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9 Reasons Why Most Aquaponics Systems Fail

When first starting off, people are excited to be building an aquaponic system in their house or their garden, and they expect quick results.

The key to building a successful aquaponic system is having patience for the whole process to start to work.

When in a hurry, people oversee many obstacles that may arise in their system and that is why the systems may fail in the end.

9) The Size of the Gravel

One key point that may seem trivial, but can cause the system to fail, is the size of the gravel that you use in your aquaponic.

If the gravel is too big, it wouldn’t be able to hold nutrition, and if it’s too small, it may become impermeable.

If the gravel is impermeable, the fish would suffocate without any oxygen and eventually die.

So before you go to buy the gravel, you would need to search on the type of plant you want to start with and then decide on which type of gravel would be best for that particular plant.

8) Types of Plants

One mistake that usually occurs while starting off in aquaponics is that people get excited and try to plant more than one type of plant in their system, however, any experienced person would advise against that.

You should grow one species of plant for at least the starting 6 months so that the bacteria has some time to mature and adapt, after that you can put in more.

It’s also necessary for you to know your plant well before using them.

Make sure that it should be a hydroponically active vegetable that you are trying to grow, learn about the pests that are especially attracted to these kinds of plants, and learn about the diseases and preventions they are prone to.

7) Bug Problems

Once your plants start to grow, one of your biggest problems will be bugs.

You’ll need to have a strategy, so that they don’t benefit from the plant more than you do.

One efficient way could be to spread little predators that could soldier your plants, like small beetles, wasps and other kind of small creepy crawlies that naturally don’t target your plant.

But this technique could be a problem if you’re afraid of the little buggers, so another plan could be to just simply use pesticides and simplify the process.

6) Amount of Sunlight

Starters believe that the more sunlight the better the plant will grow, but that’s not the case with this process.

In aquaponics you have to measure the sunlight hours and manage the system, so that they get the right amount of sun’s helpful rays.

Fishes are sensitive to drastic changes in water temperature, so if the tank gets too hot from the exposure of sunlight, they would start to die.

Not only that, if you keep the system in sunlight for much part of the day, the whole system would become a huge victim of algae.

Algae grow fast if they have easy excess to nutrition and sunlight, and once they are enough in quantity, they will consume all the oxygen that the plants will provide, leaving none for the fishes.

5) PH Control

This is where most go astray; the PH value in the tank should be around 7.00, and with that being said, there is no need to use chemicals to lower the PH value of your tank.

The nitrifying bacterium offers to do that for you without assistance.


Most people, once they see that the PH value has changed a little, put in muriatic acid to change it back, without knowing the side effects of that particular chemical on the plants as well as on the fishes.

The self sufficient process of aquaponics will correct itself, so tehre’s no need for excessive chemical additions.

4) Having a Healthy Ratio between Plants and Fishes

Remember that the fishes and plants are interdependent on each other for fertilizers and oxygen, so the ratio between them should be corresponding to their needs.

If you put too many fishes in the tank in comparison to the pants, they will suffocate and keep dying off until there’s enough oxygen for everyone.

The ratio is one factor and overcrowding is another, so do not overcrowd the fishes because that would result in limited growth as well as having unhealthy fish.

The density should be so that the fishes can survive healthily in it. But if it’s lesser than needed, then it will have no effect.

If you believe it’s better to be on the safer side, you could just start with low density and keep increasing it until it makes a difference.

3) Overfeeding

Fish would keep eating if you keep feeding them, so don’t feed them too much. You should know the difference between when they’re full and when they’re hungry.

If you keep feeding them, they’ll just pollute the whole system.

The feeds don’t come for free either, so use them wisely and make sure none is ever wasted.

2) Tap Water

Your city probably adds chlorine and fluorine to your tap water. Chlorine is very hazardous for fishes, so do not use tap water to fill your tank, instead, get another source of fresh water that doesn’t consist of chlorine or any other chemical that might affect your fishes.

If the only access you have to fresh water is your tap, then you will need to ‘off-gas’ the water before using it.

One way to do that is to fill the empty tank with your chlorine contaminated water and turn on the aeration system. Let it be for 72 hours and then you can add the fish.

1) Under-Cared

There is this common misconception in aquaponics that people believe in, that since it is a cycling system and they tell you how self sufficient it is, it will take care of it itself.

I’m here to tell you that if you are going to build an aquaponic system, you would need to take care of it WHILE IT TAKES CARE OF ITSELF.

It goes hand in hand, and nowhere does anybody imply that you won’t have to lift a finger.

Your aquaponics system would need some, if not a lot, undivided attention to grow in a healthy way.

Spread The Word!
Steven Swift

Steven has been interested in Survivalist Tips and prepping for years. He wanted to share the tips and tricks he learned with the world to help them be prepared for any type of dangers/emergencies. He is the owner of Sovereign Survival

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
James - November 14, 2017

Hey Steven,

Great post. However, the real reason aquaponics fails is because it’s stupid in the first place.

I say that after successfully doing aquaponics on a commercial scale, home scale, and TEACHING aquaponics for 5 years both on and off line.

Over the years I realized that the fish are MERELY a source of nitrogen. One that you have to buy an imported and manufactured feed for. Then the fish have to be at a certain temperature to even desire eating. Therefore you’re dependent on temperature for your nutrients.

Another huge myth is that you’ll be eating fish everyday.
1. In a homescale system you’ll be lucky to grow out 20 pounds of fish per year. That’s extremely optimistic.
2. In a commercial farm (I’ve worked on one) the fish are your “fish poo engine” and you don’t harvest them often because they take time to grow out. They are more valuable for their poop. Plus, chefs and restauranteurs DO NOT want to filet fish to serve it. Especially if it’s farmed. Therefore most commercial aquaponics farmers have switched to Koi. Now you really have to wonder WTF is the point of a fish nobody wants to eat when there are plenty of cheap and free nitrogen sources around.

Finally, you have to supplement various nutrients in an aquaponics system anyway. I asked myself “why the hell am I adding nutrients and supporting these fish, I’m adding nutrients anyway…” Nobody does aquaponics successfully without adding at least iron or humic/fulvic acid.

Personally, I’ve switched back to organic hydroponics (no fish) because there are many FREE sources of nitrogen that don’t involve feed.

Anyway there’s my rant! Hope this helps someone.

Also, I hope you’ll allow my comment here even though you’ve got links for an aquaponics affiliate product (which is not a good product BTW, sorry).


    Deon - April 5, 2018

    Hi James I am just staring a system we’ll not just trying if for a while now and yes struggling very much ,the plant tend to now grow they stay small and green looking good but not growing,can you mabey help me in that regard thank you.


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