What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponic vegetables

Practical Aquaponics

Aquaponics is the creation of a complete cycle of symbiotic relationships where the fish help plants and the plants help fish. It uses no chemicals, requires one tenth of the water needed for field plant production and only a fraction of the water that is used for fish culture. (Aquaculture)
This is truly a remarkable system, because it works so well. The fish actually supply nutrients to a bed of plants, (called Grow Beds) and plants clean up the water that the fish live in, making a mutual beneficial environment for both. The only external input to the system is food for the fish. The plants grow in a Grow Bed
Both Aquaponics systems compliment each other as a single unit, not as separate units. The fish water is pumped to the Grow Beds, and is evenly distributed by a simple system of pipes. The fish water feeds the plants, such as tomato's, cucumbers, lettuce and other green leafy vegetables, then filters through the grow bed that is filled with gravel / round river stones, finally returning to the fish tank by gravity or by pump. The water is returned to the fish tank cleaned ready for use by the fish, and so the cycle continues.

So an Aquaponics system is made up of a tank containing the fish of choice, and a series of Grow Beds for vegetable production.
Aquaponics is suitable for ornamental fish, Barramundi, Bass, Jade Perch, Golden Perch, Silver Perch, Murray Cod. In Australia we are blessed with a wide choice of Native Fish Species (some listed above) that are perfectly suitable for Aquaponics and are wonderful eating as well. In other parts of the world Tilapia and Carp are grown very successfully.

Broccoli in Murray Hallam's Aquaponics

Broccoli growing in an Aquaponics System.

What is amazing in Aquaponics, once the system is initialised, it works really well, just as it should being a natural system.

The water is basically recycled, with a small amount of water added weekly to compensate for what is lost by evaporation, and transpiration by the vegetables. Therefore Aquaponics uses only about 10% of the water required for traditional gardening or fish farming. Aquaponics is the future of home gardening and commercial fresh food production for a dry land like Australia.

Aquaponics is a balanced, self-contained eco system that works!! No chemicals fertilisers are added what so ever. It istotally organic.  In fact, insecticide chemicals cannot be sprayed or added to the vegetable part of the system, because if that happens, the fish will die.  Aquaponics has an inbuilt organic policeman. Garden pests are kept to a minimum by housing the system in a green house and eventually a natural balance is achieved.

Earthworms can be raised to feed the fish and the earthworm compost is used in other parts of the garden or perhaps planter box gardens. The worm farm is fed on excess vegetable material from the Aquaponic system.

This "Practical Aquaponics" article was first published July 30th 2006 -

Murray Hallam's Practical Aquaponics.


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8 thoughts on “What is Aquaponics?

  1. I came across aquaponics autopot, whereby the water sent to the plants do not return.

    It is claimed that water is delivered only when required by the plants

    What is the advantages and disadvantages of this them?

    When should a grow bed or a floating system be used ?

    • Auto pot is a good product but very expensive. It works well as a hydroponic system but not really necessary in an Aquaponic system. In Aquaponics we like to circulate the water constantly giving good aeration and filtration for the fish all the while delivering nutrient to the plants.

  2. Good day everyone!

    My name is Jeriel and I am new to aquaponics. In fact I am new to gardening in general. I’ve never grown anything. I am here to learn as a result of the growing food prices around the world, the rising concerns about food related health issues, and simply because aquaponics makes so much sense as a way of life. Mr. Hallam thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experiences. I hope one day learn under you in person. Do you welcome visitors/students to your country as guests?

    • Hi Jeriel
      Thanks for your comment. We are members of WWOOF Australia which is an organisation that matches students / volunteers with organic farms and the like. Although we are members we are not in a position at this time to take students of that kind. We are working toward this system of things but it will be some time toward the end of the year before we start doing that.

      • Hi Murray,

        Thank you for a prompt response. I will take a look at the link and will love to be informed when you all finally do establish your international student based system or the like thereof. In the meantime I will get my feet wet with your DVDs. I will be making a purchase next week. I am currently cycling my very first system. I’ll post on how that goes. Again thank you!

  3. Hello, I found expanded clay balls that I can get delivered for about $1 US per liter. I have access to Expanded Styrene Foam blocks and wonder If it is safe to use in a Flood and drain system to reduce the weight and cut down on the amount of media needed. Have a 20′ X 4′ above ground pool that I hope to be stocking with Blue Tilapia soon.