Hydroponics vs. Aquaponics: Which is Best for You?

You are all-time in need of looking for the best fruits and vegetables in every season. But, the fact is, all of them don’t grow whole year-round.

And, the most intriguing part is that you can find some of those items out of season at a shop or two. So, how come you see them anyway? Are they low-quality preserved crops with formaldehyde, or is the matter something different?

For cracking this, we can put the two most famous cultivational processes in front of your face, hydroponics and aquaponics.

Some concerned farmers who put effort into breaking through their barriers and yield some extra income add these methods to their farming.

Now, your curious mind can also ask among two of the methods Aquaponics and Hydroponics, which one would be the best for you!

And, our today’s article is all about negotiating this with you with a detailed structure.

Similarities Between Hydroponics and Aquaponics

Hydroponics and Aquaponics are two soilless systems of growing plants that are superior to the traditional cultivational method. However, if you sincerely look at two of them, you can find many similarities between them.

A hydroponic system introduces the production and cultivation of plants in a nutrient-enriched medium which works as the alternative to soil. Here, no shortage of water remains. So, again, wastage of water is minimized to as much as possible.

If nutrients can be delivered to the plants through roots only by water, there is no need for soil. As a result, the plant’s roots are cherished directly into a nutrient solution that adequately controls the temperature, pH, etc.

Again, Aquaponics is also a similar method used on the soilless choice of growing the plants. So, firstly, one can look at such a cultivation system and think it fits any contradiction. But, once if you engage in such type of cultivation, you can gradually realize its superiority over the traditional method.

Aquaponics is a well-established self-independent way of growing your plants in an artificial process. As there is no need for separate preparation of the nutrients or dependence on any other external source for the nutrition, they are self-mitigating.

Again, they follow an artificial process which means that no soil or such components are needed, making a traditional system contradictory. Also, this process of growing plants requires no dependency on the climate.

As you have a brief idea about two of these systems, you can now go through some common similarities.

Extended Growing Season Compared to Traditional System

This is probably the top-most attractive feature of these systems. However, as numerous plants are entirely seasonal dependent, people cannot enjoy them all year round.

So, gradually people started to transfer into the hydroponic and Aquaponics way of producing those plants breaking through their dependency. Therefore, an artificial environment inside such systems enables the plants to grow through a more extended season.

These procedures are mainly done indoor, so the plants are out of reach of the outdoor environment. Again, a total controlled temperature, elementary nutritional supply, pH, etc., create the Pleasants for your plants to dwell in them for long.

Reducing Negative Impacts on the Environment

Plants that grow inside Hydroponics and Aquaponics go through a significantly lower weed and pest pressure. There comes no choking from other weeds in their path of growth. Again, pests cannot go and attack them so quickly, like in the traditional method.

The weeds cannot be distributed by the birds or travel from one garden to another through the winds. As a result, your plants get plenty of additional room for their development.

As the pressure of weeds, pests and diseases are minor, the application of chemicals is also reduced. This brings the reduced negative impact on the environment as a result of Aquaponic and Hydroponic growth.

Faster growing plants

In a soilless way of cultivation, plants on average grow 30-50% faster than the soil system. This is due to the good amount of oxygen present in such a procedure. As more oxygen content remains, the roots are supplied with a higher amount of oxygen, which triggers their growth.

The nutrient absorption of the roots becomes higher, and the plants are also enabled for quicker and speedy development.

Higher yields

Plants also grow 30-40% more in Hydroponics and Aquaponics, which is impossible in soil systems. This is due to the more systematic supply of nutrients, guaranteeing the plants with the optimal level of food, controlling pests and diseases, etc.

Even though growing plants in such a system requires higher water content, the actual water expended is way less. It is due to the recycling of water and minimizing the loss of the same to many folds. It takes 10% of the water consumed in a soil system to grow plants under this condition.

Ultimately, a fine-tuned condition of growing plants is established, which results in higher yields.

Differences in Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics

Now, the fundamental differences between the two processes caused them to select two different namings. That is to say, although there are many similarities in the output and yield of these two processes, they also remain different, especially in their execution.

Some of the differences are represented to you by these:

Design in the system

A significant design difference between them is the depth of their growing beds. The depth included for a hydroponic system is 6″. This is because of ensuring enough space for the plant roots to establish themselves.

As roots in an aquatic system can grow out of manner and speedier conditions for more oxygen presence, they need spacious that. This is provided by a 6-inch depth project of the hydroponic system.

Again, the depth design in Aquaponics is almost double, which is 12″. Besides the rooms needed for roots, this system also needs the privilege to sustain fish in them. As nutrients out of this system come from the fish, they need enough space for this.

This brings us to the importance of growing media. A hydroponic needs no requirement of because they follow a sterile system of cultivating plants.

Whereas the aquatic system needs growing media to establish nutrients for the plants. This occurs through the beneficial microorganism.

Startup costings

The startup cost between them also varies to an extent. This variation prevails mainly due to the growing media. Hydroponics doesn’t need to prepare or establish complex growing media on which they need to depend, so the cost is saved here.

But, in Aquaponics, for the growing media, they need microbes for residing inside. As a result of which, the space requirement becomes more. This adds a portion to the startup cost.

Again, the central part of the difference in the startup costings is the purchase of fish. Fish can range from lower to higher depending on the type you grow and the quantity you need.

Also, the cost varies for the starting time you need for both of them. The hydroponic system only requires the starting of water-based nutrients supply. As soon as the cycle starts, plants can be established into them right away.

But, the Aquaponic system of growing plants requires more time. The process becomes slower because of the fish. The fish first need to grow to a certain extent, and also, the nitrogen-fixing bacteria development should be ensured. Without these bacteria, the fish waste would not break down into plants’ nutrients.

The whole process can take time from 1-3 months, and thus, no plants can be introduced up to then. This also leaves a quite difference in the costings.

Costs for running

Each system has a particular running cost. This includes the cost of fertilizers for the growth of the plants in a hydroponic system.

Again, more electricity cost is required to run a system like Aquaponic that needs higher oxygen content for the survival of the fish.


The community created due to the interaction between existing organisms makes an ecosystem. In the case of a hydroponic system, no ecosystem can be considered. Whereas, Aquaponics is an ecosystem consisting of the interaction Between plants, fishes, and microorganisms.


Aquaponic systems of growing plants are for those species which have lower needs of nutrients. Again, in a hydroponics system, plants with higher nutrients need are developed.

Level of pH

Differences also exist in the necessary level of ph in these two different systems. For hydroponics, the pH requirement is ranged from 5.5-6.0, which indicates an acidic property.

In the case of Aquaponics, the pH cannot be acidic or basic. It needs to be on a neutral scale which can range from 6.8-7.


A high temperature in the aquatic system can be the kingdoms of fungus. So, a moderate temperature in the case of hydroponics is maintained, around 70° Fahrenheit.

For Aquaponics, the system needs a particular amount of presence in fungus and microorganisms. So temperature varies from 82-86° Fahrenheit.

Controlling insects

Both the soilless system carries minor infestation of infects compared to the soil system. But insecticides can be used to get rid of them very quickly in a hydroponic system.

Whereas, it is more of a challenging task for the Aquaponic system to treat insects as chemicals cannot be used to save the fishes.

Hydroponics vs. Aquaponics: Which one Should I Choose?

Finally, comes the question, which among two of them is best for you? Both hydroponic systems and Aquaponic ways of farming are beneficial than the traditional growth patterns. So, choosing any one of them is a must to benefit you.

Two of them reduce the adverse environmental effects up to many folds and thus benefitting your plants. Resource consumption also becomes much lower when plants are established in such methods as no resources are lost.

The growth of the plants also becomes faster, and yields are also higher at the same time. All these are applicable in terms of both!

So, are you still confused about which one to choose? Then you can consider their economic values. Many people think of Aquaponics as superior to hydroponics as they do not need outer nutrients sources. Once the process is established, it is straightforward to maintain and takes less effort.

But, you cannot escape from the reality that commercial users incorporate hydroponics in cultivating plants. After all, hydroponic is a more cost-saving procedure, which is not at all complex and can be sustained within less spacing.

Therefore, we cannot answer this question as it is more individual choice than general use. No one can help you to choose between a hydroponic and an Aquaponic method.

You can consider, which one is best for you in terms of your need and availability, thus getting benefitted according to them.

Final Words

By now, I hope you have got an idea of which one to choose for your next gardening mission. Regardless of the system you choose, I must say, these improved techniques yield far better than the traditional technique. However, these are initially expensive and hard to maintain.

Disclaimer: GardeningNorm is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and may receive a commission if you purchase a product via a link on this page.. However, this does not impact our reviews.Read the full disclosure here.