Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Hey everyone,


I was recently wondering how aquaponics stacked up to other organic nutrients that are commonly used in hydroponics. So I decided, why not run a few tests and see for myself. This is more for my own curiosity, but I hope you all enjoy and feel free to get involved. I will be open to any suggestions or recommendations. All ideas, love, and hate are welcome! Enjoy!


The Contestants:

#1) Regular tap water (control)

#2) Aquaponic water (I have 30 tilapia in 275 gallons supporting this challenger)

#3) Aquaponic water w/ Organicare Seaplex foliar spray (same fish source)

#4) General Organics BioThrive Grow/Bloom

#5) Roots Organic Buddha Grow/Bloom

#6) Advanced Nutrients Mother Earth Super Tea Grow/Bloom


The Plant:

Habenero Pepper from seed through full maturity (100 days expected)... I wished to take clones from the same plant, but couldn't locate a good donor so seeds have to do.


The Setup:

6 DWC 5-gallon buckets. (water changes weekly or a consistent time between 7-10 days)

Vegetative state- 600 watt MH in 6inch reflector

Flower state- 1000 watt HPS in 6inch reflector

Indoor grow


The Winner:

You Decided! I'll give updates both in pictures and videos and let you judge for yourself. 



Want anything else, just ask!

We are waiting for the seeds to sprout and action should start within the next 2 weeks



**Non-fruiting ONC coming soon**

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Here is a photo update as of Dec. 13th, 2011:

2 weeks into flower. 

*The tap water and maxicrop are really starting to be affected by the lack of nutrients.

*Roots Organic is going through water faster than any other plant.


Roots Organic Buddha Series:


Tap Water:

Aquaponics + Seaplex Foliar:

Advanced Nutrients Mother Earth Tea:

General Organics BioThrive:

Interesting, LH. Thanks for the effort. Do you dump and replace each nutrient bucket, or just top up? How often? I bet those peppers will be 'smoking' hot, eh? Is the aquaponic water coming from a media based system? Sorry if you already covered the info and i may have missed it. Thanks again for the effort. Any and all comparison grows I've read have variables that some will wish had been altered. Can't please everybody. I think your comparisons are valid, and the results will be informative.


Thanks for the encouragement. I top off the buckets if the plants exhibit dryness or lack of considerable amounts of water, but I don't replace until ppm levels start to really drop off then I replace each reservoir. This tends to be about every 10-14 days.. The root mass on most of these are quite extreme so the buckets can be almost half full and there is no drying out noticeable on the plants. They look like they are going to be a hot bunch. The water for the aquaponic buckets is currently coming from a crayfish tank that has internal filters. I normally run a raft system on this tank and have phenomenal yields for peppers. 

I definitely agree on the variability on comparison grows. Even I have found things that I will change for future comparisons. But so far I think this challenge is going very well for a first run and for starting with more questions than answers.

Thanks Again,


Great report. I am surprised that the flowering was delayed for the bigger plants. Also surprised how pathetic the maxicrop ended up after the early lead. Couple of comments, questions. Was the entire grow wrapped in reflective material, or just the back, maybe leading to the rear plants getting more light? Could the fan directed up front have caused the Roots Organics to dry, I noticed an earlier comment that was using the most water, perhaps the rapid loss caused the said nute-burn?  Great stuff, makes you want to do another test already, I bet. It sure makes me want to. Time, time, never enough. Thankyou.


Thanks! The whole grow was in an enclosed 4x4' grow tent so they should have had equal amounts of light. I just had to open it up to get in there and shoot the video. I only used the big fan to help rattle the plants up for pollination purposes, it didn't run regularly. I'm really surprised at how differently the plants reacted, given so many controls. Overall, I think it accurately portrayed the difference between aquaponics and expensive nutes though.. or lack of difference rather. Time is right, hopefully we can modify our approach and give it another go soon. 


Thanks for putting in the time and sharing your results. It was great to see the pictures of the plants for ourselves. This generated some good discussion too. Loved the videos!



Thanks for the support! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

I had a great experience as well. The Master Class at Nelson and Pade was super informative. John and Rebecca were very open and honest, and answered every question. Their staff were available to speak with and learn from as well.

Jonathan Kadish NYC AA Chair said:

I just did the workshop at Nelson & Pade and John Pade and Rebecca Nelson have many years experience with hydroponic greenhouse production, and of course they are one of the pioneers in Aquaponics as well. They insist that Aquaponics is superior in fruit quality, taste, yield and time to harvest. (of course they are selling aquaponics systems)

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