Creative Ways to Set Up Aquaponics Systems in Small Areas

With an increasing demand for sustainable agriculture and local food production, the interest in aquaponics has been steadily growing. Aquaponics ‌offers an alternative growing approach that addresses these issues while also promoting self-sufficiency and food security.

As the popularity of aquaponics continues to rise, there is a growing need to adapt these systems to fit smaller spaces. This article will discuss the creative ways to set up aquaponics systems in limited areas and explore strategies that enable individuals to reap the benefits of aquaponics, even in constrained environments. 

Choosing the Right Aquaponics System for Small Spaces

Understanding options is crucial when setting up a small space aquaponics system. Here are the types of aquaponics systems that can be installed in small spaces. 

  1. Media Beds: The media bed system uses grow beds filled with a medium like gravel or clay pellets to support plant roots. The water from the fish tank is pumped into the grow beds, and the plants extract nutrients from the water before it returns to the fish tank.
  2. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): NFT systems involve a thin film of water that flows over the roots of plants, providing them with nutrients. This system is particularly efficient for growing herbs and lightweight crops.
  3. Vertical Towers: Vertical aquaponics utilizes vertical space by stacking planters on top of each other. This is an excellent option for small areas as it maximizes growing space.

Factors to Consider in Selecting an Aquaponics System

When choosing an aquaponics system for small spaces, consider the following factors:

  1. Available Space: Measure the area where you intend to set up the system. Consider both horizontal and vertical space, as some systems are better suited for limited room.
  2. Resources: Evaluate your access to water, electricity, and necessary materials for building the system. Some setups may require more resources than others.
  3. Desired Crops: Different system types favor different plants. Determine the crops you want to grow and select a system that can accommodate their needs.
  4. Fish Selection: Choose fish that are well-suited for the chosen aquaponics design.
  5. Maintenance Effort: Consider the time and effort you're willing to invest in maintaining your aquaponics system.
  6. Scalability: Scalability is important for small-space aquaponics systems. As plants grow and fish populations increase, the system should be able to handle the changes without becoming unbalanced. This adaptability ensures a stable system and prevents overgrowth issues.

Creative Small Aquaponics Systems Ideas

A. Vertical Aquaponics System

When it comes to small areas and limited spaces, thinking vertically can be a game-changer in aquaponics. Vertical aquaponics utilizes vertical space by stacking planters on top of each other. This is an excellent option for small areas as it maximizes growing space. It saves precious floor space and maximizes the cultivation of both fish and plants.

Advantages of Vertical Aquaponics Systems:

Below are the advantages of vertical aquaponics systems.

  1. Space Efficiency: Vertical aquaponics efficiently uses limited space by expanding upwards instead of outwards in urban and small-scale settings, where every inch matters.
  2. Increased Plant Density: Vertical setups enable you to grow more plants in the same area, enhancing your overall yield.
  3. Improved Water Circulation: The downward flow of water ensures optimal circulation, preventing stagnation and promoting oxygenation for plants and fish.
  4. Reduced Pest and Disease Risk: Elevating plants can help deter ground-dwelling pests and reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases, leading to healthier crops.
  5. Aesthetics: Vertical gardens can be visually striking, adding a touch of greenery to even the tiniest spaces.

Plants That Thrive in Vertical Setups 

Below are the plants that are well-suited for vertical aquaponics due to their growth habits and adaptability:

  1. Leafy Greens: Plants like lettuce, spinach, and kale have shallow root systems, making them ideal for vertical setups.
  2. Herbs: Basil, mint, cilantro, and other herbs flourish in vertical systems, often producing better flavor due to the controlled environment.
  3. Strawberries: Strawberries are compact plants can thrive in vertical pockets, producing delicious berries while saving space.

Creative Vertical Aquaponics Designs Ideas

1. DIY Vertical Aquaponics System

DIY Vertical Aquaponics System
Photo From Pinterest


2. DIY Ceramic Tiles Aquaponics System

DIY Ceramic Tiles Aquaponics System
Photo from Pinterest

By exploring these space-saving and innovative vertical aquaponics designs, you can transform your urban environment into a thriving plant and aquatic life hub through urban aquaponics system.

B. Indoor Aquaponics Setup for Small Spaces

The concept of indoor aquaponics shines as a beacon of ingenuity. The allure of cultivating fresh produce and fostering aquatic life within the cozy confines of your home is an enticing proposition that transcends traditional gardening boundaries. Indoor aquaponics elegantly merges modern living with natural ecosystems, allowing urban dwellers and apartment residents to enjoy the beauty and benefits of aquaponics regardless of external limitations.

Advantages of Indoor Aquaponics:

  • Year-Round Cultivation: Indoor setups are unaffected by external weather conditions, enabling you to cultivate crops and raise fish throughout the year.
  • Space Utilization: The vertical nature of many indoor systems optimizes space utilization, making them perfect for apartment balconies, kitchen corners, or even spare rooms.
  • Enhanced Control: Indoor aquaponics grants you greater control over environmental variables like light, temperature, and humidity, ensuring optimal conditions for plants and fish.
  • Sustainable Gardening: By incorporating sustainable practices like aquaponics into indoor spaces, you contribute to reducing food miles, conserving water, and minimizing your carbon footprint.

Plants That Thrive in Small Indoor aquaponics Systems

Here is a list of plants that thrive in small indoor aquaponics systems. Keep in mind that you can still grow other plants in an indoor aquaponics system, depending on the size of your setup.

  1. Lettuce: Varieties like Butterhead, Bibb, and Romaine are well-suited for indoor aquaponics. They have shallow root systems and grow quickly.
  2. Basil: This aromatic herb flourishes in aquaponic systems. Its vibrant leaves add flavor to dishes and its growth responds well to nutrient-rich water.
  3. Mint: Mint is known for its refreshing aroma and rapid growth. It can be easily propagated and adds a pleasant scent to your indoor space.
  4. Spinach: Spinach is a leafy green that grows well in aquaponics. Its nutrient-rich leaves make it a nutritious addition to your diet.
  5. Kale: Kale is a nutrient powerhouse and adapts well to indoor aquaponics. It can be harvested selectively, allowing the plant to continue producing.
  6. Swiss Chard: With colorful stems and large leaves, Swiss chard adds an aesthetic touch to your aquaponics system. It's also rich in vitamins and minerals.
  7. Arugula: Arugula's peppery leaves thrive in aquaponics setups. It's a great addition to salads and sandwiches.
  8. Cilantro: Cilantro is a fast-growing herb that does well in aquaponics. Its fresh leaves are commonly used in various culinary dishes.
  9. Green Onions: Also known as scallions or spring onions, green onions are easy to grow and can be harvested incrementally.
  10. Chives: Chives add a mild onion flavor to dishes and their slender leaves are perfect for indoor aquaponics systems.
  11. Parsley: This versatile herb grows well in aquaponics. It's a popular garnish and ingredient in various dishes.
  12. Microgreens: Microgreens, such as radish, broccoli, and sunflower microgreens, are packed with nutrients and can be harvested quickly.
  13. Lemongrass: This aromatic herb can be grown indoors and adds a citrusy fragrance to your space and culinary creations.
  14. Lemon Balm: Lemon balm is a fragrant herb that's often used in teas and recipes. It thrives in aquaponic systems.
  15. Oregano: Oregano is a hardy herb that adds flavor to many dishes. It's well-suited for indoor aquaponics setups.

Different Indoor Aquaponics Designs Ideas 

1. Counter Top Aquaponics System

Counter Top Aquaponics System

Photo From GoGreen

This technique employs a compact setup with vertically stacked fish tanks and plant beds. Water is pumped from the fish tank to the grow bed, and as it trickles down through each subsequent bed, it gets progressively purified by plant roots.

2. Media-Based Grow Beds

Media-Based Grow Beds

Photo From Pinterest

In this approach, plants grow in media-filled containers where water from the fish tank is pumped. The media acts as both a substrate for plant roots and a filter for the water, creating a balanced ecosystem.

3. Vertical Wall Garden

Indoor Vertical Aquaponics System
 Photo from Reddit

Transform your indoor space into a living work of art by installing vertical walls with integrated aquaponics. These striking installations not only purify the air but also produce fresh herbs and vegetables.

C. Creative DIY Aquaponics System Designs

These DIY designs prove you don't need elaborate equipment or a vast budget to embark on your aquaponics journey. Let's delve into some inspiring examples:

1. Barrel-Ponics

Barrel Aquaponics System

Photo from Pinterest

Repurposed barrels can be transformed into self-contained aquaponics systems. With careful planning, a single barrel can house fish and plants, creating a self-sustaining microcosm.

2.Window Farms

Windows Aquaponics System

Photo From Pinterest

Harness natural light by creating vertical aquaponics setups using recycled plastic. You can transform these window farms into thriving aquaponics displays by incorporating a small fish tank at the base.

D. Using Repurposed Materials for Aquaponics in Small Spaces

One of the aspects of DIY aquaponics is the ability to repurpose materials that might otherwise go to waste. By using repurposed materials, you contribute to reducing waste and infuse your aquaponics journey with a sense of ingenuity and environmental consciousness.

1. Pallet Aquaponics Garden

Pallet Aquaponics Gardens

Photo From Pinterest

Old wooden pallets can be transformed into aquaponics planters, offering a rustic and space-efficient solution for small areas.

2. Repurposing Plastic Containers

DIY Repurpose Aquaponics System

Photo From Pinterest

Repurpose plastic containers, such as storage bins or buckets, as fish tanks or plant beds. With some creativity, you can transform these containers into unique aquaponics designs.

3. Upcycled Gutters

DIY Gutter Aquaponics System

Photo From Pinterest

Salvage old gutters to create aquaponics channels for plant growth. Coupling them with a fish tank allows you to fashion an aquaponics setup that utilizes otherwise discarded materials.

4. Upcycled Fish Tanks

DIY Bathtub Aquaponics Setup

Photo From Pinterest

Transform unused containers like bathtubs, large buckets, or even old aquariums into fish tanks. These old or unused containers can be the foundation for your aquaponics ecosystem while adding a touch of character.


As you embark on your own aquaponic journey within the confines of small spaces, remember that every seed sown and every fish cared for contributes to a sustainable and vibrant ecosystem. Whether it's a balcony transformed into a vertical garden or a countertop turned into a thriving miniature aquaponics system, your efforts will be rewarded by the fresh produce you can harvest from your small aquaponics system.

May your aquaponics endeavors be as fruitful as they are fulfilling, and may your small space be forever transformed into a testament to the beauty of nature's harmony. Thank you for reading our article and feel free to leave a comment below. 

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