Are you having trouble deciding between an aquaponics system and a hydroponic system?
There are some similarities between the two, but even more differences. Let’s take a look and see what makes each system unique and spell out the clear advantages of one system over the other.
Hydroponic systems are designed only for plant growth. In hydroponics, a medium other than soil is used to pass nutrients along to the plants. This requires the addition of nutrient solution at regular intervals. It is a one-way system that runs pretty much automatically except for adding the nutrient solution.
Aquaponics systems focus on not just plant growth but finding a balance between the health of plants and fish. Aquaponics uses the same principles as hydroponics in part, but adds fish to the equation, creating a self-contained ecosystem. Waste from the aquarium water is used to provide nutrients for the plants, which scrub the waste from the water as they feed. Clean water is then returned to the aquarium for the fish.
Hydroponics is a good system if you only want to grow a few plants at a time. However, adding more plants changes the game significantly. The addition of more plants means more nutrient solution must be used, adding to the overall costs. Also, the nutrient solution must be flushed regularly to prevent the buildup of algae, which can be harmful to plants.
The symbiotic nature of aquaponics, on the other hand, takes care of the algae problem. Choose the correct fish for your aquaponics system, and they will filter algae out. Another advantage of aquaponics is that no nutrient solution is required – all of the nutrients are provided by the fish. The result is a self-contained process that is entirely organic from beginning to end.
Both hydroponic and aquaponic systems produce waste, the main difference is that an aquaponics system uses that waste by reintroducing it into the system again and again. Hydroponic waste, however, must be removed and disposed of by professionals. This waste removal adds a huge expense to hydroponic systems. Calibrating the nutrients in a hydroponic system can be difficult as well. But an aquaponics system doesn’t require constant tweaking of nutrients – the plants take all of the nutrients they need from the fish waste. All you need to do is add fish food.
Another main downside to hydroponics is the constant fear of root rot, a fungus that can spread quickly through a hydroponic system. Many hydroponic growers need to sterilize much of their equipment to prevent disease, adding additional costs. Aquaponics embraces the bacteria present naturally in an ecosystem, which may help all of its organisms by boosting immunity.
Perhaps most importantly, aquaponics provides more yield with less cost. A university study has shown that established aquaponics systems will produce faster growth and overall better results when compared to hydroponics systems. In the end, as long as you’re willing to care for the fish, an aquaponics system has many clear advantages over hydroponics.