What are the most profitable aquaponics crops?

Vegetables are regarded as some of the most profitable crops in aquaponics. This is due to their high nutritional value. Aside from this fact, everyone uses veggies as they prepare foods. Most importantly, specific industries, such as restaurants, include these healthy greens in their bestselling dishes.

Why choose aquaponics as a business?

Aquaponics practitioners are growing in numbers. Some construct aquaponics systems as a productive means of using their free time, while others pursue it to augment their monthly income. Taking the latter's purpose for doing aquaponics, there are some solid reasons why you should consider this unique way of producing food as a form of business.

  1. Sustainability: Aquaponics is acknowledged as an environment-friendly method of rearing fish and plants. Agricultural contamination is a current environmental issue. This is the pollution that growers discharge into the environment due to farming livestock, food crops, animal feed, and biofuel crops. In aquaponics, no pollution is produced because synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are absent. Furthermore, animals wastes are utilized to provide plants with their vital nutrients.
  2. Water conservation: Another difficulty in agriculture is water utilization, with global food production accounting for 70% of all freshwater use. While more efficient irrigation can save 30 to 70 percent more water, aquaponics uses 90 percent less water. For a more in-depth discussion on how aquaponics saves water, see this post. (Link to article)
  3. Accelerated plant growth: In soil-based vegetations, the plants expend energy to look for nutrients mixed with soil. Contrast this with aquaponics, where the plants have access to the nutrients they require 24 hours a day. As a result, plants experience speedy development because all their energies are utilized for their growth.
  4. Low maintenance costing: Although the startup cost for aquaponics can indeed pose a challenge, maintaining the system does cost less. Remember, in aquaponics, you use less water and zero synthetic pesticides. You also do not apply weed killers for the methodology is soilless. If you worry about electrical costings, you can refer to my post about this subject here (Link).

What are the best plants for commercial aquaponics?

  1. Cilantro
  2. Lettuce
  3. Tomatoes
  4. Chives
  5. Arugula
  6. Radish
  7. Parsley
  8. Chinese cabbage
  9. Watercress
  10. Lemongrass
  11. Thyme
  12. Kale

After visiting some successful aquaponics farms, I came up with this short list of crops. The plants below are all vegetables, and I included a brief description of them. This is followed by the recommended aquaponics setups as well as the ideal fish for each green.


Description: Also known as coriander, cilantro thrives in aquaponics systems. They are famous for giving a productive harvest and have higher nutritional benefits. In aquaponics, coriander grows quickly and is resistant to various pests. Harvesting takes four to six weeks if the plants are cultivated from seedlings and six to eight weeks if they are grown from seeds.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Nutrient film technique, Deep water culture, and Media bed aquaponics

Companion fish: Trout, Tilapia, Catfish, Carp


Description: Lettuce grows swiftly in nature, and with aquaponics, it grows twice as fast. The majority of lettuce species are low-maintenance, making them one of the most straightforward crops to cultivate in an aquaponic system. There is also a high market demand for lettuce because it is a common ingredient in salads and other nutritious meal plans. Lettuce is, without question, the most popular aquaponics crop.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Nutrient film technique, Deep water culture, and Media bed aquaponics

Companion fish: Tilapia, Trout, Bass, Sunfish, Koi, and Carp


Summary: In aquaponics, tomato plants do remarkably well. Tomatoes prefer warm temperatures, but they also need enough nutrient-rich water to accommodate their growing requirements. Tomatoes are a reasonable choice for an aquaponics system inside a regulated environment. Depending on the tomato type you grow in your aquaponics setup, you should be able to harvest 25 to 35 tomatoes from each plant.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Media bed aquaponics and deep water culture

Companion fish: Tilapia, Koi, Crappie, Angelfish, and Goldfish


Summary: Chives are perennial herbs and able to withstand cold temperatures. The herb needs at least 12 hours of sunlight per day to thrive. An artificial illumination is a suitable option if this is not possible in your location. Chives are hardy plants that can withstand a wide range of temperatures. It does, however, prefer a temperature range of 65°F to 80°F.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Nutrient film technique, Tower aquaponics

Companion fish: Trout, Carp, and Salmon


Summary: Arugula is a fast-growing annual green that thrives in cooler climates. Like Watercress, Bok Choy, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage, and Cauliflower, Arugula is a member of the Mustard family of vegetables. It is suggested to plant Arugula herbs 12 to 18 inches apart for maximum harvest. In doing so, this spacing ensures that the plants do not compete for sunshine and nutrients.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Nutrient film technique, Deep water culture

Companion fish: Trout, Carp, and Salmon


Summary: Radishes are one of the most straightforward vegetables to raise in an aquaponic system. Plant your radish by scattering the seeds in your grow bed, and they will grow. Radishes would require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight to grow well. This plant thrives in water with a pH range of 6 to 7.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Deep water culture, Media bed aquaponics

Companion fish: Tilapia, Koi


Summary: Parsley is a popular ingredient in many recipes and is grown worldwide because of its refreshing flavor and high market value. The plant is recognized as a low-maintenance crop that thrives in aquaponics. To grow parsley, choose a location that receives at least five hours of sunlight per day. Spacing is essential to achieve a fruitful yield. So, plant parsley 15 cm to 30 cm apart.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Deep water culture, Nutrient film technique, media bed aquaponics

Companion fish: Trout, Carp, and Salmon

Chinese cabbage

Summary: The Chinese cabbage, or bok choy, grows quickly and is tolerant of various climates, making it an excellent choice for commercial aquaponics. It is vital that this vegetable receives approximately 3-5 hours of natural sunshine or artificial lighting every day. Overcrowding is addressed by planting your bok choy 6 to 12 inches apart. This is necessary to ensure that your crops do not compete for light and nutrients.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Media bed aquaponics, Deep water culture

Companion fish: Tilapia, Koi, Carp


Summary: Watercress is another water-loving plant that will grow well in any aquaponics system. This green is rich in vitamins and nutrients, which the human body needs for development. As a result, watercress is one of the most easy-to-grow plants among commercial aquaponics growers. Growing watercress is also easy to manage, and those starting in aquaponics may have them as their first green.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Media bed aquaponics, Deep water culture

Companion fish: Tilapia, Catfish, Carp, Trout


Summary: Commercially cultivated lemongrass is a popular aquaponic herb. At 77 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 29.4 degrees Celsius), the seeds of this plant germinate in three to five days. Lemongrass may grow up to four feet in diameter and have three-foot-long leaves when mature. Warm conditions are required for the plant to produce correctly and generate a distinct and robust flavor.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Media bed, Deep water culture

Companion fish: Perch


Summary: This next plant comes from the Mint family and is quickly gaining prominence for its therapeutic properties. Thyme thrives best when the pH is between 6.0 and 8.0. This drought-tolerant aquaponic herb prefers a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.11 degrees Celsius).

Recommended aquaponics setup: Media bed aquaponics, Nutrient film technique

Companion fish: Tilapia, Carp


Summary: Kale can be grown swiftly in an aquaponics system, even without much effort from the grower. It prefers a pH level that is somewhat higher than lettuce. Also, because kale has a lesser temperature tolerance, keeping your greenhouse at or above 55 degrees Fahrenheit is practical when growing these greens outside. Kale takes around three months to develop in traditional, soil-based gardening. It should be ready to harvest in approximately six weeks if you use an aquaponics system.

Recommended aquaponics setup: Media bed aquaponics, Nutrient film technique, Deep water culture

Companion fish: Tilapia, Angelfish, Sunfish, Carp

How to make aquaponics more profitable?

Since your primary aim in aquaponics is to have a sufficient cash flow, it is only reasonable for you to take the necessary steps to make your system profitable. For this to become a reality, there are some foundational guidelines that you need to know.

  1. Grow plants that have high market demand in your region. The list of crops above is some of the aquaponic plants that profit established farms. However, it is still essential to determine which plants will sell more because their demand is high. For example, if you observe several Chinese restaurants in your area, they probably need someone to supply them with Chinese cabbage and radish. Thus, these crops should be your most practical choice.
  2. Cultivate plants that are easy to manage. Some of the plants I listed above do not take much effort and resources from you in maintaining. This is important because, as much as possible, you would want to lessen your maintenance costs to have high revenues by the end of the season.
  3. Raise specialty crops. These are plants that people use for cooking and medicinal purposes. The herbs I have provided in my shortlist above are classified as specialty crops. Households have a high demand for them, so they should help your aquaponics business become profitable in the long run.
  4. Ensure that your aquaponics system is well-maintained. It will bring you much hassle in costings if there is a problem in your aquaponics setup every now and then. To avoid such a scenario, you should always conduct routine maintenance check-ups, not only of the plants themselves but with the other components (e.g., plumbing system, tanks, and pumps).

Which aquaponics design is best for commercial aquaponics?

The nutrient film technique and deep water culture are the most utilized aquaponics setups for commercial purposes. The media bed aquaponics suits backyard gardening.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

Because of its space efficiency and lower labor costs, the nutrient film technique is popular in the commercial sector. Crops can also be grown vertically (or on a shelf), making them more accessible and harvestable. This method is a top recommendation for leafy greens. If you plan to grow large fruiting plants, avoid this design. One good reason is that their root masses may choke the channel and the growing pipes that may not support their weight. Just a reminder that in NFT, plant roots are exposed to more air and less water, making them vulnerable to heat or cold variations.

Deep Water Culture (DWC)

This approach, also known as raft or float system, involves suspending plant roots in nutrient-rich water. The plant roots float immediately into a 1-foot deep pool of water. Filtration mechanisms must be included in the design because there are no media to capture and process the solid wastes.

How should I market my aquaponics plants?

  1. Introduce your products' unique features such as sustainability.
  2. As you start your business, sell your products at a low price to gain loyal customers.
  3. Use the internet, such as social media platforms, to promote your aquaponics business to your friends.


Using aquaponics as an income-generating project has been the practice of many since its introduction to the food production industry. If you aim to use aquaponics to augment your income, the reasonable way to go is to grow profitable crops. This post enumerated some of the most sought-after vegetables in the market today. As you plan your aquaponics business, it will be wise to take them into consideration.

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