Getting Started With Aquaponics
Aquaponics is the marrying of two systems: Hydroponics and Aquaculture. Aquaculture raises fish in an enclosed system. Hydroponics produces fresh vegetables and fruit using only water and virtually no soil. Put the two together and you have aquaponics.
A distilled explanation of this system can be found here. Right now, let us see how to get started with an aquaponic gardening system.
Before you start shopping for your system it is good for you to find out exactly what is involved. Aquaponics put together the traditional aquaculture and the now well established science of growing plants called Hydroponics.
Many home users and also the many professional growers that there are now worldwide will tell you that aquaponics does away with the disadvantages of the two older systems.
This system makes everything so much cleaner and so much easier to maintain.
A System That Needs To Work in Harmony
For a biological system to work properly, it has to be balanced and that is what needs to happen in any of the aquaponic systems. This harmony is accomplished in this system through the interaction of three important players:
- The Fish
- The Plants
- The Bacteria
Yes, you read it right, “Bacteria”, for the system just cannot work properly. Actually it will not work without them.
Here Is Why It Simply Would Not Work
The fish swim happily in the tank or pond or whatever. You feed the fish, then they of course produce waste materials and fish food that is not eaten finishes up as waste also. This will also generate a by-product known as ammonia.
If there is not a system in place to filter the impurities in the water, it won’t take long before it gets quite polluted. This is because the fish will keep adding more waste matter.
The bacteria play an important and vital part in this system. After a little while microbes will start to appear quite naturally, although you can buy them in a pet shop. The nitrobacteria have the ability to break down the ammonia that has been generated by the fish.
The bacteria decompose the ammonia and nitrates are produced. This also happens in nature and these nitrates do cause problems in waterways by feeding the unwanted growth of vegetation.
Plants Thrive On Nitrates
And that is why in an aquaponics system the vegetables grow a lot faster than if they were grown in soil or even in hydroponics. So in one of the tanks the fish produce the waste, which is turned into nitrates and pumped into the growing beds feeding the plants.
The plants feed on the nitrates and other waste products that are in the water. So the fish produce the waste and the plants clean it up. The great thing about this system is that it works around the clock.
The fish that live in an enclosed environment nevertheless have clean water to live in, and we have fresh vegetables. In addition, depending on the fish you stock, you can also have fresh fish.
It will take some trial and error to get the balance right in your tanks. The number of fish you need in comparison with the size of the vegetable area. But once you have started, it will not take you very much time at all to take care of your own aquaponics system at home and thoroughly enjoy the experience.
What Are The Main Points Of The Aquaponics System?
Aquaponics have a major advantage over hydroponics. The reason is that aquaponics grows organic produce by using fish waste, which of course is a natural material.
Hydroponics on the other hand uses mainly inorganic materials. Organic produce is more expensive to buy and should you ever want to produce some for sale, you can sell them as “Organic Produce” and so get a better price.
Even a small setup can produce up to 220 pounds of fresh vegetables every 6 months. Over the same period if you use fish such as Tilapia, you could produce a whopping 110 pounds of fish.
When you become more confident you and you have the space, you may well decide to expand the system and start selling your organic produce and develop your own aquaponic business.
You will need a bigger water pump and some other basic material, but they are only a one off cost. It is a great system for busy people, but who still want to become more self-sufficient.
Once it is all set up, it takes very little time to take care of as it will look virtually after itself. It is ideal for older people as there is no heavy work involved. It is something that they can potter about with, and it will help the household budget at the same time by supplying fresh vegetables and even fish.
It is not uncommon for men, once they retire to start going downhill as far as their health is concerned. Aquaponics will give them an interest, it will be a great talking point and it will keep them mentally alert.
As the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you will lose it.”