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  • Naomi Stephens | Permaculture Designer

What is Aquaponics and how to create a small scale version

Updated: Mar 9

Aquaponics is where plants and fish are grown together.

Fish poop is food for the plants, and the plant filters and cleans the water in return.

How is Aquaponics used in a permaculture apartment?

This is a great method for a permaculture apartment because it requires little maintenance except for feeding the fish. It's quicker than growing in soil and completely organic.


The plants clean the water, so you don't need to replace the water at all.

You also don't need to add fertilizer, as this is provided from the fish poop. You can add some plant grow lights if you aren't getting enough sunlight.

The only thing you'll need to do is feed the fish as usual.

Is Aquaponics a quick way to grow plants?

It's perfect for growing food at home because it's much quicker than growing in soil.

For example, lettuce takes 26-30 days in an aquaponics system and takes 45 to 48 days in soil.

The reason is that the roots don't have to go out in search of water and food; in an aquaponics system, all that is readily available.

Is Aquaponics organic?

Aquaponics needs a natural environment that is pesticide-free and without synthetic fertilizers to thrive.

If pesticides were added to the plants, the fish would die, and if hormones or antibiotics were given to the fish, then the plants would die.

What's the difference between Aquaponics and Hydroponics?

Hydroponics are when plants are grown in water without fish.

In this system, fertilizer is added to the water, which needs to be changed regularly because chemicals and salts build up. The electrical conductivity also needs to be checked periodically.

Small Aquaponics Example

This is a video of a simple aquaponics setup with a fish tank containing goldfish. The owner used a water pump to pump the water into a tray.

The tray contains:

  • Hydroton balls (expanded clay pellets)

  • Filter

  • Plants

  • Earthworms

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