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  • Naomi Stephens | Permaculture Designer

The Best edible Plants to grow in a Small Indoor Aquaponics System

Updated: Mar 4


Are you interested in growing your edible plants but don't have a lot of space? Imagine growing fresh greens, herbs, and vegetables right in the comfort of your home without taking up valuable floor or countertop space! Aquaponics is an exciting and innovative way to grow edibles using water instead of soil.


I can't be bothered lugging pounds of soil from the store, and I've run out at the minute. Even better, aquaponics doesn't require any additional fertilizer because the fish waste is fertilizer for you. In my opinion, aquaponics is a highly sustainable way of growing.

This guide will help you choose the best edible plants for a small aquaponics system.





Introducing Aquaponics - What is it, and how does it work?


Are you tired of the traditional ways of growing crops and raising fish? Aquaponics is a sustainable system combining hydroponics and aquaculture to create a mutually beneficial environment for plants and fish.


Aquaponics simulates a natural ecosystem where fish produce waste that is then broken down by beneficial bacteria into nutrients that plants can absorb as their food source. As the plants take in the nutrients, they filter the water, which is then returned to the fish.


Aquaponics is a closed-loop system that conserves water and eliminates the need for harmful chemicals or fertilizers. With aquaponics, you can grow fresh herbs, veggies, and fish at home. So, if you want a sustainable way to grow your food, consider trying aquaponics!



Things to consider when choosing edible plants for an aquaponics system


Selecting the right plants for a mini aquaponics tank is essential to successful indoor gardening. There are several factors to consider when choosing edible plants for your aquaponics setup.


First, ensure the plant is compatible with the aquatic environment and can thrive in low-light conditions.


Secondly, consider the growth rate and the space available in the tank. Plants that grow too fast can overcrowd the tank and affect the water quality.


Finally, choose plants that have a high nutrient value and are edible. Some popular choices include herbs like basil and mint, greens like lettuce and spinach, and fruiting plants like strawberries and tomatoes.


By selecting the right plants, you can create a beautiful aquaponics garden and enjoy the benefits of fresh and healthy produce year-round.



1. Lettuce

Lettuce, a famous leafy green, has become one of the most cultivated plants in aquaponics systems. The primary reason is that lettuce is shallow-rooted, making it an excellent candidate for growing in a soil-free environment. Its ability to quickly absorb nutrients from the water makes it possible for growers to achieve high yields while conserving water and reducing fertilizer waste.


Additionally, lettuce thrives in a pH range of 6.0-7.5 and is easily maintained in an aquaponics system. Moreover, because of its fast and continuous growth cycle, it can be harvested numerous times, allowing growers to produce a high volume of fresh produce. Aquaponics is an excellent growing method for lettuce due to its efficiency, sustainability, and reliable production.


2. Herbs


Herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme, dill, and mint are perfect for an aquaponics system. But why do they do so well in this environment? It all comes down to the growing factors present in the aquatic system. Herbs require a specific balance of nutrients, light, and temperature to thrive. In an aquaponics system, water and fish waste provide a steady supply of nutrients, while the controlled environment allows optimal temperature and light levels.


These factors combine to create the perfect growing conditions for herbs, resulting in healthy and flavorful plants. No wonder herbs have found a new niche in aquaponics, offering a sustainable and efficient alternative to traditional growing methods.


3. Spinach


Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that boasts numerous health benefits. When it comes to growing spinach in an aquaponics system, a few factors contribute to its success.


First and foremost, the water in the system is continuously filtered and recirculated, providing a nutrient-rich environment for the plants to thrive in. Additionally, the controlled environment of an aquaponics system allows for precise adjustments to the temperature, pH, and lighting, which all play a pivotal role in the growth and development of spinach plants.


Spinach roots also do exceptionally well in aquatic environments as they can directly absorb the nutrients they need from the water. In summary, combining these factors makes spinach a great crop to grow in an aquaponics system, allowing for a healthy and sustainable source of fresh greens year-round.


4. Cherry Tomatoes


Aquaponic systems seem to have a unique advantage when growing cherry tomatoes. The aquatic environment provides ideal conditions for these small but mighty fruits to thrive. In an aquaponics system, cherry tomatoes can receive a steady flow of nutrients, oxygen, and water, which is crucial for their growth and development.


Additionally, the sustainable nature of aquaponics means that cherry tomatoes can be grown without harmful chemicals, making them a healthy and environmentally friendly choice. With the proper pH balance, water temperature, and lighting, cherry tomatoes can grow to their full potential in an aquaponics system, providing a fresh and delicious addition to any meal.


5. Peppers


Peppers are a popular vegetable that has found a new home in aquaponics. In an aquaponics system, peppers thrive due to several growing factors that contribute to their success. Firstly, the controlled environment created by an aquaponics system ensures consistent water and nutrient supply, which helps promote healthy growth.


Secondly, the lack of soil in an aquaponics system means that peppers are free from soil-borne pests or diseases, which can be a significant concern in traditional soil-based cultivation. Lastly, the efficient use of water in an aquaponics system enables peppers to grow sustainably and eco-friendly. These ever increasing factors contribute to the success of growing peppers in an aquaponics system, making it an excellent option.


6. Strawberries


One crop that does exceptionally well in aquaponics is strawberries, and for good reason. Several factors contribute to their success, such as the water's stable temperature and pH levels, the lack of soil-borne diseases, and the constant supply of nutrients from the fish waste.


Coupled with their sweet and juicy taste, it's no surprise that strawberries are a popular choice for aquaponic enthusiasts. But it's not just strawberries that flourish in this environment.


7. Radish


Radishes do exceptionally well in an aquaponics system due to the combination of water and nutrient-rich soil. In this system, the radish receives continuous access to water and nutrients, greatly enhancing its growth potential. The aquatic environment allows for a steady oxygen supply to the plant's root system, promoting healthy growth and preventing wilting.


Additionally, the absence of soil-borne pests such as root maggots and cutworms also contributes to its success. Overall, an aquaponics system's unique combination of water and nutrients creates the perfect environment for radishes to thrive.


Overall, aquaponics offers a perfect solution for sustainably growing many different types of fruits and vegetables. From lettuce to cherry tomatoes, peppers to strawberries and radishes, an aquaponic system can provide the ideal environment for these plants to thrive with minimal effort from you. With its water-based nutrients and lack of soil-borne pests or diseases, aquaponics is quickly becoming one of the most popular methods for cultivating fresh produce year-round.

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