If this is the first time you are coming across the word aquaponics, or you never really understand what it is all about, you’ll be pretty well versed in aquaponics pretty soon. And you could be a three toed sloth for all I care, we will break down everything you need to know, the does the don’ts and the do not attempt.
Aquaponics is the practice of combining the growth of fish (aquaculture), and the growth of plants in the absence of soil using water only (hydroponics). The two practices have been there for many years, but they both came with their own flaws. Both systems had a problem with waste removal and or nutrition deficit. Aquaponics solved this as though it used a magic wand, the fish excreted waste that was later converted to nitrates by bacteria, and later the plants would consume these nitrates thus clearing up the water. The science behind the entire process is pretty cool.
If you would like to read a little more about aquaponics and the entire science and mystery behind it, you could go right ahead and click here.
In my experience of owning an aquaponics system there are bunches of stuff that I wish before I got started, rather than getting hit in the face, being astonished with all the things you wished you knew earlier.
- You cannot have an unlimited number of fish just because the plants clean up after your fish.
- Not any food would serve best for an aquaponics system. Of course the food would vary based on the type of fish but because aquaponics works on a closed system you can’t go ahead and use foods that are toxic in the long run.
- It is essential to note that the plants only partially clean the fish tanks and aren’t for of trash cleaner that your scrub all the junk out of your fish tank.
- Aquaponics is a rather efficient system in that it could be placed in almost any location making it financially beneficial for plants and marine life that are meant to be sold.
- In the case that you live in an area with soils that are hard or difficult to grow plants. It is a major plus as this system does not need soil to grow the plants.
How to Set Up Your Aquaponics System?
Before setting it up it is essential to decide whether you would like a larger system or something small that would be for personal consumption or merely a personal sense of self fulfillment.
We are going to take you through a step by step on how to set up your aquaponics system:
Aquaponics tanks are built on the same basis in regard to the living situation of the fish. However the plants are a totally different story. Based on your preference we recommend two systems for the plant growth:
- A grow bed system: which may use gravel as the medium on which the plants will be grown.
- A raft system: the roots of the plants are constantly submerged in water.
You will need to procure a fish tank. There are a number of fish tanks that could be purchased for reasonable prices. We do not recommend making your via a DIY as it could be a little unreliable, and it may cause harm to your fish in the long run. We recommend a tank with a glass composition or one with an acrylic composition. Both compounds are good for the wellbeing of the fish.
You will need a water filter. Yes it sounds counter intuitive as the plants are meant to filter the water. The filter is meant to remove the macro matter (larger pieces of waste produced by the fish), whist the plants are made to remove the micro waste. The micro waste is the waste that may not exactly be seen by the naked eye.
You could buy a water filter or make one a DIY. Both are effective. If you are on a budget you could go ahead and make your but the manufactured ones are much more robust and are of a higher quality.
It is essential that you now have a water pump. The pump works to ensure that there is a constant circulation of water through the aquaponics system at all times. This is one of the most important pieces in the entire system. Without it the water would be stagnant and get bacteria filled much quicker, making it unconducive to grow both plants and vegetables.
A growing bed. Here you will need to have the growing bed, or the rafting set up. Both are highly effective but for a first timer we would recommend going for the growing bed with rocks as a medium. This is solely because the raft system takes a little more experience as without supervision; the roots may begin to harbor harmful bacteria and decay.
The growing bed could be made from scratch using PVC piping. In the growing bed you will need to use a medium, we strongly recommend that you use river pebbles. As they are porous and well aerated you are almost assured of getting a better result out of your plants.
It is essential to note that in between each item named above it is a good idea to use a 1-inch PVC pipe to connect the components.
What Plant Should I Use?
Above all plants we recommend leafy greens. These have proven to give good results, and we haven’t had any issue with them. Keep it in mind that these plants should be able to spread their roots out wide and stand a better chance at survival if they do not have a tap root.
We highly advise going with the following plants:
- Swiss chard
- Pak choir
- Microgreens are an excellent selection as they do not require a lot of attention to produce good yields.
These plants are good for beginners as they do not require a high nutritional demand from the fish and should survive easily.
If you feel a little more adventurous you could try growing plants like cauliflower, tomatoes, and beans. These plants require a higher nitrogenous load to properly grow but I mean it is worth shot.
Which Fish Should I Use?
It is essential to note that not any marine life could be used if you wish to eat the plants that you will produce. This is because of the fear of acquiring a salmonella infection. A good amount of scientific and biological research went into studying the fish that could be safely used. The following lost was brought up:
- Tilapia (one of our top pics)
- Largemouth bass
We hope that you have a profound interest into aquaponics now. It is an amazing undertaking, and we wish you and amazing aquaponics journey.
About the AUTHOR:
Sophia D. Hope – is a gardener and outdoor enthusiast. She writes about Gardening, Health, Diet and Related product reviews. She shares creative and affordable ways to DIY and DECORATE a yard and garden.