Aquaponics Systems Design (Explained For Beginners)

Aquaponics is a type of agriculture that combines hydroponics and aquaculture. Aquaponics systems have been around for centuries, but the technology to create large-scale aquaponics systems has only recently been developed.

There are three main types of aquaponics systems design: media-based, nutrient film technique (NFT), and deep culture technique.

The article explained these three different types of aquaponics designs.

Aquaponics Systems Design
Source: FAO.Org

Aquaponic Systems Design

Aquaponics systems are becoming increasingly popular for both home and commercial growers. The combination of aquaculture and hydroponics offers many benefits, including a reduced need for water and land, as well as lessening the environmental impact of traditional agriculture methods.

Here sequentially described the steps and materials used to construct an aquaponics system.

Site Selection

A crucial aspect of constructing an aquaponic unit is determining its site. Keep in mind it can be challenging to move some of the elements of the system, especially the water and stone media. For this reason, it makes sense to build the system in its final location.

When choosing a site for your aquaponics system, you want to make sure that you select a location that has plenty of sunlight and good drainage.

Site selection is important in any type of agriculture, but it is especially important in aquaponics because the success of the system depends on so many factors.

The most important criteria for site selection are:


The climate should be warm enough to support fish growth year-round. In temperate climates, an aquaponics system must be indoors or in a greenhouse.

The climate of a location is an important factor to consider when setting up an aquaponics system. The temperature and humidity of the environment will affect the fish, plants, and bacteria in the system. In general, a warm and humid climate is best for aquaponics.

In order to maintain the ideal environment for your aquaponics system, you may need to install a heating and cooling system. If you are located in a climate that is too hot or cold, you may need to insulate your tanks or use a heater or air conditioner to keep the temperature within the desired range.


One important factor that affects the overall performance of an aquaponics system is the amount of sunlight that is available. Sunlight provides energy for plants to grow and helps to regulate the temperature of the system.

In general, plants need at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day in order to grow optimally. If there is not enough sunlight available, then supplemental lighting may be needed.


An aquaponics system takes up a lot of space, so make sure you have enough room to accommodate one before selecting a site. You also want to make sure that there is easy access to water and that the site is free from pests and diseases.

Stability of The Location

In aquaponics, the stability of the location is a critical component of the overall design. The reason for this is that the main component of the system, the heavy fish tank, needs to be placed on a level and solid surface.

If it is not stable, then there is a risk that it will topple over and damage both the tank and the growing beds.

When selecting a location for an aquaponics system, it is important to find the most level and solid ground possible.

This will help ensure that the system is stable and does not pose a risk of toppling over. If necessary, use additional support such as braces or anchors to keep the tank in place.

The system needs to be in an area that will not be affected by changes in the weather or by people. For example, if you have a concrete slab, place concrete or cement blocks under the legs of the grow beds.

That will help to keep them stable and in the same spot. You may also want to consider building a raised bed so that you can control the soil conditions and drainage.

Exposure to Stressful Weather Conditions

Aquaponics systems are becoming more popular each year; however, one factor that is often overlooked is the negative impact exposure to wind, rain, and snow can have on these systems.

In cold climates, winter temperatures can quickly damage aquaponics systems by freezing the water and damaging the fish.

In addition, exposure to wind and rain can cause the system to become over-watered or flooded.

These weather conditions can also cause problems with the growing media and plants in the system.

Wind, rain, and snow can all cause damage to plants. Wind can knock over plants or tear their stems. Rain can flood plants or wash away their soil. And snow can bury plants or freeze them.

Essential Components of An Aquaponic Unit

Fish Tank

One of the most essential components of any aquaponics system is the fish tank. The fish tank is where you will house your fish and it is important to select a tank that is large enough to accommodate your desired population size. In addition, the tank should be designed in a way that makes it easy to clean and maintain.

Aquaponics systems rely on a continuous supply of oxygenated water in order to function properly. This means that the fish tank must be placed in an area where it will receive plenty of natural light and fresh air. It is also important to choose a location that is free from drafts and extreme temperatures.


Aquaponics is a great way to produce food, but it is important to have the correct filtration in place to maintain a healthy system. Biological and mechanical filtration are both essential components of aquaponics system design.

Biological filtration is necessary to break down the ammonia produced by fish into nitrites and then into nitrates. These nutrients are essential for plants, so it is important to have a good biological filter in place.

Mechanical filtration is necessary to remove solid waste from the water. This helps keep the water clean and healthy for both the fish and the plants. A good mechanical filter will also help keep your pump running smoothly and extend its life.

Media Beds, NFT, DWC

The media bed provides a place for the plants to grow, and it also helps to filter the water. There are several different types of media that can be used in a media bed, but one of the most popular options is the nutrient film technique (NFT).

NFT is a type of hydroponics that uses a thin film of water to provide nutrients to plants. This type of system is ideal for aquaponics because it allows for deepwater culture, which is necessary for growing larger plants.

Water Pump

Water Pump is an essential component of aquaponics system design. It circulates the water in the system and helps to move the fish waste to the grow beds. The pump should be sized correctly for the system, so it can move enough water to keep everything moving.

It circulates the water from the fish tank to the grow beds and back again. The pump should be powerful enough to move the water at a rate of 1-2 gallons per minute.

Aeration System

One essential component of an effective aquaponics system is a reliable aeration system.

An aeration system circulates water in the fish tank and provides oxygen to the growing plants. Without adequate oxygen levels, the fish will become stressed and the plants will not grow properly.

The most common type of aeration system used in aquaponics is an air pump with an air stone. The air stone creates small bubbles that release oxygen into the water.

In order to ensure the efficient operation of an aeration system, it is important to size it correctly for the specific needs of your aquaponics system.

Sump Tank

Aquaponics is a great way to grow plants and raise fish at the same time. By using a sump tank, you can make your aquaponics system more efficient and easier to operate. The sump tank is an essential component of any aquaponics system design.

The sump tank serves two primary functions in an aquaponics system. First, it collects the water that flows out of the grow bed. This water is then pumped back up to the grow bed, providing the necessary nutrients for the plants.

Second, the sump tank acts as a reservoir for excess water. This water can be used to adjust the water level in the grow bed, or it can be drained off if needed.

The size of your sump tank will depend on the size of your aquaponics system.

Plumbing Materials

When assembling an aquaponics system, the plumbing materials you choose are essential for ensuring a successful system. Different types of materials can be used for the plumbing, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

PVC pipe is a popular choice because it is inexpensive and easy to work with. It is also relatively sturdy and can withstand the high water pressure in an aquaponics system.

However, PVC can leach toxins into the water if not properly sealed, so it is important to use a good sealant when connecting PVC pipes.

Another option for plumbing materials is metal tubing. Metal tubing is more expensive than PVC pipe but it is much more durable and can withstand higher water pressure.

It is also less likely to leak toxins into the water. However, metal tubing can be difficult to work with and requires special tools.

Water Testing Kits

In this system, the fish waste provides the nutrients for the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish. One of the most important components of an aquaponics system is the water testing kit.

The water testing kit is essential for monitoring the pH level, ammonia level, nitrate level, and carbon dioxide level in the system.

The pH level needs to be monitored to make sure it stays in the optimal range of 6.8-7.2. The ammonia level needs to be monitored to make sure it stays below 0.5ppm.

Types of Aquaponics Designs

Here are the three types of aquaponics designs,

Media Bed Technique

The media bed technique is one of the most common methods for growing plants in an aquaponics system. In this method, a medium is used to support the plants’ roots. This can be anything from gravel to expanded clay pellets. The media bed technique is popular because it’s easy to use and it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.

The key to the success of any aquaponics system is the media bed technique. The media bed is a porous container filled with a growing medium, such as gravel, perlite or volcanic rock, which supports the plants and provides a place for the beneficial bacteria to colonize.

When the wastewater from the fish tanks is pumped over the growing medium, it washes away any accumulated debris and also provides essential nutrients for the plants.

At the same time, the bacteria in the media bed convert ammonia from the fish waste into nitrates, which are essential nutrients for plants.

The plants then remove these nitrates from the water, completing the cycle.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

There are many different types of aquaponics systems, but one of the most common is the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) system.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) aquaponics type is one of the most popular types of aquaponics. In this method, plants are grown in a narrow channel or trough with water being constantly circulated past the roots.

In an NFT system, nutrient-rich water from an aquaculture tank flows over the roots of plants in a narrow channel or “film”. This flow of water provides the plants with all the nutrients they need to grow, while also removing waste products from the water.

The supply of nutrients is provided by the water which also helps to cool and aerate the roots. This system is ideal for plants that need a lot of water such as lettuce, herbs, and tomatoes.

Deepwater Culture Technique

Deepwater culture technique aquaponics type is a new method of growing plants and fish together in a single system. The plants are grown in water that is deeper than traditional methods, and the fish waste provides the nutrients the plants need.

This type of aquaponics is ideal for small spaces and can be used to grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

The fish are also kept in this tank and their waste provides the nutrients for the plants. This is a very efficient way to grow plants and it can be used to produce large quantities of crops.

Final Words

In conclusion, an aquaponics system is a great way to start growing your own produce and fish. It is easy to set up and can be done in any location, even a small apartment.

By following the tips in this article, you can create a successful system that will provide you with fresh produce and healthy fish.