What is the Difference Between Aquaponics and Polyaquaculture

What is the Difference Between Aquaponics and Polyaquaculture
What is the Difference Between Aquaponics and Polyaquaculture

Aquaponics and polyculture are two sustainable agricultural practices that have become increasingly popular in recent years. While both methods involve growing crops and raising fish in a symbiotic system, there are key differences between the two techniques. In this article, we will explore the differences between aquaponics and polyculture and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Aquaponics is a type of farming that combines aquaculture (the practice of raising fish) with hydroponics (the practice of growing plants in nutrient-rich water). In an aquaponics system, fish are raised in tanks where they produce waste that is converted by bacteria into nitrates and other nutrients that can be used by plants. The nutrient-rich water is then circulated through a hydroponic system where plants absorb the nutrients they need to grow.

What is the Difference Between Aquaponics and Polyaquaculture

In contrast, polyculture involves raising multiple species of plants and animals together in a single ecosystem. For example, a polyculture farm might include a combination of fruit trees, vegetable crops, chickens, and fish, all living and growing together in a mutually beneficial system.

The seven key differences between aquaponics and polyculture are:

  • System complexity: Aquaponics systems are typically more complex and require more infrastructure than polyculture systems.
  • Water usage: Aquaponics systems require less water than traditional farming methods, while polyculture systems require more water than aquaponics.
  • Nutrient management: In aquaponics, the fish provide the nutrients for the plants, while in polyculture, nutrient management can be more challenging and requires careful planning and management.
  • Yield: Aquaponics systems can produce higher crop yields per unit of space compared to polyculture systems.
  • Fish production: Aquaponics systems are optimized for fish production, while polyculture systems may not be as efficient at producing fish.
  • Diversity: Polyculture systems typically have greater diversity of plants and animals compared to aquaponics systems.
  • Resilience: Polyculture systems are often more resilient to environmental changes and disease outbreaks due to their diversity and redundancy, while aquaponics systems may be more vulnerable to disruptions in the system.

In terms of system design, aquaponics and polyculture differ in significant ways. In aquaponics, water is recirculated between the fish tanks and plant beds, creating a closed-loop system where fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, and the plants filter the water for the fish. On the other hand, polyculture involves cultivating different crops and animals in the same space, which may be separate or integrated. For example, some farmers may grow crops on raised beds and raise chickens in a separate area, while others may integrate different crops and animals in the same area.

Another significant difference between aquaponics and polyculture is the types of fish and plants used. In aquaponics, farmers typically cultivate fish such as tilapia, trout, or catfish, while growing plants like lettuce, tomatoes, or herbs. In contrast, polyculture involves a more diverse range of crops and animals, such as cows, goats, pigs, chickens, and crops like corn, wheat, or soybeans.


While see the difference between aquaponics and polyaquaculture share some similarities, they are fundamentally different approaches to sustainable agriculture. Aquaponics is a highly specialized and efficient system that focuses on the production of fish and crops, while polyculture is a more diverse and resilient system that focuses on creating a balanced ecosystem. Ultimately, the choice between aquaponics and polyculture will depend on the specific goals and needs of the farmer and their local environment.