Everything You Need To Know About Aquaponics

Everything You Need To Know About Aquaponics

Hydroponics and aquaponics are terms you hear quite often, but you were never interested in finding out what exactly they mean. You know that plants grow in soil and you’re more than happy to do things the classic way.

Since aquaponics comes with a quite large array of benefits, however, you should definitely give it a chance or at least learn about it, so you’re not silent the next time someone’s talking about this topic.

What Is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is basically a win-win situation. Perhaps we have to clarify that: aquaponics is, to some extent, an ecosystem. You grow plants by hanging them in a channel over a water tank or aquarium with fish, snails, eels, etc.

Aquaponics.

The excrements of these creatures are released into the water. Various bacteria nitrify those excrements and release nutrients that are absorbed by the roots of the plants. The aquaponics definition is really that simple.

In terms of size, an aquaponic system can be small or industrial (aka huge). As we mentioned previously, aquaponics offers some perks that no farmer can overlook.

Benefits Of Aquaponics

If aquaponics didn’t make the farmers’ work any easier, you can rest assured it would’ve disappeared pretty quickly. Fortunately, more and more people shift to aquaponics from organic farming.

Here are some of the advantages of using fish tank aquaponics:

  • You don’t have to weed the plants: This is the primary benefit of using aquaponics instead of organic farming. Weeds grow in soil and since aquaponics implies the growth of plants in water, there’s absolutely no way that weeds can develop.
  • You don’t need to water the plants: This is quite of a given, but still worth mentioning.
  • You don’t have to deal with pests: Once more, pests need soil in order to grow.
  • Your plants grow a lot quicker: This happens because they get nutrients 24/7. It goes without saying that this doesn’t happen when they’re cultivated in the soil.
  • It saves you money: When you farm organically, you have to spend fortunes to buy all sorts of nutrients that might or might not work, substances for pest control, tools, and growth solutions. Obviously, you don’t need any of those when you farm with aquaponics.

How Do I Get Started With Aquaponics?

As with any other method of farming, you’ve got to learn as much as possible about aquaponics, too. Getting started with this can be as simple as putting a tray with plants over your aquarium.

Many farmers resort to purchasing “bottled” bacteria for aquaponics. While there’s nothing wrong with that, you don’t have to pay for nitrifying bacteria – you just have to create the right conditions.

3 mason jars, aquaponics.

Even though you can’t see them, they’re everywhere around you. Once you have your fish and plants, you can get things started. Some people add water from other systems in order to get the bacteria at work.

Others add a few drops of urine in the aquarium. Given that it contains ammonia, the bacteria will promptly start doing their job, i.e. transforming that ammonia into nitrates.

Adding natural ammonia can help to start your aquaponics system, as well. Just make sure it’s not the kind of ammonia you can buy at the supermarket. That isn’t natural and has all sorts of chemicals that can easily kill both the bacteria and the fish.

The Parts Of The Aquaponic System

An aquaponic system is comprised of:

  • Grow bed: this is where the plants are grown
  • The media: gravel or small rocks that keep the roots of the plants in place
  • The fish tank
  • The biofilter: this is where those hard-working bacteria live and reproduce. Many grow beds nowadays have built-in biofilters. These biofilters provide a “home” for the ammonia-breaking bacteria. Without one, your aquaponic system might fail.

Alright, these are the parts of an aquaponic system, but they’re the least important, or less important than the live components, which do all the work anyway.

The Live Components

Plants

Without plants, your aquaponic system would be an aquarium with a grow bed on top of it. You can cultivate pretty much any type of plant you want in an aquaponic system. The options are virtually endless.

Fish

Even though fish is the most commonly used water creature, others can be thrown in the aquarium – snails, for example.

The excretions of the fish are released into the water. Since these have high concentrations of ammonia (which is toxic to plants), nitrifying bacteria start to break it down and transform into the nitrates that plants love so much.

Bacteria

The bacteria are the most indispensable live component of an aquaponic system. Without them, your plants will die in a matter of days. Your fish, too, would die due to the high toxicity of the ammonia.

The best way of making sure there are enough bacteria in your fish tank is to pour some water from another aquaponic system in yours. If this is out of the question, a dead fish could have the very same effect. Just don’t let it rot in there.

Bacteria know what they like and when your fish tank will have that, you can rest assured there will be enough of them to break the ammonia properly.

Concluding Remarks

Aquaponics is a fascinating and easy way of growing plants and vegetables without getting your hands dirty. It’s not for everybody, obviously, but those who are willing to clean the water in the fish tank every so often will reap all the benefits.

Aquaponics.

Some say aquaponics is more difficult than hydroponics and they’re partially right because, in the case of hydroponics, you don’t have to perform as much cleaning as you do when you have an aquaponics system.

That, however, is a very small price to pay for some rich vegetable and plant cultures. Hopefully, you’ll give this method a try, to see if it makes sense for you to shift or not.

Resources:
Wikipedia
UWSP

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