Best Desktop Home Aquaponic Water Garden

Interested in growing plants while watching your fish grow at the same time! We have compiled the best at home water garden in one place to make the comparison process fast and easy.

Water gardens opperate off of either Aquaponics or Hydroponics. One operates from the nutrition of fish with the other operates from nutrition added by the gardener. Both systems are easy to use and are great from growing leafy greens, herbs and more. They can be an excellent introduction into the principles of how larger system can operate.


Best Water Garden #1:

Back to the Roots Water Garden Fish Tank


The Back to the Roots Water Garden Fish Tank is currently the highest ranked desktop water garden that allows you to watch your fish grow at the same time the plants are growing right above them.


  • Self-cleaning 3-gallon fish tank that also grows organic sprouts and herbs!
  • Beautifully redesigned now with twice the growing space and optimized water circulation.
  • Includes everything you need: fish tank, gravel, organic seeds, Growstones, natural d-chlorinator, a coupon for a betta fish, and natural fish food.
  • Manufactured in the USA.
  • Includes a free interactive aquaponics curriculum!
  • CONS:


  • Requires cleaning
  • No light, must have sunny window sill to place on

Best Water Garden #2:

Click & Grow Indoor Smart Fresh Herb Garden Kit

The Click & Grow Indoor Smart Fresh Herb Garden Kit was founded off of Kickstarter with overwhelming popularity receiving over 830% of their asked funding. Since than they have delivered on their promise of an easy to use desktop garden. This kit uses Hydroponic grow methods, so you won’t have any fish to watch grow just the yummy plants.


  • INDOOR GARDEN ALL YEAR LONG: Love gardening but your space is limited? Get yourself this self-watering garden and grow your own veggies from now on. Ideal for indoor use, either on the kitchen counter, window or living room. Grow your favorite culinary herbs all year long without worrying about weather conditions!
  • HASSLE FREE INSTALLATION & MAINTENANCE: Forget about messy pumps, expensive spare parts and adding nutrients all the time. This Click & Grow gardening system is extremely easy to use and maintain! Just drop the plant cartridges right into the container, refill the water reservoir, plug the device in, and you are good to go!
  • GROW ANY PLANTS YOU WANT: This smart indoor garden is lightweight and easily portable. Place it anywhere you want and grow your favorite plants and herbs. Perfect for basil, thyme, sage, parsley, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, rosemary, peppers, flowers. and even strawberries. Enjoy fresh fruit and herbs with no harmful substances or pesticides!
  • SMART SOIL TECHNOLOGY: The soil uses patented nano-tech growth medium that accelerates the plant growth without jeopardising quality. The smart soil gives your plants the right amount of water, oxygen, pH, and nutrients. The LED technology makes your garden energy efficient!
  • 100% REPLACEMENT WARRANTY: Since your satisfaction is our top priority, this portable garden is backed by our 100% replacement warranty and our 30-day money back guarantee! Makes a thoughtful gift to a dear family member who loves fresh herbs and gardening. The sleek and white frame will compliment any area around the house.


  • Need to purchase replacement plant cartridges when ready for a new type of plant.

Best Water Garden #3:

AquaSprouts Garden



The AquaSprouts Garden provides the greatest robustness and growing area of any system however it is not as streamline as the above water gardens. The AquaSprouts Garden requires the user to purchase an 10 gallon aquarium or use an existing one. However the durability we see in this system coupled with the light bar, pump and timer this sytem makes it into our top 3.


  • AquaSprouts Garden: The custom-molded, single-piece Garden bed snaps together easily with the supporting legs, and comes in a modern and black matte design.
  • Light Bar: Removable lighting mount allows you to hang a grow light of your choice above the Garden, and can even be further extended to accommodate taller plants. The light bar allows you to use your Garden anywhere, even when there may not be sufficient natural light. Compatible with any 2ft grow light.
  • Pump & Timer: The Garden kit includes a submersible 160 gallon per hour pump and a mechanical plug timer adjustable in 15-minute increments for controlling flood and drain cycles. Both include 1-year warranty.
  • Grow Media: Our special expanded clay growing medium is a durable, low-maintenance soil replacement which serves a multitude of functions in your aquaponic garden. It supports plant roots and wicks moisture to keep them from drying out, traps fish waste solids to filter them out of the water and allow them to be broken down, and provides ample surface area for the growth of beneficial microbes.(Grow media does not degrade)
  • Resources & Support: Each kit comes with a detailed and step-by-step guide to setting up and maintaining your Garden. Our support team is also dedicated to providing the best customer service possible to assist anyone who may have questions or need help.


  • Must purchase or use an existing 10 gallon aquarium.


We hope that this list of the top 3 water gardens have brought insights into best features to look for and a system that fits your needs. Happy Gardening!

Best Aquaponic Growing Media

If you have chosen to go for a media bed type of aquaponic system then one of the many questions a new aquaponic grower will ask is what they should put into those beds. There are various different options when it comes to choosing growing medium. The growing medium in a media bed must not decompose. It should not change the pH level of the water and must be the right size to allow water and air to move freely enough around the root zones of the plants. Below is a brief guide to introduce you to some of the most common options:


River Stone/ Smooth Gravel

River stone is a relatively affordable option that can often be sourced locally and so will not have a large carbon cost associated with transportation. This makes it a sustainable choice. River stone can be heavy but is easy to handle. If you do choose river stone, however, it is important to make sure that no limestone is included in the mix, as this can increase the pH of the water passing through it over time. The smooth rounded type pebbles are better than rough gravel because sharp edges will not only make the medium hard to handle, they can also damage plant roots.



Hydroton (Expanded Clay)

 Expanded clay will remain pH neutral and is tactile and easy to handle. If is is possible to source expanded clay close to where you live then this could be a good, sustainable option. However, it is worth noting that this option can be more expensive and much of the hydroton on the market has been imported and has travelled a great distance, which could make it a less sustainable choice than expected in some places.


Lava Rock

Lava rock is a lighter weight alternative to other forms of stone and it is naturally porous. It can be an affordable option, though may also have some disadvantages. It is very rough rock and can be tough to handle and tough on liners. However, many have found lava rock to be an excellent growing medium. If you do decide on lava rock, make sure you do not get one that has been dyed and make sure it has been sourced sustainably.


There are of course other options for media beds – all options have their pros and cons so it is a good idea to listen to other growers and do more research before you make your own decision on which one to use.

Different Types of Aquaponic systems

While all aquaponics systems have certain elements in common, there is a lot of variety in the ways in which these elements are combined. There are a number of different types of aquaponic system, each of which may be the best solution to implement in a given situation. To help you begin the process of deciding which system might be the best for you, here is a brief guide to the most common aquaponics systems:

Media Bed Constant Flow:

The most simple form of aquaponics involves the use of beds filled with a growing medium. The best media for these beds and the depth required for optimal plant growth are hotly debated and will depend on your requirements, location and the other elements of your system. There are two main ways to introduce the water from your aquaculture component into these media beds – the first is to maintain a constant flow, the second, which we will discuss in a moment, is ebb and flow. Constant flow, also sometimes referred to as constant flood, has the advantage of requiring a smaller sump as, unlike the alternative, your system will not have to deal with fluctuating water levels. You may not even require a sump at all, though some say that it is a good idea to include on as this means you will not have to top up the water in the system as often. Another advantage of constant flow systems is that these are easier to expand and you can add a new bed to expand the system more easily than with an ebb and flow system.

Media Bed Ebb and Flow:

Ebb and flow (also known as flood and drain) systems are ones in which the water is pumped intermittently at certain intervals into the media beds. This system is said to be better at removing solids from the media beds and some say that intermittent flooding will introduce more oxygen to plant roots and to the water in the system. However, studies done into the differences between constant flow and ebb and flow seem to suggest that both systems have the same outcomes and which one you opt for will have little (if any) impact on the speed of plant growth or the efficacy of the overall system.



Deep Water Culture:

In aquaponic deep water culture (DWC), plants are not grown within a medium such as clay or rock as in the media bed systems described above but are instead floating on top of the water with their roots dangling into it. Rafts holding plants float on top of tanks or, more commonly in a commercial system, in channels down which the water from aquaculture tanks will flow. This system has the benefit that, due to the tanks or channels beneath the plants, more water is held within the system. This means that the nutrient solution will be more stable and the whole system will require less monitoring than systems where far less water is used in the loop. Once set up, these systems are pretty low maintenance.

Nutrient Film Technique:

One system of hydroponics which does use very low levels of water is the nutrient film technique in which crops are grown in lightweight drain piping/ guttering through which a thin trickle of water from aquaculture tanks runs. This form of aquaponics is only suitable for a certain range of delicate, leafy plants as other plants will be too heavy or have root systems that become too strong and invasive. For growing salads, however, this can be a truly efficient and sustainable solution.

Wicking Beds:

The final growing method used within aquaponics systems is the wicking bed. Wicking beds are traditional raised beds filled with dirt that sit on top of a reservoir of water – this reservoir of water can be part of an aquaponic system. This type of bed can allow other vegetables to be grown as part of an aquaponics setup that could not be grown in other media or using the other methods above, such as root crops.

Educating yourself as to the pros and cons of each of the above systems is essential if you are to develop the aquaponics system that is right for you.

What is Aquaponics?


Aquaponics is a portmanteau term which combines the words ‘hydroponics’ – growing plants with water – and ‘aquaculture’ – raising fish and other aquatic species. All aquaponics systems combine the growing of leafy crops with the rearing of water-dwelling animals. As a food production system, aquaponics systems have various advantages over other methods and can be part of a sustainable solution to feeding the planet’s ever-growing population. There are a number of different systems that all come under the umbrella of aquaponics and aquaponics systems can vary greatly in scope and scale.


All aquaponics systems, however, will share certain characteristics in common, including the basic nutrient cycle which allowing the two food production systems to work holistically together. Speaking simply, aquaponics systems are low-waste systems. The excretions of the fish or other aquatic creatures being kept in a traditional aquaculture system will gradually build up over time, necessitating their removal to prevent the water environment of tanks from becoming toxic to their inhabitants. In aquaponics, the excrement laden water is fed to a hydroponic system. Bacteria will break down the waste in the water into nitrates, which can provide nutrition to plants whose roots dangle into the water from the aquaculture tanks. This water, cleansed by the plants roots, can then be fed back into the tanks that it came from.

Aquaponics systems are used both in small, domestic settings and huge, commercial-scale endeavours around the world. While the systems can differ greatly, they do all share the three main live components – fish or other water creatures, plant life and the bacteria that allow for the conversion of ammonia in waste to nutritional nitrates that can be made use of by the plants. Some systems also have additional living components, such as worms, or larvae bred to feed the fish or other sea creatures.

Though different aquaponics systems will operate somewhat differently, the following components are usually required: firstly, a tank in which to rear the fish or other water creatures, a settling basin which will catch uneaten food and larger particulates that cannot be filtered out by plants, a biofilter where nitrification bacteria can grow, the hydroponics section where plant growth and plant water-filtering occurs and a sump, to and from which water is pumped en route back to the rearing tanks. In rudimentary aquaponics systems, some of the above components may be combined and the system can also be more complex in more advanced systems.

The living components in an aquaponics system will also require water (or course), light and oxygen and any such systems must take all environmental needs into account – including the temperature and control of pests and disease. A well designed aquaponics system can minimise the use of polluting energy sources, water and land and can create a system run on renewables which is far more sustainable than many other forms of food production.

Growing for Profit

Aquaponics systems are well suited to the development of food production businesses. In many ways aquaponics systems are not only ethical systems which can feed people in a sustainable way but can also help food producers to turn a profit. The key thing when developing a commercial aquaponics system is to understand the benefits of aquaponics and how all elements of a system can be optimised to allow it to function as a viable business in a capitalist world.

The first thing to think about is the system as a whole. The fewer non-renewable inputs are required to keep the system going, the more sustainable it will be and therefore the more viable it will be as a business venture in the long term. For this reason it is important to choose a system that is as renewables based as possible – all electrical power, for example, should come from alternative energy sources such as solar or wind power, ideally, that power will be generated on site to reduce bills and maximise long-term profits.

An aquaponics system can help you to make the most of all resources at your disposal. Land is a major investment for a profit-making business and an aquaponics system can be a good way to maximise the yield on that land. Likewise, aquaponics systems can be far more water-efficient than other food production methods. In some cases, it may be possible to make the most of natural rainfall or other local water sources to further reduce expenses. In a world where climate change is already beginning to bite, water conservation must be a priority for all businesses moving forward.

Another thing to consider in terms of minimising input and maximising profit is whether the system can be used to provide for the food needs of the fish or other aquatic creatures or whether feed will have to be bought in. A sustainable aquaponics system tries to be as self-sufficient as possible. Worms bred through composting of plant waste/ kitchen waste are one sustainable solution to reduce the cost of keeping aquaculture animals and maximise the profits of an aquaponics business. Other possibilities include growing duckweed or micro-algae such as spirulina to feed fish or to create whole ecosystems that can be more or less self-sustaining with far less input from the business owner.

When it comes to maximising profit in an aquaponics system, it is also important to consider which live components to incorporate in your system and what your yield will actually be. Before choosing which aquatic species and which plants to incorporate in your commercial aquaponics system, it is a good idea to do some market research to discover which will bring the highest profit where you live. Some yields will always be higher value than others but some will depend on the location of a business and the needs and preferences of the local community.

Research is key to the creation of a profit-making aquaponics system though with the right information, almost anyone can use aquaponics to make a profit.

Check out our favorite aquaponics book

Best Fish Choice for Your System

One of the key decisions when developing an aquaponics system is, of course, which fish or other aquatic creatures to use within it. Here are some of the most common choices used in aquaponics:

Edible Fish For Aquaponics Systems:


  • Tilapia: Are quick growing and good to eat, can withstand very poor water conditions and eat plant material and so are cheap to feed. They are one of the most common and best options for many aquaponics systems but require warm water and so will require more energy use in colder climates.
  • Trout: Good to eat, very fast growth rate, excellent food conversion ratios, trout can be a good option for aquaponic systems but will require non-plant food and will eat smaller fish.
  • Carp: Edible, though perhaps not as good to eat as trout and some other freshwater fish, carp reproduce easily and can adapt well to a range of different environments.
  • Catfish: Pretty good to eat, must be skinned. Fast growing and good food conversion ratios.
  • Largemouth Bass: Strong tasting compared to other fish, though edible. Better taste in lower water temperatures.


Tilapia are the best choice for warmer climates while trout are usually regarded as the best choice for those living in cooler temperate zones.


Non-Edible Fish To Feed Plants:


  • Goldfish
  • Koi

These fish (both technically carp) are not edible but are used in some aquaponics systems to feed plants.


Other Aquatic Creatures That Can Be Used in Aquaponic Systems:


  • Freshwater Mussels
  • Crayfish
  • Freshwater Prawns

All of these can be useful elements in an aquaponics system and may sometimes be used in conjunction with fish.

Aquaponics VS. Hydroponics:

If you are new to aquaponics then you may be wondering whether it is worthwhile introducing the aquaculture element to your growing system or whether you would be better just sticking with hydroponics. While hydroponic systems will have their uses in some instances, the average food produces will see that there are plenty of benefits to choosing an aquaponic system instead. To inspire you to take the plunge, here are some of the benefits of an aquaponics over hydroponics:


Dual Yield:

 One of the main benefits of aquaponics when you compare it to a purely hydroponic system is that instead of getting only one yield – in the form of the plant crops that are grown – aquaponics systems deliver two yields simultaneously. An aquaponic system can deliver not only deliver high yields when it comes to plant crops but can also supply fish. This dual yield is a big advantage, allowing home growers and businesses to maximise yield in a given area. A well designed aquaponics system may even have additional yields, in the form of additional worms used to feed fish, for example, which can also be used in other ways on the property.


Resource Savings: 

Growing food always requires resources – time, money, space, as well as inputs required for the system to function. Both hydroponic and aquaponic systems require water, oxygen and light. Additionally, an aquaponic system will require feed for fish or other aquatic creatures – though much of this can be supplied by the system when it is a well-designed one. However, by maximising yield over a given area, aquaponic systems can save on the resource of space and, being a lower input system in general as it does not require the nutrients that must be added in hydroponic systems, aquaponics can save on our planets resources as well as our own personal financial reserves.

Check out this helpful Youtube video by The School of Aquaponics


Due to the reduced input required in an aquaponic system and the natural symbiosis within such systems, due to the lower land use, lower water use and the potential for the use of renewable systems and energy sources, aquaponics can be a truly sustainable food-growth option for our changing world. Unlike hydroponics, which can raise issues with chemical fertiliser run-off, aquaponics systems retain the nutrient solution and there are no problems with toxic water disposal. Aquaponics systems, unlike hydroponic systems, are entirely organic.

Of course hydroponic systems have many advantages, but aquaponics are an evolution of the idea and offer a more holistic and natural approach to growing food.