Aquaponics

Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture, in which fish and other aquatic animals are raised, and hydroponics, in which plants are grown without soil. Aquaponics uses these two in a very symbiotic combination. In which plants are fed on excrement or waste from aquatic animals. In turn, the vegetables purify the water that returns to the fish. In addition to fish and their excretions, microbes play an important role in plant nutrition. These beneficial bacteria accumulate in the spaces between plant roots and convert fish waste and solids into substances that plants can use to grow. The outcome of this is the perfect combination of aquaculture and horticulture.

Aquaponics holds great hope for sustainable organic plant production, aquaculture, and water consumption. Fish waste is recycled and used for plant growth instead of being dumped into the sea. The water is circulated in a closed system, which reduces the consumption of this resource.

Aquaponics

How does an aquaponics system work?

Our planet needs help. Many scientists and entrepreneurs propose actions to save the life of the world. For example, they suggest minimizing fuel and oil consumption, cutting electricity consumption, planting a million trees, etc. But these actions may not be enough, considering that people have already done harm. With aquaculture and hydroponics, 4,444 scientists have found a new method by which we can overcome this global damage. The new method is aquaponics. As it is a type of farming method that combines water recirculation and aquaculture with the production of hydroponic plants (also known as soilless plants).

The Aquaponics Technique

Aquaculture (growing ­fish) + Hydroponics (growing plants) = Aquaponics

An aquaponics system contains fish in tanks, the wastewater of which is pumped to the vegetables in gravel-filled beds. The roots absorb nitrates and grow like crazy. The water returns to the tank cleanly filtered. Organic vegetables and fish provide complete nutrition, a good thing for an unsafe world.

You can raise fish and plants by placing the fish in a large tank of water. The water from the tank is then drained into a gravel bed. Positive bacteria break down residual ammonia in fish to produce nitrogen, which helps plants grow. The filtered water then travels to the growth bed and then returns to the aquarium.

Some of the advantages of this method of cultivation are that it is not necessary to use soil. In this way, you can also benefit from this growing method in your unproductive areas. You don’t have to worry about weeds growing on your land. It is also not necessary to apply manure for fertilization.

Aquaponics system types:

Since aquaponics uses basically the same systems as hydroponics, there is not much difference in how the system works, other than the fish added in the water tanks. Drip irrigation, flooding and drainage, deep cultivation or roots submerged in water, and nutrient film techniques are highly compatible and customizable to merge with growing fish.

Importance of pH control in aquaponics

The pH value is an important part of aquaculture. Adjusting the pH to some perfect level can be a bit confusing. As there are three living organisms to take care of i.e., your plants, your fish, and the bacteria in the water. And each of which has a different pH. A neutral pH value of 6.8 to 7.2 is good for the aquaponics garden. Due to fish waste, the pH becomes acidic and you will need to use aquaponically compatible pH regulators. If the pH value is too low or too high for the system, the plants will not be able to absorb the nutrients optimally and your fish will eventually die. It is very important to monitor the pH every day and keep it in the neutral range.

Too alkaline or too acidic pH is a leading cause of fish or plant death, resulting in landscaping failures. The pH regulators must be specially developed for this type of rearing system; otherwise, they could harm the fish. You can find these adjusters at a local aquaponics garden supplier. Another thing to keep in mind is the hardness of the water, as it affects how the pH will behave when you try to adjust it. Sometimes it would be necessary to pay attention also to the hardness of the water when working on the pH value. Fish do not like sudden changes in pH, so try to reduce or increase it slowly as you adjust.

Aeroponics Farming: All about it

Fish and other aquatic animals that you can grow in aquaponics:

The type of fish depends totally on what you will feed your plants. The fish used in this particular type of aquaculture are freshwater fish. The other most popular are tilapia and barramundi because they can better tolerate different water conditions and grow quickly. Trout can also be used especially at lower water temperatures. Other aquatic animals that you can grow are snails and shrimp.

You can feed your fish special foods that you can buy from a pet store or other foods such as water lettuce and duckweed.

Aquaponics

What vegetables you can grow in aquaponics:

In a small garden based on aquaponics, you can grow vegetables that do not require a lot of nutrients. Salad, kale, watercress, arugula, ornamental flowers, mint, herbs, okra, chives and leeks, radishes, spinach, and other small vegetables like cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, broccoli, and cauliflower may require more nutrients and a  more advanced or well-stocked aquaponics system. Avoid growing plants that require acidic or alkaline water, as these pH levels can definitely harm your fish.

Tips for setting up an aquaponics garden:

  1. You can create your own aquaponics system and here is a simple and comprehensive guide to help you create one. Start small and see if it’s good for you, then feel free to grow.
  2. I configured another power source as a backup. It is important that the water is flowing and the oxygen pumps are on.
  3. Make sure you feed your fish enough and allow them to thrive. The depletion of the fish population makes this type of culture impossible.
  4. Constant feed must be maintained for the fish and this will result in regular fish waste that you can use to feed your plants.
  5. Make sure your plants and fish are well ventilated. Plants not only need an oxygen supply to the roots but also fish and bacteria need an oxygen supply to the water. As fish grow, their need for oxygen increases and you may need to adapt accordingly.
  6. When deciding which plants to grow, choose the ones with similar water needs as fish and you will be most successful.
  7. Remove excess fish droppings if necessary. Too much can harm the health of the fish.
  8. Keep an eye on the pH, because as shown above, it is crucial for the garden.
  9. Aquariums must be made of food-grade glass or plastic.
  10. Don’t use any pesticide if it is not organic, or even any other substances that can and will harm the fish or the good bacteria (vinegar, citric, and/or hydrochloric acid).