One of the benefits of aquaponics systems is that they require less maintenance than other gardening methods because there is no weeding, watering, or fertilizing. However, once you've set up your aquaponics system, comes the maintenance and cleaning. But how do you maintain and clean your aquaponics system to ensure its longevity and effectiveness? Here is a quick look at what you can do to maintain and clean your media bed aquaponics system.
Why Do You Need to Maintain and Clean Your Aquaponics System?
Maintaining and cleaning your media bed aquaponics systems is very important and should always be in mind. Typical maintenance should be done on a routine regularly to ensure that your system is functioning and running efficiently. There are several reasons why it is essential to maintain and clean your aquaponics system and keep it in good condition.
- Health- A dirty system can harbor bacteria, fungus, parasites, and viruses that could harm your fish and crops. Furthermore, a dirty fish tank may have an unbalanced pH, and the gasses and nutrients in the water will not be at the optimum levels for the health of the fish.
- Function - When your system is filled with floating debris and other waste, the pump, filter, pipes, and other essential mechanisms can be clogged and sluggish. When some of your equipment is defective or stops working, it will be dangerous or deadly for the fish, plants, and bacteria.
- Viewing- Your aquaponics system will not be enjoyable if it has murky and dirty water coated with algae or slime. It won't be easy to see the color of your fish and plants, and a dirty aquaponics system may even put off a foul, unpleasant odor.
Maintaining Your Aquaponics System
When it comes to aquaponics maintenance, there are six areas you need to consider, which include:
- Make sure your system has consistent and adequate aeration and circulation of the water. This will ensure that your fish has good levels of oxygen.
- Maintain the good water quality of your systemby checking the water's pH levels, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate levels, and dissolved oxygen. It is also essential to maintain the right temperature for your plants and fish.
- Ensure that your fish tank is not overcrowdedwith fish. An overcrowded fish tank can cause fish stress or death. It may also result in the overproduction of ammonia, which the nitrifying bacteria may not be able to cope with.
- Avoid overcrowding the plants in your grow beds, floating rafts, or nft growing pipes. Plants need enough space to grow and access the system's nutrient-rich water.
- Ensure a good balance between the plants and fish. The Aquaponics system is a symbiotic balance that links to your fish and plants. If your system is out of balance, the water may become toxic for the fish, and the plants will not thrive because of a lack of nutrients.
- Avoid overfeeding your fish. Overfeeding may lead to excess organic matter in the fish tank, lowering the dissolved oxygen. After feeding your fish, remove the uneaten fish feed, as this may decay in the fish tank and cause excess ammonia, which is toxic for the fish.
Maintaining and Cleaning Your Fish Tank
On top of good maintenance comes a clean aquaponics system. The following are crucial to having a well-maintained and clean aquaponics system.
- Keep your water free from algae. Algae can consume the nutrients your plants need, and it can also clog up the pumps, pipes, and water filters, resulting in the system's circulation coming to a complete standstill. So it is essential to manage the algae bloom in your fish tank properly.
- To keep your fish tank clean, avoid overfeeding your fish. Overfeeding your fish will result in excess organic matter buildup at the bottom of the tank. The leftover food will decay and produce excess ammonia, which can cause fish stress or fish death. Always remove the uneaten fish food after feeding your fish.
- Clean out your water filter regularly. The filter catches all the solids and other waste in the water to help make it clean and clear. Maintaining your filter's cleanliness ensures that your pipes, pump, and media bed will not clog up.
Maintaining and Cleaning Your Grow Bed
Cleaning your grow bed once in a while will help increase the productivity of your system.
When Do You Need to Clean Your Grow Bed?
There are two scenarios where you will need to clean your grow bed. First is when there is a constant increase of nitrogen level in your system, and you have trouble controlling the nitrate levels. Too much organic matter in the grow bed may clog your system and release nitrogen, which can increase the nitrate levels.
The second is if your system is clogged. Your system is clogged when the water on the top of your grow media drains slowly. Your growing media should be completely free (free from organic particles), as your system grows older (2 to 4 years old); We left those old roots from the harvested crops in the grow bed, which may hold the grow media together, creating an enormous block. Clogged grow media can cause poor aeration. When your system is clogged, the plants will not grow well because of a lack of oxygen.
How to Clean Your Aquaponics Grow Bed
There are different techniques for cleaning your grow bed. First, you can use a compressor to inject some air into the grow bed when it is full of water. The compressor will create bubbles and agitation to release all the organic matter.
If you have a smaller system, you can use a shovel to clean and remove all the organic matter trapped between your grow media. Here are the steps in cleaning your grow bed with a shovel.
- Unplug your system. Use a pipe to drain the water from your grow bed. The pipe can go directly to your soil garden or be connected to a container that collects the water.
- Remove the bell siphon so the water can go directly into the pipe and drain into the container or soil garden.
- Remove the plants from the grow bed. Remove the media from the roots and put them into a clean container.
- Use the shovel to plow the grow media and loosen them. Flood the grow bed with clean water to clean the media. Remove the old roots and other organic matter. Continue plowing and flooding with water until the old water is fully drained, and the water left in the grow bed is clean.
- Once the media is cleaned, flatten them and clean the sides of the grow bed or the system. Put back the bell siphon.
- Replant your plants in the grow bed and plug your system.
- For a few days, the water will be a bit dirty and dark, but it will be clear after a few days.
An aquaponics system with a solid filtration system should look after itself. But that does not mean you will not maintain and clean it, especially if you're having problems with waste buildup and sluggish water movement. Although it is essential to maintain and clean your system, it is also vital to look at why issues are happening.
The most common causes of issues in aquaponics systems are the lack of worms in the grow bed or nor filtration system that will help remove the solids in the grow bed. Fish overstocking can also cause too many waste products and nitrates in the system. Maintaining and cleaning an aquaponics system can be challenging at times. But that is a part of aquaponics that every aquaponics gardener must experience to succeed. Thank you for reading our article. Feel free to leave a comment below.