The passive systems are either one plant per reservoir and are stand alone or, connected to a central reservoir which then gravity keeps a equal nutrient level among each reservoir/plant site. Nutrient will only flow out to componsate for any level varience that happens from plant obsorbrtion. These do not require a recirculation pump
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The active systems are built with the concept of continuous water movement. The reason for this is to increase your dissolved ocygen levels on top of the use of a air pump. The more water flow the less likely hood of bacteria growth within the system. These units typically use a recirculating water pump and gravitry hand and hand.