Does aquaponics really work? This is one of the first questions people often ask when they hear about aquaponics. This is quite a tricky question, but yes! Most if not all aquaponics systems work and produce optimal yields when they are correctly planned and maintained.
Setting up your own aquaponics system might be complicated if you are not equipped with enough knowledge on the ins and outs of aquaponics. But, don’t worry, there are lots of free resources online, and there are many people who are willing to help you build your own system if you join online aquaponics communities. We also provide these tips for aquaponics gardening to help you get started and become successful with your own aquaponics system.
Getting Started with Aquaponics Tips
Learn How Aquaponics Works
Learning how aquaponics works is an essential aspect of getting started with your own system. Do some research about aquaponics and find out the most important things you should know about aquaponics. Once you learn the basics, you can start setting up your own system because you can take the rest as an experiment where you learn from trial and error.
Carefully the Aquaponics System That You Want to Implement
The three main aquaponics methods are; Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), Media Based, and Raft System. The media based system is recommended for new aquaponics growers because it is the easiest to set up and maintain among the three methods.
Here are some reasons a media based aquaponics system method is excellent for aquaponics beginners.
- The media based system is more closely related to traditional gardening.
- Media provides better plant support.
- Building a media based aquaponics system is cheaper compared to other methods because there are fewer components.
- The media based system is easier to understand and learn.
Choose and Gather Your Materials Carefully
If you’re not using a ready-to-use kit that comes with step-by-step instruction and technical support and wants to do-it-yourself your own system, you need to carefully choose your materials and ensure that they are safe, strong, and free from chemicals. The basic materials for aquaponics systems are:
- Fish Tank: This is where your fish will live, so choose the best fish tank. Any shape fish tank will work well in aquaponics, but the best fish tanks are round-shaped tanks. Round tanks with flat bottoms are the best because they are easier to keep clean. It also allows better water circulation and flow, which improves the water quality in the tank. It is also recommended to use inert plastic or fiberglass tanks for durability.
- Grow Bed: The grow beds will hold your plants and the water they need to grow healthy, so they must be strong to ensure they can keep all the weight of the plants, grow media, and water. Depending on your choice of aquaponics system designs, your grow bed can be PVC pipes, floating raft, or media bed.
- Pump: The pump carries the nutrient-rich water from the fish tank to the plants. A submersible pump can work well in smaller systems, while large aquaponics systems usually use inline water pumps. So choose the right pump for your system size to get the performance that you want.
- Pipes for piping: Pipes are used to move the water from the fish tank to the grow bed. The recommended pipes to use in an aquaponics system are PVC pipes.
- Grow Media: This is used to support the plants in the grow bed or net cups. Grow media also acts as surface areas for the beneficial bacteria to colonize and convert ammonia into foods for the plants. So make sure that your grow media is inert, porous, and free of chemicals. The most common grow media used in aquaponics are clay pebbles, lava rock, and expanded shale.
- Fish: The most common fish species grown in aquaponics systems are tilapia, catfish, bass, goldfish, and koi.
- Plants: Almost all plants can be grown in aquaponics, but you must choose a suitable plant for your climate and location to ensure success.
- Water: Ensure you are maintaining good water quality by using dechlorinated water or rainwater.
- Fish Food: Ensure you provide your fish with a balanced diet to make sure their wastes are enough for the plant’s needs. You can also feed your fish with alternative fish food, like leftover vegetables or insects.
Tips on Maintaining Your Aquaponics System
Maintain A Good Water Quality
Water is the medium that ensures the plants and fish receive all the necessary nutrients and oxygen for their optimum growth. So you must maintain good water quality to ensure the health of your fish, plants, and bacteria. The five key water quality parameters that you need to maintain are pH (6-7), dissolved oxygen (5 mg/liter), ammonia (0 ppm), nitrites (0 ppm), and temperature.
Ensure Adequate Aeration
Ensure that the water in your system has enough dissolved oxygen levels by using air pumps or air stones. Using water or air pumps will also help give good water movement to the water in the system, which is suitable for the fish, plants, and bacteria.
Here are some tips on ensuring your system has adequate aeration:
- Try using and placing two air stones at opposite locations in the fish tank.
- Include cascading water into your system’s design, as the falling action of water provides aeration.
- Keep extra batteries and aeration systems back up to use if there is an equipment failure or power interruption.
Avoid Overfeeding and Remove Uneaten Food
Feed your feed every day, but only feed the fish what they can consume in 5 minutes. Scoop out wastes and uneaten food to avoid water quality issues. Rotting food can cause fish diseases and can use up the dissolved oxygen.
Avoid Using Harmful Chemicals
Avoid using any harmful chemicals such as fertilizers, insecticides, or any cleaning product. These chemicals may do more harm than good to the fish in your system. If your fish is sick because of these chemicals, your plants will not thrive, and your whole system could be in trouble. Just feed your fish a nutritious, balanced diet and let the fish and plants work together.
Enjoy your Aquaponics System
You can make building your aquaponics system fun by involving your family. Aquaponics is a great way to get your kids to learn about life and science. It will also teach them how to take care of plants and animals and the importance of eating healthy foods.
Once your aquaponics system is established and thriving, you and your whole family will surely enjoy the fruits of your labor. Whether you’re growing an indoor or outdoor aquaponics garden, your system will be a great addition to your home. Your family and friends will enjoy watching the fish grow and eat healthy fresh harvest from your own yard.
Are You Ready to Get Started with Your Own Aquaponics Now?
Here are a few tips to keep in mind in starting your aquaponics system:
- It is better to DIY your own aquaponics system than buy a pre-made system. DIYing your own system is easier than you think and what’s excellent with DYIng your system is you can use recycled materials.
- It is important to cycle your new system to establish beneficial bacteria.
- Choose plants and fish that are suitable for your location and climate.
- Enjoy learning and experimenting with your aquaponics system. Aquaponics is an exciting way to grow your own vegetables.
- Get your whole family involved in your aquaponics project. This is a great way to teach kids about life, gardening, work, and science.
Where to Set Up The Aquaponics System?
If you decide to grow outdoors, the best location to set up your aquaponics system is in any south-facing space with access to at least six hours of sunlight. It is also essential that the setup is near a water and electrical source and the area is easily accessible. But if you want to set up an indoor aquaponics system, choose an indoor location where water and the electrical source are easily accessible.
If you have ample space available, it is best to use a greenhouse because it will allow you to control the temperature inside. Your plants and fish will also be safe from any intruders. Growing in a greenhouse will also allow you to grow your food all year round.
Setting up or building your aquaponics system can be challenging but exciting. Aquaponics is like an experimental project where you learn from your trial and error. However, if you know the basics of aquaponics gardening, you will not have difficulty solving whatever challenges you encounter. However, once you know the ins and outs of aquaponics and your system is fully established, all you need to do is regular maintenance to keep it running and planting and harvesting your favorite vegetables.