Hydroponics and aquaponics are based on the same principals, they both grow food in an inert media using water.
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The main difference is FISH.
In an Aquaponics system the nutrients are primarily obtained from excretion from the fish. Essentially fish wee. The bacteria in the growing media convert the nitrates into a form that the plants can access.
In a hydroponic system, you don’t have the fish. So instead you add nutrients to the water.
Which system is better?
We have both setups to grow our own food, but our hydroponics is on the lo-fi side of things - which is definitely more hands off. We use a mix of kratky systems and autopot (a sort of dutch bucket system) which don’t use power for either of these systems, however larger systems would potentially need a way of circulating the nutrient solution.
The aquaponics system does require a bit more care, you have to feed the fish regularly and ensure they are happy and healthy. We also have a pump running 24 hours a day ensuring the fish get oxygen. The aquaponics does need more filtration than a hydroponic system as there is more sediment flowing through.
I can’t say I have a favourite but being able to eat our own barramundi and red claw crayfish from our own backyard is pretty cool, getting produce from the system of filtering is an added bonus. The other bonus of an aquaponics is, it's pretty much organic. As we aren't adding synthetic based fertilisers to the system. All we add is food for the fish.
If you want a hands off approach to growing food, look at hydroponics. If you love the idea of self sufficiency in a backyard setup then take a look at Aquaponics.
Our Aquaponic system is due for a major overhaul but you can check out our previous systems here.
Do you have a hydroponic or Aquaponic system? Let us know how it’s going in the comments below.