Aquaponics offers plenty of methods or system design options perfect for anyone with limited space but wants to maximize their backyard for fresh produce. One, in particular, is the vertical aquaponics system.
A vertical aquaponics system is one aquaponics method that grows plants without soil in columns above a fish tank. This method is popular with aquaponics gardeners because it is a water-efficient and space saving way of gardening and fish raising. Growing vertically also lets the aquaponics gardener grow and produce twice the amount of plants, as with the media-based aquaponics system of the same area.
Vertical aquaponics mainly uses the nutrient film technique (NFT) aquaponics method. The NFT is an aquaponics method in which the plants are grown in a long narrow channel. NFT is a hydroponic growing technique adapted to aquaponics because of its simple yet effective design that works well in many environments. The only difference is that in the NFT method, the grow channels are set up horizontally while in the vertical system, the grow channels are set up vertically.
Advantage of Vertical Aquaponics System
- It does not require a large space to set up.
- More plants can be stacked up in vertical rows.
- If grown in a greenhouse, it allows plants to be produced throughout the year as it is not weather dependent.
- Uses minimal water since water is recycled.
- Plants are grown organically since no pesticides are required, as there are no pets to damage the crops.
- Plants can be harvested more frequently.
- No bending over to garden because vertical systems keep plants off the ground.
- Vertical tubes are easy to set up and move to different areas.
- Inexpensive and does not require lots of material to construct.
- Easy to customize to your preferred style and layout.
- Great for urban farming.
- Flexible and can operate outdoors, indoors with lights, or in a greenhouse.
Disadvantage of Vertical Aquaponics System
- Technology dependent, if the power stops in the system, all the fish and crops will die since they depend on the electricity and artificial atmosphere.
The Concept of Vertical Aquaponics System
The vertical aquaponics concept is to create lots of small pockets to grow in the PVC pipes tubing. To keep the system as simple, the vertical garden is built above the fish tanks.
The fish needs to be healthy, and the water temperature, ammonia, nitrates, and pH levels need to be balanced and monitored. A small pump takes the nutrient-rich water from the fish tank to the top of the vertical aquaponics towers. The water drops down through the plants' roots, gathering oxygen from the air as it falls back into the fish tank.
The air will flow around the tubes as the water will not fill the tubes, providing plants with the needed oxygen directly to the roots and leaves.
The plant's roots will filter and clean the water before it goes back to the fish tank. Just like the other aquaponics methods, the vertical system is a recirculating symbiotic environment.
Vertical aquaponics usually use a filter to help remove the solid wastes from the water. The filter is positioned before the water reaches the plants to prevent the wastes from attaching to the plants' roots.
What Plants are Ideal for Vertical Aquaponics System?
Lots of plants thrive in aquaponics. However, the ideal plants to grow in vertical aquaponics are lighter feeding plants, like leafy greens or herbs. Larger, more massive feeding plants like tomatoes are not ideal plants to grow in this system because vertical aquaponics use PVC pipes as the grow channels, and they might not be strong enough to support larger plants.
The following plants are ideal for vertical aquaponics systems.
- Salad or leafy greens (lettuce, spinach)
- Cruciferous vegetables (kale)
- Herbs (parsley, basil)
- Perennials (strawberries)
What Fish are Ideal for Vertical Aquaponics System?
Any fish can be raised in vertical aquaponics, but if you have a smaller system or want easy to grow and manage fish, you can grow goldfish, tilapia, and Koi. These fish are hardy and inexpensive and can grow in any climate.
Vertical Aquaponics System Set Up Choice
Your choice of vertical aquaponics designs will depend on your preferences and resources. You can have a pre-made vertical aquaponics setup or make from scratch. With the made from scratch choice, you can do-it-yourself and choose your materials or customize the size according to your available space. However, if you want less hassle and want a ready-made to set up, you can choose aquaponics kits that are widely available online.
DIY Vertical Aquaponics Systems
If you have a limited budget, then for less than $100, you can set up your DIY vertical system by using recyclable materials. Usually, PVC tubings are used as the channels, and some wooden frames support them. All the materials needed in making your own DIY vertical aquaponics systems are often available from your local hardware, pet stores, and online shops. You can also repurpose some of your old pipes, buckets into channels or fish tanks. However, before building your system from scratch, make sure to do your research and plan carefully to avoid mistakes.
There are a lot of pre-made aquaponics kits with add-ons available online. They come in different designs and sizes depending on your budget and how much you want to grow your system. Using pre-made aquaponics kits means you can immediately set up your own system with resource persons available if you need help in the setting. This will cost you more than building one from scratch, but it leaves you the trouble of getting the materials, measuring, cutting, and putting them together in a trial and error.
Vertical aquaponics can be a perfect solution for anyone who wants to grow their own food but lacks space. So even if you live in the city, you can still build your own aquaponics system and grow your own food.
This system is easy to set up, and you have the option of purchasing a pre-made setup or doing a DIY setup. If you like doing and experimenting with things on your own, DIY projects may be the option for you. But, if you're willing to pay extra to eliminate the trouble of building from scratch, then buying pre-made materials will be the best for you.
A vertical aquaponics system can be an excellent system to start if you are a beginner in aquaponics because it's easy to set up and maintain. Thank you for reading; feel free to leave your comments below.