Dean and Sandy wanted answers to the question – what is aquaponic systems. They discovered aquaponics is a method of cultivating freshwater fish, organic vegetables, and even organic fruits in just one closed system. Unlike traditional aquaculture, aquaponics does not require continual drainage and water replacement because a biological filter helps maintain the clarity of the water.
Sandy determined the best location in their backyard to try organic farming. Dean then went out and gathered the supplies and plans they needed to start their own aquaponics garden.
Aquaponics is a recirculating system because once the elevated grow beds have been flooded (using methods such as the nutrient film technique), water is slowly drained back into the holding tanks, which renews the process once again.
Aquaponics does not require herbicides, pesticides, or other chemical-laden processes associated with traditional agriculture or small-scale vegetable gardening. In the United States, this approach to self-sufficiency is gaining ground and in many states, enthusiasts like Dean and Sandy are continually refining their own aquaponics systems to meet their target harvests.
Advantages of Aquaponics
Aquaponics has many obvious advantages:
1. Nutrient accumulation in the water present in aquaponics systems is similar to the levels needed in traditional hydroponic systems.
2. Ammonia, a natural byproduct in water inhabited by fish, is rendered neutral by nitrifying bacteria. After the ammonia has been transformed by bacteria, the resulting nitrites are absorbed by the roots of the plants. Nitrates offer no benefits to the fish, but these ammonia byproducts are excellent in boosting the growth of fruits and vegetables.
3. Different types of crops can be planted in the elevated grow beds. This helps improve the profitability of the whole operation.
4. You will save water with an aquaponics system because there is continual recycling and re-filtration within the system itself. The need for water replacement is reduced significantly.
Here’s a summary of what happens within an aquaponics system:
1. Before placing any fish in the holding tank, the whole system must first be cycled. This can be done by placing fish feed in the water. Let natural nitrifying bacteria grow in the water before adding the fish. Adding fish immediately to a fresh system with chlorinated water can reduce the chances of success.
2. Small-scale aquaponics systems do not produce large amounts of suspended solids. Large systems may require a separate mechanical filtration system to reduce the amount of suspended solid waste reaching the roots of the elevated grow beds.
3. Fish are fed daily and the resulting solid waste and ammonia are circulated toward the grow beds. Ammonia is converted to nitrates.
4. The plants undergo nutrient uptake and reduce the waste present in the water. Water is re-circulated back to the holding tanks. The water from the grow beds are significantly cleaner than before. The movement of the water also helps aerate the water, which improves the conditions in the fish’s holding tank.
To reduce the need for a separate mechanical filtration unit, people who have large-scale aquaponics operations usually employ floating grow beds.
More grow beds means you have more filtration happening on a daily basis. The amount of fish you have in the tank must be matched with the right amount of vegetation. An imbalance in any of these two main components may cause either water pollution or nutrient deficiency in the water.