Getting Started With Aquaponics Designs and Plans

I put this page together as a “How To Aquaponics” webpage to help aquaponic enthusiasts, including beginners, with their designs. A lot of people tend to jump the gun and start building their system without really knowing how to setup your plans correctly. You may be anxious to gather the supplies you need to put together your own aquaponics system, but before you run around town or spend time in a hardware store, it is important to understand everything that is involved. This will help you to create a successful aquaponic system, and will save you a lot of time when you are setting it up.

 

As you may already know, aquaponics is a combination of two older methods of growing fish and producing fruits and vegetables. By combining aquaculture with hydroponics, the fish environment is kept clean by the plants, and the fish by-products are used to feed the fruits and vegetables. This is why it is quickly becoming the absolute best way to grow food in recent years, since such a system doesn’t require work every day and keeps itself clean. In this way, it solves the major issues that you will face with using either of the older methods of harvesting fresh food at home.

 

Aquaponics Designs Are All About Balance

As with any biological system, aquaponics plans are primarily concerned with achieving ecological balance. Without balance, the fish will not have a clean and appropriate environment in which to live, and the plants will not receive the right amount of the proper nutrients to grow and flourish.

There are several important factors which are all equally important for how to get your aquaponics system to maintain balance and for the system to work. The three integral parts of the system that must be balanced are the plants, the fish, and the bacteria. If these integral parts of the system are not in ecological balance, the system will not work properly, if at all.

Some folks who have failed to maintain proper bacteria levels have found that much more maintenance and expense is required to keep the system going.


What You Can Expect From Your Aquaponics Plans

Once you know how to get your system up and running, this is what you can expect:

The freshwater fish, such as salmon or tilapia, live and swim around in a large reservoir. Typically, their living area contains one or two thousand liters of water, which is carefully prepared before the fish are introduced to their new environment. Fish feed is cycled through the brand new system, to encourage the growth of bacteria that will help to keep the water clean. The fish should only by introduced to their new home after the water is properly cycled,  that way the success of the aquaponic system will be much greater.

With the fish in their new home, they should be fed daily, and the water gets dirty with their natural ammonia and solid waste. This waste and ammonia is neutralized and decomposed by the nitrifying bacteria into nitrites, and then into nitrates. This just so happens to be a perfect source of food for the plants to absorb, and contains all the vitamins and minerals they need to grow quickly. Without the help of these nitrobacter bacteria, the amount of ammonia would be too high for the fish to live in for very long. After the nitrifying bacteria multiply to a sufficient quantity in the water, they will be capable of breaking down all of the ammonia and waste that is produced by the fish on a continual basis – which is how they keep it clean.

Other Considerations For Your Aquaponics System Plans

The plants are a critical part of how the system functions properly. You see, if the water is full of too many nitrites or nitrates, then this will probably lead to you having way too many weeds in the fish tank. This is the primary reason why a home system needs to be setup, cycled, and maintained correctly from the start. Fortunately, the decomposed fish waste water is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals for organic fruits and vegetables, and they are readily taken up through the root system of the plants and used for vitamins and minerals. which is how the water gets purified. This is also why it is of the utmost importance that there is some form of water movement from the fish holding tank – to the growing beds where the crops are grown. If you neglect to have the water moved from the fish to the plants or back again adequately, there will be solid waste that accumulates. There are a lot of types of unwanted plant life and weeds that like to feed on fish waste, and that will grow out of control in the holding tank if you are not careful.

To recap, the first part of the aquaponic system is where the fish live, eat, and produce ammonia and solid waste. The bacteria in the system convert the ammonia to nitrates, which must be circulated to the plants for their uptake. In another part of the system, there are grow beds with a variety of different plant life. This plant life feeds on the nitrates and solid waste of the fish that is circulated to them, thereby purifying and cleaning the environment of the fish throughout the day.

Probably the best part of a system, is that it creates an all-natural biological filter that is capable of cleaning the water 24 hours a day, day in and day out.  The plants solve the problem of cleaning and filtering the water of the fish which is always present in a closed freshwater fish system.

This type of system can find it’s own natural state of balance after a period of time, which means that there will be very little maintenance after this balance is achieved. Successful aquaponics enthusiasts report that the only maintenance at this point is to make sure that there are not too many fish for the system, and to make sure that appropriate water levels are maintained.

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