How to grow tomatoes in aquaponics?

Tomatoes can develop faster and healthier in aquaponics, provided the grower supplies their plants with the right environment for them to thrive. Some of the factors needed to achieve this are the right temperature and correct water pH. Even the proper spacing of the plants does affect the yield come harvest time. This article explores how you can grow tomatoes by using aquaponics, including which technique is deemed best for it.

What are the different varieties of tomatoes?

Tomatoes come in thousands of kinds, many of which are hybrids, but they may fall into seven categories. In this article, I will only share with you five varieties.

Tomatoes are all fruits of the Solanum lycopersicum plant, yet they're commonly called to and utilized in cooking as vegetables.

Tomatoes have a fresh, mild flavor and are often red. However, they can also be yellow, orange, or purple. They have high concentrations of vitamins C and E and antioxidants like beta carotene and lycopene, which provide various health benefits.

Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are spherical, bite-sized, and very juicy.

Only three calories and trace levels of many vitamins and minerals are found in one cherry tomato (17 grams).

They are the perfect size for your salads or as a snack on their own. They are also great for kebabs and skewers.

Due to the small fruit size, usually one to two inches, cherry tomatoes plants typically produce fruit from 55 to 65 days, with some available for harvest in as little as 45 days. There are, however, some that can take up to 80 days to develop.

Roma tomatoes

Although Roma tomatoes are larger than cherry and grape tomatoes, they are not large enough to be sliced. Plum tomatoes are another name for Romas. A 62-gram Roma tomato has 11 calories and 1 gram of fiber. Because they're naturally sweet and juicy, they're ideal for preserving or creating sauces. They're also common in salads.

These tomatoes are ready to harvest between 100 and 120 days after seeds are sown or 75 days after seedlings are transplanted. Because tomatoes are a warm-weather crop with a short growing season due to frost and cold, meticulous planning is required to ensure a steady supply of "Roma" fruit throughout the summer.

Grape tomatoes

Grape tomatoes are smaller than cherry tomatoes and are about half the size of cherry tomatoes. They are oblong and do not contain as much water. A single grape tomato (8 g) has only one calorie. Grape tomatoes, like cherry tomatoes, are delicious in salads or as a snack. They're probably too little to use on skewers, too.

Grape tomato plants develop at a similar rate to other tomato varieties. It takes less time for the little fruit to mature and ripen. About 70 days after planting seedlings in the garden, the fruit should start to ripen.

Heirloom tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes come in various sizes and colors, from mild yellow to bright green to deep purplish-red. They are non-hybrids, so their seeds are kept and passed down without being cross-pollinated by other varieties.

Some see heirloom tomatoes as a more natural alternative to hybrid tomatoes. In addition, heirloom types have a richer, sweeter flavor than store-bought kinds.

Heirloom tomatoes offer equal nutritional values to ordinary tomatoes. A medium (123-gram) heirloom tomato has 22 calories and 552 micrograms of beta carotene, a potent antioxidant precursor to vitamin A, which is essential for excellent vision.

Heirlooms grow quickly, but it takes 60 to 80 days for the plants to produce ripe fruit. Their planting season is the spring following the freezing season. They can be transplanted seedlings or tiny plants purchased from a garden center.

Beefsteak tomatoes

These tomatoes are known for their prominent shape. Further, they are firm enough to keep their shape when thinly sliced. One large (182-gram) beefsteak tomato with a 3-inch (8-cm) diameter has 33 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and 28% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C, an immune-boosting antioxidant. These tomatoes are usually picked for making sandwiches and hamburgers. They have a moderate flavor and are juicy, making them ideal for canning or sauce-making.

Beefsteak tomatoes are fast growers, usually at least 85 days to harvest.

Which variety of tomatoes is best for aquaponics?

Tomatoes, in general, are ideal aquaponic plants since they are low-maintenance. They also yield a plethora of fruits that are ideal for any cuisine. If you want to grow tasty tomatoes, keep in mind that the smaller types are usually the sweetest. From here, I suggest you choose the cherry, grape, and Roma varieties for your aquaponics setup.

How long does it take to grow tomatoes in aquaponics?

The harvest duration varies based on the tomato variety, but on average, the fruits should be ripe in 60-80 days. Depending on the particular type you want, you should harvest between 25 and 35 tomatoes in aquaponics.

What fish is best for tomatoes in aquaponics?

Tomatoes can be grown with trout, but you'll need to keep the temperature at the lower end of the range. The downside of this approach is the slower growth rate of the tomatoes.

Fish that thrive in warmer water, such as Tilapia, koi, crappie, or even more ornamental kinds like goldfish and angelfish, are a better alternative for any tomatoes aquaponics system.

What aquaponics setup is best for tomatoes?

Tomatoes can do well in any aquaponics setup, but the best techniques are media gravel bed and deep water culture (DWC).

Gravel bed

When you grow your tomatoes using this method, the typical dimension of the media bed would be one meter for the width and one to three meters for the length. The recommended depth is 30 centimeters.

Volcanic gravel is the popular choice for tomatoes using the media bed aquaponics.

Because lava rock is lightweight and has a large surface area, many aquaponics producers use it as a growing medium. Lava rocks are pH neutral, porous, and give excellent drainage and aeration to the system.

Deep water culture

To cultivate tomato plants, DWC Hydroponics systems are ideal. The plants are placed in a net pot. This is put into the reservoir, with the roots buried in the water in this system. An air pump continuously oxygenates the water to ensure that the roots receive enough oxygen.

What are the factors to consider in growing tomatoes in aquaponics?

pH range

According to Rutgers University, tomatoes prefer a slightly acidic growing medium with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral. On the other hand, tomatoes can grow in media with pH levels that are not within this optimal range. Tomato plants, for example, thrive in a pH range of 6.2 to 6.8, according to the University of New Hampshire Extension.

However, tomato plants will thrive in soil that is close to the optimal pH range. An incorrect pH can impair tomato plant growth in several ways.


Tomatoes reach their optimum growth in temperatures ranging from 55 to 85°F (13 to 29°C). Examine the plant tags for details on the types you are planting. Still, generally speaking, tomatoes will not produce fruit if the temperature rises beyond 85°F, or they may struggle to set a healthy color.

Plant spacing

The type of tomato being cultivated determines the best tomato plant spacing. Tomato plants should be spaced between 24 and 36 inches (61 and 91 cm) apart in general. When tomato plants are spaced closer than 24 inches (61 cm), air circulation around the plants is reduced, leading to illness.

Fish companion

Tomatoes and trout are good partners in aquaponics. However, to accommodate the fish, you will need to lower the water temperature, which will stunt the plant development. A good fish alternative would be crappie, tilapia, or koi to address this issue because they can tolerate warm waters correctly.

What are the pros and cons of growing tomatoes in aquaponics?

The tomato plant is a good choice for aquaponics for some good reasons. But there are also some issues that you should know about this popular fruit plant:


  1. Popular choice: Many growers use tomatoes for their aquaponics, which means you can easily access the seedlings.
  2. High market demand: A vast food menu selection utilizes tomatoes and their products, such as tomato sauce and catsup.
  3. Nutritious: Tomatoes are high in antioxidants, which help protect against cancer, strengthen the heart, and reduce constipation.


  1. Requires high nutrient input: Experienced growers recognize that tomatoes demand high nutrient input to grow healthy and productive.
  2. Warm weather plant: Catfacing is a condition in which the fruit becomes deformed or unevenly shaped, with brown scars often running up the sides of the fruit from the blossom end. Cool temperatures during pollination and early growth are usually always the cause of catfacing.

When you grow tomatoes in aquaponics, you have a steady supply of nutritious food and even have the opportunity to have some money on the side. This article could provide you with fundamental know-how in starting your journey in cultivating these beloved veggies via the aquaponics methodology.

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