Best Plants For Small Aquaponics

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Last Updated on October 29, 2022

If you are looking for the best plants for small aquaponics, you need not worry. We will give you the information in this guide so read on to find out.

Aquaponics is an agricultural culture system that makes use of a complex ecosystem between fish and plants. The system can be used to cultivate various plants, vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowering plants.

Before we dive into the best plants for small aquaponics, let’s look at some basic information about aquaponics.

Basic Info on Aquaponics

Aquaponics involves the combination of two categories of food cultivation which are hydroponics and aquaculture. This two combining process (hydroponics and aquaculture) works together to contribute to each other’s growth.

Aquaponics is a balanced ecosystem between the fish and plants which also includes some beneficial bacteria. The waste from the fish is used as food for the plants, the plant, in turn, purifies the water for the fish.

The interesting thing is that aquaponics is not a new technique. It is a farming method that has been in existence since ancient times. But now it has started gaining popularity these past few years.

Back to the Roots Water Garden Mini Aquaponic

Best Plants for Small Aquaponics

The best plants for small aquaponics should be plants that demand lesser nutrients. Thus, the best plants for small aquaponics are greens and herbs, and they include:

1. Watercress: One of the best plants to grow in a small aquaponics stem is watercress. It requires a lesser concentration of nutrients and it is a hardy vegetable and it grows fast. Watercress will also blend and flourish with any type of fishes you may have.

2. Kale: This is another low nutritious plant that can be grown in small aquaponics. It will flourish with various types of fish. Another added benefit is that kale will not attract pests to your system. Thus giving your aquaponics system extra safety.

3. Lettuce: Is also a low demanding nutrient plant appropriate for small aquaponics. It will match and co-exists most especially with tilapia fish.

4. Swiss Chard: Swiss chord requires minimal nutrients and is great for small aquaponics systems. It is a hardy plant that mainly utilizes nitrate for its leaf growth. This plant grows perfectly in the water of pH range between 6.6 to 7.0 which is an appropriate range for this plant and various fish.

Best Plants For Small Aquaponics - greens and herbs

Other low nutrient plants we recommend for small aquaponics are:

  1. Mint
  2. Arugula
  3. Radish sprout
  4. Pak choi
  5. Mint
  6. Wheatgrass
  7. Basil
  8. Spinach

Best Plants for Small Aquaponics: What to Consider

Aquaponics system is quite easy to set up and if you plan on obtaining one, the main question on your mind should be: what plants can I grow? The straight-up answer is the “size of your aquaponics” will determine the type of plants to grow.

Small Aquaponics: a small aquaponics system will require lesser fish, lesser water, and a lesser concentration of nutrients.

Bigger Aquaponics: on the other hand, a bigger aquaponics system will require more fish, more water, and more nutrient concentration.

Therefore, the best plant for a small aquaponics system should be plants that require lesser nutrients and they include greens and herbs as listed above.

Even though almost all plants can be grown in an aquaponics system, we need to consider the fact that various plants have various needs. So let’s look at more on the needs or what to consider when choosing plants for your small aquaponics.

Other things to consider:

  • Space: some plants need more space while others need lesser space. The space we are talking about is your aquaponics system space. Therefore, you should take into account for example the height and width of the plant that can fit into your aquaponics system.
  • The Number of Fish: The presence of more fish will require more plants so they can absorb all the nutrients produced from fish waste and vice versa.
  • Type of System Used: you could use a nutrient film technique, media-based, or raft aquaponics depending on the structure of the plant that will fit in. Floating raft systems favors plant with no root structure while grow beds favors root vegetables.


How does aquaponics work?

Aquaponics is a system of growing fish and plants in a symbiotic relationship. The fish clean the water, which then feeds the plants. The plants remove nitrogen from the water and the fish waste is converted into fertilizer. There are some species of fish that can live in aquaponics. The most common are Tilapia, Catfish and Koi. In general, the fish should be fed with a specially formulated diet. It should contain high levels of protein, low levels of fat, and vitamins and minerals.

The plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste, and the fish provide oxygen to the plants through their gills. The system can be used to grow food for humans and/or animals. It is also very effective at cleaning the water, providing both food and clean water. Aquaponic plants are not as delicate as traditional plants. They can be grown in containers or on land.

What plants can be grown in an aquaponic system?

I think that the most common are listed below.

1. Broccoli

2. Potatoes

3. Cucumbers

4. Tomatoes

5. Carrots

6. Peppers

7. Beans

8. Strawberries

9. Beets

10. Cabbage

11. Watermelon

12. Eggplant

13. Squash

14. Green beans

15. Sweet potatoes

16. Kale

17. Broccoli

What plants cannot be grown in an aquaponic system?

Plants that are sensitive to salt (salt stress). This can be either the soil or the water. In general, a soil solution of about 2% is the most common level for a salt tolerant plant. Some plants like tomatoes will tolerate more salt than that. They need a salt concentration of about 5-6%.

Do plants grow faster in aquaponics?

The answer is yes, but only if the plants are small. If they're big, then no. In fact, it's not even an absolute, because there's a difference between plants that have been raised in aquaponics and those that have been raised in a traditional greenhouse.

Why is lettuce good for aquaponics?

It’s easy to grow, takes up little space and is extremely forgiving. The reason why lettuce is such a great choice for an aquaponic garden is that it doesn’t require much light to thrive, making it a perfect plant for a system that needs a lot of light to grow.

Lettuce is also very forgiving to the fish. It doesn’t take well to being eaten, and will survive on the scraps left behind by other plants.

Can strawberries be grown in aquaponics?

I have read that the strawberries grow very well in aquaponics. I would recommend starting with growing them in an aquarium with a filter, but the problem with that is that they will grow all over the place.

Aquaponics Plants Final Words

Aquaponics is an awesome technique that anyone would find interesting to learn and have.

When it comes to choosing the best plant for your small aquaponics system, one thing we suggest is for you to decide to grow what you will eat or use. Having a thought of what you plan on accomplishing will assist you in making a better judgment on what to grow in your small aquaponics system.

Also, note that growing low demanding nutrient plant is not only for small aquaponics. It is also advisable to start with growing minimal demanding nutrient plants for a new aquaponics system. They will serve as “starter plants” for your new aquaponics system.

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