How To Make Money With Aquaponics (6 Best Methods)

Aquaponics is an integrated farming technique that combines hydroponics (soilless farming) and aquaculture (fish farming). It has revitalized how farmers produce food due to its space, water, and environmental efficiencies. If you’re interested in venturing into commercial aquaponics, you might be wondering how to make money with this innovative farming practice.

Here’s how you can make money with aquaponics:

  1. Have an entrepreneurial mindset.
  2. Have hands-on knowledge and skills in aquaponics.
  3. Establish a scalable aquaponics system.
  4. Choose the right type of crops and fish to sell.
  5. Offer aquaponics training and consultation services.
  6. Sell aquaponics systems.

Researchers have conducted a few studies on commercial aquaponics, but the available data shows that the technique has a profitability potential. This article will explore the six best methods of making money with aquaponics. So, read on to learn more!

1. Have an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Suppose you’re an aquaponics hobbyist, but you want to turn your hobby into a money-making venture. In that case, you need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. Research shows that even a backyard aquaponics unit can grow into a commercially viable system. Moreover, factors such as good agricultural practice, favorable market conditions, and the scalability capacity of an aquaponics system enable the profitability of this farming technique.

Every aquaponics enthusiast or farmer who intends to make money should consider aquaponics a viable business. Therefore, if you have that business idea in mind, the next thing is to make plans on how to actualize it and make profits. Hence, if you’re a newbie, you must thoroughly research aquaponics, how it works, and the types of aquaponics systems you can establish.

After gathering all the information on aquaponics, you need to have a good business plan. The plan will be a roadmap on what your aquaponics business will involve. This way, it will guide you on the requirements of the aquaponics startup and how you’ll go about it.

An effective business plan should include the following elements:


You should identify what you want out of your aquaponics farming, otherwise, you can’t grow it to its full potential. 

So, what are the goals you intend to achieve with your aquaponics business? For instance, do you want to make profits or just break even? Do you wish to be a small-scale or large-scale commercial producer? 

Write down all your business objectives.

Products and/or Services

Include what you expect to sell from your aquaponics unit in your plan. 

  • Will you sell the fish?
  • Would you want to only sell the crops? 
  • Are you also planning to offer training or consultation services? 

It’s crucial to identify what your business will be offering to potential customers before you venture into the business.

Market Analysis

Market analysis involves identifying a gap in the market and how possible it is to fill it. It also helps you identify your competitors and learn their strengths and weaknesses. 

Moreover, it will require you to identify potential customers (direct consumers or other businesses).

Market Strategy

Have a plan on how to meet the market demand and outdo your competitors. Therefore, after identifying a gap in the market, you should come up with the best way to fill it. Additionally, you need to identify the best way to attract customers and retain them.

So, will you advertise your business, and what methods will you utilize? Secondly, how will you supply the products and services your venture will offer to customers?

Financial Planning 

You should determine how you’re going to finance your business. Since aquaponics is a complex venture, the initial investment is significantly high. Therefore, you need to identify an ideal source of capital for your business. 

Moreover, it’s advisable to learn some financial aspects, including preparing financial documents to track your expenditure and record your income.


Your budget determines how much you can spend on your business. Therefore, you should evaluate or approximate your aquaponics system’s investment and operational costs. So, break down how much money you’ll need to purchase materials and equipment and buy your fish and fish feeds, just to mention a few.

2. Have Hands-On Knowledge and Skills in Aquaponics

Aquaponics is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture. It’s a farming technique requiring knowledge and expertise in the two agricultural practices. Therefore, before venturing into aquaponics, it’s crucial to have sufficient knowledge of aquaculture and hydroponics.

There are three main types of aquaponics systems. Before you start your aquaponics business, you should identify one or two of these methods that you can apply. However, this choice will depend on what you want to achieve from your aquaponics unit.

Every beginner in aquaponics must acquire skills to establish and run the system. Therefore, if you’re a newbie, consider enrolling in an aquaponics class, buying related books, or seeking advice from an aquaponics expert. Moreover, if your budget allows, you can hire a skilled professional to work on your farm, and you’ll learn from them as an apprentice.

Gaining sufficient knowledge and skills will come in handy when setting up the system, which involves cycling and testing the water quality. It will also help you know what to look out for when you’re monitoring your aquaponics unit. And the right set of skills and expertise will enable you to make the right decisions on managing your system.

Having hands-on knowledge and skills in aquaponics is also an advantage to farmers who want to commercialize their ventures. Well, experience in aquaponics comes after a long period of making mistakes and learning from them. Therefore, well-versed aquaponic farmers who don’t give up but devote time to improve their units end up running successful and profitable systems.

Additionally, expertise in aquaponics paves the way for other money-making opportunities. For instance, a knowledgeable aquaponics farmer can become an expert or consultant in the field and offer training to upcoming aquaponics farmers (and entrepreneurs). However, learning shouldn’t stop, as new technologies are developed daily.

Therefore, to earn money in aquaponics, a farmer (or business person) should continue acquiring new skills and knowledge to improve their systems. Additionally, it’s advisable to team up with like-minded aquaponics farmers and share ideas.

3. Establish a Scalable Aquaponics System

Aquaponics hobbyists, enthusiasts, and farmers opt for this farming technique for different purposes. Some only want an indoor unit to produce fresh vegetables, fruits, and fish for their families. Others work towards earning some money or even creating large-scale agribusiness from aquaponics.

Your objectives should guide you on your aquaponics unit’s type or scale. It’s advisable to start small since the startup costs in aquaponics are quite high. But, if your goal is to earn income from aquaponics, your system should be scalable.

According to findings from a study by German researchers, aquaponics can be profitable in a large-scale setting. Moreover, despite the challenges associated with high investment and operational costs, an aquaponics unit covering 2,000 square meters (6,561 square feet) can profit if the market conditions and production costs allow. Therefore, you can set up such a unit even if you’re an urban or peri-urban dweller.

When it comes to scalability, you can divide aquaponics into three categories:

Small Goldfish/Betta Aquaponics Tanks

It involves keeping small fish varieties in small tanks, including goldfish and betta. These tanks are for indoor use and resemble aquariums based on their sizes. The approach is best suited for newbies or hobbyists interested in learning how aquaponics works.

Setting up an aquaponics system using small goldfish or betta tanks is simple and cost-effective. With a one-gallon fish tank, you can keep one or two fish and a plant. Moreover, most of these tanks are self-cleaning, meaning that they don’t require advanced filtration components.

However, if you’re keeping a handful of goldfish or betta fish, ensure that the tank is large enough for the fish to swim freely. Also, some tanks come with a filter and heater to ensure that the water quality is ideal for fish survival. Moreover, the fish tank’s topper accommodates a few plants, such as herbs or top-light vegetables.

Due to their simplicity, the betta and goldfish aquaponics tanks are easy to maintain. You only have to feed the fish approximately three times a day and ensure that the tanks are well-aerated. However, these units aren’t scalable, and you can’t make money from them, as they’re best suited for learning purposes.

DIY/Backyard Aquaponics Systems

The DIY or backyard aquaponics system is a small-scale unit that farmers establish to produce food for themselves or their families. It can either be an outdoor (in the backyard) or an indoor system that doesn’t require a complicated setup procedure.

The homemade (DIY) aquaponics unit is larger than the goldfish or betta aquaponics tanks. They’re also smaller than the commercial or large-scale aquaponics units. However, they’re scalable, so you can convert your backyard aquaponics unit into a commercial one with the availability of resources.

Backyard aquaponics units are typical aquaponics systems comprising all the essential components to mimic a natural ecosystem. Therefore, they consist of the following:

  • A fish tank. It’s one of the vital components, as it houses the fish and is a water reservoir. The fish tanks in backyard aquaponics are larger than aquariums and can hold numerous fish. But the fish tank’s size usually depends on the area available for plant growth, ensuring that there are sufficient plants to filter the waste-containing water from the fish tank.
  • A grow bed. It comprises a container that serves as the plant-growing site. The grow bed receives nutrient-rich water (usually via canals) to nourish the plants. It also houses the grow media and bulkhead connected to the drainpipe (returns purified water to the fish tank).
  • Grow media. These are inert substances such as expanded clay pebbles, lava rock, or gravel that support the plants in the grow bed. So, they should be porous to retain water and nutrients. Grow media can also accommodate biofilters.
  • Pumps. It comprises a water pump and an air pump. The water pump helps in circulating water throughout the system, while an air pump facilitates aeration. So, an air pump is usually connected to an air hose that transports air stones to feed oxygen into the system.
  • Pipes, tubes, or siphons. These are PVC, vinyl, or rubber materials that channel water throughout the aquaponics unit.
  • Biofilter. It consists of a colony of living bacteria that carry out the nitrification process. These nitrifying bacteria help convert fish waste (ammonia) into plant-beneficial nutrients (nitrates).

In backyard aquaponics, you can adopt one of the three types of aquaponics systems: media bed, nutrient film technique (NFT), and deep water culture (DWC). However, the media bed system is not scalable since the designs are inflexible, and it’s both labor and time-intensive. Moreover, the DWC system is the most stable and best-suited for commercial settings.

Commercial Aquaponics

It’s a recent aquaponics technique geared towards making money. Most commercial aquaponics systems are in controlled locations such as greenhouses. However, this venture is becoming increasingly popular due to its foreseen potential – environmentally and commercially.

Now, commercial aquaponics is usually large-scale and incorporates either NFT or DWC aquaponics methods. Although both types are ideal for commercial and large-scale aquaponics, they have a few limitations. For instance, NFT is less preferred because its lightweight design can’t support large fruiting plants.

Commercial aquaponics is the way to go if you’re planning to earn a living from aquaponics. It has various benefits over conventional agriculture, including:

  • It utilizes about 95% less water than conventional farming.
  • It’s space-efficient.
  • Plants grow faster and denser than in traditional farms.
  • It’s eco-friendly – you don’t have to use chemicals.
  • There are lower recurrent expenditures.

However, several challenges face this system, including high investment and operational costs. Additionally, the profitability of a commercial aquaponics unit depends on some factors such as:

  • The system design
  • The selection of both plant and fish species
  • The scale – whether small-scale or large-scale
  • The market conditions

Therefore, before you upgrade your backyard aquaponics unit to a commercial one, you need to study its specifications and analyze the demographics of your target market. Moreover, calculate the expected investment cost of your venture, which includes the purchase of materials and equipment.

Commercial aquaponics is not a get-rich-quick type of business, as it involves many risks. But, you should be prepared with the right mindset, take time to learn, and devote yourself to growing your business. Also, seek advice and information from experts to learn the best way to run your commercial aquaponics unit.

4. Choose the Right Type of Crops and Fish To Sell

Diversification is the right approach when it comes to commercial aquaponics. This farming technique is already becoming popularized, especially among consumers who love fresh and organic produce. However, the choice of crops and fish variety that you rear in your system can determine your business profitability.

It’s important to do a market analysis to identify a gap in your local market. For instance, don’t settle on growing common crops that flood the market. Alternatively, grow rare-to-find and premium crops that will fetch handsome prices.

For instance, you can grow specialty crops such as yellow (or red) pepper, basil, bok choi, and tomatoes. But, don’t be limited, as the more premium types of plants you can grow, the better. Also, research thoroughly to identify when these plants are off-season and plan well to ensure that they’re mature during such times.

Selection of specialty crops that can be grown aquaponically

The beauty of aquaponics is that you can grow crops faster and at a higher density in a small space. However, you need to have an effective marketing plan to reach your target market. Therefore, you’ll incur additional labor or transport costs to ensure that your products reach the market in the best condition.

When it comes to rearing fish, you can incorporate both edible and ornamental fish. However, many experts recommend keeping edible fish, including tilapia, trout, jade perch, and catfish, since they have a ready market. Additionally, go for native (or local) fish varieties that thrive in your locality.

If you’re using the DWC aquaponics method, a higher fish stocking density is preferable. But, this requires a bigger input because you need to install separate filtration components and have enough feeds to nourish the fish. Moreover, you have to strike a balance between the fish stocking density and the plant volume to run a successful aquaponics unit.

A combination of high-priced plants and sought-after fish varieties will actualize your money-making objectives with aquaponics. However, it’s crucial to plan for production risks such as wasted produce due to power outages or pest invasion. Also, an aquaponics entrepreneur must be aware of consumers’ food safety concerns and address them appropriately.

5. Offer Aquaponics Training and Consultation Services

Selling fish and crops from your aquaponics system will earn you some money. However, it may not be enough to make your venture profitable. Therefore, it’s recommended to also offer services while also selling produce.

Every area of expertise must have experts and interested learners. So, this also applies to aquaponics. The farming technique attracts numerous people interested in learning and practicing aquaponics.

Hence, offering training, consultation, and support to interested parties is another way to make money with aquaponics. A 2014 study by researchers from John Hopkins University revealed that aquaponics owners who combined the sale of produce (crops and fish) and the provision of services had higher chances of making profits than those who only sold the produce.

Although the study showed that only one-third of the aquaponics systems were profitable, it sheds light on this farming technique’s potential. For example, a big percentage of the aquaponics units in the survey were in their first year of operation and expected to make profits in the short term. Also, the diversification of revenue sources creates more room for profitability in aquaponics.

Additionally, more knowledgeable individuals in aquaponics appeared to run more profitable systems than the less knowledgeable ones. So, since aquaponics is a knowledge-intensive farming technique, hands-on knowledge and expertise come in handy in the commercial setting.

Sharing your knowledge in aquaponics shouldn’t be limited to farm or institutional visits. Here are other ways to share the knowledge:

Software Development

If you’re good at programming, venturing into aquaponics software production is ideal for teaching upcoming aquaponics farmers about the technique. Alternatively, if you have no software development skills, you can partner with experts to produce the software.


A blog or website on aquaponics is a great way to teach interested individuals about this innovative farming technique. It will get the message across and open new channels for making money. For instance, with blogging, you can earn money from affiliate marketing or attending seminars.

YouTube Channels

Additionally, you can open a YouTube channel and post interactive videos on aquaponics. This, too, is a great way to make money, especially in this era where people search for information online.

Here’s an example of a YouTube video posted by an aquaponics expert who’s making money through training others:

6. Sell Aquaponics Systems

Apart from offering consultation services, experienced aquaponics farmers can make and sell aquaponics units. Establishing a viable aquaponics unit can be daunting, especially for newbies. Hence, an already set-up unit can be a life-saver to these beginners.

Currently, a few manufacturers are selling backyard and commercial aquaponics kits. An example is the Portable Aquaponics Systems. These systems are more energy and labor-efficient than most systems in the market. Additionally, they have a wide range of temperature tolerance (45-104°F or 6-40°C), making them suitable for different climatic regions.

The downside of some aquaponics kits in the market is their high prices that most potential customers can’t afford. Others are not scalable, making it difficult for the farmers to venture into large-scale farming.

Hence, if you have the necessary skills to install a viable aquaponics system or partner with manufacturers, this can be a lucrative business. You just have to make one and have an effective marketing strategy to attract customers. Also, this venture goes hand-in-hand with offering consultation and support services.

Therefore, once you’ve made a sale, you’ll guide the new owner on how to operate the system. For instance, they need to learn about cycling and balancing the system to prevent collapsing. Also, you can offer guidance on ideal fish and plant varieties to have, depending on the location of the aquaponics system.

Key Takeaways

Aquaponics is an innovative, sustainable, and efficient farming technique. Although few studies have been conducted on the economic aspects of aquaponics, the current evidence shows that this farming method has the potential of being economically viable. Moreover, aquaponics can be profitable or large-scale with favorable market conditions and good agriculture practice.

Therefore, you can make money with aquaponics by:

  • Selling high-end crops and edible fish varieties
  • Offering training, consultation, and support services
  • Selling aquaponics systems

And to achieve this, you must have an entrepreneurial mindset, possess hands-on skills/knowledge, and establish a scalable aquaponics system.

If you are considering aquaponics to make a profit, consider looking into hydroponics. I wrote this helpful article that explores the profitability potential of hydroponics and aquaponics and compares the two growing methods: Hydroponics vs. Aquaponics: Which Is More Profitable?

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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