Plants need something to grab onto with their roots for physical support. The ideal media is pH neutral, light weight, and cheap with no sharp edges, doesn't break down, and is easy to clean.
Size: If your grow media is too small, it'll get clogged up with solid waste and will prevent a good circulation of air and water for your plant's root zones. Grow media that's too big won't allow plant roots to properly establish themselves due to the large air pockets created from big media. Ideally, you want your aquaponics grow media to be approximately 12-18mm in diameter. About 1/2 inch.
Keeping the media moist but not wet is important for some types of plants;
those which can get "root-rot" if they are too wet. This can be done by several
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