What is Aquaponics?

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Aquaponics is a sustainable method of raising both fish and vegetables. It is popular with individuals, entrepreneurs, educators, missions and governments.  Furthermore, with this type of indoor farming, you grow substantially more food with less water, land and labor than traditional agriculture.

What is aquaponics?…a resilient farming system that provides wellness and better nutrition.

Aquaponics is a form of agriculture that combines raising fish in tanks (recirculating aquaculture) with soilless plant culture (hydroponics).  In aquaponics, the nutrient-rich water from raising fish provides a natural fertilizer for the plants and the plants help to purify the water for the fish.  Aquaponics can be used to sustainably raise fresh fish and vegetables for a family, to feed a village or to generate profit in a commercial farming venture, year ‘round, in any climate.

Aquaponics is a great example of year ’round, indoor farming. It can be done anywhere, providing fresh local food that is free of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. It is safe, easy and fresh!

Home – A home food production system can grow hundreds of pounds of fish and all the fresh vegetables that a family needs.

School – In education applications, aquaponics is an excellent model of natures biological cycles.

Food Banks and Missions Feed people in need: Aquaponics is an ideal way to provide fresh, nutritious food to those in need

Commercial – Commercially, aquaponics is a rapidly growing industry as entrepreneurs realize that aquaponics and controlled environment agriculture can provide high quality, locally-grown fresh food on a ‘year round basis. Large commercial aquaponic farms are providing fresh food to grocery store chains, hospitals and institutions. MicroFarm Aquaponic Systems are perfect for a family or retirement business.

Indoor Farming

Looking into indoor farming? Check out Nelson and Pade’s highly productive Clear Flow Aquaponic Systems® to grow more food in indoor agriculture.

Natural and Sustainable

Aquaponics is a completely natural process that mimics all lakes, ponds, rivers and waterways on Earth. The only input into an aquaponics system is fish food for aquaponics. The fish eat the food and excrete waste, which is converted by beneficial bacteria to nutrients that the plants can use. In consuming these nutrients, the plants help to purify the water. You cannot use herbicides, pesticides or other harsh chemicals in an aquaponics system, making the fish and plants healthful and safe to eat.

Benefits of Aquaponics

  • Use 1/6th of the water to grow 8 times more food per acre compared to traditional agriculture!
  • All natural fertilizer source from fish waste.
  • No reliance on mined and manufactured fertilizers.
  • Efficient, sustainable and highly productive.
  • Produce is free of pesticides and herbicides.
  • Fish are free of growth hormones and antibiotics.
  • Allows continuous production of food.
  • Produces both a protein and vegetable crop.
  • Integrated system is sustainable and earth-friendly.
  • Eliminating soil eliminates soil borne diseases.
  • When combined with Controlled Environment Agriculture, you can grow year ‘round in any climate

What Can You Grow?

The fish and plants that you select for your aquaponic system should have similar needs as far as temperature and pH. As a general rule, warm, fresh water fish and leafy crops, such as lettuce, greens and herbs will do the best.

Most commercial growers raise leafy crops, but you can grow all kinds of plants in aquaponics. At our demonstration facility at Nelson and Pade, Inc.®, we have raised lettuce, swiss chard, kale, collards, herbs, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, radishes, carrots, green onions, leeks, beans, peas, kohlrabi, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sunflowers, edible flowers and aloe. We even have tropical fruit trees in our aquaponic systems! Yes, we grow bananas, limes, oranges, lemons and pomegranates year ‘round in aquaponics!

Links to additional information and articles:





Aquaponics in Education:


Learn more about Aquaponics:
Aquaponics Master Class® and online courses from Nelson and Pade, Inc.®


Read More from the Aquaponics Journal®

Nelson and Pade, Inc.® began publishing the Aquaponics Journal® in 1997 and continuously published it through the beginning of 2013. There are a total of 62 issues, all of which are available as a downloadable .pdf collection. The Aquaponics Journal® chronicled the start and growth of the aquaponics industry and has now become an online news source for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of aquaponics.

Read a selection of articles from throughout the 16 years of quarterly publication. These articles are presented to share information and articles from the Aquaponics Journal® and to showcase the diversity of content and contributing authors.

Aquaponics Journal® – Select Articles