Hearing about aquaponic system the first time can be a bit confusing, if aquaponic gardening sound like a good idea for you, but you are still not sure of what this presupposes, here are a few things that will help you understand the system operation and requirements. Aquaponic systems are relatively new, it is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish in tanks or ponds), and hydroponic (organic agriculture using water and fertilizers), making this system such an efficient and effective way to grow vegetables and raising fish at the same time.
Aquaponic system relies on fish to grow plants. The fish have a very important task and they are providing the nutrients for the plants to feed of, this system creating a symbiotic environment. It is important to take a good care of the fish, that will assure balance in your system and healthy, happy plants. The maintenance for the fish tank in aquaponics is fairly simple because all you need to do is check the water conditions, like temperature, PH level, oxygen, and light. And of course feed the fish.
Taking care of the fish is fairly easy, and it will reword you with great results. The fish will excrete in the water, that will activate a vital bacteria, that bacteria will help transform the nitrate into nutrients, thus providing nourishing substances to benefit your plants. The plants will absorb the nutrients and clean the water, then the water will be re-circulate back to the holding tanks, the water now are clean and it is safe for the fish to use it again. The fish excrete is great nutrition source for the plants, your plants will thrive without the use of chemical or fertilizers.
As soon as the nourishing substances level in the water is high enough, you can start placing your plants. The plants in aquaponic system will grow on top of the water in growing beds, the growing beds float on top of the tank allowing the roots of the plants to touch the water. Separation between the fish and the roots of the plants is also important, it will prevent the fish from eating the roots of the plants. In more complex systems a pump can be installed and re-circulate the water; in this case water will be pumped out from the fish tank flowing to the growing beds.
Aquaponic gardening is easy and fun, installing the netting pots in the waist height will make the little maintenance left to do a walk in the park, all you need is in your arm reach! No more bending, and crouching when you are planting seeds. No crawling on your knees to remove weed and no digging, and handling dirt and soil. Aquaponic system requires little time and it will give you great results. It is suitable for people with all type of schedule and of any age. As long as you take good care of your fish and keep the system balanced, you will be amazed how your plants grow bigger and bigger and develop normally, eventually you will harvest organic vegetables for you and your family, great in taste and rich with vitamins.
Planning, sizing and building an aquaponic system.
There are three distinct steps for creating your aquaponics system. Aquaponics is the combination of raising fish and vegetation together, using the fish composted manure as nutrients for your plants.
I hope that you found a forum that you like and have started building relationships with people in the community. Having a community to connect with, will make a huge difference as you find new challenges to overcome and turn into more skills and conversations in the forum.
We will look at the small size system and how to build your in house system. A small home system, could be a Counter Top System about 2 square feet in area. You can get a small to medium sized aquarium at a yard sale, purchase a pump (unless the standard pump came with the tank), a plastic storage box and material for a growing medium.
Now follow these steps, as this is my test bed.
1. The Grow Bed is where the plants grow. The grow bed medium can be anything that will support the plants. You can use smaller rocks or expanded clay. You can also use a clean metal screen to support the plants. Just make sure that it is clean.
2. Fill the aquarium and verify that you do not have any leaks and that your pump works
3. Now you need to drill two holes in the end of the grow medium box
1 for the Pump to go through
1 as an over flow valve in case drain holes fail.
4 or 5 smaller holes on the lower side of the box to drain the water back to the tank
4. Place the grow bed on top of the tank, angle the bed box so that the bed will drain properly, as the water is pumped to the grow bed, then it drains back to the aquarium.
5. Set up your pump so that you can set up a flow schedule that does not drown the plants.
6. Now run the system to ensure it doesn’t over flow and look for any issues.
7. Wash your growing medium, and place into your growing bed.
8. Go to the local pet store, or talk to one of your new friends in the forum and find the type of fish that you want to grow. (A pet store might purchase Koi if you grow them to a certain size)
9. Once the water is balanced, the fish are thriving, now you start growing in your new aquaponic system! Lettuce is a good first crop according to what I have read. But choose what it is you want to grow!
10. Test, Test, Test and change what does not work for you to what does work for you. It is a journey of building relationships and discovering a new passion and joy in your life.
As you choose to make a bigger system, scale it up and ask questions from our community of experts.