Best Plants for an Aquaponics Fish Tank

For gardeners who like to keep fish as pets, an aquaponics fish tank could be an excellent product for you. This fish tank system allows the fish and the plants to have safe water to live in. Specifically, the fish provides nutrients to the plant found on top of the aquarium through its waste products. On the other hand, the plant cleans the fish tank water by filtering it, creating clean water for the fish. A symbiotic interaction between the plants and the fish can be observed in aquaponics fish tanks.

Since fish and plants are both essential factors in this system, you have to pick out the appropriate plants which could grow in aquaponics fish tanks well. It is worth noting that not all plants can grow in such fish tank system, so you should know which plants grow well, and which ones will not. In this article, we are going to identify some of the best plants that would grow well in an aquaponics fish tank.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing Plants for Aquaponics Fish Tanks

Before even purchasing any plant for your aquaponics fish tank, you should first identify specific factors that could affect the growth and development of your plants. Since certain plants require specific environmental factors, not all plants will thrive in an aquaponics system. Moreover, the plants that you use could also affect the fish. You’ll need to be wary about which plants you use in your aquaponics fish tank.

The plants that you choose for your aquaponics fish tank should have the same needs as your fish in terms of pH and temperature. For example, leafy crops such as herbs (including basil and arugula) would work best with warm and freshwater fish. Fruiting plants such as peppers and peas could work for a fish tank that is stocked with a lot of fish.

As an aquarium hobbyist with a green thumb, you may need to compromise some of the needs of the fish and the plants, but you should ensure that their needs are as closely matched as possible.


aquaponics fish tank

Best Plants for Aquaponics Fish Tanks

Many species of plants could grow well in aquaponics fish tank systems. Through the use of grow beds which could be filled with gravel or clay pebbles, the water will flow continuously through the plants, providing an environment that is rich in nutrients.

The following plants can successfully grow when planted in an aquaponics fish tank. These plants could grow well above the soil. They also love their roots to be wet. Here are a few plants that grow well in an aquaponics system.


Lettuce is one of the easiest and most successful plants that could grow in an aquaponics environment. You can plant lettuce from seeds or the bottoms of existing heads of lettuce. They mature rapidly, with an average of 40 days of development. There are different varieties of lettuces that could efficiently grow aquaponically. The Crisphead and iceberg varieties require higher nutrient requirements. Leaves of butterhead varieties are harvested once at a time.

Lettuce seedlings should be transplanted into the aquaponics fish tank between the two to three weeks after its initial growth. At this point, they already have around three true leaves.

lettuce head


Since herbs grow successfully in an aquaponics system, basil could also yield highly. Basil is a fresh herb that goes well with meat and vegetables. Since normal pH range required for basil to grow is from 6.5 to 7.2, they will thrive well in aquaponics fish tanks where the pH is within the neutral range. Furthermore, the roots of the basil enjoy being drained.

basil seeds


Chives could also grow in an aquaponics fish tank. They prefer a neutral pH. Within the neutral range, the chives will get a good yield. Growing chives from seeds could be difficult, so it is better to transplant them about six to eight weeks before they are fully mature. If you still want to grow them from seeds, Amazon offers packs of chive seeds at a very low cost.

Chives are crops that you could cut time and again. If they begin becoming unruly, you could always divide them and replant them on a new grow bed.

Chives Seeds- Herb Seeds- 300+ Seeds


As mentioned earlier, tomatoes could be an excellent plant to place on an aquaponics fish tank, especially when the aquarium is loaded. One of the reasons why they thrive well in aquaponics systems is that they grow in just the right pH that is present in the fish tank. Before installing the tomatoes in the grow beds, it is worth noting that you have to rinse the roots of the tomato seedlings to remove any soil that may harm the fish.


Cucumbers could grow well in aquaponics systems due to their large root structure. Aside from loving a neutral soil pH, they also love humidity and sunshine. Since cucumbers are vines, they also require space. Aquaponics fish tanks could provide these requirements as long as the users could strategically place the tank in a spacious place that could be reached by proper sunlight.


Strawberries can grow when planted in an aquaponics system. Such plant grows abundantly when it is exposed in an aquaponics media bed. Like some of the aforementioned plants, strawberry seedlings should be transplanted into the grow bed, instead of the seeds. They should also be exposed to the appropriate humidity and temperature since strawberries require a certain range of temperature in order to thrive well.


Since this flavored plant thrives abundantly along lakes and streams, watercress could also be good plants for an aquaponics fish tank system. This peppery herb is rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and K. Watercress should grow within three to four weeks after planting their seeds in the grow beds of your aquaponics fish tank.


The leaves of Kale are rich in vitamins and minerals. Since kale likes to live in a cold environment, being exposed to a constant flood and drain cycle could allow it to develop without any problem. The leaves of kale are used in soups, stir-fries, and even green smoothies. It contains antioxidants like flavonoids and carotenoids that could help the body become healthy. Kale is easy to grow from seeds.


Another herb that could grow well in an aquaponics fish tank is thyme, specifically its low-water variant. It could grow in an aquaponic environment within five to seven weeks after being planted on the growth bed. Like other herbs, thyme could also thrive well when exposed in an aquaponics media bed. After maturation, this herb could go well with a variety of foods including meat and stew. Not only does it grow quickly in an aquaponics system, it also smells great.


Arugula is another green vegetable that is suited for an aquaponics system. It is easy to care for, and the germination time is pretty fast. As a matter of fact, arugula begins sprouting on the fourth day. This plant is rich in potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

Cannabis / Marijuana

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, can also be grown in an aquaponics fish tank since the system provides a lot of oxygen. By allowing the roots to take in high levels of oxygen, they are able to absorb more nutrients and grow quickly. Just make sure to check with your country or state’s laws for growing it.

Plants That Can’t Grow in an Aquaponics Fish Tank

While most plant types could be planted in an aquaponics fish tank, there are those that cannot grow well. Here are some of the plants that will find it difficult to develop.


Potatoes will not grow well when planted in an aquaponics fish tank. Because they usually grow under the soil, root crops such as potatoes will not develop.  If they are ever planted in such system, they will be absorbing too much water. They will eventually die since they are not exposed to their appropriate environments. If they ever survive, their final shape will not resemble what they are supposed to look like.


Blueberries are a species of plants that may not thrive in an aquaponics fish tank. This is due to the fact that they prefer an acidic soil of below 7.0. Since water has a usual neutral pH of 7.0, exposing these plants to such water acidity could be harmful to them. Another example of a plant that prefers a low acidity level is the azalea.


Chrysanthemums are plants that require a basic soil above 7.0. This means that exposing them to water with a lower pH will only kill them. Other plants that need a basic soil include zinnias and calendula.



As mentioned in this article, many plants, especially herbs, are suited for an aquaponics fish tank system. By carefully studying the ways on how to transplant these herbs and fruiting plants to the growing beds, you not only provide yourself with plants to care for, but also plants which you can harvest and enjoy at the dinner table. What’s better than fresh lettuce that you grew yourself on top of your fish tank!

When considering plants to place in your fish tanks, remember that not all plants can grow well in such environment. Also, you have to make sure that the conditions of the plant and the fish are considered. One must not be compromised to suit the other.


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