What is Aquaponics all about? It’s a way of growing fish, organic fruits and organic vegetables in one closed freshwater system, such as an aquarium. Aquarium aquaponics is different from older systems like aquaculture because this method does not need continual water replacement or drainage. Aquaponics books typically outline how the ecosystem that is created cleans the water naturally, providing an excellent environment for the fish and vegetables to grow in.
What is Aquaponics? In a Nutshell
Aquaponics creates a renewable process; where the water from the system drains into holding tanks, and is used again to flood elevated grow beds. One of the most popular methods used is the nutrient film technique, which recirculates the water in the in a raft aquaponics system.
What is Aquaponics Not About?
Most aquaponics enthusiasts like the fact that dangerous chemicals, insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides are not used in aquaponics systems. This creates nutrient-dense fish and organic vegetables that are safe to eat, and this approach is growing in popularity in many places in the United States. Once an aquaponics backyard system is setup, it can easily be grown to provide the amount of vegetables and fish that one desires.
Aquaponics users report many advantages, such as:
- A variety of different types of crops can be grown. The yield of this system is increased when a variety of crops are planted in the grow beds.
- The amount of nutrients found in the water of an aquaponics system is nearly the same as the amounts required for a successful hydroponics system.
- There is considerable water savings using an aquaponic system. Since the water is recycled and reused over and over, the need to add water is significantly less than with traditional systems.
- The aquaponics system automatically neutralizes the ammonia that is produced by the fish. The naturally occurring bacteria in the aquaponics system convert this ammonia into nitrites that are absorbed by the roots of the fruits and vegetables, and help them to grow.
You are probably wondering what happens within an aquaponics system. Below are the main parts:
- The aquaponics system must be cycled before any fish are added to it. What you do is put fish feed in the water, that way it can be conditioned for them to live in. The fish feed will grow bacteria which will make the water habitable for the fish. If you don’t condition the water before adding the fish, the amount of chlorine will be too high, and the chances of success are greatly reduced. These bacteria break down the fish food and create the perfect environment for them to live and grow in.
- After the water is conditioned, the fish are added to the holding tank. They are fed every day, and the water with ammonia and solid waste are circulated to the grow beds to feed the fruits and vegetables.
- The plants take up the nutrients from the waste water, which cleans and filters it. The water is then recirculated to the fish holding tanks, and the movement of the water improves the condition of the holding tanks by combining fresh air with it.
- If you are planning on producing a large amount of fish, fruits and vegetables, it may be necessary to invest in a mechanical filtration pump for the system. This will reduce any build up of solid waste that could accumulate near the roots of the grow beds. Since smaller aquaponics systems do not normally produce large amounts of fish waste solids, typically they do not require this one time initial investment.
By using floating grow beds, larger scale aquaponics systems can reduce the need for a mechanical filtration pump.
As you can imagine, it is important that the amount of aquaponics fish in the system is appropriate for the amount of vegetation. If there are too few fish, then the vegetation will not get enough of the vital nutrients required to grow. If there are too few plants, then the water will not be cleaned adequately, and the fish will not survive. Monitoring this balance may be the most critical element of the system, and this balance must be adjusted for the aquaponics system to be successful.