5 Things You Should Take Into Consideration When Building an Aquaponic System
Setting up an aquaponic system, although quite an easy task, requires some basic knowledge of aquaponics. If you have decided to install such a system in your house, then you probably know what this is and how it could help you. However, there may still be things which can interest or help you. Below you will find 5 essential things which you should know in order to obtain spectacular results.
The place where you put your aquaponic system is highly important for the way in which the plants and the fish will develop. In order to obtain great results you should make sure that the temperature from the room is not too high, nor too low, that there is enough light for the plants to prepare their food and that no wind or extreme weather conditions will reach them. Also, make sure that no harming chemical substances can get inside the water as this means death for both your fish and your plants.
2. Oxygenizing the water
The happier your fish are, the better your system will work! This is why you need to oxygenize the water on a daily basis and make sure your fish have all the “comfort” they need.
3. Choosing your fish accordingly
The aquaponic system works well with almost all types of fish. Yet, there are states in which you are not allowed to grow whatever type of fish you want, so you will want to see what types of fish you are allowed to have before starting your aquaponic system as you do not want any problems with the law.
4. Placing the pots
In order to make the harvest much easier, you should place the pots or the entire system at your waits level. This way you will not have to bend over, making the daily care routine a much easier activity.
5. Adding additives
There are cases in which your fish may not provide all the nutrients needed for your plants. If the quantity is lower than what the plants need, then you will have to supply them with the respective substances. In most cases you will need to add iron, calcium carbonate or potassium carbonate.
Aquaponics is an easy activity which will provide you with the necessary vegetables and fish in a short amount of time. Just follow the tips mentioned above and you will have great success in your attempt to grow organic food in your home.
Adding Salt in Aquaponics
Many people add salt to their aquaponics system and you may be thinking of doing the same. The practice of adding salt in Aquaponics has its pros and cons, and if you decide to use salt you should do so carefully.
The main purpose of adding salt in Aquaponics is for disease control; salt acts like a natural anti-bacterial agent. In addition, a small amount of salt improves the mucous covering on a fish’s body, and this improves the resistance of the fish to diseases and parasites. Salt may also help to prevent fungal infections. If you opt for salt addition, use pure sea salt and avoid table salt. If you can’t find any pure sea salt, swimming pool salt is a viable alternative.
However, adding too much salt will kill the fish and stunt plant growth. Therefore, when adding salt, you should do it only in calculated amounts. A good rule of thumb is 1 to 2 ppt (parts per thousand) of salt to water. Some plants and fish will tolerate higher levels, but if you are a novice in Aquaponics systems, you should stick to this amount. Remember, that as time passes, the concentration of salt in the system will change. Evaporation of water, water taken up by the plants, etc… will lead to an increase in salt concentration. It is therefore important that you monitor salt concentration regularly, and you can do so by using an apparatus called a refractometer. You can buy cheap refractometers for just a few dollars and they will do the job.
Many people will have a separate small tank that they use for sick fish, a kind of quarantine tank. This is a good idea as it prevents the spread of disease to other fish and allows you to give medication only to the sick fish and not to the whole system. If you keep such a tank, salt can be very useful, as salt will enhance the fish’s immune system. You can use higher concentration of salt in your sick tank – up to 10 ppt for a few hours to a few days. Make sure to keep the tank well oxygenated.
As mentioned already, different fish have different levels of salt tolerance, so to be on the safe side check with your local fisheries department for levels of tolerability of the species you are growing. In addition, remember that even if the fish you are growing are very tolerant to salt (for example tilapia can be grown in a salt concentration of up to 20-30ppt), the plants will not tolerate high concentrations. It is safer if you stick to 1-2ppt.
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Advantages of Aquaponic Farming
Aquaponics is a new way of approaching farming. Unlike traditional agriculture where you needed plants to grow vegetables, with aquaponics you need water and fish in order to have healthy food on your table each and every day. Basically, aquaponics relies on the interdependence between fish and plants: the fish produces bio-nutrients for the plants, while the plants clean the water, creating a perfect environment for the fish to grow and develop. It is a blend of aquaculture and hydroponics that has plenty of advantages. If you need some reasons to get your own aquaponic system started, then here are some of the advantages you will get once you assemble it.
First of all you will have fresh organic food on your table each and every day, regardless of the hour when you decide to cook your meals. You simply take your tomato, cucumber of your basil from the aquaponic “field” and use it for your meals. It is as easy as it sounds.
The second best thing about it is that you not only grow vegetables, but you also have plenty of fish. Whether you want them for cooking tasty meals or simply for your décor, they are a great addition in your home! They also have a practical purpose, as you will never have to use chemical fertilizers on your plants, thus obtaining real organic food.
If you ask how difficult is this system to put in practice, the answer is extremely simple. Not only will you be able to assemble it all by yourself, without the help of your family or neighbors, but you can also put it wherever you want. If you move from one house to another, then you simply disassemble the system and take it with you! What can be easier than that?
Another great advantage of the hydroponic farming is that it offers you financial independence and control over your money. You know exactly how much you need to spend on your food and you will no longer depend on the market for your veggies’ supplies.
Last, but not least, it involves no dirty hands and clothes, no bending and digging, no land and little maintenance time, so it will be like your veggies and fish grow all by themselves! Quite an easy to put in practice system, suitable for all types of people, even for busy and impatient ones!
There are plenty advantages that the aquaponic system can offer you! Your health and your comfort will be improved, while your savings will considerably grow with the constant use of the aquaponic type of farming! If this is what you want, then why not give it a try?
Aquaponic Farming the Easy Way
Planting the seeds in your aquaponic garden is much easier than putting them in the ground. You just have to put them on a netting pot and… this is it! Then you just have to wait for them to start vegetating and grow. However, there is one little aspect you must know before placing the seeds and that is – the ideal moment when the seeds should be planted.
Many people purchase the fish, place them in the tank and in the same day they also place the seeds in the pots. This is by far the worst way of approaching aquaponics as the seeds, even though will grow and develop up to a certain point, they will die in a matter of days after they finish their own supplies if there are no nutrients in the water on which they can feed.
Thus, the perfect moment to place the seeds in the pots is when the fish excrements have turned into nutrients. The process through which you can obtain nutrients for your plants is quite simple. After you place the fish into the tanks, they will start freeing excrements into the water. Because the excrements contain ammonia, they are highly toxic for the fish. However, do not worry about that, as this issue is solved by nature itself. There are bacteria which transform the ammonia into nitrites and then into nitrates. In order for your plants to grow you need nitrates, so once the process of decomposing and transforming ammonia is over, the water will be ready to support the plant seeds.
The entire process can take up to 3 months, time in which you should not place any type of seeds in the pots as they will certainly die. There are also ways to speed up the process by inserting nitrates into the water before the fish excrements can transform. However, many people do not like to interfere in nature’s way. However, no matter what way you choose, it is recommended to monitor the amount of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates from the water, so that you can always know the quality of your water for both your fish and your vegetables.
Planting the seeds at the right time is essential if you want good crops and healthy fish, so monitor the quality of your water permanently, before and after planting. It is the only way through which you can obtain good crops.
Aquaponic Farming When Will the First Plants Be Ready
Starting an aquaponic garden can be quite an easy task, especially for those who have already tried the hydroponic system. Yet, many people still have doubts about the effectiveness of such a system. If you are one of them, then you probably want to know more about the aquaponic system and about the way in which it is going to change your life. Well, read on and part of your questions will get their answers.
First of all it must be mentioned that the aquaponic system is not meant in any way at modifying the plants which are going to be put in the netting pot. No substance will speed their growth and no additional, human help will be given for the crops to be available earlier than they would be if cultivated in the ground. What aquaponics does is only to replace the ground with water filled with naturally obtained nutrients from the fish. Thus, if you are looking for a system which will provide you with tomatoes in just a couple of weeks, then you are definitely in the right place.
The aquaponic system is all natural, which means that the plant will follow the normal stages in its development and will grow as if it were planted in the ground. So, in order to properly estimate the time when you will have the first crops look on the package and see how much time that particular plant needs to grow in the ground as that is the exact time in which you will have your fist crops.
If you start your aquaponic garden now, then you will have to add about 3 month to the date from the seed package, as you will not be able to plant the seeds until the ammonia from the fish excrements will turn into nourishing substances and the process will take about 3 months. No fertilizers or chemical substances which can speed plant growing can be used as this will kill the fish and eventually ruin your aquaponic garden, but you can skip those 3 months by inserting nitrates in the water from the first days you purchase the fish tank.
Vegetables grown in aquaponic gardens need as much time to develop as the ones grown in the ground, which guarantees you tasty and healthy vegetables. So, there is no need to be suspicious or doubtful about the quality of the crops obtained through the aquaponic system. They are as tasty and healthy as can be, sometimes healthier than what you find on the market!
Aquaponic Gardeing – The Advantages
Aquaponic gardens can give you lots of fresh vegetables and tasty fish, they are great for any type of home as well as for any age and occupation you may have. However, they will not take care of themselves! It is true that they require very little care, but it is essential that you give them those few minutes a day each and every day in order to obtain very good results and keep the farm producing for a long period of time.
The major process in aquaponics is aeration. If the water is properly aerated, then your fish will be happy and your plants will grow normally. On the other hand, if the water is not properly oxygenized, then there are very few chances that your farm will survive for more than a couple of days.
The reasons why aeration is so important are quite simple and easy to understand for everybody. First of all, the dissolved oxygen is necessary for the fish to breathe. Even though the fish live under water they still need to breathe and just like in case of other animals, they need oxygen to survive. When they lack oxygen they die, thus the balance from your aquaponic system is lost and in a matter of days your plants will start to get yellowish and eventually die out.
As this was not enough, the fish excrements are decomposed and transformed from toxic ammonia into useful nitrates in the presence of oxygen. Thus, if the water is not properly aerated the fish poop will not be transformed, the plants will have nothing to eat, while the fish will die intoxicated with ammonia. This is not a very pleasant perspective, isn’t it? This is why you will have to monitor the quality of your water each and every day and have a back-up plan in case the power gets off and the air pumps will no longer be able to function. This is the only way through which you can save your aquaponic system and make it work for a long period of time. Your plants and your fish will thank you for that!
Aquaponics as a Hobby
Are you looking for a way to keep your children busy and make them more responsible or you are a senior trying to find a profitable activity that will not require too much effort? Are you always on the run and you can never get to the market to buy fresh veggies for your meals? Then why not start an aquaponic garden? It is suitable for all the persons listed above and for many more. In fact, everyone will find this activity enjoyable and rewarding.
This is the perfect way to make your children responsible. They will need to feed the fish each and every day and make sure that the air pump is working perfectly so that the fish get enough oxygen. Also, they will have to monitor the state of the vegetables and when they get yellowish they need to announce you. These are not easy tasks, but will give them a sense of responsibility and will know that someone relies on them. Also, they will be able to see how fish and plants grow, which will expand their knowledge about the vegetal and animal world.
For working adults
Vegetables are essential for a good nutrition, yet you can not always find fresh, organic veggies in the market. With an aquaponic garden in your house you will have fish and veggies for your family without depending on the market. Also, you will save some money without investing too much of your precious time.
For retired seniors
When retirement comes, many people seek activities which do not require too much effort. Aquaponic gardening will keep you occupied for a while, yet without getting over your entire day. In addition to that it will spare them of going to the market to buy veggies, it will help them save some money and at the same time will not require them too much effort. If they place the system at their waist level they will not need to bend or stretch, which will make this activity far more pleasant.
No matter what age group you are a part of, aquaponics can prove to be rewarding for you. Give it a try and you will never want to live without this system!
Aquaponics – Decorate Your House with Growing Vegetables
It has been proved that plants have a positive effect on people. Apart from oxygenizing the room in which they are placed, they also have a benefic effect upon people’s mood. This is the reason for which more and more people choose to decorate their apartment with natural plants. Yet, what if you can have more benefits from the plants inside your house?
Aquaponics offers you the possibility to grow your own organic vegetables in your home and at the same time use them for decoration. This way you not only will enjoy the beauty of green plants inside your home, but you will also save some money and enjoy the taste of your freshly harvested crops. In addition to that, you will say goodbye to the ground, which in some cases brought parasites in your house.
The aquaponic system is made up if a fish tank, some specially designed netted pots and some few more accessories which can be assembled in such a way as to look great wherever you choose to place it in your house. The tank is for the fish which will provide your plants bio-nutrients and the netted pots are for the seeds. Once you will place the seeds in their special place you will be able to observe them growing day by day. This will not only give you a good feeling of producing something yourself, but will also guarantee you that you have full control over the quality of your crops. You can plant your seeds at different times of the year, so that you will always have crops ready to be harvested when you need them. The alternation between young and mature plants will look great in your house and you will get to enjoy both their looks and their taste each and every day!
In addition to that, there will be also the fish which will enhance the beauty of your room and will add something special to it. Choose some colorful fish for an even more beautiful aspect. With such a system you will combine the aesthetics with practicality which can only bring you great results and satisfaction.
Aquaponics is the most sustainable form of form food production. With a small Aquaponics set up, you can easily generate enough food to feed your family. No special equipment is needed, and indeed practically all of it can be bought cheaply at your local hardware store or even constructed at home. Let’s take a look at the Aquaponics equipment you’ll need to start this wonderful venture.
We’ll first start with the fish tank, and this is the largest component of the system. The larger the tank, the more fish you’ll be able to grow and the more nutrients for the plants that will be generated. If this is your first attempt with aquaponics, it is sensible to start small. However, you should get as a minimum a tank that can hold 50 gallons of water (about 190 liters). You can easily construct a tank yourself by using recycled bathtubs, half barrels etc… If they’re not water-tight, simply line them with EPDM pond liner. The tank will be heavy to move, so just put it in its intended location from the start. You can locate your aquaponics system anywhere as long as it’s shielded from harmful chemicals. In addition, it shouldn’t be in direct sunlight, as this would cause an algal bloom.
The next piece of Aquaponics equipment that you’ll need to think about is the grow bed. The grow bed is where the plants will be rooted and where the conversion of fish waste to nutrients by bacteria will be taking place. The size of the grow bed you’ll use will depend on the size of the fish tank: the more fish you’re growing, the more waste that is generated, and the more nutrients that will be available for the plants. Generally, a volume ratio of 1:1 grow bed to fish tank is recommended. The Aquaponics grow beds should be about 12 inches deep, in order to provide sufficient support for the plants and to provide enough space for the bacteria to thrive.
The grow bed should be filled with an appropriate medium, a popular one being gravel. Requirements for a good medium is that it is inert (does not affect the pH of the system) and that it does not decompose. Avoid limestone as this leaches calcium carbonate which increases the pH of the water.
In an Aquaponics system, water is pumped from the fish tank to the grow bed, and then returns to the fish tank via gravity. For this, you will need a water pump and pipes. Many aquaponics farmers use a timer-operated pump, setting it to switch on for 15 minutes every 45 minutes. This helps to oxygenate the water. When buying a pump, get one that can pump the entire volume of the tank in an hour – this will depend on the volume of your tank. Larger tanks need larger pumps.
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Aquaponics Farming Advantages
Aquaponics farming is most sustainable form of food production and it is believed that in the future this form of farming will be the main method of food production. Aquaponics combines the hydroponic growing of vegetables with the farming of fish, each system sustaining and enhancing the other. The fish produce waste, which acts as a fertilizer for the plants. In turn, the plants purify the water for the fish.
An aquaponics system will save you a lot of money, because you will be growing your own food. In addition, it will work out much cheaper than if you had to grow the vegetables and fish separately. This is even more pertinent in the current financial climate, when the food prices keep going up and the price of fresh vegetables and fish has gone through the roof!
The food you grow will be organic, as no pesticides or harmful chemicals are added. You will have peace of mind knowing that the food you are eating is safe, and it will taste better too. Aquaponics farming gives you total flexibility to what vegetables and fish you grow, so whatever you like to eat, you can grow it yourself!
An aquaponics farming system is easy to set up and it doesn’t require a lot of space as the whole system is very efficient. Generally, the hydroponic bed will be placed directly above the fish tank, thus making the best use of the available space. It is also very pleasing to look at – it’s like having an aquarium with a large gardening container on top! The whole concept and workings of the system is very fascinating and many do it as a hobby. It has all the joys of gardening and fish-keeping, but it is easier and more profitable.
Another advantage over traditional farming and fish growing is that it does not require back-breaking work and dirty clothes, no weeding and no digging. The system will practically work by itself once you get it started!
Last but not least, aquaponics farming can be a lucrative source of income, as organically grown food is highly desirable and fetches good prices. Many people are dedicating whole rooms for aquaponics, so that they will have a lot of food to sell. This system generates a lot of food in least amount of space, making it ideal for growing food for profit. It is very easy to scale, as the same principle apply whether you are setting up a small system in a corner or large one taking up a whole room. Generally, people start with a small set-up, but quickly scale up when they see how efficient and profitable aquaponics farming is!
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The aquaponics fish in your system not only provide you with a tasty food (rich in protein and omega 3s) but also provide nutrients for the aquaponics vegetables that you’re growing. Growing fish yourself will save you lots of money and you will have peace of mind knowing that the fish you’re eating are free from toxic metals and petroleum residues, which is becoming a growing problem with sea-caught fish nowadays. You can also make a great income selling aquaponics fish, because the expenses involved in growing them are very small.
So, which fish species do you choose for your aquaponics farming system? There are a few things you have to keep in mind before making your decision. Each species will have it s own different requirements and optimal temperature and pH ranges. In addition, some species will be able to grow in a large population density (more fish in less space) while others may need more space. Different fish also grow at different rates; presumably you want ones which grow fast.
Two very popular fish for aquaponics systems are tilapia and trout. If you live in warmer areas, you should opt for tilapia. They grow best at temperatures of 82° to 86°F and start dying if the temperature drops below 50°F. This is because at temperatures below 54°F, tilapia lose their resistance to disease and are prone to infections. Of course, if you live in cold areas but keep your house heated, you can set up the aquaponics system in a room and still grow tilapia. Tilapias are particularly suited to aquaponics farming because they are very hardy and will survive fluctuations of pH and waste build-up better than most other fish. In addition, they can grow well in crowded tanks, and grow quickly.
Another excellent aquaponics fish for warm climates is the catfish, which grows best at a temperature of around 80°F. They are very resistant to disease and parasites, but are sensitive to oxygen levels. If you grow catfish, make sure you have a good aerating system in place and carry regular tests.
If you live in colder areas, you should opt for trout. Although different trout species have slightly different requirements, most have an optimal range of 40° to 65°F. Like tilapia, they grow fairly quickly and make tasty food.
Some aquaponics farmers also grow goldfish. Now, although these are not used for food, they can be easily sold to pet-shops to be resold as pets. Goldfish are very hardy, grow in a variety of conditions and can fetch a significant profit. You can also sell goldfish directly by placing ads in local newspapers.
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Aquaponics Fishless Cycling
Aquaponics fishless cycling is a method of starting up your Aquaponics farming system without using fish. When you first start an Aquaponics system, there will be no bacteria. Bacteria are crucial in the running of the system, as they are responsible for breaking down toxic fish waste and transforming it into nutrients for the plants. In traditional cycling, you put your fish into the newly setup system, and they will start generating ammonia (fish waste). Eventually, nitrosomonas bacteria will colonize the system, and these will break down the ammonia into nitrites (which are still toxic). Another species of bacteria will then colonize the system – nitrobacter – and these will break down the nitrites into nitrates, which make excellent plant fertilizer. The problem is that colonization by bacteria takes time, and in the meantime ammonia and nitrites can build up in the water to toxic levels, harming and possibly killing the fish. Aquaponics fishless cycling avoids this problem, as fish are introduced only after the bacterial colonies have established themselves.
To carry out Aquaponics fishless cycling, you need to buy a source of ammonia – generally found in Cyclic Kits. Next, add in the ammonia to the fish tank’s water until you get a level between 2 to 4ppm (parts per million). For fish tanks smaller than 100 gallons, add half a teaspoon of ammonia at a time, and test. Consult the mixing instructions on the ammonia you buy, as different types of mixtures have different strengths. If you overshoot, and you get a reading higher than 4ppm, simply remove some of the water and add in fresh water to dilute the ammonia strength.
Once you get a level of 2 to 4ppm, you should test the water every day for ammonia, nitrites and pH levels. When ammonia levels start dropping, add some more to keep a level of 2 to 4ppm. Once nitrates appear (at least 5ppm), stop adding ammonia. Shortly after, the ammonia and nitrite levels should drop to below 0.5ppm. What this happens, the cycling is over and you can safely add the fish. During the cycling process, try to keep the temperature of the water to about 77 to 86°F and the pH to around 7 to 8, as this will speed up bacterial growth.
Aquaponics cycling without fish is safer than when you use fish, and much quicker. Typically, with the fishless method you can get your system up and running in just 10 days, compared to the 4 weeks it would take if you opt for cycling with fish.
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Aquaponics For Profit
Many people start this venture as a hobby, and quickly turn to doing aquaponics for profit, because they immediately realize how profitable it can be! It can be set up with minimum start up costs, and running costs are very low. With its unique set up, the system practically runs itself, as the plants and fish form a symbiotic relationship with the help of bacteria; the latter turn fish waste into plant nutrients, cleaning the water for the fish and providing fertilizer for the plants.
Aquaponics is rapidly gaining popularity because of the rising prices of food and the increasing demand for organic food (which is what you’ll be growing with an aquaponics system). Running an Aquaponics for profit business has many advantages. It is ideal for those who do not have a lot of money to invest, as it requires minimum costs to set up and run. As the costs are low, the profit margin is very significant. Both organic vegetables and fish fetch very good prices!
Another advantage of an Aquaponics for profit business is that it requires minimal space – Aquaponics is in fact the most space-effective method of food production. Generally, a room or garage is more than enough to produce enough food to make a profit.
Aquaponics is also fairly flexible, in the sense that you can grow many different species of plants and fish. So you may grow different species at different times of the year according to demand and competition in your area. For example some people grow predominantly vegetables, while others opt to growing herbs. Of course, there is no reason why you can’t grow both! The same goes for fish; there are many species you can rear. In addition, instead of growing fish for food, some people grow goldfish and other aquarium fish species which then they sell to pet shops or directly to owners. With some aquarium fish species, the prices fetched can be much higher than the prices for most ‘food’ fish. To keep the costs down, you should choose fish which have temperature requirements that are similar to the average temperature in your area. This will save you from using electricity to heat the water.
Popular fish which are grown using aquaponics for profit include tilapia (mainly in warmer climates), trout (mainly in colder climates), catfish, koi, bluegill, smallmouth bass, and goldfish (to be sold as pets). Make sure to check your state laws first, as there are some limitations on which fish can be grown. With regards to plants grown successfully in Aquaponics systems for profit, excellent examples include cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, strawberries, lettuce, spinach, peas, beans and squash; and herbs such as as rosemary and basil.
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Aquaponics Grow Bed Media and Water
In this article we will talk about Aquaponics grow bed media and water, two crucial components of an aquaponics system. The grow bed medium is the plant’s habitat while the water is the fish’s habitat. The two are interconnected and if there are problems in one, they will manifest themselves in the other.
There are many grow bed media to choose from, ranging from simple ones to ‘bioengineered” branded ones. A very popular and effective one is gravel, which also happens to be very cheap. Gravel is ideal because it provides good support for the roots of the plants and filters the water well. In addition, it proves to be a good habitat for the beneficial bacteria, which will be busy turning fish wastes into plant nutrients. Get round gravel, and it should be big enough not to clog but small enough to provide good root support. The plant roots need good water circulation and oxygen, and if the medium compacts too much, this won’t be possible. Good medium size for Aquaponics is around 0.5 to 0.75 of an inch in diameter.
If you opt for another type of medium, you need to ensure that it has some important properties. It should be chemically inert and it must not influence the pH of the water. For example, limestone leaks calcium carbonate and this will push the pH up. Gravel, lava rock, and most river stones are pH neutral. Similarly, the medium should not decompose, as this will affect the pH levels and potentially clog the systems. Decomposing materials can also leak substances in the water that can harm you fish. Avoid soil, peat moss, sawdust or wood chippings.
It is important that the medium you choose is porous, as this will allow for good air and water circulation and will give the bacteria plenty of surface area to colonize. You should also make sure that the medium is easy to handle; it should be gentle on the hands and on the plant’s roots.
Now, something about the water. You want the water to be pure, free of chlorine and other chemicals and as close to pH 7 as possible. Municipal water will be of high pH and will contain chlorine. However, all you have to do is to fill your tank and let it sit for two or three days. The chlorine will evaporate off by itself. If the pH of your water is too high, you can buy aquarium pH regulators, or else add in some vinegar or iron sulfate fertilizer. Add small quantities at a time and test. On the other hand, if the pH of the water is too low, get an aquarium pH regulator, add in some baking soda or calcium carbonate. Again, add in small quantities at a time and test. You final pH should be between 6.7 to 7.
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Aquaponics Grow Bed
The aquaponics grow bed is one of the two main components of an Aquaponics farming system, the other being the fish tank. The grow bed houses the plants and the bacteria responsible for breaking down the fish waste and turning them into nutrients for the plants.
In an aquaponics system, water is pumped from the fish tank and into the grow bed. Bacteria breakdown fish waste into nitrogen, which is taken up by the plants and used to grow. The clean water is then returned into the fish tank. Through this process, an Aquaponics system uses just 10% of the water that traditional agriculture requires.
With regards to the ratio of grow bed to fish tank, here’s how you can calculate it. Fish density should be kept at no more than 1 pound of fish per 3 gallons of water. Now, for every 6 gallons of water, you should have about 1 square foot of deep grow bed (about 12 inches deep). This is to ensure an adequate fish waste to plant biomass ratio. Therefore, you will be having about 2 pounds of fish for each square foot of deep grow bed area. However, note that this is a maximum number. If you are just starting out, it is safer to opt for one fish per 5 to 10 gallons of water. As a rule of thumb, use a fish tank to grow bed ratio of 1:1 (by volume).
It is safer to have a higher grow bed: fish tank ratio than the other way round. If you have too little grow bed, there won’t be enough bacteria to break down the fish wastes as they accumulate, and soon enough the fish and plants will start dying. You should use a grow bed that is about 12 inches deep and definitely nothing less than 9 inches.
When setting up your system, the water level in the grow bed should be about 1 inch from the top, as the top of the plants should not be wet. In addition, this will ensure that there is no direct sunlight on the water, which would in turn cause an algae bloom. Therefore with a 12 inch deep grow bed, you will be looking at about 10 to 11 inches of which are submersed.
An important aspect of a healthy grow bed is dissolved oxygen, as oxygen is essential for proper bacteria (and fish) growth. Plants also require good oxygen levels on their roots. Ideal dissolved oxygen levels for an aquaponics system are those above 6 parts per million. To ensure healthy dissolved oxygen levels, you should incorporate water stone aeration and some water jetting action; you can incorporate the latter in the way the water returns back to the fish tank from the grow beds.
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Aquaponics – Now It’s Easy to Grow Your Own Vegetables
Growing your own crops can be a demanding task even for those in loved with gardening. Is a time consuming activity and it requires lots of energy and dedication. In addition to that, a traditional garden requires fertile land which will sustain your efforts of growing some corps. These are the main reasons for which many people give up their dream of growing their own vegetables and switch on organic food. What most people do not know is that there is a way of growing organic food (pesticide and chemical free) in the comfort of your home. Yes, you read it perfectly: inside your house.
This new type of farming is called aquaponics and is the simplest way to become a farmer! The best part is that you will not only grow vegetables, but you will also grow fish, so that you can offer your family a diversified nutrition. It all starts quite simple, with a plain tank filled with water in which you place some fish. You can go for Chinese Catfish, Crappie, Bluegill or Koi, or whatever species of fish you are allowed to grow in your house. Put them in the water, take good care of them and in about a month place the seeds so that they can reach the water and get the nutrients from it. The plants will develop and start growing with the nutrients offered by the fish. In the meantime, the fish will enjoy a clean environment as the plants will act as “maids” for them, cleaning and refreshing their water each and every day.
As you can see this type of farming does not require any type of land, fertilizers or chemical substances. Just set up the system and make sure that the water has the normal PH so that the fish will live comfortably in there. Then, let nature follow its course!
You can grow almost everything you want in the aquaponic farming. Leafy greens, fruity plants and legumes can all be planted in the aquaponic farming. If you have a piece of land where you cultivate ground-based plants (potatoes, carrots, asparagus, onions, garlic and so on) you can use this water to irrigate it and the results will be spectacular!
Nothing can compare to the easiness, safety and great results of the aquaponic farming! You have everything at the reach of your hand without too much effort and what is even more important, without using any chemical additives to your crops.
Aquaponics Plant Nutrients
In Aquaponics, the sole source of plant nutrients is fish waste. As unbelievable as this may seem, with a properly managed Aquaponics system, plants can thrive on this source of nitrogen. The key is to have a healthy bacterial colony growing in the system, which will convert the toxic fish waste into harmless nitrates which are an excellent fertilizer for the plants. The bulk of the bacterial colonies will be in the grow bed medium, often gravel.
In a newly set-up Aquaponics system, the bacteria will need some time to colonize the medium. This is why a process called ‘cycling’ is used. There are two methods of cycling your system – using fish right from the start or putting the fish in only when the bacteria have established themselves. The first method takes 4 to 6 weeks, while the latter is quicker and can be done in about 10 days. Cycling without fish (using ammonia) is also safer.
An important aspect in the system that is needed to ensure a steady supply of plant nutrients is pH. If this is not optimal, an accumulation of toxic materials will build up, and nutrient generation by the bacteria will be halted. In addition, pH outside the range will make it harder for the plant roots to take up nutrients and can harm the fish. Try to keep your pH at around 6.7 to 7. If your pH is outside the range, get commercial pH regulators to increase or decrease the pH. Alternatively use vinegar to lower the pH and calcium carbonate or baking soda to increase the pH.
Although some Aquaponics farmers use nutrient supplements, in a properly managed system supplements are never required. In addition, if you use supplements you need to be very careful, as some can harm the fish. As long as you keep the pH at 6.7 to 7, and the water well oxygenated, the bacteria will provide more than enough nutrients for your plants.
The only substance that it may be beneficial to add is salt. Salt is often added to Aquaponics systems at 1 to 2 ppt (parts per thousand; meaning 1 kilo to 1000 liters of water). Adding salt increases the resistance of the fish to disease and infections, because it has a positive effect on the mucus layer of the fish. If you decide to add salt, it is important to keep the concentration below 2ppt and to use pure sea salt – not table salt.
To discover how to boost your plant’s growth and ensure the highest yields, refer to Aquaponics 4 You
How would you like to have freshly, home-grown, organic Aquaponics plants available to you every day? Aquaponics is the most sustainable form of food production, and it allows you to grow vegetables and fish easily, in a small space and for very little costs.
Many vegetables can be grown using aquaponics systems but perhaps the most popular ones are lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes and various herbs. You can grow a number of different vegetables in a single aquaponics system and most people do so.
Lettuce matures in just 40 days and is extremely easy to grow. Its optimal air temperature range is between 60-80 degrees F, while its root (i.e. water) temperature should be between 70-74 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore lettuce combines well with tilapia, as these too prefer warmer waters. To grow lettuce, you can either plant the seeds directly into your hydroponic beds or else you can plant the seeds in a pot and then transfer them to the grow bed when they have grown a few inches. When the time comes for harvesting, you can either pick the whole plant or just take a few leaves at a time – exactly the number of leaves you need for that side salad! Other leafy greens grow just as well in Aquaponics farming, such as spinach, watercress, basil, parsley and mint.
Tomatoes are another very popular Aquaponics plant; however, they do require a high level of nutrients. To achieve this, you will need to have a fairly crowded fish tank, and therefore you will need to choose fish that grow well at dense populations. Tomatoes grow best when they have about 8 to 12 hours of light per day (especially when fruiting) and at temperatures around 68 to 88 degrees F. Tomatoes should not be seeded directly in the hydroponic bed; instead seed them in a seedling tray and transplant them after about 2 to 6 weeks. For the best taste, allow the tomatoes to fully ripen before picking.
Cucumbers are another plant that is perfect for Aquaponics, especially the variety referred to as the English Cucumber. Cucumbers grow best at air temperatures of 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and prefer a humidity level that is below 75%. English cucumbers mature in just 6 to 8 weeks and are ready to eat when they reach 6 inches in length. Squash, melons, buttercup, watermelon and cantaloupe are very similar to cucumber in requirements and grow well using an Aquaponics set-up.
To discover how to choose the best plants, and how to get the best yields, check out Aquaponics 4 You
Aquaponics Stocking Densities
Aquaponics stocking densities refers to the number of fish kept in the Aquaponics fish tanks. The more fish, the more the profit, however stocking too many fish will lead to ill health of both fish and plants. The fish will not grow as well and will start dying, and there will be a buildup of wastes which will be toxic to both fish and plants. Therefore, you need to find the perfect balance of stocking as many fish as possible before this starts having an adverse effect on their growth.
If you are looking for a short answer on the Aquaponics stocking densities to use, then go for 1 fish per 10 liters of water. Now for the longer answer. It is more accurate to talk about stocking densities in terms of kilograms of fish per cubic meter or liters of waters. For most Aquaponics set-ups, you should go for 30 to 40 kg of fish per 1000 liters. Use this rule of thumb as a maximum number, and opt for a lower number if you are new to Aquaponics. Keep in mind that apart from the stocking density, the amount of food you put into the tanks will also dictate how well the system runs – if you feed too much, there will be an accumulation of waste that the bacteria may not be able to handle.
Perhaps the most common fish used in Aquaponics farming is tilapia. So let’s work out stocking densities in terms of tilapia. When you buy 100 tilapia fingerlings, these may weigh a kilo combined. If we have a 1000 liter fish tank, then our current stocking density is 1kg/1000L. Tilapia grow quickly and soon enough they’ll weigh a combined total of say 40kg, giving us a stocking density of 40kg/1000L.
By using the rule of thumb of one fish per ten liters of water, then you’ll have to harvest the fish as soon as they’re big enough, or else you’ll end up with a stocking density which is straining the system. Individual fish grow at different rates, and you should start taking out the large ones as soon as they’re big enough to eat. Do not wait until all of them are big enough. This is actually a good thing, as you will have to harvest at a rate at which you can eat/sell them and not have to freeze a large quantity of fish. You can actually harvest a single lot of fish over several months, as the rates of growth of individual fish are so different. This applies even to fish species with particularly fast growing rates, such as trout.
To learn all the tips and tricks about growing Aquaponics fish, check out Aquaponics 4
Aquaponics – The New Way of Growing Plants – Fast
This is one of the most common questions around people who first learn about aquaponics. If you do not change the water, nor clean it in any way, what happens with the excrements fish leave behind? Well in order to answer to this question we must go back to the very basic principle on which aquaponics relay.
Aquaponics is a way of taking advantage of the interdependence which can be created between fish and plants. Fish are placed in a tank and left there for a while. The goal is to keep them alive so that they eat and poop in a normal way, as the fish poop will be used as food for the plants. This may sound quite strange at first as the fish excrements contain ammonia, which is toxic for the fish and may endanger their lives.
This problem is solved naturally, as the ammonia is decomposed, in the presence of oxygen, into nitrites and afterwards nitrates, which are benefic for the plants. When the amount of nitrites reached the appropriate level, seeds are propagated in netting pots. From them plants grow and assimilate the nitrates, thus leaving the water fresh and clean for the fish.
A full cycle takes up to 3 months, this is why it is recommended that the seeds will be propagated after 3 months from the acquisition of the fish. Because this is a continuous cycle, there will not be periods in which the plant will not have enough supplies to grow, unless the fish are not in good condition. Thus, apart from the fact that you grow fish for your meals, you will also need the fish poop to set the aquaponic system as this is the starting point of the entire business.
Great things start indeed from simple things, as you can see! Thus if you hated cleaning your fish tank, this aquaponic system will solve your problem and will give you fresh, healthy and organic veggies for you and your family. With so many advantages, you should really give it a try! It will be easier than keeping only a fish tank in your home and will certainly be more convenient!