What is Aquaponics and How Does it Work?
Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponics (growing bottomless plants) system that benefits both environments. Aquaponics uses no chemicals and requires only 1/10 of the water needed to grow plants in the garden or in the field. It only needs a fraction of the water that is used for fish culture (aquaculture).
The waste produced in the aquariums is treated by natural bacteria that process the waste, largely ammonia, first in nitrite and then in nitrate. The fish waste that is taken up by plants is pumped to a biofilter system as a nutrient solution for growing the plants (breeding bed). The only external input of the system is food for the fish. Both systems complement each other as a single unit, not as separate units.
Once the system is set, the water remains pH balanced and stays crystal clear. The water is recycled with a small amount of water every week to compensate for what is lost due to the evaporation.
What are the benefits of an Aquaponics system?
An Aquaponics system can produce vegetables and fish all year round for household consumption.
Removes the debilitating task of digging in a typical vegetable garden.
No weeding is needed.
No need for additional chemical nutrients or fertilizers necessarily in a normal garden.
Reduces the use of pesticides in the garden.
Reducing the amount of water needed – generally only needed to replenish due to evaporation.
Eliminates waste products must be thrown away because they are used to fertilize the plants.
Which plants will grow in an Aquaponics system?
There are many plants that are suitable for every Aquaponics system, including vegetables and salad, etc.
The most important group that can not be grown are tuberous plants.
A good guide is to find out which above-ground plants grow in your specific part of the country, then it is worth to try them in your Aquaponics system.
In general it has been found that plants in every Aquaponics system, with the nutrients of the fish, grow much faster than plants in a traditional garden.
The most common plants grown in an Aquaponics system are herbs and green leafy vegetables and salad. other plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, peas, etc. can also be grown. Herbs such as basil, parsley, watercress, sage, etc. are ideal for the Aquaponics system.
It is always worth trying your favorite plants and you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Which fish are the best for an Aquaponics garden?
Tilapia is one of the most common fish in an aquaponics garden, but there are many other fish species, depending on whether you want them to be for food or just to supply nutrients for the growing vegetables. Such fish as silver bass, trout, catfish, goldfish, perch, bream, etc. All will supply nutrients for the Aquaponics garden.
Which fish food do I need?
The type of fish feed will depend heavily on the type of fish you use in your Aquaponics garden.
It is always advisable to know everything about the specific type of fish by going to Google or by buying a book about it. The type and quantity of food also depends on the amount of output you can expect from the Aquaponics garden.
Which factors determine a successful Aquaponics garden?
The first and most important factor in having a successful Aquaponics garden is to ensure that the fish are kept in a healthy state. All fish need oxygen to survive and thrive and therefore a good aeration system is essential.
The temperature of the water is also quite critical for fish to survive. Any abnormal rise or drop in temperature can cause problems for the fish. You should check to see which temperature is best for the type of fish you have.
The pH of the water must be between 7 and 7.5, which is neither acidic nor alkaline. If the PH rises or falls, it is essential that the cause is quickly remedied. This may be that the fish is overfed and that the uneaten fish feed disintegrates and collects at the bottom of the aquarium.
Both macro-nutrients and micronutrients are essential for the growth of the plants in an Aquaponics garden. Most of these nutrients come from the fish waste, which is the result of fish eating the fish feed.
Plants need these nutrients to grow and if there is a shortage of nutrients, there is a chance that the plants do not taste as good or grow so quickly.
By regularly testing the water, you ensure that any problems arise be resolved long before they have had the chance to cause real damage. It can tell you if you feed the fish too much, if there is enough oxygen in the water, if it is at the right temperature, etc.
Which water can be used in the Aquaponics garden?
Although freshwater and saltwater can be used in the Aquaponics garden, freshwater is the most common. Use of salt water would limit the number of different plants that you can grow.
If you use tap water, you should check for chlorine content and remove it before you add fish. The clearer the water, the easier it is to keep an eye on the fish and to collect any sediments on the bottom of the aquarium.
Should the Aquaponics garden be placed indoors?
An Aquaponics garden can be set up inside or outside in the backyard.
If placed in a conservatory, garage or even in the house, you have the added benefit of being protected from the weather. When it is set up outdoors, it will have to deal with rain, snow and even hot sunshine, which can make it uncomfortable for the fish and the development of the plants.
If you have it indoors, it can become more expensive, with extra lighting and heating, but you will get a much better control.
Can the Aquaponics garden be run as a hobby?
The best thing about aquaponics gardening is that it can be adapted to any desired size from a backyard system to a small indoor aquarium where you already have a few goldfish.
Aquaponics gardening has the advantage that it is an ideal hobby for children, people who go to work or pensioners. You can make sure that it takes as much of your time as you want and develop the time and energy you want to spend on it.
It is one of the most creative hobbies for children because it teaches them about taking care of fish and how food is produced.
How much work does an Aquaponics garden need?
Once the Aquaponics garden has been set up, very little needs to be done to keep it in a viable condition.
The first task is to feed the fish, this must be done at least once a day.
Check whether the aeration system is working correctly. This rarely requires any attention and as long as a good flow of bubbles comes up, it should be good.
Plant your seeds or bulbs and check if they grow.
Harvesting products when they are ready.
Regular testing of the water to ensure that the PH is sufficient.
Refill water if necessary