What is Nutrient Film Technique Aquaponics System

The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is one of the most popular aquaponics systems many hobbyists and commercial growers use. NFT is an efficient and effective way of growing plants without soil and with minimal water usage. 

This blog will provide a detailed overview of the NFT aquaponics system, its components, its benefits, and how to set it up. Additionally, this blog will cover the types of plants and fish suitable for an NFT system and the environmental, health, and economic benefits of using this system. 

The Importance of Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) in Aquaponics

The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a hydroponic system used in aquaponics that involves a thin film of nutrient-rich water flowing continuously over the plant roots. This system is commonly used in aquaponics because it maximizes water and nutrient use while minimizing waste produced.

The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a popular and essential aquaponics component. It is a hydroponic system that involves growing plants in a nutrient-rich water solution without soil. The system allows for the continuous flow of water over the plant roots, providing them with a constant supply of nutrients and oxygen.

In an aquaponics system, the NFT method is particularly important as it maximizes the use of water and nutrients. In this system, fish waste provides nutrients to the plants while the plants purify the water for the fish. The continuous flow of nutrient-rich water in the NFT system ensures that the plants get an adequate supply of nutrients while reducing the amount of water needed for the system.

Overall, the NFT system is essential to the success of an aquaponics system. It ensures that the plants receive a constant supply of nutrients and water while reducing the amount of water needed for the system. This makes it an efficient and sustainable method of growing plants and fish together.

Components of NFT Aquaponics System

The components of an NFT aquaponics system include:

  1. Grow bed: This is the container where plants are grown. It is usually a shallow, sloping trough that allows water to flow continuously.
  2. Fish tank: This is where the fish are kept. The waste produced by the fish is used to provide nutrients for the plants.
  3. Water pump: Pumps water from the fish tank to the grow bed.
  4. Water level control system: This system ensures that the water level in the grow bed is maintained at the correct level.
  5. Drainage system: This system ensures that excess water drains from the grow bed back into the fish tank.

How NFT Works in Aquaponics

NFT aquaponics systems work by utilizing the symbiotic relationship between fish and plants. The fish in the system produce waste, which contains nutrients that plants need to grow. The waste is broken down by bacteria in the system, creating a nutrient-rich solution that is pumped through a channel in the NFT system.

The channel in the NFT system is typically a shallow and narrow trough that is sloped to allow water to flow through it. The plants are placed in small cups or net pots and are inserted into holes in the channel, allowing their roots to be bathed in the nutrient-rich water flowing through them. The plants absorb the nutrients they need from the water while filtering it to remove any excess waste products that could harm the fish.

The water is then returned to the fish tank, where the process begins again. This continuous cycle of water flowing through the system creates a self-contained and sustainable environment that benefits both the plants and the fish.

Advantages of Nutrient Film Technique

There are several advantages of using NFT in aquaponics, including:

  1. Water conservation: The continuous flow of water in the NFT system ensures that the plants get an adequate water supply while also reducing the overall water requirement for the system.
  2. Efficient nutrient use: The NFT system maximizes nutrient use by providing plants with a continuous flow of nutrient-rich water.
  3. Low maintenance: The NFT system is easy to set up and maintain, making it a popular choice for beginners and experienced aquaponic growers.
  4. High yields: The NFT system provides an ideal growing environment for plants, which can result in higher yields compared to traditional gardening methods.

Setting up an NFT Aquaponics System

Before setting up an NFT aquaponics system, it’s essential to choose the right location. The system should be placed in an area that receives adequate sunlight, as plants need sunlight to grow. Additionally, the location should have access to power and water sources.

Materials Needed:

To set up an NFT aquaponics system, you will need the following materials:

  1. Grow bed: This can be made from plastic, wood, or other materials.
  2. Fish tank: This can be made from plastic or non-toxic material.
  3. Water pump: A water pump is needed from the fish tank to the grow bed.
  4. PVC pipes: These are used to create a channel for the water to flow through the grow bed.
  5. Net pots: These are used to hold the plants in place.
  6. Grow media: Grow media such as expanded clay or gravel is used to fill the grow bed and support the plants.
  7. Fish: Any fish suitable for aquaponics can be used.
  8. Plants: Any plants that can grow without soil and in a hydroponic system can be used.

Step-by-Step Guide to Building an NFT Aquaponics System:

  1. Build the grow bed: This can be done using plastic, wood, or any other safe material for plants and fish.
  2. Install the water pump: The water pump should be installed in the fish tank and connected to a PVC pipe.
  3. Create the NFT channel: Cut the PVC pipe to the length of the grow bed and create a slope by attaching it to the side of the grow bed.
  4. Add gravel: Fill the grow bed with gravel, leveling it out.
  5. Add net pots: Place the net pots in the gravel, leaving enough space between them for the plants to grow.
  6. Add plants: Add the plants to the net pots, ensuring that the roots are in contact with the water in the NFT channel.
  7. Add fish: Add the fish to the fish tank.
  8. Connect the PVC pipes: Connect the PVC pipe from the water pump to the NFT channel.
  9. Add water: Fill the fish tank with water, and turn on the water pump.

Tips for Maintaining an NFT Aquaponics System:

  1. Monitor water quality: Regularly test the water in the fish tank for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates to ensure the water quality is suitable for fish and plants.
  2. Maintain pH levels: The ideal pH level for an aquaponics system is between 6.8 and 7.2. Regularly monitor and adjust pH levels as needed.
  3. Check water flow: Make sure the water flows continuously through the NFT channel to provide adequate nutrients and water to the plants.
  4. Clean the system: Regularly clean the system to remove any debris or waste that may accumulate.
  5. Maintain temperature: The ideal water temperature for an aquaponics system is between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a heater or chiller to maintain the temperature as needed.

Choosing the Right Plants for NFT Aquaponics System

When choosing plants for an NFT aquaponics system, it’s essential to consider their nutrient requirements, growth rate, and temperature tolerance. Some of the best plants for NFT aquaponics systems include lettuce, herbs, strawberries, and other leafy greens. These plants typically have shallow root systems and can grow well in the nutrient-rich water flowing through the NFT channel.

Choosing the Right Fish for NFT Aquaponics System

Several fish species are suitable for NFT aquaponics systems. Some popular options include tilapia, trout, and catfish. When choosing fish for the system, it’s essential to consider factors such as water temperature, pH levels, and fish size. Additionally, it’s important to choose hardy fish that can tolerate fluctuations in water quality.


The nutrient film technique (NFT) aquaponics systems provide a sustainable and efficient way to grow plants and fish together. With its numerous benefits, including environmental, health, and economic advantages, NFT aquaponics has the potential to revolutionize the way we produce food. By understanding the components and workings of an NFT aquaponics system and following the steps to set one up and maintain it, individuals can contribute to a more sustainable and healthy future. Whether you are a commercial farmer or a hobbyist, NFT aquaponics offers an innovative and exciting way to grow fresh and healthy produce year-round while also conserving resources and reducing environmental impact.