Last Updated on November 8, 2021 by Marco C.
Hydroponics and aquaponics are both great ways to maximize plant yield with less work. But how about the two concepts combined? Find out the amazing and interesting way how to grow hydroponics in a fish tank!
This method is basically “killing two birds with one stone” because you are growing the plants within your fish tank. Aquaponics generally refers to having a separate tank and growing bed. Hydroponics is when you grow plants in the water directly, without using any soil.
In Hydroponics, the roots sink into the water and get its nutrients directly from the water itself. Before getting into details, let’s learn more about hydroponics systems.
What Is Hydroponics?
As mentioned earlier, hydroponics is a way to bypass the use of soil as your growing medium and grow directly in water. According to Oklahoma State University, common growing mediums used are vermiculite, coconut coir, and perlite.
Some of the benefits of a hydroponics system is that you can very carefully control the nutrition content going into your plants. This reduces room for error and avoids the need to test your soil.
In a traditional garden, plants get their nutrients from soil. But the gardener may not know the exact balance of key nutrients like N (nitrogen), P (Phosphorous), K (Potassium).
In order for them to find out, they usually run soil tests in a lab. This can be expensive and difficult to do.
By avoiding soil entirely, you can save time and create the perfect environment for your plants without needing to guess.
Another thing to consider is that because of environmental destruction done by humans, soil is becoming less and less fertile. This fertility loss is 100% driven by humans and their desire to use chemicals to maximize growth yields.
Unfortunately, this problem is not improving. Soil takes at least 10 years to rebuild fertility after it’s been destroyed.
Hydroponic Fish Tank
In order to grow hydroponics directly in a fish tank, start by setting up your fish tank as usual. Make sure your ecosystem is balanced and healthy. Once everything inside the tank is set up, you can begin to work on the plants.
Make sure your fish tank receives enough light for your plants to grow. Consider putting it by a south-facing window, or even outside if possible. If you cannot provide those conditions, you will have to supplement your hydroponics fish tank with a grow light.
The great thing about this DIY hydroponics fish tank is that you will not have to add any extra nutrients to your water. Fish waste produced in the tank is the direct fertilizer for your plants!
The other really awesome thing about this setup is that the roots from your plants will filter and keep your tank water clean. Once you make your plant selection, you can start to prepare the container that holds your plants above the water.
In traditional hydroponics systems, people often use styrofoam with holes cut out to keep the plants floating upright in the water. The size of the tank will determine how many plants you can grow. Find a board of polystyrene and cut it to fit the top of your tank.
Cut holes in the board to space your plants between 4-6 inches apart. Be aware that the spacing requirements depend on which plants you choose to grow. For this type of DIY hydroponics fish tank, we recommend growing smaller varieties like greens (lettuces, bok choy, mustard, etc).
This is why some farmers are looking to utilize hydroponics to continue growing food. You can set up your hydroponics vertically to take advantage of space and grow as much as possible. Another way to do it is by learning how to grow hydroponics in a fish tank.
Learn more about: Does Ammonia Kill Plants
Difference Between Hydroponics and Aquaponics Fish Tank
Please note that setting up the fish tank for a traditional aquaponics system will look different than how to grow hydroponics in a fish tank. If you have your growing bed and tank in separate areas like in aquaponics, you will need to make sure your tank has a good filter.
In a hydroponics fish tank, the plants will filter the water so you may not need to clean it as much. Also in hydroponics, you may need to supplement the tank water with nutrients if you feel the fish waste is not enough for your plants.
An aquaponics fish tank doesn’t need as much direct light. Hydroponics tanks need extra lighting for the plants to grow. Please note this extra light could promote algae growth.
A hydroponic fish tank may require more maintenance than a regular aquaponics fish tank because you will have to harvest the plants and clear it out to make sure the roots are not overcrowding your tank.
If there is excess growth, you will need to clear out the tank immediately. The overgrown roots will block your tank and cut off the oxygen supply for your fish.
Also, pay attention to pieces of plant matter that may break off and make your tank dirty. This debris can cause nitrification of your tank, also making it unsafe for your fish to live.
If you want to know how to grow hydroponics in a fish tank, you came to the right place. It is not a difficult task, but it changes the details of how you set up your system. By doing a hydroponics fish tank, you can grow plants to harvest within 30 days if done right.
For your first system select the fast-growing and easiest plant varieties to ensure your success. It’s an easy way to combine your plants and fish to work for each other’s benefit. This can save you time and increase your yields for the future.
Be open-minded to experimentation and find what works best for your system.
Please feel free to comment and ask questions below!
Candace is an aquaponics expert with over 5 years of experience in the field. She has a degree in environmental science from the University of California, Berkeley and a degree in aquaponics from the University of Florida. She is passionate about sustainable agriculture and has a deep knowledge of aquaculture and hydroponics. She has worked on numerous projects and has been involved in the development of aquaponic systems and fish farms. She also has experience in designing and constructing aquaponic systems. With her expertise, Candace is able to advise clients on the most effective and efficient way to construct and manage their aquaponic system. She is an active member of the aquaponic community, often speaking at conferences and seminars. Candace is dedicated to helping others understand the importance of aquaponics, and she is a strong advocate for sustainable food production.