Hardware Stuff System

Three Critical Aquaponic System Components

Do you know which system components are the most important in your aquaponics? Well, today’s episode is all about three of the most critical.

You’re listening to Fish Grow Plants—A podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.

Hello, and welcome to Fish Grow Plants! In today’s episode we’re talking about three critical components of your aquaponic system.

So, do you know which components of your aquaponic system you cannot live without? Do you have a mitigation plan in place for them?

I’ll be honest. The first system I built didn’t even consider such a thing!

I was too wrapped up in just getting all the parts to work together—why would I even consider something extra! It would cost more money, too—right?! So who would do that?!

Needless to say, I got lucky and didn’t have any issues with critical components failing or the power being out long enough to need a backup plan.

But enough on my story. Let’s cut to the chase. What are the three critical components of an aquaponic system?

There are probably a couple of answers depending on where the system in question is, but I think it’s a safe bet to say that the three main components of most systems are:

  1. The air system: pumps, diffusers, and delivery methods
  2. The water system: pumps, screens and hardware; and
  3. The temperature regulation system: heaters, chillers, and the related infrastructure

Let’s look at each in turn.

The air system.

Why is the air system critical?

Well, if you don’t have air to your system, not only do your fish die, but your plants will as well (this is true if you have a deep water culture system or a flood and drain—when roots are “drowned” in water, they die). The time between when your air system goes down to when you start seeing issues depends on several factors, but you don’t have days to figure it out. Having a low fish density is probably the easiest way to help yourself not dread losing your air system.

OK. The water system.

Why is the water system critical?

Well, even if you have good air in your fish tank, and your plants have adequate air to their roots, a lack of water circulation means that nothing is getting circulated. So your symbiotic system is just sitting there in a slow self-poisoning sort of way. Perhaps this is not as critical as ensuring air is in your system, but you don’t have long to correct this issue before things start sliding downhill.

Alright. The temperature regulation system.

Why is this subcomponent critical?

Let’s just say I’ve never heard of aquaponics working with ice or boiling water!

I don’t mean to exaggerate, but that’s sort of the point. The bacteria in your system have a sweet spot they love, kind of like we do, when it comes to temperature. So, if your system (passive, active, or other) lets the heat or cold get too great, you risk your system either crashing from deathly heat, or slowing down so much everything just stops because it’s too cold.

So, I hope I have your attention, in a good way, as to why these three components are critical to your aquaponics system success. However, I don’t want to leave you feeling like there is nothing you can do if these systems go down. That would be wrong of me.

To address these important parts of your system and ensure they maintain as close to 100% up time as possible there are several things that can be done. They are:

  • Have spares on hand
  • Have a backup power source on hand that is functional
  • Have a monitoring system

With spares on hand—and near the location you need them—if you actually have a part break on you, swapping it out should be quick and easy. Your fish and plants probably won’t even know the difference!

Having a backup power source lets you continue operations regardless of the power grid—you are no longer at the mercy of a brown or blackout. A solar system, a generator, or a simple battery backup with inverter, such as I have, can provide peace of mind and continued growth of crops and fish.

And lastly, a monitoring system is great for people who worry, but also want to have a life! Being able to keep tabs on what your system is doing, or not doing, day or night, can provide that peace of mind with minimal on-going effort. Of note, this does NOT fix your problems. It will alert you to problems, but it will not fix or alleviate them.

I know this was a quick rundown of the critical components of your system. I wanted to make sure you knew about them, but I also didn’t to dwell on it so long you felt like I was sucking the life and fun out of aquaponics.

So, I hope you are a little bit more informed and feel like you are at least aware of how to ensure your main system parts are doing their job all day and all night!

Take care and happy aquaponicing!


Questions! Let me have them! Do you need clarification, more information, or maybe you just have a tangent thought—send all your thoughts my way. See the website for episode details, or just fire off an email to [email protected] and I’ll get back to you.


So, was this episode good, bad, ugly, or other? Let me know! Comment, email, smoke-signals it doesn’t matter! I love to hear from you. Your feedback is immense, and I am always grateful for it. Likewise, thank you for taking the time to listen and share your thoughts. Have a wonderful day.

This has been another episode of Fish Grow Plants—the podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.