If you want to experiment with aquaponics on a very small scale, then you’ll want to check out some of these aquaponics kits.
However, let me be completely honest from the start: aquaponics kits are a very small representation of what aquaponics truly is. To put it bluntly, they’re just not that wonderful no matter how much I want them to be really good.
Most of them are also pretty small. Once you read my reviews for each of them, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Then you can make your own decision if they’re worth it or not.
I see them more as a fun thing to play around with. If you’re not too serious about aquaponics on a large scale, then you’re going to love them.
Aquaponics Kits: Top 8 Picks
Aquaponics combines growing both fish and plants. It’s an absolutely interesting method of growing plants with the help of fish. To simplify it, you feed the fish and the fish feed the plants.
Thus, when it comes to aquaponics, there’s no need for nutrient solution. That’s one major component that hydroponics and aquaponics don’t have in common.
If you’d rather try growing plants with hydroponics first, where no fish are involved and plants are fed with nutrient solution, then you can check out my recommendations for hydroponic kits for beginners or the best AeroGarden for growing tomatoes. Or you could be trying the very simple mason jar hydroponics.
Nevertheless, for now, let’s see what options we have for the best aquaponics kits. I hope we can enjoy some good models for decent prices but we’ll see.
If you become interested in building your own aquaponic garden, I recommend this book Aquaponics for Beginners by Nick Brooke.
1. Eco-Cycle Aquaponics Indoor Garden System: Big Aquaponics Kit
This aquaponics kit from Eco-Cycle is not cheap at all. However, I truly appreciate that it’s among the few kits that are on the larger side. I wouldn’t exactly view it as an aquaponics kit for children, maybe really dedicated teenagers would be interested in it.
I think it’s a good start for adults who want to understand what aquaponics is all about. It will serve as a quite useful hobby but you also need a bit of time for maintaining it properly.
To give you an idea about its price, I should say that it’s cheaper to buy the AeroGarden Bounty Basic, which is a pretty amazing indoor garden, even if it doesn’t come with an aquarium or fish.
I guess this would be a good time to remind you that these aquariums, like this kit from Eco-Cycle requires but doesn’t include, are small. They won’t be able to handle growing big fish that you can then eat.
But the fish can look amazing if you are just looking for an indoor aquaponics kit. If you want to build the kind of system that can handle big fish like tilapia, trout, carp, etc. then you’ll have to build one yourself outdoors.
For now, let’s see what the Eco-Cycle Aquaponics Indoor Garden System offers for that considerable amount of money you’ll have to spend on it.
This is where my very big issue with this system is. I am surprised that the tank is not included.
We are told that the system is made for a 20 gallon fish tank but we aren’t provided the tank, although anyone’s impression would be that the fish tank should be among the components. It seems not.
The 20 gallon fish tank is a nice size and the manufacturer advises us to buy a 12 x 24 inches fish tank. However, some users also mentioned that they managed to fit a 29 gallon fish tank on this system by finding one that has the same width as a 20 gallon one.
You should also be aware that an empty aquarium tank can cost between $50 to $100. I simply feel that, by including the fish tank, they could have justified the expensive price a lot better.
You need the same width because the components that this manufacturer does include is the space where the plants grow.
That hood, where the net cups and the growing medium for the plants to grow in are placed, needs to fit on top of the aquarium. That’s why we need to buy a 12 x 24 inches fish tank.
The kit also includes 17 net cups and clay pebbles.
Besides the tray where the plants grow, the next component that is easily noticeable is the LED grow lights. I’m glad to see that this Eco-Cycle system includes LED grow lights. Unfortunately, not a lot of aquaponic kits include the lights but some are also 2-3 times cheaper than this model.
These are described as advanced, programmable LED lights. They come with 4 grow settings: seed, grow, veggie, flower. These 4 modes just mean that there is a set number of hours for which the lights are on and off. There’s also a remote control and a timer so you don’t have to do anything manually to turn the lights on and off.
How it works
Eco-Cycle describes the system simply but comprehensively: fish fertilize the plants and, in turn, plants clean the water for the fish. It’s a closed loop set-up and very efficient if you get the hang of it.
I recommend checking out their website because it has more info for future users.
Moreover, you’ll absolutely want to read what users write about their experience with growing plants with the Eco-Cycle Aquaponics Indoor Garden System because they offer helpful tips.
Many users have described it as easy to set up. That’s great, especially for beginners.
What you need to buy
First, you’ll need to buy a 12 x 24 inches fish tank.
You also need fish. Goldfish are the most common to get but just start with 1 or 2. A user chose to get 1 ornamental goldfish and 1 Chinese algae eater. I find this combination to be one of the best.
Thus, don’t expect to have dozens of fishes swimming in your tank because they’ll end up dead. One or two are enough for this system.
You also need to buy fish food, seeds for the plants and décor for the fish. I definitely recommend getting décor for the aquarium and feeding your fish high quality food.
Leafy greens are the best to grow in this system. They thrive on nitrogen rich fertilizer, which is found in fish waste.
You can also grow herbs. And that’s about it. It’s certainly not made for bigger plants like peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers.
You can grow lettuce, watercress, basil, baby spinach, arugula, mint, parsley, etc. If you want a challenge, you could try to grow strawberries.
The water with the fish waste is pumped into the grow tray with the growing media. A water pump is included for that. The roots of the plants eat the waste from the fish and return the purified water to the aquarium.
However, the plants might not be capable of removing all the nitrates. It might be necessary to do water changes so that’s another thing you must familiarize yourself with.
2. Back to the Roots Indoor Garden – Affordable Aquaponics Kit
The Back to the Roots Indoor Garden is an affordable option for those who want to experiment with aquaponics. In my opinion, it’s one of the best aquaponics kits.
It lacks LED grow lights but, given the affordable price, I wouldn’t have expected to include them.
I recommend buying a LED grow bulb or a cheap LED grow tube. You definitely don’t need expensive LED grow lights for an indoor garden of this size.
The components that are included are quite plenty for the price. They’re pretty great, especially for a beginner.
Once you buy a grow light and fish, you’ll have a complete aquaponic indoor garden. Back to the Roots calls it a water garden and I like that name.
First of all, there’s the fish tank. This is a 3-gallon tank, which can be considered the standard size for this price range.
It includes a grow tray that is divided into sections. You’ll get the necessary grow media for your first crop. I love the fact that growstones are included as growing medium, they’re very good. After that, you can replace them with expanded clay aggregate (clay pebbles) or growstones.
The water is delivered to the grow tray with the help of a water pump.
We even get water conditioner, fish food and organic microgreen seeds (radish and wheatgrass).
The fact that the grow tray is divided into 3 sections limits the number of plants we can grow but it’s a good design if you want to grow different plants at the same time.
In one section you can grow some microgreens, in another a couple of herbs and in another a head of lettuce or some baby spinach or some watercress.
I guess you could even attempt to grow some strawberries and see if it’s possible to get them to bear fruit.
3. Back to the Roots Water Garden + Garden in a Can
I already reviewed the Back to the Roots Water Garden right above as one of the best, most affordable aquaponics kits.
There’s another kit that you can buy from this manufacturer: that aquaponics system plus 3 cans for growing herbs in them.
Thus, if you want to use the indoor garden for growing microgreens and leafy greens but you also want to grow some herbs in some quirky containers, then you can order this set.
The 3 cans are for growing basil, cilantro and mint.
These cans are called Kitchen Herb Garden. Besides the cans, we also get the seeds plus the organic plant-based soil.
You just have to pop open the top, sow the seeds and then add water. Don’t forget about providing them with plenty of light.
Everything is organic when it comes to Back to the Roots as a manufacturer.
4. AquaSprouts Garden
Once again we get one of those aquaponics kits that doesn’t include the aquarium.
Thus, you’ll have to buy a 10-gallon aquarium that measures 20 x 10 x 12 inches. This is an extra expense that you’ll have to add to the price of this already quite expensive aquaponic kit that lacks a fish tank.
Surprisingly, for this price, you’ll also have to buy grow lights. Those are not included either. It’s nice of them that they include the support for the lights, calling it a light bar, but no lights.
I mean, for the price, we can buy the AeroGarden Harvest. Or we can get the iDoo 20 pods and still be left with plenty of money.
Since I’ve gotten the complaints out of the way, let’s see what we actually get for the money.
We get a garden bed or a grow tray, whatever you want to call it. It’s described as a custom-molded, single-piece garden bed that snaps together easily with supporting legs.
A water pump with a timer is also included in the price. I will admit that the 160 gallons per hour pump is pretty nice. It’s quite powerful.
Last but not least, we get grow media in the form of expanded clay. You can buy afterwards more growstones or clay pebbles for more crops.
All in all, I admit that the AquaSprouts Garden is a nice idea and it can certainly work as one of the best aquaponics kits but, as it’s sold at the moment, it’s just too incomplete.
I mean if you don’t provide either the fish tank or the grow lights, the total cost can easily increase to $200 or more. Expect to spend that amount to make it a complete indoor garden for growing plants with the help of fish.
I like that it’s on the bigger side since it requires a 10 gallon tank but it’s not very big, either. You can grow a few heads of lettuce and some herbs.
5. Huamuyu Garden Seed Sprouter Tray: Cheap Aquaponics Kit
This is one of the cheapest aquaponics kits that we can get that’s actually geared towards growing microgreens and other plants. It’s not my favorite but it can work for you.
If you’re interested in growing only microgreens, you can buy much better microgreen kits, even if they don’t allow you to house a fish as well.
Since it includes a seed sprouter tray, I thought that it’s different enough that it should at least get a short review here.
The seed sprouter tray is the usual tray that comes with some microgreen kits.
Nevertheless, you can also remove the seed sprouter tray and fill in the storage basin with clay pellets if you want to grow bigger plants like herbs and leafy greens. I like the two options.
Ceramsite is included as a growing medium for your first experience. However, I recommend hydroton (clay pebbles) if you want to grow bigger plants like herbs or lettuce.
It also includes a water pipe and a water pump for delivering the water with fish waste into the tray for feeding the plants.
There is also a feeding hole, filter sink, siphon dome, and siphon pipe.
The fish tank is tiny but at least it’s included in this set-up. We don’t get an exact size for the tank but I think it works for 1 betta fish or 1 goldfish. I would say that it’s a 3 gallon one.
There are no LED grow lights included but such a cheap kit couldn’t have come with them when we have kits that cost around $150 and even those don’t include grow lights.
For a grow tray of this size, I would say that a grow light bulb is enough, which should cost around $10.
Given the cheap price, I really like the quality of this Huamuyu Garden. It’s certainly a very good option as your first kit to experiment with.
6. Vivosun 3-Gallon Aquaponic Fish Tank
The very good news is that we do get the fish tank this time, although it’s considerably on the smaller side. However, if you’re looking for one of the cheapest aquaponic tanks and you’re not bothered by the smaller 3-gallon size, this Vivosun can be a good option as one of your first aquaponics kits.
The Eco-Cycle Aquaponics Indoor Garden System still remains one of the largest aquaponics kits. But it’s also one of the priciest and you’ll have to buy a fish tank of specific dimensions yourself.
First we have a 3-gallon fish tank. Given the price of this kit, we can’t actually expect to get a bigger size. Maybe a 5-gallon one would have been a better choice.
Basically, I recommend getting just one goldfish or one betta fish. Getting 2 fish is already too much for this size. However, some users mentioned that they house 3 guppies in the tank.
Moreover, the tank also comes with a siphon system and it’s thermostat equipped. That’s good for both the plants and the fish.
The siphon system ensures that a natural oxygen supply is delivered every 2 minutes.
The tray in which the plants are grown sits directly on top of the water.
There’s a water pump to pump up the water into the growing tray for the plants to recycle and then return it free of nitrates to the fish.
This Vivosun 3-Gallon Aquaponic Fish Tank is an ebb and flow small aquaponic indoor garden system. The plants are always in contact with the water. Ebb and flow hydroponics works the same way. The difference is that there are no fish in the container but nutrient solution is added to the water.
The grow tray is filled with clay pebbles. They’re a good growing medium that can be replenished easily for your future crops.
White stones are also included for the aquarium.
What it lacks
There are no LED grow lights included. You’ll have to buy some yourself. Since this is a cheap system, even a small grow light or a LED grow bulb is enough. You won’t have to spend too much on it.
You can grow herbs and leafy greens. However, since this is a small indoor garden, you’ll be limited in how much you can grow.
7. Prugna Wall-Hanging Fish Bowl
If you’re looking for a very pretty decorative aquaponic kit, you should check out this one from Prugna. I love how it looks.
Although it’s not meant for growing leafy greens or herbs, it’s a very interesting decoration for our walls. It’s made of high quality acrylic that’s easy to set up and handle.
Obviously, you’ll have to get a plant that thrives on having its roots immersed non-stop into water. These are called aquatic plants or aquarium plants. The most common are lilies.
But I love that we can see the roots and even a fish swim among them.
You’ll have to buy a small fish, fish food, the plant and some décor for the fish to thrive in.
The 1 gallon capacity is tiny but it can be good enough for a betta fish. Another user decided to place 2 guppies in it and skip the plants entirely.
You’ll obviously have to clean it frequently.
8. Penn-Plax Aquaponic Betta Fish Tank
This is the most simplistic kit that you can get. It’s also one of the cheapest. The 0.5 gallon size is cheaper than $20, while 1.4 gallon size is only slightly more expensive.
However, I recommend getting the 1.4 gallon because the 0.5 one is just too small for any betta fish.
It’s certainly going to be interesting to see just what we get for the money and what we can grow in it.
Since it’s such a simplistic kit, the components can be easily identified at a glance.
We get a plastic cylindrical bowl that looks like a plastic jar. That’s where you’ll place your one fish. There’s no room for more than one fish to swim in this plastic bowl.
On top of the plastic jar, there’s a planter bowl also made of plastic. It’s black and this is where the growing medium and the roots of the plant are found. The roots of the plant will also end up growing in the jar, where the fish is swimming.
Thus, the Penn-Plax is one of the most basic, cheap DWC aquaponics kits. I think it’s a lot better for children or teenagers. Although us adults with limited space in our house can also try this one fish-plastic jar kit, just to see what can come out of it.
This kit also comes with ceramic planting media. I don’t know how good this ceramic planting media is but, if you don’t like it, you can try hydroton (clay pellets) because it’s one of the best aquaponics grow media for DWC systems like these.
What you need to buy
First, there’s the fish and fish food.
Secondly, there’s the matter of the plant that is going to grow in this system. The roots of the plant absorb the fish waste, transforming it into plant food, and purify the water for the fish.
People grow decorative plants in this kind of system. Many grow photos or peace lily. Get a water plant.
You’ll still need to change the water about twice a week. You’ll need to read about the proper conditions for growing fish because one single plant won’t be enough to purify the water.
Moreover, I think you should also buy some décor for a happy fish.
The bigger problem is with the light. Penn-Plax, being a very cheap kit, doesn’t come with grow lights for the plant.
On the other hand, you can’t place it on the windowsill because it can cause algae growth. Although, you could try the windowsill with tropical fish because they love warm waters.
You could also buy a cheap grow light, like the GE Grow LED Light Bulb. It’s the best option for around $10.
The aquaponics kits that I reviewed here might not be exactly what you’re looking for but you always have the option to build a system yourself if you don’t need the convenience that ready-made indoor gardens bring or maybe you’ll just try hydroponics systems instead.
The Components of a Basic Aquaponics Kits
I found this YouTube video if you want to check out how to build one of the simplest aquaponics kits at home, without spending too much money. The people leaving comments also have useful advice for beginners. I liked that, too.
You need a fish tank. If you want to start small and cheap, then get a 10 gallon tank. You’ll also need an air pump to maintain adequate water oxygenation. The air pump is needed because this is a static system, the water needs movement for maintaining oxygen levels.
Next, you’ll need a Styrofoam board, solo cups if you don’t want to buy net cups, and hydroton (clay pebbles).
You can buy one betta fish or two goldfish. Don’t forget about fish food and maybe some décor. You can expend on that later on if the system is successful.
You can actually make the holes into the Styrofoam board with a very hot metal can.
Since the Styrofoam board floats on the water all the time, there’s no need for a water pump to pump up the water in a grow tray. However, you’ll need to change the water frequently because this is a static system. The nitrates might end up being too much for the fish.
And that’s how you can experiment with making your own aquaponics kits.