so that their roots are constantly in the water. However, there are several risks with this method; including the plants being unable to absorb nutrients if there is any dirt in the water. The dirt will stick to the roots.

This is why most people who use aquaponics prefer to have a growing media.

The growing media is simply the material that the plants are placed into. The water should be able to be accessed and absorbed through this media but the roots do not need to be in the water at all times.

Why Lava Rocks for Aquaponics?

red lava rocks for aquaponics

A rock base is ideal as the growing media for your aquaponics system for several reasons. However, before we continue it is essential to understand that you should use crushed lava rocks. They should be between 8mm and 16mm in size. This is small enough to make planting easy but large enough to ensure there is plenty of air flow round your plants. Air flow is essential for the healthy growth of your plants; their correct function will help to keep your fish alive and complete the cycle.

There are several benefits to using lava rock:

  • Light

Lava rock is very porous which makes it exceptionally light in comparison to most other rocks. The reason for this is that lava rock is actually not rock at all; it is frozen foam; the air bubbles were frozen in place as the molten lava cools quickly. This makes it a great choice for your grow bed as it is easy to create a layer of lava rock just above the water base.

  • Easy To Locate

You’ll probably be able to find lava rock in a store near you; you may even find it in nature. Lava rock is surprisingly common and takes virtually no effort to collect and bring back to your plant beds.

It is also one of the cheapest materials you can get for your plant bed.

  • Porous

The fact that lava rock is either frozen foam or rock with plenty or air pockets reflects its ability to allow water through. This is because there are many tiny holes in the rock which have been created by the molten lava cooling so quickly.

Being porous means that the rock will allow your plants to get the nutrients and water they need without having the roots hanging in the water.

  • Doesn’t Affect pH Levels

Surprisingly lava rock is pH neutral. This means it won’t affect the pH of your set up. This is important as an incorrect pH will prevent your plants from growing properly and reduce the yield that you’ll get.

Getting the pH level right is important; that’s one of the reasons why lava rock is such a good choice.

Precautions When Using Lava Rock

Of course there are a few things to be aware of when using lava rocks:

  • Dirt

The main issue that you should be concerned with when using lava rock is that it is a very dirty rock. It is essential to clean it thoroughly before you add it to your aquaponics system.

Dirt can quickly cause issues in your pipe work and coat the roots of your plants; preventing them from absorbing nutrients.

You can’t wash lava rock too much!

  • Issues With Planting

It is possible that your plants will struggle to find their way through the lava rock to get the nutrients they need. Providing you use the right size lava rocks this shouldn’t be an issue but it is worth monitoring.

Other Options

If you are unable to get lava rock then you may wish to try one of these other growing media’s. Most people acknowledge that lava rock is the best option but these can be a good second choice:

  • Expanded clay

Expanded clay pebbles are even lighter than lava rocks. They also are able to resist mold and fungi. You’ll find it easy to dig through them and they will allow plenty of water flow. However these are generally a very expensive option.

expanded clay pebbles

  • Coconut Coir

This is a good choice as it is pH neutral and very light. However you should be aware that it is high in sodium. If you use it then you’ll need to choose a suitable product that will help you lower sodium levels in your tank.

Coconut Coir is also anti-microbial. This means it could kill the good bacteria in your tank; which is not good for your setup. This is a good choice when added to a gravel base and closely monitored.

coconut coir for aquaponics

  • River stone

River stone can be purchased at your local store and is generally round making it easy to root your plants. Providing you don’t go for anything too small it shouldn’t be an issue to the pipe work in your system. However, river stone is heavy. If you want to keep your grow bed above the water you need to have strong supports!

river stone for aquaponics

Lava rock may not be the first growing media you think of but it is certainly one that should be on your list; it is surprisingly effective at aiding plant growth without being too expensive.

How To Grow Watercress In Aquaponics

Aquaponics merges two systems with fantastic results for the majority of plants. All you need to do is create the right habitat for your chosen fish and then a separate plant area. The two are connected via a pump allowing the water to circulate.

The fish waste provides the food for your plants which clean the water for the fish. All you need to do is feed the fish, monitor the setup and perhaps test the water from time to time.

Watercress is an excellent choice for your aquaponic system. It is relatively easy to grow and will provide a great introduction to the world of aquaponics.

Simply follow this guide and know how to grow watercress in aquaponics in no time; perhaps selling it for a small profit.

Choosing The Fish In Relation To Your Grow Beds

The first thing you need to do is chose the size of your planting area and the size of your fish tank. These two items are actually connected.

As a general guide you should be looking at 1 fish per every 5 gallons of water. To help you calculate the number of fish you need it may be easier to start with the amount of growing space you have. It is best to have one pound of fish for every square feet of plants.

If your growing area is going to be 2ft by 4ft then you’ll have 8 square feet and need 8 pounds of fish. Once you know which fish you wish to buy you’ll be able to work out how many that is but you must base the number of fish on their adult weight even if you are purchasing baby fish.

For 8 square feet of growing room you should be looking at between 40 and 80 gallons of water.

Create Your Tank

Now that you have figured out the size of your system you can make your fish tank. It will need to have the usual ingredients to ensure the fish are happy.

You’ll then need to add a pump that can take the fish water through to your second tank; the growing bed. Of course, the water also needs to flow back to the fish tank.

Ideally your pump should be capable of moving the entire volume of your fish tank in just 15 minutes.

You’ll also need to add an aerator to the tank to ensure enough oxygen is always present.

Build The Right Growing Media

Watercress are designed to grow in water! This means that you will be best to choose a system such as the floating raft to maximize the growth of your water cress.

This s actually very simple to do at home with materials you probably already have.

  • Start with a standard plastic fruit tray; the type that has a grid structure on the bottom and sides. You’ll need to remove any labels and clean the tray thoroughly; you don’t want to introduce the wrong bacteria to your system.
  • Next you’ll need to find or cut 2 pieces of polystyrene. They need to be roughly the same length as the tray and approximately 1 inch thick.
  • Tie one piece of polystyrene to each side of the tray with new cable ties.
  • Now place the tray into your growing tank. The water should be several inches deep but you want it just to be lapping at the bottom of the tray; enough so the plants can access the water bit not so that they are drowning in it. You can adjust the amount of polystyrene to get the float level right.

No you’re system is ready but you need to complete several more tasks before you can start growing your watercress.

Filling The Tank

You can just add water from the tap to your fish tank. But, if you do this you’ll need to turn on your pump and aerator. These should be left to run for approximately 3 days; this will ensure any chemicals in the tap water have gone.

You can add chlorine removing products but if you have the time it is best to let the process happen naturally.

Add Bacteria

Add some ammonia to your fish tank. This will encourage the growth of the bacteria which will convert the fish waste into nitrates for the plants. It is vital you do this before you introduce the fish and the plants.

The process will take approximately 2 weeks which can be frustrating but it will ensure the right environment is created for your fish and watercress.

As a rough guide you’ll need to put one cup of ammonia in and add a capful each day for the two weeks.

It is advisable to test ammonia and nitrate levels every day. When there are very little or none of these you should be ready to bring in your fish.

Dropping The Fish In

Once the bacteria are ready you can add the fish. Don’t forget that they need to be given time to acclimatize to the water. Keep them in a bag of water for several hours before allowing them to swim into the main tank.

You can always start with a couple and then add the others once you’re confident that they are happy and comfortable.

Add Your Watercress

how to grow watercress in aquaponicsThe easiest way to get started is to purchase some watercress seeds. Then line the bottom of your floating raft with cotton wool or hemp fibers; this is your growing media. Sprinkle your watercress seeds across the top of the growing media in the same way you would if planting in soil.

Gently place the tray into the water and wait for them to grow.

It is possible to grow watercress with cuttings if you prefer; just sprinkle them across the tray.

In future years you may wish to retain the seeds from the watercress you have grown; allowing you to produce more for nearly zero cost.

Now sit back, relax and watch how quickly your watercress grows. This is one of the best plants to grow in an aquaponics system and should provide you with a bumper yield.

Best Plants For Small Aquaponics

Aquaponics done successfully will give you the great satisfaction of looking after fish while growing your own crops. In fact, it is relatively simple to set up your own small system at home. All you need is a tank for your fish, a pump to send this water to the plant bed and return it to the fish and some planting media for your plants.

Of course there are details to sort and fine tweaking that will need to be done but you can easily create a small setup to test your skill and learn what works for you.

The choice of fish is fairly straightforward, most people use tilapia, trout, goldfish, carp, catfish, koi or even shrimp and prawns. Your choice will depend on the type of setup you have and whether you are looking to breed edible fish or are simply keeping the fish to feed your plants.

What is more difficult is deciding the right plants to grow. While most plants do well with aquaponics there are several species that do exceptionally well. You’ll need to decide which type of plant suits you the best. For example, there is little point in growing tomato plants if you don’t actually like them!

Here are some of the best plants for small aquaponics:


The humble tomato plant does exceptionally well in this water based system. You will find it easier to control the temperature and even the amount of sun the plants get.

However, it is worth noting that tomato plants tend to attract pests which can be exceptionally difficult to get rid of.


Peppers can be extremely difficult to grow via the standard approach to gardening. This is because they are particular about the water they consume and require plenty of sunshine.

Growing them in a small aquaponics system makes sense. You will be able to monitor the temperature of your set up and make sure the nutrient levels in your water are optimized. But, more impressively is the ability to produce extremely hot peppers as you can turn the temperature dial right up for them.

It is worth noting that peppers do not do well in a constant water type aquaponic system. However, they do exceptionally well if you use the flood and drain approach.

This means flooding the growing media with the water for 15 minutes and then allowing it to drain for 45 minutes. You’ll need a pump and a timer to ensure this happens all the time without your interference.


aquaponics strawberryThese little red fruits are great to eat all year round. This is actually possible with a well setup aquaponics system; the plants don’t need to know that it’s winter!

To grow strawberries in a small aquaponics system you’ll need to have as many plants as possible. This is because most plants will only produce a few strawberries; if you want to enjoy eating them or even sell them; then you need to have plenty of plants to create the yield.

The good news is that each plant needs very little space and you can use the floating raft system, tubes or even baskets. Strawberries need very little care to flourish and make a great plant for first time users.


Moving away from fruits you’ll quickly discover that growing aquaponics is a great way to grow marijuana plants and produce a good yield from just a few plants.

Of course, if you’re thinking of growing marijuana you’ll need to check the local regulations in your state first. It is legal to grow in most places but only in very small quantities.

In fact, aquaponics is becoming so popular as a marijuana growing method that law enforcement officers have started to track marijuana production through spotting aquaponic setups!

Marijuana plants will grow very quickly in an aquaponic system; this is due to the exposed roots being able to absorb high rates of oxygen. Providing you use aquaponic fish food you can virtually guarantee there will be no toxins in the system. This will help you to produce healthy plants of your desired variety.

As well as being able to produce a greater yield from a small space you’ll only be surprised to learn that aquaponic systems lose very little water. The fact that the growing media is so simple and pure also means that the marijuana produced will be of a very high standard.

Plants That Don’t Like Aquaponic Systems

There are always some plants that find it difficult to thrive in an alternative system to their natural home. It is best to avoid trying to grow any of these:


Blueberries may be delicious and healthy but they also have a low pH tolerance; they grow best when the pH is below 7. This can make it difficult to keep the pH level right in the water for the fish and the plants.


This plant also has an issue with pH but they like growing media with a pH over 7; again this is likely to be an issue when maintaining the right environment for your fish.

Unless you are particularly passionate about these types of plants then anything that wants pH levels well in excess or below 7 is not a good bet for your aquaponic system.

The Bottom Line

Aquaponic systems are not new but they have received a lot of attention in recent years. Much of this is because they are a great way to grow virtually any plant. At the same time; crop yields can be greatly multiplied and the environment better controlled.

You may be looking for the best plants for small aquaponic systems but the reality is that even your small setup is part of the future; aquaponics offers the opportunity to grow far more crops and help feed the world.

One last thought that is worth considering is that vegetables and other products which grow in the ground will grow well in aquaponics but there shape may not resemble the one that you are used to; they will still taste delicious though. The best plants for small aquaponics are tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce and peppers.

Adding Nutrients To Aquaponics – Know The Facts

If you read about aquaponics you’ll quickly realize that the plants are fed through the waste products produced by your fish. The plants then filter the water and return it to the fish clean; keeping them healthy.

In general this is a mutually beneficial arrangement. However, this doesn’t mean that the perfect environment is created. This is why it is essential to test your aquaponics system regularly and add any nutrients that are missing.

Adding Nutrients To Aquaponics and Testing

Whether you are just setting up or have a well established system you’ll need to test the water for a variety of different chemicals. You can do this using a variety of testing kits. Any will do as long as you’re looking at the pH levels, temperature and electrical conductivity.

These three factors can cause the following issues;

Temperature too high or too low
The fish will become stressed and are likely to eat less than they should. This will make them prone to disease and potentially death. It can also cause root disease and slow growth in your plants.

In severe cases you’ll affect the bacteria which convert ammonia to nitrates; destroying your aquaponic system.

PH Levels Incorrect
Again this will affect the stress levels of your fish causing potential disease issues. Your plants will struggle to absorb the right nutrients resulting in slow growth and, again, bacteria will be killed off preventing the conversion of ammonia to nitrates.

ph chart

Electrical Conductivity
This can lead to slow plant growth or exceptionally fast growth. Unfortunately this will reduce the quality of the crop and the likelihood of bolting.

Common Deficiencies

It is useful to know which nutrients are most likely to be missing in your aquaponics. It is worth noting that the type of fish you have and the food you use will affect which nutrients are missing.

The basic principle is that the food they need will be supplied by the fish.

The most important ingredients in your Aquaponics system are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium sulfur and magnesium.

Your plants will also need trace amounts of boron, copper, chloride, zinc, molybdenum, iron and manganese.

Most common deficiencies include:

  • Iron – this is easy to spot by watching your new plants. If they have yellowish growth then the system is low on iron.
  • Potassium – your plants will absorb this soluble element and use it to regulate the processes going on inside the plant. It is also an essential element in the movement of water throughout the plant. You may be surprised to learn that potassium is also responsible for the process that allows gas to enter and leave the plant.
  • Calcium – This essential mineral is part of the plant growth cycle. Without it the structure of the plant is likely to disintegrate as the water cannot be retained properly. Levels of calcium can be affected by excess magnesium or potassium. When the humidity is high and there is little ventilation your plants may also struggle with calcium even if there is enough in the water. You’ll notice they are not losing water and very little is being taken in by them.
  • Phosphorus – A lack of this mineral will cause stunted growth in your plants; especially in the early stages of plant development. The leaves may become darker and even taken on a reddish or purple hue. More worrying is the fact that a phosphorus deficiency is likely to prevent your plant from flowering or even growing a fruit or vegetable.
Adding Nutrients To Aquaponics test kit
Test kit for common nutrient deficiencies

How To Add Nutrients to Aquaponics

The method of application depends on the chemical that’s missing:


There are two main ways in which to add potassium to you aquaponics system:

  1. Spray

Use potassium chloride and spray it onto the plants. This is a process that you’ll need to repeat at least weekly.

  1. Food Additive

The alternative is to add potassium in the food through kelp meal concentrate. Other options include potassium sulfate or potassium hydroxide.

Unfortunately there is a complication with potassium.  The potassium you add is not always available to your plants. Potassium is known to interact with calcium and magnesium; reducing the amount available to your plants.

Therefore to ensure the potassium you supply is used effectively you need to measure the calcium and magnesium levels in your system and ensure they remain balanced.


The most effective ways to treat calcium deficiency is via a spray. Simply get calcium chloride and mix it with some water. A good starting ratio is 4 teaspoons per gallon of water. You can always increase the dose if necessary.

Then simply spray once a week.

You can also add some shellfish bones to your fish tank; this will also increase the supply of calcium and phosphorous.


You need to add a form of iron that can be absorbed by the plant. This means using chelated iron; the best on to choose is Fe-DTPA. This will be effective providing your pH is 7.5 or lower; which it should be for healthy plants.

You need to aim for 2mg/liter. Simply calculate the size of your water tank and then add the corresponding amount of iron every 3 -4 weeks.


This is another essential mineral for healthy plant growth. Again you’ll need to add it in a form that your plants can easily absorb; this will ensure the maximum benefit to your plants.

One of the most common and easiest options is to use rock phosphate. You should be able to pick this up at your local garden centre.

The supplement can be added directly to your plant beds; this will allow the roots to absorb it almost instantly. Ideally the bed should be shaded from direct sunlight to help ensure it doesn’t dissolve before the plant can get it.

You should aim for between 20 and 40ppm for each of your plants.

Summing It Up

The good news is that most aquaponics system do work exceptionally well by themselves. Iron is the most common mineral deficiency in aquaponics systems.

Providing you monitor visually and via appropriates tests you’ll be able to add the above minerals and help to ensure your plants remain healthy; giving the maximum possible yield from your crop. The most important thing to keep an eye on is your Ph levels. Adding nutrients to aquaponics is only done on large scale operations.

Buy Aquaponic Books – The Book you Should Read


For those who like reading aquaponic books and would like to learn more on the conceptual frameworks that make up for the ideal gardening strategy, then you should definitely consider aquaponics4u program.

When you get the program, you learn several things including how you get to produce organic plants that are certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) at lower energy costs and effort than conventional methods.

Using the step by step video instructions and eBook you`ll get to learn exactly how to properly place your plants on floats, which material is appropriate and how to plant the seedlings to realize maximum growth. Moreover the whole system can fit up to 10 times more plants in the same designated area as a traditional farm would. The plants are always submerged in nutrient potent water and there is no over congestion of plants in the same area.

How does the system work?

Over the last couple of years, University of the Virgin Islands researchers have engineered a tested strategy that can revolutionize the whole organic farming industry as we know it. This process implements aquaponic techniques which bears several benefits for a gardener or farmer. The main idea behind the strategy is rudimentary and automatic.

Aquaponics is typical is the umbrella term used to refer to hydroponics mixed with aquaculture.

Hydroponics is subgroup of hydro culture and is a technique for growing plants using mineral rich water and without the use of soil.

Aqua culture is the process of rearing fish in a tank. Its main drawback, is usually how to get rid of the byproducts released by the fish e.g. algae, ammonia and minerals which need regular filtering.

This is where aquaponic technology exploits. The major tenet here is that plants feed on algae, minerals and nitrates and can also filter the water thus establishing a mutual relationship. If you properly connect hydroponics system to a fish tank your plants are guaranteed generous amounts of food supply constantly.

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What you will learn

The program is adorned full of knowledge on how to significantly improve the produce of farming and make also extend it to a source of income. Some of the possible knowledge you might learn include:

  1. Clear and concise instructions – the package comes with a eBook that is full of everything you need to know complete with diagrams and their accompanying instructions on how to engender your own Aquaponics system today. In addition you also get a list of the common mistakes and how to avoid or mitigate them effectively.
  2. How to make your farm use less water -the Aquaponics system uses maximum of 2% of the water that a normal garden would. Those who spend significant amounts of money on gardening water will know the benefit of this. The water that would otherwise be lost soil absorption is constantly re-circulated such that the plants are constantly submerged in nutrient rich water.
  3. The ease of transforming it into a source of income – the Aquaponics system can allow you to produce large amounts of plants which you can conveniently monetize into a lucrative food business. Your conventional farm expenses are cut down leading to better profits. What more remarkable is that the Aquaponics system can support both fish and plants
  4. Grow plants two times faster than conventional farming – the eBook underscores the main frameworks that help ensure that the plants roots are exposed to nutrient rich water from the designated aqua culture. Your plants get also receive nutritious algae from the fish making produce like never before.
  5. No more weeding or tiring farm work – admittedly the most demanding task for a farmer is active farm work that can encompass constant weeding and soil work. The Aquaponics program help you alleviate this issue in that the system is automated by a nutrient transport scheme.
  6. Cut down energy costs by more than half – evidently this automated system helps you save up resources that would have otherwise been have used by a traditional farming system.

Features and Benefits

Evidently, getting this program will definitely put you as step ahead of other farmers and gardeners. Some of its feature and benefits include

  • PDF
  • Step by step instructional video
  • 100% 60 day money back guarantee
  • Numerous positive testimonials
  • Convenient financing options
  • Reasonable and Affordable price
  • Certified, credible and accountable service providers

Added bonuses for shoppers

After you have legally purchased your original copy of the program, you will receive a pot of gold of bonuses in books that are worth over $300.they include:

  • Organic Gardening for beginners
  • Eating healthy
  • Guide to Organic Cooking
  • Flower Gardening Guide
  • Worm Farming-The world’s best compost
  • Herbs for healthy home


Whilst setting a rudimentary Aquaponics system might be a challenging task for some people, once you get the program you won’t have to worry about reading any more gardening books like before. This is most definitely a worthwhile purchase for any apprentice farmer or veteran looking to extend their farming repertoire. By buying this aquaponics book you will learn a lot more about aquaponics.

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how do you do aquaponics




Demistifying Floating Raft Aquaponics

Floating raft aquaponics is also referred as deep water culture (DWC) the system is mostly suitable to commercial based aquaponics operators to enable them produce certain vegetables called the lettuce. This is done by putting the lettuce seedlings on a floating raft through the holes. The raft is made of polystyrene sheets with holes cut out to allow the positioning of the lettuce.

The floating raft aquaponics success is in the removal of the solids from the fish.

The floating raft aquaponics process

floating raft aquaponics

This system aims at producing enough oxygen for the lettuce roots. The roots are immersed in water and dirt accumulation on the roots should be eliminated quickly to enhance oxygen absorption and other minerals, which are vital to the plants growth.

To minimize dirt accumulation the system requires a filtration process, after the fish solid leaves the big fish tank, the water is then pumped to pass through a swirl filter slowly, this allows the waste to settle on the bottom of the tank. The waste is pumped out and used as high fertilizer.

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After the water passing through the swirl filter it passes to particulate filter where mineralization of the water takes place. Also when water is getting into the particulate filter it is screen off any waste, and is heavily oxygenated. At this stage the aeration is provided into the system, which facilitates bacteria action on the fish waste and converts them into the essential nutrients required by the plant.

raft aquaponicsThe nutrients fully dissolve in water and are taken to the plants roots, the water is finally passed through a drop out zone to pacify water removing any waste and water is then pumped to the floating rafts.

The process uses air stones at planned intervals to oxygenate the lettuce plant roots. The water entering below the floating raft is completely clean to ensure the roots have maximum surface area exposed to allow absorption of oxygen and all essential nutrients, which the system seeks to provide.

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Flood And Drain Design for Aquaponics

The Flood and Drain Aquaponics design is the most used system in the world amongst all the Aquaponics systems. This system consists of the flood and drain grows beds, the fish tank and the pond pump that has a great role to it. The design gives you the detailed steps to follow to get an appropriate flood and drain design.

aquaponics flood and drain

The flood and drain grow beds are placed exactly to where it can directly drain water into the fish tank. The process of flooding and draining of water is being controlled by a certain timer. The pond pump that is placed in the fish tank carries the water into the grow beds. The pond pump will automatically stop carrying water into the grow beds if the certain pre- determined level of water has already been reached. And by then, the grow beds will drain back the water into the fish tank.

The flood and drain Aquaponics design is being used by many because of its simplicity and it is cost effective. These are the very reason why most people use it. There are also disadvantages of using it but most people ignore those disadvantages simply because they do see the benefits of using the flood and drain Aquaponics design.

Flood and Drain Aquaponics– Specific Details

In creating this flood and drain Aquaponics design, you have to dig a few centimeters of soil so that you can put your fish tanks right under your grow beds. In that way you can then do the cycle of flooding and draining. You should also put into consideration that the flooding and draining system will cause lack of water in your fish tanks for a couple of seconds. Putting up this flood and drain Aquaponics design is quite hard but of course if you will only follow the procedures well then perhaps you can do it properly.

Also make sure that you will plant your plants in clay pebbles because soil is not recommended. You do not want soil to be present in the fish tank. Soil can be easily washed away by water. That is purely the reason why you have to use clay pebbles. And you also have to make sure that you do place the tubing in the right position. That should be very well observed in putting up the flood and drain quaponics design. This is simply because your tubing is the one having the key role in making this flood and drain cycle to be a successful one. For when the tubing is not properly placed, there is a great possibility that the fish will die due to lack of water. These things should be put to mind so that your flood and drain Aquaponics will work just fine.

Are you ready to take on the challenge of aquaponics by yourself? It’s a good practice to educate yourself first with lessons and mistakes people already made before you.

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Aquaponics 4 You