Hydroponics vs aquaponics for indoor gardening

Hydroponic and aquaponic farming has been around for many years.  There are currently thousands of hydroponic and aquaponic commercial farmers worldwide.  Will this technology work in a small indoor garden?  The answer is Yes, but which is better?  Let’s look at Hydroponics vs aquaponics for indoor gardening

hydroponic vs aquaponics for indoor gardening

What is hydroponics?

In its simplest terms, hydroponics is the science of growing plants in a water nutrient solution without soil.

Many people dabble in hydroponic indoor gardening without even realizing it.  If you have ever grown herbs or other plants in a glass of water on a windowsill then you are already a hydroponic gardener!

It does get a bit more technical when you are growing an actual full indoor garden but the very basic concept is the same.

What is aquaponics?

hydroponics vs aquaponics for indoor gardening

Aquaponics is the science of growing plants using the waste-filled water from a fish tank as the water nutrient solution.  And like hydroponics, aquaponics involves gardening without using soil.

Why should you be indoor gardening with hydroponics or aquaponics?

The things that are the same with hydroponic vs aquaponics for indoor gardening:

As stated already both gardens grow in a water solution without soil.

Both systems are known to have a less negative impact on the environment than traditional soil plantings.

Why?  Because although they are water-based systems, both hydroponics and aquaponics recycle water thru a closed system.  This allows for much less water usage than soil gardening.

Also: Many of the traditional gardening pests and diseases are related to soil.  Without soil, these problems and any chemicals you might use to deal with the problems are eliminated.

It has been well researched and documented to show that growing your garden using hydroponics or aquaponics can grow up to 50% faster and give you around 30% more productive.

The important differences between hydroponic vs aquaponics for indoor gardening

Cost of setup

There is a cost to set up any hydroponic or aquaponic system.  The cost will vary greatly depending on the general kind of system you are using.

The added cost for hydroponics.

You will need to give your plants nutrients.  Here is a video that will explain some things you will need to know.

The cost of hydroponic nutrients can be expensive.  The nutrients need to be refreshed regularly so it is an ongoing cost.  A great way to keep the cost down is to use COMPOST TEA.  Watch to find out how to make your own compost tea


Costs for aquaponics

The fish in an aquaponic system provides the nutrients for free!  However, there is a cost to purchase the fish and to feed them.  I have found that cost to be very minimal but it is worth mentioning.

Ease of hydroponics vs aquaponics for indoor gardening

Hydroponic grow solutions need to be monitored for temperature, PH levels, and nutrient levels.  These things can change often and need to be controlled.  It is not difficult but does take time and thought.

Aquaponics is almost completely hands-off.  You need to keep the fish happy as you would with any fish tank.  Give food to the fish and keep an eye on PH levels but for the most part, fish tanks are easy.  The addition of an aquaponic garden makes keeping fish easier because you almost never have to clean the tank!

Organic indoor gardening

There is a lot of negative talk about hydroponics growing not being organic.  If you use growing solutions sold commercially you can not also grow organically.  However, there are ways of making homemade grow solutions from compost tea.  These are more work but will allow you to grow organically and hydroponically.

Aquaponics naturally organic
Aquaponics is a closed ecosystem.   Since you are only using fish poop to grow your plants they will be naturally organic.


Will they work for indoor gardening?


You can make a small system that will fit almost anywhere.   There are endless ways to design one to fit into your space.  The best thing to do is to decide what kind of system you want, then decide if you want to enjoy a fish tank or have a hidden tank of solution.

The above links to the 3 types of systems will give you step by step on how to make your own system.

Conclusion: Hydroponics vs aquaponics for indoor gardening

Hydroponic indoor gardening


  • few pests and disease
  • environmental friendly
  • easy to do
  • grows plants fast with high fruit yield


  • expensive to maintain
  • needs time to keep up with maintenance
  • not organic

Aquaponic indoor gardening


  • few pests and disease
  • environmental friendly
  • easy to do
  • grows plants fast with high fruit yield
  • fun to watch the fish
  • not expensive
  • organic


  • more expensive to setup


I hope you give either a try.  Check out some of my other posts for more specific details on how to start systems.  And check out my book on Amazon.

I have been growing indoors using both aquaponic and hydroponics for a long time.  I like aquaponics better because the fish are nice to watch and it takes less effort.  However, I still have hydroponic systems because sometimes the space just does not work for fish.

Thanks and as always please comment, like, and share.

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