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Aquaponics – Hydroponics as Nature Intended It

Aquaponics is Cool!

It’s funny, any time I sit down to write about aquaponics here at I start feeling like I’m doing something wrong – as though the topic just doesn’t belong on a site where one of the main areas of focus is composting. But then I remind myself that the overall theme here is ‘turning wastes into resources’ – which is EXACTLY what aquaponics is all about! Aside from that justification, it just happens to be a topic I am incredibly fascinated with. It combines many of my passions and interests into one cool package – it involves aquatic biology/ecology, fish keeping, hydroponic gardening, and organic waste management. I’m still convinced that I can squeeze vermicomposting in there somehow as well, but we’ll have to wait and see.

For the time being this page will serve as a place where site visitors can get connected with aquaponics information – some of it on, but much of it on other fantastic aquaponics resource sites. Rest assured, this page will continue to grow and evolve over time.

So what exactly is aquaponics anyway?

In a nutshell, it is a combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in a soil-less system). What’s so awesome about it is the fact that you are taking what traditional fish farmers would consider a major waste product and using it to grow other marketable goods (edible plants or ornamentals). Why pump fish farm effluent into surrounding water bodies where it causes eutrophication (excess growth of algae and plants), when it can be used to grow crops?

The benefits don’t end there of course. Aside from potentially growing a bountiful crop of food plants, you are also effectively filtering the water from your fish holding tanks, thus helping to maintain their optimal health. It’s a win-win situation!

Water-use efficiency is yet another major benefit of aquaponics. According to an article in Backyard Aquaponics Magazine (Issue1 – pg 4), aquaponics requires 1/10th of the amount of water needed for traditional soil-based agriculture! With global concerns over dwindling water supplies mounting with each passing year this is certainly an important consideration.

Although I refer to aquaculture and fish farming above, I don’t mean to imply that aquaponics can only be conducted on a commercial scale! It can easily be scaled down for the casual hobbyist and can even be a fun project for children. I recently wrote about my idea for an ‘aquarium aquaponics‘ system (pictured below). I am hoping to get that system up and running sometime in the near future, and will certainly be writing about it here!
Aquarium Aquaponics

Online Aquaponics Resources

Backyard Aquaponics – This is definitely one of my favourite aquaponics websites, and one I’ve written about on a number of occasions here and elsewhere. If you have an interest in the topic of aquaponics, you really need to be familiar with this site. Aside from the fantastic information and stunning photos on the main site, they also have a very vibrant forum with over 1000 members (last I heard), and have even now started publishing their own online magazine (which I wrote about here)! – Anyone serious about aquaponics will definitely want to have this one in their favourites folder. Put together by Nelson and Pade Inc., contains a wealth of valuable aquaponics information, but also offers wide range of products for sale, including complete aquaponics systems, and the Aquaponics Journal.

Attra Aquaponics Guide – This provides an excellent overview of aquaponics, and interesting information about a number of different commercial aquaponics systems. They even offer the information in PDF document if you would rather download it and read it later (or use it for reference purposes).

S & S Aquafarms – It was via the e-mail list provided by S & S aquafarms (more info in a minute) that I originally became fascinated with the topic of aquaponics. Back then it was an incredibly vibrant group of people exchanging information and ideas on the topic. These days the list isn’t nearly as active, but it is still worth signing up for if you are interested in the topic. Simply send a blank email to and I’m pretty sure that will get you connected. Something that potentially offers even more value is the archives section, where you can find all of the great discussions from the past, and huge amounts of valuable information in general.
List Postings Prior to 2002 (search function makes it much easier to find specific info)
List Postings From 2002-Present (can be downloaded in weekly digest format)

Urban Aquaponics – This is a site I’m not really all that familiar with, but looks like it has some potential. For awhile they seemed to have an interesting blog going, but it looks as though they haven’t posted since November. Like Backyard Aquaponics, this is an Australian-based site and offers a ‘How-To’ manual for sale.

Garden Girl Pond and Aquaculture Page – As I wrote about not too long ago (see Garden Girl Aquaponics System), Patti ‘The Garden Girl’ Moreno has been testing out aquaponics for herself. Patti always seems to amaze me with her cool sustainable gardening projects, and this one certainly wasn’t an exception. The way she designed her aquarium aquaponics system is pure brilliance! I can’t wait for future updates.


Read the comments left by other users below, or:

Get your own gravatar by visiting Nolan
#1. August 21st, 2008, at 10:57 PM.


Just wondering on how your project is going.

Planning on setting one up on top of my existing Tank. Just very unsure of its affect on my fish (Granted they have survived in that hellish of a tank for over 3 yrs…).


Get your own gravatar by visiting Compost Guy
#2. September 8th, 2008, at 12:05 PM.

Hi Nolan,
Sorry for the delay!
Truth be told, I just didn’t end up having time to start my aquaponics project this year. Too many things on the go.
Hopefully next summer (or this winter indoors)


Get your own gravatar by visiting Uncle B
#3. November 24th, 2008, at 4:21 PM.

As this republican great depression grinds on, we will need a means for feeding large groups of starving people quickly. With Aquaponics we can produce both veggies and protein at the same time! Can aquaponics be set up on a scale of a communal brewery, winery, cobbler, kitchen or bakery? What fish are best for the system? Are they tasty? How much food input for how much food output do you get? Can the pumps be solar driven? Can you feed the fish kitchen scraps or do they still go to the verminators? What a fascinating 21st century solution for survival apart from capitalism’s slavery!

Get your own gravatar by visiting
#4. July 21st, 2009, at 5:01 PM.

Great post. I’d like to try this. Is it Ok if I write a short review of your site and post to my blog ? I’ll also post a short Tweet on my Twitter account (12,000 followers) Should bring you some extra traffic.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Compost Guy
#5. July 29th, 2009, at 2:05 PM.

Sure – no problem. Thanks for the offer

Get your own gravatar by visiting deb
#6. October 6th, 2009, at 2:57 AM.

Excellent article on those interested in learning about aquaponics. I am starting a floating aquaponics system on my outdoor 125′ X 50′ fish pond. Will be keeping a journal as to it’s progress in 2010.

Keep up the good work. Your website is GREAT!

Get your own gravatar by visiting mgs740
#7. January 5th, 2010, at 2:00 AM.

been doing aquaponics for two years now . No better way to do hydroponics.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Robert Freeman
#8. February 2nd, 2010, at 3:40 PM.

i like your site very much. Great post and great comments here. I always check in here looking for new stuff. Thanks.

I firmly believe aquaponics to be the best alternative food production method, besides the fact that I enjoy the fish, I enjoy eating wholesome food even more.


Get your own gravatar by visiting noah
#9. August 13th, 2010, at 9:46 AM.

I have bought an Aquaponics system from here and it works great. They have a wealth of knowledge and are on the east coast of Australia. Very helpful people, I recommend them to anyone interested.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Ernest Fields
#10. December 15th, 2010, at 10:04 PM.

In reply to #3 uncle B.
you would probably be one that would have to be provided for as the Democrats have just passed their Safe Foods bill that will make it a crime to provide food to anyone.

Get your own gravatar by visiting GCMREDDY
#11. February 23rd, 2012, at 4:48 AM.

wheather the food of fish mixed water taking to plant good or not? Anand the soluable fertilisers we will use for plant growth is harmful for fish growth? Any input which is use ful for both fish growth as well as plant growth may be informed us at the earliest possible..

Get your own gravatar by visiting Kat
#12. April 20th, 2012, at 8:35 AM.

You don’t need to use fertilizer because the fizh poo is the fertilizer. The idea of aquaponics is that the fhis poo feeds the plants and the plants act as a natural filter to the water.
I can’t wait to try building a system in my backyard.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Everybody Wins
#13. February 6th, 2013, at 3:23 AM.

I will be building a backyard aquaponics system for an aware and awake friend. She wants to produce enough fishies and veggies to cover 90% of her diet. Your diagram above is the simplest layout I’ve seen, and will be my inspiration and guide.

Real progress will be when small individual systems can become simplified and standardized enough for everybody to imitate, improving the world by improving the individuals who are willing to dream and to make their dreams come true.

Although *some people* want this to become a big political matter, I prefer just dealing with the people. Aquaponics is about helping people to help themselves. It makes for happier bellies and happier families. It makes for cleaner neighborhoods and cleaner water.

Aquaponics is a wonderful thing and I not only will be building systems for others, I will be having wonderful meals with my friends for years to come.

Thank you for your website.

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