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Aquaponics for Cannabis: A Complete Guide

December 9, 2022

Did you know that aquaponics for cannabis is a marriage between plant production and fish farming? The sea creatures grow healthy in nutrient-rich water, and marijuana crops reap the purified and oxygenated benefits.

Weed seeds develop roots faster due to the organic nature of aquaponics. The crops absorb nitrogen and micronutrients from fish waste.

Are you new to this form of growing and ready to learn more? We'll explain the advantages and disadvantages of the aquaponic cannabis life cycle and setup process.

Let’s dig in.

What is aquaponics for cannabis?

How does aquaponics work?

This breakthrough technique integrates hydroponic and aquaculture systems. The former is also known as DWC (deep water culture), which involves growing weed crops without soil. Aquaculture involves farming water-dwelling creatures such as koi or tilapia.

An aquaponics system for weed supplies plants with essential nutrients for growth from marine animal waste.

aquaponics for cannabis

Life cycle of a cannabis aquaponics system

It’s vital to understand the aquaponic system life cycle to attain success. Whether growing regular, autoflower, or feminized cannabis crops, below are the main components:


The marine creatures living in the aquarium or rearing tank are typically fish. They excrete waste that turns into plant nutrition for development.


The aquaponics cannabis system is similar to hydroponics as it involves reservoirs or tanks. Marijuana crops rely on nutrients from fish waste to develop roots in the reservoir.


The heart of an aquaponic system is the biofilter, which houses nitrifying bacteria. It extends your aquaponics surface area while bacteria convert the waste to nitrates. Nitrate is a form of nitrogen that ensures your weed plants access oxygen for proper development.

Why you should use aquaponic weed cultivation

Adopting the aquaponic weed cultivation method ensures rapid plant development. Your crops grow strong and healthy as the system allows the roots to access sufficient minerals and vitamins.

Another reason is H2O usage. Since regular hydration is unnecessary, aquaponics requires considerably less water than the traditional growing method.

Pros of growing cannabis with an aquaponics system

  • This organic process ensures healthy and happy plants.
  • Growing weed with aquaponics requires less time and effort, unlike other cultivation methods.
  •  It’s easy to set up in a greenhouse, indoors, and outside.
  • It’s scalable, and you can set up a large reservoir or small tank for several plants.

Cons of growing cannabis with an aquaponics system

  • Before adopting this approach, beginners need time to learn the basics of fish farming and find the right hydro weed strains.
  • The aquaponics cannabis growing setup cost is slightly high.
  • It requires regular sterilization and cleaning to protect crops from algae.

How to set up a cannabis aquaponic system

You're on the right path if you already have a hydroponics or aquarium system. Instead of using only clay pebbles, add the “dual root zone” to the setup.

Clay pebbles can’t provide sufficient nutrients for microbes and sea creatures. However, a dual root zone creates a soil layer with enough minerals to boost plant development.

Follow these steps to set up your cannabis aquaponic system:

Step 1: Put your fish tank together

Your first aquaponic weed growing task is purchasing a suitable tank. Buy it after considering the available space and your desired type of sea creature. It’s a safe, comfortable, and thriving environment for aquatic animals.

A simple setup requires a standard acrylic aquarium with dechlorinated H2O. You can dissipate chlorine from tap water by letting it sit for 24–48 hours.

After dechlorinating, it's time to operate the aquaponics fish tank on empty for 4–6 weeks. This process facilitates nitrifying bacteria buildup, which enables nitrogen circulation for plant nutrition.

Consider installing a pump for adequate water circulation. It ensures sufficient flow from the reservoir into the holding plants and roots (grow bed) and vice versa.

aquaponics for cannabis

Step 2: Prepare the media bed

A media bed is where you cultivate weed crops. A large wooden or heavy-duty tray is suitable for aquaponic cannabis growing.

Install the bed in a flood table above the sturdy fish reservoir. Then, introduce a layer of clay pebbles to the tray, a popular pH-neutral substrate layer free of nutrients.

Add another layer of absorbent material on the pebbles, such as burlap, to make the dual root zone. Introduce a layer of pH-balanced soil over it.

You now have a terrestrial layer over the top and aquatic at the bottom to prevent nutritional deficiencies. It creates a self-sustaining ecosystem for the beneficial bacteria and facilitates excellent water exchange with improved mineral retention.

How to set up a cannabis aquaponic system

Step 3: Choose and add the fish

Do you know which fish are best for aquaponics? Here are some popular options:

  • Ornamental marine animals: Aquatic creatures in this category, such as tetras, koi, guppies, goldfish, and mollies, are best for aquaponic cannabis. These fish are resistant to diseases and easier to manage.
  • Barramundi: This wonderful sea creature is perfect for the aquaponics system due to its rapid development rate and vigor.
  • Tilapia: Its resistance to parasites and ability to handle different temperatures and water challenges make it ideal for aquaponics.
  • Catfish: This creature isn’t territorial, making it worthy in aquaponics for marijuana tanks. It also multiplies fast and thrives in different temperatures.
  • Silver Perch: These marine animals feed and thrive in small or large tanks.

After operating the aquaponics system on empty for about a month, it's time to make a decision. Select the best fish for your aquaponic cannabis system and add it to the dechlorinated water.

How to set up a cannabis aquaponic system

Step 4: Transfer weed plants

Germinate your marijuana seeds using our recommended paper towel technique. Whether growing outdoor or indoor weed seeds, ensure the seedlings develop two nodes before transferring them to the system.

Check that your crops are above the tank, and keep the pump spray nozzles close to the roots to prevent leaks.

aquaponics for cannabis

Step 5: Maintain an aquaponic system

Growing marijuana with aquaponics requires regular maintenance to improve fish, bacteria, and plant health. Water is a significant part of the system, so monitor and control the quality parameters.

Check the nitrate levels (3–150mg/33.8 fl. oz.) and temperature (64–86°F). The pH level of 6.8–7.0 and dissolved oxygen (5mg/33.8 fl. oz.) are other parameters to monitor with test kits.

Leave space between your plants, avoid overcrowding the tank, and remove uneaten food after feeding the fish.

Organic waste may clog the system through rising ammonia levels, which is unhealthy for marine animals. Aquaponics for cannabis also requires adequate, consistent water circulation and aeration.

FAQs about aquaponic cannabis

Do you have any other queries? Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about growing marijuana in aquaponics below.

What’s the difference between aquaponic and hydroponic?

Aquaponics is the practice of fish rearing and cultivating crops in the same environment. Bacteria turn sea animal waste into nitrates, which are food for plants.

Hydroponics is a growing medium without the use of soil. Hydroponic weed can access essential vitamins and minerals in nutrient-rich water-based solutions.

Do plants grow faster in aquaponics?

Since aquaponic systems don't accommodate soil pests or require pesticides, they provide plenty of nutrition to help crops grow faster.

Aquaponic marijuana has unlimited access to oxygen, nitrogen, and other beneficial minerals, enhancing growth. Unlike traditional soil, this system makes plants grow considerably faster and healthier.

What fish are the best for aquaponics?

The strain, your system size, temperature, and location determine the best marine animal to rear. The top choices are sunfish, trout, perch, salmon, cod, brass, and tetras. Other suitable sea creatures for cannabis aquaponics include goldfish, catfish, tilapia, shrimp, and yabbies.

Fish farming and plant production: The ultimate pairing?

Growing marijuana plants with an aquaponics system is an ideal way to improve the average yield per plant. Consider aquaponics for cannabis if you want a quick growth cycle with sizable outcomes.

Before adopting this approach, learn about hydroponic weed production, the aquaponics setup process, and maintenance. Then, with the proper knowledge, equipment, and dedication, you can successfully grow aquaponics weed.

Do you want to become a growing expert? Visit our blog to discover more about cultivating cannabis.

About the author: Derek LaRose

Also known as Kronic from The Cannabis Kronicles, Derek LaRose is a young ambitious cultivator and a staple educator for indoor cultivation.

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