Georgia Young Farmers

Day to Day Running of an Aquaponics System

Aquaponics is a currently very popular method for growing plants and fishes in a single environment. It is inherently the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, which means that you can grow plants without using soil, and you don’t have to fertilize them either because they can obtain all the necessary nutrients from the waste excreted by the fish.

A lot of people mistakenly think that running an aquaponics system is a very complicated process. In the beginning, there will indeed be a considerable amount of setting up required but once the system is established, there really is very little that would be required of you for the day to day running of your aquaponics system. As a matter of fact, the very low maintenance that this system requires is precisely why many people switch to it from traditional gardening methods.

One of the most important things that you need to do in any aquaponics system is the feeding of the fish. Obviously, this is vital for the fish’s survival but it is also very important for the plants as well. Since the fish’s waste products are the primary source of nutrition for the plants, you do have to pay attention to what you feed your fish. As they say, garbage in garbage out. In other words, the level of nutrition contained in the waste products from the fish depends on what you are feeding them in the first place.

Aside from the kind of food that you give your fish, the amount is also crucial. Feeding your fish too little will not make them grow as fast or as big as you would want, and the amount of waste that they would generate might also be inadequate to sustain all the plants in your system. Similarly, feeding your fish too much is not advisable either. While this may be effective in fattening up your fish quickly, it will also lead to the over production of waste, which may be harmful to the plants and which may cause the water to become murky.

There are formulas that you can use to calculate the ideal feeding rate ratio, which is simply the amount of food that you should give your fish in relation to the size of your grow bed. Other factors will also be taken into consideration when computing this ratio, including the type of plants and fish that you have, the kind of aquaponics system that you are using, and so on. No matter what kind of food you give or how often you feed your fish, it is recommended that you conduct the feeding at approximately the same time every day.

Although most of the nutrients needed by your plants are already provided by the fish, it is sometimes necessary to supplement if you want your plants to grow even bigger and healthier. Some of the commonly used supplements in aquaponics systems are iron, calcium and potassium.

It is also important to filter your water daily of solid waste products excreted by the fish. If you don’t remove them, the solid wastes may attach themselves to the roots of the plants, consume vital oxygen as they decompose, and reduce the overall level of nutrients in the water.

If properly set up right from the beginning, the daily maintenance for an aquaponics system is really very minimal. You can just sit back and relax while waiting for your fish and your crops to grow and be ready for harvesting.

How to Set up an Aquaponics System

Aquaponics is a wonderful method of plant and fish cultivation that is greatly preferred over traditional methods of gardening and farming because of the numerous benefits that it offers. For example, it is a very sustainable and environment-friendly system that can produce healthier, bigger and tastier produce than what you can get from soil-based gardening.

Because of its many advantages, a lot of people are taking an interest in aquaponics. However, many of them are put off by the seemingly complicated system that apparently costs a lot and requires a lot of work. While there are definitely many working aquaponics systems out there that are very large and complex, you don’t have to start big right away. Instead, you can begin with a fairly small setup that you can gradually expand as you learn more about aquaponics and as you get more familiar with the procedures involved.

That said, setting up a simple DIY aquaponics system is something that any ordinary person can do. There is no special training required, nor do you need to shell up huge amounts of money. You do need to have sufficient space in order to establish a system, and you should definitely have determination, patience and sincere interest so that you can successfully put up your own aquaponics system.

The two most important components in any aquaponics system are the grow bed and the tank. The grow bed is where you will grow your plants, and the tank is where your fish will live. Generally, the grow bed and the tank should be of approximately the same size. This supposedly ensures that your plants will receive sufficient nutrients from the waste products that come from the fish. Of course, the number of plants and fish that you have will also be a huge determining factor in this equation.

Another important item to consider is the type of water management system that you would use. The two main options are a timed flood and drain system, and a continuous water flow system. Your choice would depend on the requirements of the plants that you have as well as your own personal preferences. If you choose the timed flood and drain setup, you would need a stand pipe and a drip hole. If you prefer the continuous flow setup, you would need a siphon.

Finally, in order to complete your aquaponics system, you would have to decide which plants and fishes to put in. If you want to harvest the fish for consumption, the best choice would be tilapia as it is very hardy and can thrive in extreme water conditions. Perch and gourami are also suitable. On the other hand, if you want your fish to be purely decorative, koi and goldfish are two of the best options.

When it comes to plants, there really are no restrictions but for some reason, tomatoes are very popular among aquaponics growers. Leafy vegetables are also commonly planted. Some people even like to grow flowers in their aquaponics system.

Once you have successfully set up your first system, you will gradually learn how to manage it and pretty soon, you will be able to add more fishes and plant, and eventually even expand your system to a more complex one that can generate a bigger harvest.

 

Is Aquaponics Suitable for Me?

So many people have been taking an interest in aquaponics recently, either for personal or commercial purposes. This is not surprising at all since there have been a lot of glowing reviews out there from successful aquaponics growers. The list of benefits from aquaponics, as compared to other gardening or farming methods, is also very long.

Unfortunately, there have also been a lot of people who had tried aquaponics gardening but failed. Many of these people then end up believing that all the propaganda about aquaponics is false, and that it is nothing but a passing fad cooked up by companies that would somehow benefit from the trend.

However, this is not the case at all. There are many possible reasons why people fail at aquaponics but one of the most common ones is the fact that they were not adequately prepared for it in the first place. The truth is that aquaponics is not for everybody. It is a gardening system that can work marvelously but only if the gardener exerts sufficient effort and devotes adequate time and attention to the system.

So before you jump into the bandwagon, it would be a good idea to ask yourself first – is aquaponics suitable for me? You can find out the answer by asking yourself a few other questions, such as the following:

- Do you want to harvest crops that are bigger, better-tasting and more nutritious than the ordinary produce you can buy in the market?

- Do you want to cultivate vegetables all year round, even during the coldest winter months or the most scorching summers?

- Do you want to have access to organic vegetables at all times?

- Do you like taking care of fish at home, either for harvesting or for decorative purposes?

- Do you prefer an environment-friendly method of gardening?

- Do you have sufficient space to set up a system that is big enough for your preferences?

- Do you want to be free of weeding, fertilizing and watering, which are all required in traditional gardening practices?

- Do you want to save your back from the pain caused by sitting for long periods tending a conventional garden?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then aquaponics can definitely be the gardening solution you are looking for. Some people that are interested in aquaponics are concerned that they will only be able to grow a limited variety of plants but that is not the case at all.

While there are certainly some plants that don’t do very well in an aquaponics setup, such as root crops and tubers, there are still several crops that you can choose from. Leafy green vegetables are very popular, as well as fruit-bearing crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. When it comes to fish options, tilapia is highly preferred because of their hardiness but many aquaponics growers have also had much success with fishes such as carp, bass and even goldfish.

If you have a strong interest in aquaponics but are still not sure that it is suitable for you, you can try giving it a test drive, so to speak, by setting up a small system at home. If you find that you really like it, you can easily expand it to a bigger system to which you can add more vegetables and fishes as you go along.

For more information, check out:

http://diyaquaponicstips.com to learn more about setting up an aquaponics system at home.

http://www.gogreenvelopes.com to learn more about aquaponics as the future of organic farming.