Updated: Aug 13, 2021
What's the difference between Aquaponics and Hydroponics? Quite simply, aquaponics are when plants are grown with fish, and hydroponics are plants grown with just water.
Both systems work well in producing plants.
Aquaponics essentially uses mother nature as the manager. The system is mostly automated except for you feeding the fish and making some routine checks.
For instance, the plants filter and clean the fish tank water, so you'll never need to replace the water. You'll also never need to add fertiliser because the fish will fertilise the plants for you. Fish waste produces a natural fertiliser for plants.
Hydroponics, on the other hand, is slightly more maintenance.
You'll need to: optimise the nutrient solution, take disease preventative measures, and check for toxin build-up at least every few days.
However, growing fish isn't for everyone and so if you want a system that grows food without soil then hydroponics is a great option. If you'd like less maintenance then aquaponics is for you.
Aquaponics vs hydroponics technique
Aquaponics Technique: With aquaponics, the only thing you need to ensure for the system to survive, is to make sure fish poop doesn't build up too much otherwise the fish will die.
This will only happen if, for example, you have a large fish tank, with lots of fish and just a few plants growing in the water. Those few plants couldn't possibly filter all the waste from the amount of fish waste being produced. You can also buy ammonia and ph test kits to keep an eye on the fish waste. The pH should be between 6-7 and you'll need to check the nitrate levels monthly.
Hydroponics Technique: Hydroponics on the other hand require input of chemical nutrients that need to be perfectly balanced.
You'll need to replace the entire reservoir of water every 2- 3 weeks (sometimes less depending on the size of your system) otherwise the plants will die.
You'll need to check the electrical conductivity level daily or at least every few days. The pH needs to be 5-6.