Aquaponics System Design and Construction

Main Article Content

Abebe Tadesse


This text provides a comprehensive guide for planning, designing, and constructing an aquaponics system, a sustainable agricultural system that integrates fish farming and soilless plant cultivation. The text covers the key aspects of aquaponics system design, such as site selection, system goals, system size and scale, layout design, fish tank setup, grow bed design, plumbing and water circulation, equipment and tools selection, and construction techniques. The text also discusses the benefits and challenges of aquaponics systems, as well as the best practices and guidelines for optimizing system functionality, productivity, and long-term success. The text aims to provide practical and useful information for individuals who are interested in implementing aquaponics systems in their own settings.

Article Details

How to Cite

How to Cite



Bartelme RP, Smith MC, Sepulveda-Villet OJ, Newton RJ. Component Microenvironments and System Biogeography Structure Microorganism Distributions in Recirculating Aquaculture and Aquaponic Systems. mSphere. 2019;4(4).

De Oro Ochoa E, Carmona Garcia M, Durango Padilla N, Martinez Remolina A. Design and experimental evaluation of a Venturi and Venturi-Vortex microbubble aeration system. Heliyon. 2022;8(10):e10824.

El-Essawy H, Nasr P, Sewilam H. Aquaponics:

a sustainable alternative to conventional agriculture in Egypt - a pilot scale investigation. Environmental science and pollution research international. 2019;26(16):15872-83.

Endut A, Jusoh A, Ali N, Wan Nik W, Hassan A. A study on the optimal hydrolic loading rate and plant ratios in recirculation Aquaponic system. Bioresource technology 2010;101:1511-7.

Grunert O, Hernandez-Sanabria E, Buysens S, De Neve S, Van Labeke MC, Reheul D, et al. In-Depth Observation on the Microbial and Fungal Community Structure of Four Contrasting Tomato Cultivation Systems in Soil Based and Soilless Culture Systems. Front Plant Sci. 2020;11:520834.

Oladimeji SA, Okomoda VT, Olufeagba SO, Solomon SG, Abol-Munafi AB, Alabi KI, et al. Aquaponics production of catfish and pumpkin:

Comparison with conventional production systems. Food science & nutrition. 2020;8(5):2307-15.

Pechlivani EM, Papadimitriou A, Pemas S, Ntinas G, Tzovaras D. IoT-Based Agro-Toolbox for Soil Analysis and Environmental Monitoring. Micromachines. 2023;14(9).

Reyes Lastiri D, Slinkert T, Cappon HJ, Baganz D, Staaks G, Keesman KJ. Model of an aquaponic system for minimised water, energy and nitrogen requirements. Water science and technology :

a journal of the International Association on Water Pollution Research. 2016;74(1):30-7.

Thomas M, Pasquet A, Aubin J, Nahon S, Lecocq T. When more is more:

taking advantage of species diversity to move towards sustainable aquaculture. Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. 2021;96(2):767-84.

Udanor CN, Ossai NI, Nweke EO, Ogbuokiri BO, Eneh AH, Ugwuishiwu CH, et al. An internet of things labelled dataset for aquaponics fish pond water quality monitoring system. Data in brief. 2022;43:108400.

Vermeulen T, Kamstra A. The need for systems design for robust aquaponic systems in the urban environment. 2013;104:71-8.

Elsey H, Farragher T, Tubeuf S, Bragg R, Elings M, Brennan C, et al. Assessing the impact of care farms on quality of life and offending:

a pilot study among probation service users in England. BMJ open. 2018;8(3):e019296.

Zhu Z, Yogev U, Goddek S, Yang F, Keesman KJ, Gross A. Carbon dynamics and energy recovery in a novel near-zero waste aquaponics system with onsite anaerobic treatment. The Science of the total environment. 2022;833:155245.

Dediu L, Cristea V, Xiaoshuan Z. Waste production and valorization in an integrated aquaponic system with bester and lettuce. African Journal of Biotechnology 2012;11(9):2349-58.

dos Santos MJPL. Smart cities and urban areas—Aquaponics as innovative urban agriculture. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 2016;20:402-6.

Licamele J. Biomass production and nutrient dynamics in an aquaponics system:


Love D, Fry J, Li X, Hill E, Genello L, Semmens K, et al. Commercial aquaponics production and profitability:

Findings froman international survey. Aquaculture. 2015;435:67–74.

Pantanella E, Cardarelli M, Colla G, Rea E, Marcucci A. Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics:

Production and Quality of Lettuce Crop. Xxviii International Horticultural Congress on Science and Horticulture for People (Ihc2010):

International Symposium on Greenhouse 2010 and Soilless Cultivation. 2012;927:887-93.

Petrea SM, Coadă MT, Cristea V, Dediu L, Cristea D, Rahoveanu AT, et al. A Comparative Cost – Effectiveness Analysis in Different Tested Aquaponic Systems. Agriculture and Agricultural Science Procedia. 2016;10:555-65.

Rakocy J. Aquaponics. Lowa, USA:

John Willey & Sons, Inc; 2012.

Suhl J, Dannehl D, Kloas W, Baganz D, Jobs S, Scheibe G, et al. Advanced aquaponics:

Evaluation of intensive tomato production in aquaponics vs. conventional hydroponics. Agricultural Water Management. 2016;178:335-44.

Savidov N, Hutchings E, Rakocy J. Fish and plant production in a recirculating aquaponic system:

a new approach to sustainable agriculture in Canada. Acta Hortic. 2007;7(42):209-21.

Goddek S, Delaide B, Mankasingh U, Ragnarsdottir K, Jijakli H, Thorarinsdottir R. Challenges of Sustainable and Commercial Aquaponics. Sustainability. 2015;7(4):4199-224.

Sasi S, Prasad K, Weerasinghe J, Bazaka O, Ivanova EP, Levchenko I, et al. Plasma for aquaponics. Trends Biotechnol. 2023;41(1):46-62.

Savidov NA, Hutchings E, Rakocy JE. Fish and plant production in a recirculating aquaponic system:

a new approach to sustainable agriculture in Canada. Acta Hortic. 2007(742):209-21.

Love DC, Fry JP, Li X, Hill ES, Genello L, Semmens K, et al. Commercial aquaponics production and profitability:

Findings from an international survey. Aquaculture. 2015;435:67-74.

Shete A, Verma A, Chadha N, Prakash C, Peter R, Ahmad I, et al. Optimization of hydraulic loading rate in aquaponic system with Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and Mint (Mentha arvensis). Aquacultural Engineering 2016;72:53–7.

Tyson R, Treadwell D, Simonne E. Opportunities and Challenges to Sustainability in Aquaponic Systems. Hortitechnology. 2011;21(1):6-13.

Johanna S, Dennis D, Werner K, Daniela B, Sebastian J, Günther S, et al. Advanced aquaponics:

Evaluation of intensive tomato production in aquaponics vs. conventional hydroponics. Agricultural Water Management. 2016;178:335-44.

Kundu D, Dutta D, Samanta P, Dey S, Sherpa KC, Kumar S, et al. Valorization of wastewater:

A paradigm shift towards circular bioeconomy and sustainability. The Science of the total environment. 2022;848:157709.

Mok WK, Tan YX, Chen WN. Technology innovations for food security in Singapore:

A case study of future food systems for an increasingly natural resource-scarce world. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2020;102:155-68.

Rakocy J, Masser M, Losordo T. Recirculating Aquaculture Tank Production Systems:

Aquaponics—Integrating Fish and Plant Culture. Southern Regional Aquaculture center (SRAC- Publication). 2006;454:1-16.

Somerville C, Cohen M, Pantanella E, Stankus A, Lovatelli A. Small-scale aquaponic food production. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome:

FAO 2014.

Wirza R, Nazir S. Urban aquaponics farming and cities- a systematic literature review. Reviews on environmental health. 2021;36(1):47-61.

Abdul Hamid SH, Lananan F, Kasan NA, Yasmin Sayid Abdullah SH, Endut A. Physical profile and chemical composition of a novel fabricated Kaolina as alternative growing media in aquaponics. Chemosphere. 2022;307(Pt 4):136005.

Alselek M, Alcaraz-Calero JM, Segura-Garcia J, Wang Q. Water IoT Monitoring System for Aquaponics Health and Fishery Applications. Sensors. 2022;22(19).

Ampim PAY, Obeng E, Olvera-Gonzalez E. Indoor Vegetable Production:

An Alternative Approach to Increasing Cultivation. Plants. 2022;11(21).

Buzby K, Waterland N, Semmens K, Lin L. Evaluating aquaponic crops in a freshwater flow-through fish culture system. Aquaculture. 2016;460:15-24.

Cerozi Bda S, Fitzsimmons K. The effect of pH on phosphorus availability and speciation in an aquaponics nutrient solution. Bioresource technology. 2016;219:778-81.

Dediu L, Cristea V, Zhang XS. Waste production and valorization in an integrated aquaponic system with bester and lettuce. African Journal of Biotechnology. 2012;11(9):2349-58.

Endut A, Jusoh A, Ali N. Nitrogen budget and effluent nitrogen components in aquaponics recirculation system. Desalin Water Treat. 2014;52(4-6):744-52.

Graber A, Junge R. Aquaponic Systems:

Nutrient recycling from fish wastewater by vegetable production. Desalination 246 2009;246:147–56.

Kralik B, Nieschwitz N, Neves K, Zeedyk N, Wildschutte H, Kershaw J. The effect of aquaponics on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) sensory, quality, and safety outcomes. Journal of food science. 2023;88(6):2261-72.

Liang J, Chien Y. Effects of feeding frequency and photoperiod on water quality and crop production in a tilapia-water spinach raft aquaponics system. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation. 2013;85:693-700.

Love D, Uhlc M, Genello L. Energy and water use of a small-scale raft aquaponics system in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Aquacultural Engineering. 2015;68:19–27.

Rafiee G, Roos C. The Effect of Natural Zeolite (Clinoptiolite) on Aquaponic Production of Red Tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) and Lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. longifolia), and Improvement of Water Quality. Journal of Agricultural Science Technology. 2006;8:313-22.

Tokuyama T, Mine A, Kamiyama K, Yabe R, Satoh K, Matsumoto H, et al. Nitrosomonas communis strain YNSRA, an ammonia-oxidizing bacterium, isolated from the reed rhizoplane in an aquaponics plant. Journal of bioscience and bioengineering. 2004;98(4):309-12.

Turcios A, Papenbrock J. Sustainable Treatment of Aquaculture Effluents-What Can We Learn from the Past for the Future? Sustainability. 2014;6(2):836-56.

Vasdravanidis C, Alvanou MV, Lattos A, Papadopoulos DK, Chatzigeorgiou I, Ravani M, et al. Aquaponics as a Promising Strategy to Mitigate Impacts of Climate Change on Rainbow Trout Culture. Animals :

an open access journal from MDPI. 2022;12(19).

Wongkiew S, Park MR, Chandran K, Khanal SK. Aquaponic Systems for Sustainable Resource Recovery:

Linking Nitrogen Transformations to Microbial Communities. Environmental science & technology. 2018;52(21):12728-39.

Wu H, Zou Y, Lv J, Hu Z. Impacts of aeration management and polylactic acid addition on dissolved organic matter characteristics in intensified aquaponic systems. Chemosphere. 2018;205:579-86.

Yep B, Gale NV, Zheng Y. Aquaponic and Hydroponic Solutions Modulate NaCl-Induced Stress in Drug-Type Cannabis sativa L. Front Plant Sci. 2020;11:1169.

Zou Y, Hu Z, Zhang J, Xie H, Guimbaud C, Fang Y. Effects of pH on nitrogen transformations in media-based aquaponics. Bioresource technology. 2016;210:81-7.

Khalil S, Panda P, Ghadamgahi F, Rosberg A, Vetukuri RR. Comparison of two commercial recirculated aquacultural systems and their microbial potential in plant disease suppression. BMC microbiology. 2021;21(1):205.

Love DC, Fry JP, Genello L, Hill ES, Frederick JA, Li X, et al. An international survey of aquaponics practitioners. PloS one. 2014;9(7):e102662.

Pade JS, Nelson RL. Village aquaponics. Acta Horticulturae. 2007;742:197-9.

Maucieri C, Nicoletto C, Zanin G, Birolo M, Trocino A, Sambo P, et al. Effect of stocking density of fish on water quality and growth performance of European Carp and leafy vegetables in a low-tech aquaponic system. PloS one. 2019;14(5):e0217561.

Maucieri C, Nicoletto C, Zanin G, Xiccato G, Borin M, Sambo P. Composition and quality traits of vegetables grown in a low-tech aquaponic system at different fish stocking densities. Journal of the science of food and agriculture. 2020;100(11):4310-8.

Ansari FA, Guldhe A, Gupta SK, Rawat I, Bux F. Improving the feasibility of aquaculture feed by using microalgae. Environmental science and pollution research international. 2021;28(32):43234-57.

Hou H, Zhang Y, Ma Z, Wang X, Su P, Wang H, et al. Life cycle assessment of tiger puffer (Takifugu rubripes) farming:

A case study in Dalian, China. The Science of the total environment. 2022;823:153522.

Klinger D, Naylor R. Searching for Solutions in Aquaculture:

Charting a Sustainable Course. Annu Rev Env Resour. 2012;37:247.

Love DC, Uhl MS, Genello L. Energy and water use of a small-scale raft aquaponics system in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Aquacultural Engineering. 2015;68:19-27.

Modarelli GC, Vanacore L, Rouphael Y, Langellotti AL, Masi P, De Pascale S, et al. Hydroponic and Aquaponic Floating Raft Systems Elicit Differential Growth and Quality Responses to Consecutive Cuts of Basil Crop. Plants. 2023;12(6).

Filep RM, Diaconescu Ş, Costache M, Stavrescu-Bedivan M-M, Bădulescu L, Nicolae CG. Pilot Aquaponic Growing System of Carp (Cyprinus Carpio) and Basil (Ocimum Basilicum). Agriculture and Agricultural Science Procedia. 2016;10:255-60.

Pattillo DA, Hager JV, Cline DJ, Roy LA, Hanson TR. System design and production practices of aquaponic stakeholders. PloS one. 2022;17(4):e0266475.

Krivograd Klemencic A, Griessler Bulc T. The use of vertical constructed wetland and ultrasound in aquaponic systems. Environmental science and pollution research international. 2015;22(2):1420-30.

Lennard W, Leonard B. A comparison of reciprocating flow versus constant flow in an integrated, gravel bed, aquaponic test system. Aquaculture International. 2004;12(6):539-53.

Reyes Yanes A, Abbasi R, Martinez P, Ahmad R. Digital Twinning of Hydroponic Grow Beds in Intelligent Aquaponic Systems. Sensors. 2022;22(19).

Diver S. Aquaponics-Integration of hydroponics and aquaculture Apropriate Technology for Rural Areas:

Horticultute system guide 2006:21.

Rush H. Hydroponic Food Production:

A definitive guidebook for the advanced home gardener and the commercial hydroponic grower. sixth ed. New work, USA:

CRC press; 2012. 552 p.

Tadesse A, Alsanius B, Khalil S, Rosberg A, Bergstrand K, Hartmann R, et al., editors. Sustainable systems for integrated fish and vegetable production:

new perspectives on aquaponics.:

Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing 2019.

Tadesse A, Slingerland M, Kappers B. Promoting healthy diets and agri-business development through aquaponics farming. 2017.

Chalmers GA. Aquaponics and food safety. 2004.

Zou Y, Hu Z, Zhang J, Guimbaud C, Wang Q, Fang Y. Effect of seasonal variation on nitrogen transformations in aquaponics of northern China. Ecological Engineering. 2016;94:30-6.

Pentair. Pentair partners with Urban Organics to advance aquaponics. Pump Industry Analyst. 2015;2015(9):12-3.

Ebeling J, Timmons M, editors. Recirculating Aquaculture. . First ed. Lowa, USA:

John Willey & Sons, Inc; 2012.

Ebeling J, Rishel K. Performance Evaluation of Geotextile Tubes. Aquaculture engineering. 2006.

Blüm V, Kreuzberg K, Stretzke E. C.E.B.A.S. mini module:

Test results of an artificial (man-made) aquatic ecosystem. Advances in Space Research. 1994;14(11):89-98.

Rakocy J, Masser M, Losordo T. Recirculating Aquaculture Tank Production Systems:

Aquaponics - Integrating Fish and Plant Culture. Southern Regional Aquaculture Center (SRAC). 2006;454:1-16.

Tyson R, Simonne E, Treadwell D, White J, Simonne A. Reconciling pH for Ammonia Biofiltration and Cucumber Yield in a Recirculating Aquaponic System with Perlite Biofilter. HORTSCIENCE 2008;43(3):719–24.

Brown MN, Briones A, Diana J, Raskin L. Ammonia-oxidizing archaea and nitrite-oxidizing nitrospiras in the biofilter of a shrimp recirculating aquaculture system. FEMS microbiology ecology. 2013;83(1):17-25.

Anne Buhmann JP. Biofiltering of aquaculture effluents by halophytic plants:

Basic principles, current uses and future perspectives. Environmental and Experimental Botany 2013;92:122– 33.

Gutierrez-Wing MT, Malone RF. Biological filters in aquaculture:

Trends and research directions for freshwater and marine applications. Aquacultural Engineering. 2006;34(3):163-71.

Summerfelt ST. Design and management of conventional fluidized-sand biofilters. Aquacultural Engineering. 2006;34(3):275-302.

Losordo T, DeLong D. How to Start a Biofilter. Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. 2012;450(2):1-4.

Colt J, Lamoureux J, Patterson R, Rogers G. Reporting standards for biofilter performance studies. Aquacultural Engineering. 2006;34(3):377-88.

Drennan DG, Hosler KC, Francis M, Weaver D, Aneshansley E, Beckman G, et al. Standardized evaluation and rating of biofilters. Aquacultural Engineering. 2006;34(3):403-16.

Summerfelt S, Vinci B, Piedrahita R. Oxygenation and carbon dioxide control in water reuse systems. Aquacultural Engineering. 2000;22:87–108.

Pous N, Korth B, Osset-Alvarez M, Balaguer MD, Harnisch F, Puig S. Electrifying biotrickling filters for the treatment of aquaponics wastewater. Bioresource technology. 2021;319:124221.

Zou Y, Hu Z, Zhang J, Fang Y, Li M, Zhang J. Mitigation of N(2)O Emission from Aquaponics by Optimizing the Nitrogen Transformation Process:

Aeration Management and Exogenous Carbon (PLA) Addition. J Agric Food Chem. 2017;65(40):8806-12.

Buzby KM, Waterland NL, Semmens KJ, Lin L-S. Evaluating aquaponic crops in a freshwater flow-through fish culture system. Aquaculture. 2016;460:15-24.

Heise J, Muller H, Probst AJ, Meckenstock RU. Ammonium Removal in Aquaponics Indicates Participation of Comammox Nitrospira. Current microbiology. 2021;78(3):894-903.

Monsees H, Kloas W, Wuertz S. Decoupled systems on trial:

Eliminating bottlenecks to improve aquaponic processes. PloS one. 2017;12(9):e0183056.

Monsees H, Suhl J, Paul M, Kloas W, Dannehl D, Wurtz S. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa, variety Salanova) production in decoupled aquaponic systems:

Same yield and similar quality as in conventional hydroponic systems but drastically reduced greenhouse gas emissions by saving inorganic fertilizer. PloS one. 2019;14(6):e0218368.


University R, editor. India2006.

Youth H. Farming in a fish tank. World watch. 1992;5(3):5-7.

Palacios G, Timmons M. Determining design parameters for recovery of aquaculture wastewater using sand beds. Aquacultural Engineering 2001;24:289–99.

Timmons M. Successes and failures in commercial recirculating aquaculture. Aquaculture Engineering Society Proceedings II NRAES. 1996;98(I):141-50.

Eding EH, Kamstra A, Verreth JAJ, Huisman EA, Klapwijk A. Design and operation of nitrifying trickling filters in recirculating aquaculture:

A review. Aquacultural Engineering. 2006;34(3):234-60.

Shnel N, Barak Y, Ezer T, Dafni Z, Rijn J. Design and performance of a zero-discharge tilapia recirculating system. Aquaculture engineering. 2002;26:191-203.

Braglia R, Costa P, Di Marco G, D'Agostino A, Redi EL, Scuderi F, et al. Phytochemicals and quality level of food plants grown in an aquaponics system. Journal of the science of food and agriculture. 2022;102(2):844-50.

Halachmi I, Simon Y, Guetta R, Hallerman EM. A novel computer simulation model for design and management of re-circulating aquaculture systems. Aquacultural Engineering. 2005;32(3-4):443-64.

Dorick JM, Macarisin D, Dunn L, Dev Kumar G. Effect of aquaponic water and substratum material on biofilm formation by Aeromonas hydrophila. International journal of food microbiology. 2023;404:110316.

Tawatbundit K, Mopoung S. Activated Carbon Preparation from Sugarcane Leaf via a Low Temperature Hydrothermal Process for Aquaponic Treatment. Materials. 2022;15(6).

Vrablova M, Koutnik I, Smutna K, Markova D, Veverkova N. Combined SPRi Sensor for Simultaneous Detection of Nitrate and Ammonium in Wastewater. Sensors. 2021;21(3).

Wu YH, Chen QF, Wang JN, Liu T, Zhao WY. Substrates, Plants, and Their Combinations for Water Purification of Urban Household Aquaponics Systems. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2022;19(16).

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>