What is the Difference between Hydroponics and Aquaponics?
Hydroponics is a big world. Indeed, there is not one method of hydroponics but many variations. In this article, we will look at the differences between two variants: classic hydroponics and aquaponics.
Hydroponics VS Aquaponics
Hydroponic System Kit: Hydroponics vs Aquaponics
In a Hydroponic System, plants are fed with a nutrient-rich solution to make them grow. In fact, the water is just used to transfer the solution to the plant. When the water is low in nutrients, the Hydroponic Growing Solution is added again so that the process can continue until a sufficient level of growth is reached. In hydroponics, it is ALWAYS necessary to find a source of nutrients.
In home hydroponics, you need at least a Hydroponic Starter Kit to get started, coupled with a Hydroponic Growth Solution, Hydroponic Baskets and Sponges for Hydroponics.
Aquaponics is different from traditionnal hydroponics. Indeed, it reproduces a balanced ecosystem between hydroponics and aquaculture. As in traditional hydroponics, there is a space to grow hydroponic vegetables and hydroponic fruits. The difference is that the water tank does not contain a nutrient solution, but an aquarium with fish. By feeding the fish, they will produce fish droppings that will become natural nutrients for the plants. Afterwards, the nutrient-free water is returned to the fish tank, where it is filtered and so the fish can survive. This process repeats itself indefinitely, the only inner growth medium in this ecosystem is the fish droppings.
Advantages of Aquaponics
- Efficiency: a study has shown that that once the cycle of an aquaponic culture is completed, the growth of the plants is much faster and more efficient than on a Hydroponic System.
- Cost of nutrients: the nutrients used in a Hydroponic System Kit are relatively expensive. In Aquaponics, it is the fish food that will generate the dejecta that will serve as fertilizer for the farm: its price is relatively affordable, especially if you use small insects collected around your home for example.
- Maintenance: an Aquaponic System is easier to maintain than a hydroponic growth system. Indeed, almost all parts of the system are natural, which creates a balance. All you need to do is to punctually check the PH level with a PH Tester Pen. On the other hand, when you start Hydroponics, you need to check the PH several times a week to make sure that the acid-base balance is respected.
- Naturalness: Aquaponics is based on the creation of a natural ecosystem that is managed automatically, as long as the pumps are working: there is no need for human intervention. On the contrary, classical hydroponics is totally artificial, and man needs to intervene quite regularly (checking the PH, changing the hydroponic solution, ...).
Disadvantages of Aquaponics
- Cost: the main disadvantage of Aquaponics is its price. Indeed, there are no or very few Aquaponics Systems on the market. Therefore, you will have to buy the elements in a detached way, which can sometimes be very expensive. A High-Tech Hydroponic Growing System will cost much less than an Aquaponic Growing System.
- High energy expenditure: in a Traditional Hydroponic System, the cycle of flooding and emptying of the crops is generally 6 to 6 hours. In aquaponics, flooding is done every 45 minutes for a duration of 15 minutes. If the water in the fish tank was filtered every 6 hours, there would be an accumulation of waste that would reach high levels and be dangerous for the fish. Because of this, the pump usage is higher in aquaponics than in hydroponics, which results in a higher energy expenditure.
- Presence of bacteria: a Hydroponic System is perfectly clean and healthy whereas Aquaponics relies mainly on bacteria (via fish droppings) for plant growth. It is the equivalent of manure for water.
Hydroponics Systems and Aquaponics Systems: Which One is Best for You?
As we have seen, Aquaponics has many advantages, just like Hydroponics. Your choice should be based on several criteria:
- Price: you should know that an entry-level aquaponics system will be relatively expensive ($500) and will take a long time to set up. However, the yields will be higher over time. On the other hand, Hydroponic Growing Systems are inexpensive, require little or no installation and provide good yields very quickly. However, you will have to maintain it a little more.
- Goals: what do you want to grow? How much time do you want to spend maintaining your system? Do you want to grow a few vegetables for yourself and your family or produce and sell on a larger scale? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself when choosing between Aquaponics and Hydroponics.
- Alternatives: before rushing into aquaponics or hydroponics, it is important to remember that there are other water-based growing methods, such as the Kratky Method or Aeroponics. We will deal with these two methods very soon in future articles!
You now know all the differences between hydroponics and aquaponics, and we hope that you now have a clearer understanding of the two methods. Don't miss our next articles!
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