Ultimate Guide: 25 Best Plants To Grow With Aquaponics

Growing plants aquaponically is fun, educational, and lucrative. Additionally, plants grown with aquaponics grow faster, larger, and tastier than the same species grown in soil.

But, before you get started, you need to understand which plants are the most suitable for aquaponic systems.

What are the best plants for aquaponics? The best plants for aquaponics include numerous vegetables, leafy greens, small root vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, strawberries, watercress, and basil are among the very best plant varieties to grow in aquaponic systems.

To learn about the best vegetables, fruits, and herbs to grow aquaponically, as well as which plants grow the fastest in aquaponic systems and which ones aren’t good for aquaponics, read on below!

Best Vegetables for Aquaponics

1. Tomatoes

A hand supporting two hydroponically grown tomatoes still on the vine.

These juicy red fruits are the most popular vegetable for aquaponics by far. They grow quickly, produce enormous yields, and have a relatively high market value.

The recommended water temperature for aquaponic tomatoes is 70°F to 80°F. The water’s pH level should be 6.0 to 6.5. They require around 8 to 10 hours of light each day.

We cover all aspects of aquaponic tomato growing here.

  • Average time until first harvest: 4 to 8 weeks depending on the variety
  • Growing difficulty: Medium
  • Nutrient needs: High
  • Best system to grow in: DWC

2. Peppers

Several bell peppers growing on healthy plants in an aquaponic greenhouse.

Several species of peppers are incredibly popular with aquaponic gardeners, specifically bell peppers. Growing twice as fast as soil-grown peppers, it is no wonder why.

Peppers require a regulated water temperature of 65°F to 80°F. The pH level needs to stay around 6.0 to 6.5. They require approximately 12 to 18 hours of light daily depending on the variety.

  • Average time until first harvest: 50 to 150 days depending on the variety
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: High
  • Best system to grow in: DWC

3. Cucumbers

Several cucumbers at various stages of growth on a trellised plant.

A vegetable that grows from vines, the cucumber plant takes a bit more skill or practice to grow aquaponically. but it is still among the best crops for aquaponics.

Water for cucumbers should be between 65°F and 80°F. The pH level should be 5.5 to 6.0. They require between 12 and 14 hours of light per day.

  • Average time until first harvest: 50 to 70 days
  • Growing difficulty: Medium
  • Nutrient needs: High
  • Best system to grow in: Drip, DWC, ebb and flow

4. Eggplant

Several large eggplants ready to harvest from plant.

While perhaps not the first vegetable that jumps out at you when considering which aquaponic plants to grow, the eggplant should actually be high on your list.

It does excellent in most aquaponic systems.

Eggplants require a water temperature of 65°F to 75°F, with a pH level of 5.5 to 6.0. The plants require between 8 and 10 hours of light per day.

  • Average time until first harvest: 60 to 70 days
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: Medium
  • Best system to grow in: Any type

5. Lettuce

A hydroponic grow tray filled with healthy, young romaine lettuce plants.

The first on many gardeners lists, lettuce is one of the very best plants to grow with aquaponics.

It grows extremely fast from start to harvest and can even be regrown from stumps. You’ll find a complete aquaponic lettuce tutorial here.

The water for lettuce should remain at temperatures between 65°F and 80°F and have a pH level maintained at 5.6 to 6.2.

The plants require anywhere from 10 to 18 hours of light each day depending on the variety.

  • Average time until first harvest: 6 to 8 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: High
  • Best system to grow in: Any type

6. Cauliflower

Several heads of freshly harvested cauliflower with outer leaves removed.

The cauliflower plant is another great aquaponic plant that is often overlooked for other species like lettuce or broccoli. 

The water temperature for cauliflower needs to be 65°F to 75°F with a pH level of 5.2 to 6.8. It only requires a minimum of 6 hours of light per day.

  • Average time until first harvest: 75 to 90 days
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: Medium
  • Best system to grow in: DWC, ebb and flow, NFT

7. Broccoli

An immature head of broccoli still growing on the plant.

Slightly more popular than its cousin, cauliflower, broccoli is also one of the top veggies to grow in aquaponic systems. 

Water should be regulated at a pH level of 5.5 to 6.5 and temperatures between 55°F and 65°F. The plant needs 14 to 16 hours of light every day.

  • Average time until first harvest: 2 to 3 ½ months
  • Growing difficulty: Medium
  • Nutrient needs: High
  • Best system to grow in: DWC, ebb and flow, NFT

8. Spinach

A pile of fresh green spinach leaves.

One of the most preferred leafy greens to grow aquaponically is none other than Popeye’s favorite, spinach. That said, there are a few types to choose from.

Spinach needs a regulated water temperature of 45°F to 65°F and a pH level of 5.5 to 6.5. Twelve hours of light each day is enough for most species.

  • Average time until first harvest: 3 to 6 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: High
  • Best system to grow in: Ebb and flow, NFT

9. Beans

Fresh green string beans on the plant ready for harvesting.

There are numerous types of beans that are good for aquaponic growing, including pole and bush types.

They may not be as popular as other aquaponic vegetables but do just as well if not better than most.

The water for beans should be between 65°F and 80°F with a pH level of 6.0 to 6.5. Most varieties need around 12 hours of light per day, though some may need a bit more.

  • Average time until first harvest: 50 to 70 days
  • Growing difficulty: Medium
  • Nutrient needs: Medium
  • Best system to grow in: Ebb and flow, DWC

10. Squash

A pile of zucchini and yellow summer squash on a wood table.

The squash plant is another veggie that is sometimes mistaken for a crop that shouldn’t be grown aquaponically, but in reality, it does rather well with aquaponics.

Squash needs a water temperature of 65°F to 72°F and a pH level of 5.0 to 6.5. Fourteen hours of light per day is also needed for optimal growth.

  • Average time until first harvest: 40 to 60 days
  • Growing difficulty: Medium
  • Nutrient needs: High
  • Best system to grow in: DWC

11. Peas

A hand showing several ripe pea pods growing on the plant.

These tasty little green guys are another of the potentially least popular but best to grow aquaponic plants. More typically grown in soil, they thrive in water-based grow systems.

The water for peas should remain between 65°F and 80°F with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0. As far as light goes, 12 to 14 hours does the trick.

  • Average time until first harvest: 6 to 10 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Medium
  • Nutrient needs: High
  • Best system to grow in: DWC

12. Cabbage

A large head of cabbage ready to harvest in a garden.

Lettuce, spinach, and microgreens lookout. Cabbage is another leafy green vegetable that does extraordinarily well in aquaponic systems.

Water temperatures for cabbage need to be around 65°F to 75°F and have a pH level of roughly 6.5 to 7.0. The plant only requires about 6 hours of light each day.

  • Average time until first harvest: 8 to 10 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: High
  • Best system to grow in: DWC

13. Radishes

A bunch of perfect radishes with tops still attached laying on a wood table.

One of the few root vegetables that are actually quite good for growing aquaponically is radishes.

These little reddish-pink delicacies do far better in aquaponic systems than in the dirt.

Radishes need to be grown in water with temperatures between 50°F and 65°F. They also require a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0 and 6 to 10 hours of light per day.

  • Average time until first harvest: 1 month
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: Medium
  • Best system to grow in: DWC, ebb and flow

Best Fruits for Aquaponics

14. Strawberries

A big bunch of hydroponically grown strawberries in various stages of ripening.

The leading fruit to grow with aquaponics is by far strawberries. There are numerous species to choose from and many of them are growable all year long.

Some aquaponic strawberries are even harvestable every month. Check out our complete growing guide here.

Water should be regulated at 65°F to 80°F for strawberries, with a pH level of 5.6 to 6.5

  • Average time until first harvest: 4 to 8 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Medium
  • Nutrient needs: High
  • Best system to grow in: Ebb and flow, DWC, NFT,

15. Pomegranate

A whole pomegranate sitting beside an opened pomegranate on a rustic wood table against a dark wall.

The pomegranate plant is another delicious fruit that does very well in aquaponic systems, regardless of it being less well known.

It is even easier to grow than other popular aquaponic fruits, such as blueberries.

The water for pomegranates should be kept between 65°F and 80°F, with a pH level of 5.5 and 7.0. Approximately 4 to 6 hours of light daily keeps it thriving.

  • Average time until first harvest: 4 to 6 months
  • Growing difficulty: Medium
  • Nutrient needs: Medium
  • Best system to grow in: DWC

16. Blueberries

Blueberries ready to be picked with unripe berries in the background.

Though sometimes looked down upon by aquaponic gardeners for their difficulty level, blueberries are in truth a great type of fruit to grow in aquaponic systems.

That said, they do take a few years to start producing fruit.

Keep the water for blueberries at temperatures of 72°F to 74°F with a pH level of 4.5 to 5.0. Give them between 12 and 16 hours of light each day.

  • Average time until first harvest: 3 to 5 years
  • Growing difficulty: High
  • Nutrient needs: Low
  • Best system to grow in: DWC, ebb and flow

17. Dwarf Fruit Trees

Several apples growing on a dwarf apple tree.

Believe it or not, almost any sort of fruit tree can be grown aquaponically as a dwarf version. They do however take more time and patience.

Dwarf trees require water temperatures of 68°F to 72°F and pH levels of 5.5 to 6.5, on average. They require around 12 to 16 hours of light daily.

  • Average time until first harvest: 2 to 5 years
  • Growing difficulty: High
  • Nutrient needs: Medium
  • Best system to grow in: DWC

Best Herbs for Aquaponics

18. Chives

A large patch of flowering chives.

These tasty green onion-like herbs are among the top grown aquaponic herbs.

They require water temperatures of 65°F to 80°F, a pH level of 6.1 to 6.8, and around 12 hours of light each day.

  • Average time until first harvest: 4 to 8 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: Low
  • Best system to grow in: Any

19. Arugula

Freshly picked arugula in and around a wicker basket lined with burlap.

Another super popular herb to grow with aquaponics is this leafy green plant.

Keep their water around 50°F to 65°F with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0 for best results. They need 12 to 18 hours of light daily.

  • Average time until first harvest: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: Low
  • Best system to grow in: DWC, NFT

20. Basil

A close-up shot of basil plants viewed from above.

Perhaps the most popular of all aquaponic herbs, basil is one of the best aquaponic plants to grow, period.

They require water temperatures between 65°F and 85°F as well as pH levels between 6.2 and 6.8. Basil needs 14 to 18 hours of light daily.

  • Average time until first harvest: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: Medium
  • Best system to grow in: Ebb and flow, DWC

21. Watercress

A heap of fresh watercress on a cutting board with wood slats.

A runner-up for the best-ever herb to grow with aquaponics is watercress.

They need water temperatures of 77°F to 96°F, a pH level of 6.5 to 6.8, and just 4 hours of light each day.

  • Average time until first harvest: 4 to 8 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: Low
  • Best system to grow in: Ebb and flow, NFT

Best Microgreens for Aquaponics

22. Amaranth

Bright amaranth sprouts growing in grow sponges.

This plant species is most certainly the lesser-known of all microgreens. That said, it grows extremely well via aquaponic systems.

Water temperatures need to be 65°F to 80°F with pH levels of 5.5 to 6.0. Just 6 hours of light is enough for it to flourish.

  • Average time until first harvest: 2 to 3 months
  • Growing difficulty: Medium
  • Nutrient needs: Medium
  • Best system to grow in: DWC, NFT

23. Green Mustard

A tray of tiny, green mustard microgreens.

One of the better-known microgreens, and one with high market value, green mustard is one of the best to grow aquaponically.

Water temperatures should be 60°F to 70°F with pH levels between 5.5 and 6.5. They need 14 to 18 hours of sun daily.

  • Average time until first harvest: 3 to 6 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: Low
  • Best system to grow in: NFT, Ebb and Flow

24. Wheatgrass

Growing wheatgrass with a small scoop of seeds in the forefront.

This easy-to-grow grass-type species is another excellent microgreen for aquaponics.

It requires water temperatures between 60°F to 70°F, a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0, and just 4 hours of light daily.

  • Average time until first harvest: 7 to 10 days
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: Low
  • Best system to grow in: Ebb and flow

25. Alfalfa

A close-up look at a tray of alfalfa microgreens.

This super-healthy type of aquaponic microgreens is also a good option.

Alfalfa needs water temperatures between 72°F and 76°F, a pH level of 5.5 to 6.0, and 12 to 16 hours of daily light.

  • Average time until first harvest: 3 to 6 weeks
  • Growing difficulty: Low
  • Nutrient needs: Low
  • Best system to grow in: DWC, NFT

Fastest Growing Plants for Aquaponics 

Aquaponic systems are known for speeding up the growing process of plants. However, some plants grow even faster in aquaponic systems than others. 

A few of the very fastest-growing plants for aquaponics are:

  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Mustard
  • Spinach
  • Basil
  • Microgreens

What Can Not Be Grown With Aquaponics 

As amazing as aquaponics is for many plants, there are some species that just don’t thrive aquaponically.

Among the least likely plants to grow well in aquaponics are:

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Large onions
  • Azaleas
  • Other large root vegetables
  • Other acidic-loving plants
  • Other alkaline-loving plants

Aquaponic Tips for Success

  • Choose an ideal location for setting up your indoor or outdoor system.
  • Make sure to include a steady supply of fresh oxygen in your reservoir.
  • Choose the best fish for your climate as well as for your plants (more info here).
  • Set up your system at a proper height for your water pump to function optimally.
  • Be sure to regularly check your water and add nutrients as needed.

Related Questions: 

What Is the Best Growing Medium for Aquaponics?

The best growing medium for aquaponics boils down to the type of grow system you’re using as well as the type of plants being grown.

A few of the best ones include clay pellets (also known as clay balls), lava rock, rockwool cubes, expanded shale, peat plugs, and pea gravel.

Do Plants Grow Faster With Aquaponics? 

On average, most plants grow around twice as fast with aquaponics as they do when grown with soil.

That said, depending on the setup, and plant species, some may grow up to three times faster than soil-based crops.

Closing Thoughts About The Best Aquaponic Plants

It’s true that nearly anything that grows in soil may also grow in an aquaponic system.

But, if you want to grow one of the best, try one of the tried and true aquaponic plants listed above.

Tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, basil, and micro-greens are always top picks, but any of the vegetables, fruits, and herbs on our list of aquaponic plants will grow and thrive aquaponically.