Aquaponics offers plenty of methods or system design options perfect for anyone with limited space who 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 of aquaponics is popular with growers because it is a water-efficient and space-saving way to grow crops and raise fish. This article will discuss vertical aquaponics, its benefits, and how to start your own vertical garden.
What is a Vertical Aquaponics System?
A vertical aquaponics system is a method of aquaponics where plants are grown vertically above a fish tank. It is a space-saving system that allows for the maximum use of vertical space. It applies the nutrient film technique (NFT) aquaponics method, in which the plants are grown in a long narrow pipe or channel. The only difference is that in the NFT system, the growing pipes are set up horizontally, while in the vertical system, the growing pipes are set up.The Advantages of Vertical Aquaponics System:
- Vertical system does not require a large space to set up.
- More plants can be stacked up in vertical rows.
- 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 only require a little 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.
- 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.
How Does a Vertical Aquaponics System Work?
In a vertical system, water is pumped from the fish tank to the top of the vertical structure, and trickles down through the plant roots, providing them with the necessary nutrients. The filtered water is then returned to the fish tank. This continuous cycle ensures that plants and fish thrive in a healthy environment.
Components of a Vertical Aquaponics System
A vertical aquaponics system has several components that work together to create a sustainable and efficient growing system. The main components are:
- Fish Tank: The fish tank is where the fish are raised. It is the starting point of the closed-loop cycle, where fish waste provides a natural source of fertilizer for plants.
- Pipes: Plants are grown in the growing pipes. We usually plant them in net cups filled with grow media before being transplanted into the pipes.
- Water Pump: The water pump circulates the water to the whole system.
- Aeration System: The aeration system is used to oxygenate the water in the fish tank.
- Lighting System: The lighting system provides plants with the necessary light for photosynthesis.
- Plumbing System: The plumbing system connects all the system's components, allowing water to circulate efficiently.
Types of Plants Suitable for Vertical Aquaponics Systems
The ideal plants to grow in vertical aquaponics are lighter-feeding plants with a shallow root system that grow quickly. An example of these plants is leafy greens or herbs. Fruits like strawberries and tomatoes can also be grown in vertical aquaponics systems, requiring more care and attention.
The following plants are ideal for vertical aquaponics systems:
- Salad or leafy greens (lettuce, spinach)
- Cruciferous vegetables (kale)
- Herbs (parsley, basil)
- Perennials (strawberries)
Setting Up a Vertical Aquaponics System
Your choice of vertical aquaponics designs will depend on your preferences and resources. You can have a pre-made vertical aquaponics setup or make it 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, you can buy a ready-made setup.
Harvesting From a Vertical Aquaponics System
Harvesting produce from a vertical aquaponics system requires careful attention to the plant's growth cycle. Leafy greens are usually ready to be harvested within three to four weeks, while fruits like strawberries and tomatoes take longer.
Maintenance of a Vertical Aquaponics System
Maintaining a vertical aquaponics system requires daily and monthly routines. Daily maintenance involves feeding the fish, checking the pH levels, and ensuring the plants receive enough water. Monthly maintenance consists of cleaning the filters, checking for leaks, and monitoring the health of the fish and plants. Troubleshooting common problems, such as plant diseases or fish stress, is essential for maintaining a vertical aquaponics system.
Troubleshooting common problems
- Algae growth: Algae growth is common in vertical aquaponics systems, especially in those with high-light exposure. To reduce algae growth, you can reduce the amount of light or add shading material.
- Water quality issues: Water quality issues such as high, pH, ammonia, or nitrite levels can be caused by overfeeding, overcrowding, poor filtration, and poor water quality.
- Pest infestations: Pests such as aphids or spider mites can be a problem in a vertical aquaponics system. Inspect your plants regularly for signs of pests and take appropriate action to control them.
Vertical aquaponics can be a perfect solution for anyone who wants to grow their own food but lacks space for a traditional garden. It is also great for aquaponics beginners or those who want to start with aquaponics because it is easy and not costly to set. Thank you for reading our article feel free to leave your comments below.