When it comes to growing cannabis, there are two main methods: aeroponics and aquaponics. However, the differences in these systems go way beyond just how plants grow.
These two main types of growing have many similarities built into them that allow a plant's growth process to be optimal no matter which method you use. The differences come down to variables like pH levels or how experienced you are.
In this article, we packed everything you need to know before choosing between aeroponics and aquaponics. So if you want to know more about the differences between these two effective methods, keep reading!
Major Differences Between Aquaponics And Hydroponics For Growing Cannabis
There are several differences between aquaponics and hydroponics such as ecosystem, sustainability, and pH.
An ecosystem is a group of interacting organisms and the environment that they create.
Because of the plant-fish-microbe relationship, hydroponics cannot be considered an ecosystem, although aquaponics can.
Something must be sustained at a constant level without depleting natural resources or causing significant ecological harm to be considered sustainable.
Holding the definition in mind, we can conclude that hydroponics is not long-term viable because nutrients must be replenished in the aquatic solution regularly.
In contrast, aquaponics is sustainable because every part is provided and necessary for the system's survival, and minimal inputs are needed.
pH is a crucial factor to remember when operating any aquatic-based increasing system.
In hydroponics, the ideal solution pH is 5.5 to 6.0, while in aquaponics, the pH should be neutral or just slightly acidic.
The pH should range between 6.8 and 7.0.
Since the waste from the fish will inevitably produce an acidic atmosphere, it's essential to keep an eye on the pH levels.
Major Differences Between Aquaponics And Aeroponics
Several differences exist between aquaponics and aeroponics, namely their growth medium, the nutrients, and the level of flexibility.
As their names suggest, aquaponics uses water as the growth medium while aeroponics methods suspend the plans in a container with the roots exposed to air.
In aeroponics culture, the plants grow in a moist and semi-closed or closed environment. An irrigation system is installed to provide the nutrients to the roots for optimum growth.
Contrarily to aeroponics, aquaponics establishes a fish breeding attached to a deep water culture of cannabis plants. The system provides a balanced environment beneficial for both plants and fish.
For the aeroponics approach, the irrigation process projects a fine mist of water and nutrients to the roots.
Growers have better control over the different nutrients and minerals for different growing phases of cannabis plants.
Any deficits in nutrients are easily tackled since growers already know the composition of their nutrient solution.
In contrast, aquaponics has a more complex approach.
The fish are first fed to obtain their waste products rich in ammonia.
Ammonia is then broken down into nitrates and nitrogen before reaching the plants.
The difficulty lies in finding the balance between disposing of fish waste fast enough for fish survival and having enough nutrients for the cannabis plants.
Level Of Flexibility
Aeroponics is a highly flexible method as it can be done indoors or outdoors.
Moreover, the approach does not require an extensive skill set as it is an easy process to grasp.
The process is also achievable in any climate.
However, aquaponics is dependent on the health of the fish and the rate of waste produced.
Though aquaponics is a relatively easy process, a background in aquaponics is recommended to ensure proper care for the fish.
Why Choose Aeroponics To Grow Cannabis?
There are several benefits of using Aeroponics:
Aeroponics gives farmers the most flexibility when it comes to patenting new strains and increasing potency.
The most significant yield of trichomes comes from crops grown in aeroponic systems.
Fewer Pesticides Needed
Aeroponic systems also enable growers to minimize pesticide density in their operations by reducing the risk of pollutants in the system due to the lack of soil.
Since the root system does not have to compete for space, aeroponic systems take up less space than hydroponic and outdoor grow facilities.
Another significant advantage of aeroponic systems is their performance.
Aeroponic systems have a shorter grow time than soil-based grow facilities, in addition to a higher survival rate and smaller footprint.
Avid Growing Systems, a manufacturer of modular aeroponic grow systems, reports that their facilities minimize the average growth period from 90 to 60 days.
Aeroponic systems can use much less water and fertilizer.
Why Choose Aquaponics To Grow Cannabis?
Aquaponics also comes with a range of benefits for growing cannabis:
You get a two-for-one deal if you run aquaponics with consumable fish like tilapia.
You'll be growing nutrient-dense fish as your plants mature.
In general, tilapia takes 6-9 months to achieve the optimal size for consumption, but the growth rate is affected by water temperature.
Aquaponics is an entirely natural method of cannabis cultivation.
Fish food made especially for aquaponics guarantees that your system is toxin-free and that your fish have all they need to grow strong and healthy.
Again, all you'll need is fish food and extra nutrients for your topsoil layer, and you'll be able to cultivate both healthy cannabis plants and edible fish.
Aquaponics is an excellent method for growing plants that grow quickly.
Allowing the roots to consume large amounts of oxygen will enable them to absorb more nutrients and expand more rapidly.
By recirculating water, aquaponics systems use up to 90% less water than conventional systems, according to Portable Farms.
Nutrients For Cannabis Aeroponics Vs. Aquaponics
Nutrients for both aeroponics and aquaponics vary due to the different environmental demands on cannabis plants.
Aeroponics involves the suspension of roots in the air for growth and doesn’t make use of soil or any medium where there could be a lack of carbon dioxide or oxygen.
In the aeroponics method, the roots are simply surrounded by oxygen and CO2, which solves the problem.
The system requires a reservoir for plain water and another nutrient solution, like a DWC (Deep Water Culture) hydroponic system.
Water is essential for the development of roots.
Sprinklers, pumps, and reservoirs provide a sufficient amount of water to sustain the hydroponic system.
The pumps are activated at intervals of 3-5 minutes, mixing water and the nutrient solution and mists the roots to cover them fully.
The above, combined with an abundant supply of both oxygen and carbon dioxide, will ensure a safe plant.
There is no need for soil or any other medium in the aeroponics process.
Cannabis needs a mature bacteria colony and a densely filled fish tank to thrive in an aquaponics system.
Furthermore, during the flowering period, cannabis requires additional natural nutrients, which could damage the fish.
There are a few workarounds available.
One choice is to isolate the budding stage from the rest of the process.
Another option is to use a dual root zone system to add supplements to the plants while preventing residue from draining back into the system and harming the fish.
Alternatively, you can use vermicomposting, in which worms help process the nutrients from the fish while also providing additional nutrients from their castings.
Yield Comparison Aquaponics Vs. Aeroponics
Growers who use the aeroponics approach would get a lot more buds than if they used soil.
The increase in buds is due to the setup and the fact that the cannabis was cultivated indoors.
Aeroponics systems are known for being extremely beneficial to plants when properly set up.
As a result, when aeroponics is used to cultivate cannabis, the end product is superior.
The roots remain solid during the entire growth cycle, allowing the plant to flourish and prosper, producing large, healthy buds covered in trichomes.
In addition to the size of the buds, aeroponics systems usually have a more significant number of them.
The main reason most popular aquaponic cannabis growers use this process (besides the fact that it produces fish) is that their plants can be harvested an average of 10 days earlier than plants grown in other ways.
Aquaponics is a cannabis-growing process to consider if you're looking for a fast turnaround.
When compared to other growing methods, it is also thought to lead to higher yields.
About the author: Heather Burton
Heather lives with her husband and two children in beautiful British Columbia. Her passion has always been to enhance the lives of others by helping them reach their business goals.
Content management is her specialty, and writing is what she does best. Working specifically in the cannabis market, Heather strives to help dispensaries, patients, doctors, manufacturers and recreational users by giving them the voice they need. When she is not writing, you can find her anywhere outdoors and away from the screen.