Aquaponics should be inclusive rather than exclusive. I would rather include more things into the realm of aquaponics and denote the differences of different methods rather than trying to exclude them because some some minor sticking point.
There are so many things that DO work in aquaponics (as long as you avoid the mistakes that make them not work.) For instance, I’ve seen raft systems that work great, as long as you have the proper filtration for them. Media beds work great as long as you don’t overload them. Towers work great as long as you don’t clog the flows to them. Even NFT can work as long as you have really good filtration and very stable temperatures and water quality.
I’ve even seen recirculating wicking beds as long as there is still enough filtration for the fish system some other way.
People who want to grow lots of fish should design their system to take that into account. People who are not that interested in fish but want to grow lots of plants should design with their own goals in mind.
Aquaponics Works, you just have to figure out the devil in the details so to speak. Figure out what your situation calls for then research systems that might closely fit your particular requirements and get help modifying the design to your requirements.
Watching some You Tube videos doesn’t quite count as research. Many of them are great but many of them just show some one hooking something together that they don’t necessarily know will work long term. In some cases I’m not even sure they have ever added water to the design they are proposing let alone media or fish to run it for more than a few weeks.
See if you can find some one in your area who can show you a system that has been running for 6 months. Find out what others in your own climate have done. What about others using similar source water to yours? Source water plays a huge roll in how the aquaponics will operate and everyone teaches aquaponics from the perspective of their accustomed source water. Also the types of fish and plants, choose a system that is appropriate to the types of fish and plants you want. Don’t build a system to grow 1000 heads of lettuce per month if you hate salads and don’t go building lots of media beds if the only thing you want to grow is commercial lettuce. Don’t go building an outdoor unheated system in a temperate climate if you intend to grow subtropical fish like tilapia and don’t go trying to grow trout in South Texas of FL unless you have lots of money to spend chilling the water and air conditioning the greenhouse.
Almost anything can grow in aquaponics and many things work in aquaponics, you really just need to decide what YOU want to do with Aquaponics and start learning about how best to go about it and don’t forget to think critically about IF you SHOULD go about it.
While I personally believe everyone should grow a little of their own food (even if it is only a plant in a flower pot.) NOT everyone should try to go commercial. “If you want to feed the world, start by feeding yourself” as my friend Sahib would say. Then expand from there if you so choose.
Aquaponics works and I hope you make it work for you.