Outdoor or Indoor Aquaponics Systems: What is the Best Choice?

With the rise of population and lack of growing spaces to grow plants, more and more people are turning to aquaponics to grow fish and plants. One of the excellent things about aquaponics is that it can be established in indoor and outdoor environments. 

Both indoor and outdoor aquaponics setup have their own pros and cons, but if you're a new aquaponics enthusiast looking to set up your first system, one question that may come to your mind is which is better; indoor or outdoor aquaponics setup?


Aquaponics System

Why Does The Choice of Your System's Location Matter?

The location of your aquaponics setup matters because its success depends on this. Whether it's an indoor or outdoor system, it will significantly affect the well-being of the entire system, which is why you need to pick the best setup that is suitable for your needs.

Factors to Consider in Choosing A Location for Your Aquaponics System

Below are the essential things you need to consider when it comes to choosing a location for your system.

1. Stability 

Whether you choose an indoor or outdoor system, choose the most stable and level location for your system. Some components of aquaponics, such as fish tanks and grow beds, are heavy, which can lead to a potential risk of the grow bed stand's legs sinking into the ground. A not-level system can also lead to disrupted water flow, flooding, or collapse of the grow bed stand. 

2. Exposure to Sunlight and Shade

Plants need at least six hours of sunlight exposure per day to grow, so if you choose to grow an outdoor setup, place your system where it can get enough sunlight. If the location where you want to put your system has little or no sunlight exposure, like an indoor system, you need to install artificial grow lights to supplement the sunlight. 

3. Exposure to Wind, Rain, and Snow

Extreme environmental conditions such as wind, rain, and snow can stress plants and destroy your system's structures. Strong winds can leave a negative impact and damage plants. In addition, heavy rain can harm the plants and dilute the nutrient-rich water, while snow can also damage the plants and fish in the system. So it is recommended to build your outdoor system in a protected area to avoid problems. 

4. Ease of Access

Another critical factor to consider in selecting a location for your system is the ease of access. You need to have easy access to electricity and water source and easy access to your grow beds for planting and harvesting.

5. Space Available

Aquaponics systems can take up space, so make sure your chosen location will have enough room for the system you are planning to build. 

6. Temperature

Depending on the type of fish you choose, you need to keep an eye on your temperature to ensure it meets their growing requirements. If you live in a hot climate, you need to keep your fish away from the direct sunlight, but if you live in colder weather, you need to ensure the water is warm enough to provide a healthy habitat for your fish. 


Indoor Aquaponics System

Indoor Aquaponics

Indoor aquaponics is the growing of plants inside a building, structure, or any enclosed area that can be a greenhouse or as simple as a home garage. An indoor system is ideal for fish and plants that are more sensitive to fluctuations in temperature.

Because indoor systems are built inside a structure, it has limited or no sunlight exposure and depends heavily on artificial lighting and temperature controls. Indoor aquaponics is ideal for people who are living in urban areas with limited growing space. 

Advantages of Indoor Aquaponics

 Below are the advantages of an indoor aquaponics system.

  • Your aquaponics system is safe from extreme weather conditions or other environmental issues.

  • The ability to control the climate inside the structure allows growers to grow crops all year round, regardless of any weather conditions.

  • Since your fish and plants are grown indoors, they are safer from pests and diseases.

  • Maintaining a constant desired temperature and adjusting the choice of fish and plants is easier.

  • Indoor systems require less space and can be set up inside an apartment or other small indoor areas.

  • An indoor garden allows you to harvest fresh and organic vegetables and fish right in the comfort of your home. Saving you money from buying fresh greens from the grocery store.

  • An indoor system gives you a functional aquarium and an indoor garden that could add beauty to your home.

Disadvantages of Indoor Aquaponics

  • Building an indoor aquaponics system can be expensive.

  • You need to install artificial lighting to mimic the sun and provide heat to the plants. 

  • An indoor system requires enough ventilation to prevent moisture. Too much humidity can help the development of fungal diseases and molds.

  • It can be hard to expand or scale up an indoor system because of the limited space. 

  •   An aquaponics system can be heavy, so you need to ensure that the structure can carry the system's weight.

  • Indoor systems have limited growing space.


Outdoor Aquaponics System

Outdoor Aquaponics

An outdoor system is a growing method where plants and aquatic animals are grown together in one setup. It is the most common setup for both backyard home growers and commercial growers. This is because of the available space to grow and scale up the aquaponics operation efficiently. 

An outdoor system might be called an outdoor setup. Still, it's not a total outdoor aquaponics because most growers use some form of greenhouses or provide shades or roofing to protect their system from outside elements such as extreme weather conditions or predators.

Anyone with a backyard can set up a DIY outdoor system. Since it's an outdoor setup, you don't have to spend money on artificial grow lights and mimicking an outdoor environment. 

Advantages of Outdoor Aquaponics

These are the benefits of using an outdoor aquaponics system.

  • You can easily scale your aquaponics systems because it is not confined to limited space, like an indoor setup.

  • Since most of the work is done by the sun, you will not have to worry about grow lights, temperature control, or other machines that an indoor system needs. 

  • An outdoor system can be set up even on barren soil, rooftops, backyards, or parking lots.

  • The crops grow much faster because it is exposed to the natural sunlight and fresh air.

Disadvantages of Outdoor Aquaponics

These are the several limitations of outdoor aquaponics systems.

  • An outdoor aquaponics setup is prone to water temperature fluctuations as the climate may become too hot during summer.

  • You must be mindful of the external factors such as extreme weather conditions or predators that may affect your operation.

  • Outdoor systems are more susceptible to pests and diseases.

  • In colder climates, the system had to be shut down for winter.

The Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Aquaponics Systems

The table below shows the differences between indoor and outdoor aquaponics systems. You will need to consider these differences when selecting the best setup.

System Indoor Aquaponics System Outdoor Aquaponics System

Costlier because of the components needed, such as temperature control, grow lights, timers, humidifiers, etc.

Cheaper to set up and maintain.

Weather Effect

Can grow crops all year round

Vulnerable to changing weather and extreme weather such as snow, heavy rain or too tropical climate.

Space Needed

Can be done in any indoor space

Can take advantages of outdoor spaces like backyard, rooftops, parking spaces, etc.

Produced Products

Due to limited space, only small fish species and plants with not too big structures can be grown

Large fish and small species can be grown. Can also grow any plants.


The indoor system parts require more maintenance but less maintenance on plants due to isolated from pests and diseases.

Less maintenance on parts, but the plants and fish require more maintenance and monitoring.

Choosing Between Indoor and Outdoor Aquaponics

The choice between indoor and outdoor systems depends entirely on your personal preferences, available space, and budget. You know your capability and what is best for your needs.

However, every situation is different, and the best thing you can do is determine what method will work best for you over the long run. Below is our tips on choosing the best setup for you.


Newly Built Aquaponics System

The Best Choice for Aquaponics Beginners

If you are an aquaponics beginner with a budget and‌ an indoor space available, then an indoor system would be the best. With an indoor system, you can set up easily using ready-to-use aquaponics beginner kits.

An indoor beginner kit is also a perfect tool for learning the ins and outs of aquaponics, as you have far more control over the types of fish and plants you end up selecting for your system. It will also produce all year round.

Once you're confident enough to set up a more extensive system, you can easily scale up or transition from an indoor system to an outdoor system and have fun experimenting with your system.

Having a Combine Indoor and Outdoor Systems

Some aquaponics growers choose a combination of an indoor and outdoor system. Some use the indoor system to breed the fingerlings and then release them into an outdoor tank once they have outgrown their small indoor tank. A combined system also allows growers to grow a wider choice of plants.


In choosing between an indoor and outdoor system, the best option will be based on the factors mentioned above. Indoor aquaponics is great for beginners with indoor spaces who want to learn the basics of raising fish and plants.

Similarly, an outdoor system is also great for people who wish to take advantage of the available outdoor space and want to focus on a big production. An outdoor system is great for commercial aquaponics growers.

Regardless of your aquaponics setup, growing your food is an excellent start to sustainable living. Thank you for reading our article. Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive regular aquaponics updates. 



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