Hydroponics vs Aquaponics

An aquaponics tunnel and fish in a fish tank

Hydroponics vs Aquaponics

Hydroponics vs Aquaponics

September 10, 2021

We know them both, we love them both but how do they fair side by side? In our previous blogs, we have explained how hydroponics is one of the main backbones of aquaponics. However, hydroponics can still be a fully functioning system on its own.

Which method is better suited to your needs? Well, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of hydroponics vs aquaponics so you can decide for yourself.

Hydroponics

As we’ve said before, hydroponics is a horticultural method of growing plants in nutrient-rich water. Plants have a few basic necessities: sunlight, water, oxygen and nutrients. Therefore, you can replace the soil component of traditional farming techniques. Provided that you supply enough nutrients for them to survive.

Hydroponics vs Aquaponics set up

Pros of Hydroponics

Location Flexibility

A hydroponic system can be set up almost anywhere! This is thanks to the soil-less environment and multiple growing methods available. There’s no need to worry about land accessibility or soil quality because you can optimize your system to work within whatever space you have available.

Climate Control

There’s no need to dread those winter months anymore! Most hydroponic farmers make use of greenhouses and tunnels which gives them full control over the temperature, light intensity and humidity levels. You could even grow certain plants all year round.

Water Conservation

A hydroponic system uses water with 90% more efficiency than traditional soil-farming methods. The water is recirculated throughout the system, therefore, little to no water is lost. And to top it off, the closed water system is great for complete control over the water quality.

Nutrient Optimization

Hydroponic farming saves you money and time by ensuring that your nutrient supplementation is not lost but rather conserved in your recirculating water system.

Cons of Hydroponics

Nutrient Supplementation Costs

Nutrients need to be supplemented into the system. This is to provide the plants with their requirements for optimal growth. Although these nutrients are conserved in the recirculation process, initial and continued nutrient dosing is still required.

Inorganic

A certain level of herbicides, pesticides and supplemented chemicals are still used in hydroponic farming practices. Therefore making the process inorganic.

Mono-crop Farming

Due to the recirculation of the water, there is a limitation as to what crop you can grow in a hydroponic system. There are different growth requirements for different crops, therefore, it is a common practice to only farm one crop type at a time.

Aquaponics

Here at Ichthys, we truly believe that aquaponics is the solution to almost everything! If you’re wondering how it works, take a look at our blog post “What is Aquaponics?” Not only are you reaping in all the benefits of a hydroponic system, but this farming method also eliminates most of the limitations that we find in hydroponics. Plus, your fish provide the added bonus of an extra stream (excuse the pun) of income! But this post is about hydroponics vs aquaponics so let’s look at some additional pros and cons of an aquaponic system.

Man holding a Tilapia in Hydroponics vs Aquaponics

Pros of Aquaponics

Nutrients & Filtration are a part of the package!

The fish waste gets converted into the main nutrient source. The plants and the biofilter eliminate the requirement of expensive filtration methods used in aquaculture.

Certified by Nature

Aquaponic farming is 100% organic! It has to be in order to keep the fish safe from harmful chemicals and pesticides. Therefore, all pest control and growth support problems have to be tackled from an organic approach.

Cons of Aquaponics

You better have backup

Both hydroponics and aquaponics heavily rely on the constant recirculation of water. In the likely event of a power outage, you need to make sure you have a power backup that can keep the system running for an extended period. Otherwise, you’re going to have some belly-up fishies and some very unhappy plants.

There you have it, a clear-cut breakdown of hydroponics vs aquaponics. Whether you’re team hydroponics, team aquaponics, or both, we hope you can see how they are more sustainable and beneficial than our traditional soil-farming practices. Take a look at some of our projects where we have designed and implemented systems for our clients. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to start your own aquaponic journey.