What is Desktop Aquaponics System

Are you interested in learning about desktop aquaponics systems? Aquaponics is a great way to produce your own food, and it can be done on a small scale with a desktop aquaponics system. This article will provide all the information you need to know and get started with your own desktop aquaponics system. But first, let us learn what aquaponics is and why it is an excellent gardening method.


What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a method of growing plants without the use of soil. It is a sustainable form of food production that combines two gardening methods (aquaculture and hydroponics) to create a closed-loop system.

In an aquaponics system, fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, and the plants act as a natural filter for the water. This means there is no need for external inputs, such as fertilizers or pesticides. It can be used to grow various fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It is also a great way to garden indoors, as they do not require a lot of space.

What is Desktop Aquaponics System?

A desktop aquaponics system is a small-scale aquaponics system that can be used on a desk, table, or countertop. It is a great way to get started with aquaponics, as it is relatively simple and inexpensive to set up. A desktop aquaponics system can grow various plants, including greens, herbs, and flowers.

What Are the Benefits of a Desktop Aquaponics System?

There are many reasons why you should have a desktop aquaponics system. With a desktop aquaponics system, you can grow a wide variety of plants in a small space. Additionally, aquaponics systems are relatively easy to set up and maintain.

Here are the benefits of having a desktop aquaponics system:

  • Desktop aquaponics systems are easy and inexpensive to set up and maintain. 
  • They do not require a lot of space, making them perfect for small apartments or homes. 
  • Aside from adding beauty, having an indoor desktop aquaponics garden also allows you to grow plants on a tabletop in your kitchen.
  • A desktop aquaponics can easily be placed on a tabletop, which can be used for educational purposes in a classroom.
  • You don’t need to invest much in desktop aquaponics since you’ll use small tanks. 
  • The maintenance cost for desktop aquaponics is cheaper than standard aquaponics systems.
  • A desktop aquaponics is perfect for beginners who want to try a hand at aquaponics before setting up a bigger system.

The Best Plants for Desktop Aquaponics Systems

One of the great things about aquaponics is that you can grow various plants in your system. Below is the list of plants and fish that grow best in desktop aquaponics systems. The plants that can be grown in an indoor desktop aquaponics garden are:

  • Lettuce, cabbage, and cauliflower
  • Herbs such as mint, basil, chives
  • Kale, spinach, arugula, swiss chard, etc
  • Micro-greens such as radish sprouts and arugula
  • Houseplants such as dracaena, anthodium, dieffenbachia and philodendron

The Best Fish for Desktop Aquaponics Systems

Many types of fish can be used in an aquaponics system. However, choosing a well-suited fish for living in a small space is essential. Some of the best fish for desktop aquaponics systems are:

  • Fancy Guppy
  • Betta
  • Tetras
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Pencilfish

The Different Desktop Aquaponic System Designs

There are many different designs for desktop aquaponics systems. The most common type of system uses fish tanks and grow beds stacked on top of each other. Some of the most popular desktop aquaponics systems designs are the following:

  • Betta Fish Tank Planter and Fish Habitat: This small desktop aquaponics system lets you keep betta or goldfish with your favorite houseplant or herbs.
  • Mini Aquaponic Ecosystem: This mini aquaponic aquarium includes everything you need to get started with your aquaponic system. This self-cleaning aquaponics ecosystem requires 50% less cleaning than traditional fish tanks.
  • AquaSprouts Garden: The aquasprouts garden includes a standard 10-gallon aquarium fish tank, and a grow bed, making it the perfect way to grow fresh herbs and vegetables or beautiful ornamentals anywhere.

No matter what type of system you choose, ensure that it is well-ventilated and has plenty of light. Aquaponics systems need a lot of oxygen to succeed, so ensure your system has good airflow. Additionally, plants need light to photosynthesize, so ensure your system is in a bright spot. 

How to Build a Desktop Aquaponics System

There are pre-made desktop aquaponics systems available in the market today. However, you can also DIY your mini aquaponics system if you want a system made to your specifications. Building a desktop aquaponics system is relatively simple and can be done with a few basic materials. You will need the following: 

Materials You Need for Building Your Own Aquaponics System

  1. Fish tank: can be glass, plexiglass aquarium, or plastic container. It should be 3-20 gallons, although you can use a larger tank if you have enough space. The larger the tank, the larger the grow bed you can support.
  2. Grow bed: It sits on the top of the fish tank and must be slightly larger than the tank. You can use a plastic container as your grow bed, but it must be between 3″-” deep. 
  3. Water Pump: 3-4 watt pump (100/gal/hour). A small circulation or fountain pump is ideal. The pump will pump the water from the fish tank into the grow bed. After being pumped to the grow bed, the water will flow back by gravity into the fish tank.
  4. Air pump: A small aquarium air pump is ideal. The air pump is connected to the airstone to blow air into the fish tank.
  5. Airstone
  6. Clay pebbles or gravel: 2.5 lbs for every 5 gallons of water in the fish tank. The clay pebbles or gravel serve as the home of the nitrifying bacteria that converts fish waste into plant nutrients. Be sure to wash your clay pebbles or gravel before using them.
  7. Water quality test kit
  8. Plants
  9. Fish
  10. Grow light
  11.  Aquarium heater


  • Drill (with 1/4″ or 3/16″ bit and 1/2″ bit)
  • Electrical tape
  • Scissors


  1. Drill holes (⅛”) at the bottom of the grow bed every 2 square inches to drain the water into the tank. Drill a ½ hole for the water pump’s tubing to pass through in one back corner of the grow bed.
  2. Place the water pump in the fish tank, then set the grow bed on top. On the ½” hole, feed the tubing from the water pump. Leave enough tubing to extend about ¾ the height of the grow bed and loop it around the inside of the grow bed. Cut the spare tube and fold the end over. Seal the folded piece with electrical tape.
  3. Wash the clay pebbles or gravel thoroughly and fill the grow bed just under the top of the tube. 
  4. Drill holes every 2 inches in the section of the tubing that loops in the grow bed.
  5. Fill the fish tank with water. Plug the water pump to ensure the water is pumped into the grow bed and flows down through the grow media and into the fish tank. You can adjust the water flow depending on your tank, grow bed, and pump.
  6. Connect the air pump to the airstone with the air tubing. Place the air stone in the tank and plug the air pump to provide a steady stream of bubbles through the water, providing oxygen into the tank.
  7. Test the water’s pH and ensure it is free from chlorine and other chemicals before adding it to the fish tank. Adjust the pH if high or low; the ideal pH for an aquaponics system is 7.0.
  8. You can begin fishless cycling and start adding fish and plants to your desktop aquaponics system. Ideally, you should wait until your system is established after a month before adding plants to your system, but if you are eager to plant, just add a few plants and fish and increase the density later.

Your system is now complete! Once your plants and fish are in place, you can sit back and enjoy your desktop aquaponics system! Make sure to choose well-suited plants for aquaponics and fish for living in a small space.

Tips on Managing Your Desktop Aquaponics System

Caring for your desktop aquaponics system is relatively simple. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Monitor the fish tank’s water level and ensure it is at least two inches below the top of the grow bed.
  • Feed the fish regularly and remove any uneaten food from the tank.
  • Clean the filter monthly and replace it every six months.
  • Test the water quality regularly and ensure that ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels are all within acceptable ranges.
  • Ensure that the air stone is working correctly and that the system has good airflow.
  • Harvest your plants when they are ready and replant them as needed.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your mini aquaponics system will be successful. Desktop aquaponics is a great way to grow plants and fish in a small space, and it can be a fun and rewarding hobby. I hope you found this guide helpful.