Starting Aquaponics

starting aquaponics

Starting Aquaponics

Cultivating Fish N Greens Together at Home

Starting aquaponics doesn’t have to be complicated or hard-or even spendy. There are some fundamentals that you need to understand for it to work though.  Aquaponics allows people to cultivate all kinds of crops (especially greens) and a variety of fish in the same living system.

[quote]In nature, there is no such thing as waste or “garbage”. Everything gets reused, recycled or repurposed. [/quote]

This means having the potential to access freshly picked harvests and healthy fish whenever you may need it, provided you operate and scale your system accordingly. In starting aquaponics for yourself, family, community or even as a business you will be taking advantage of some age-old natural principles.  These principles are are what helps to govern the living system we ourselves are in, from a nature perspective.

In nature, there is no such thing as waste or “garbage”. Everything gets reused, recycled or repurposed. The main principle at work in Aquaponics is the break down of complex, large organic molecules into simple, highly soluble forms that are less toxic to the fish’s environment and just happen to be extremely beneficial in producing healthy sustainable crops year round or seasonally.

It’s all about balance.

starting aquaponics tilapia

And it’s microbes (bacteria in this case) that do the magic when you start growing in aquaponics.

These simple life forms occur just about everywhere on earth, and in the highest populations where the environment is favorable to their preferences. There are two basic groups for the purposes of starting aquaponics, and that’s AEROBIC or ANAEROBIC.  The ones we typically want to try to cultivate are said to be “aerobic”, which ultimately means they like oxygen–as do most of the varieties of fish that you might like to consider for food production, or even their aesthetic value (not to mention the best fresh organic fertilizer).

Here are some key areas you will want to learn more about:
For Most of Us

For most of us starting aquaponics, we’ll not need to worry too much about wheel filters, mineralization tanks, etc.  If you use a lightweight, large sized porous hydroponic growing medium like growstones, hydrocorn, LECA, Hydroton, etc you have the perfect material to attract and house the right kind of microbes, provided you adhere to some other basic principles.

Aeration (adding oxygen) is critical for all the natural processes you want to put to work for you.  Intensive aeration (via air pumps and water pumps) helps microbes cycle fish waste quickly and also helps to physically break apart larger particles for faster digestion and better adhesion to the bio-filter media, which in this case is grow beds or systems filled with hydroponic stones that anchor down and support soilless crops like lettuce, herbs or even tomatoes.

Circulation keeps materials moving and when applied properly allows nutrient rich fish waste particles to get trapped in the growing media where they are converted into plant available forms by aerobic microbes.

Temperature is always critical.  Some types of plants prefer warm temperatures, some type of fish prefer cold water–make sure you have the right paring.  Tilapia (moderately warm water)are a popular choice of fish cultivated in aquaponics.

pH is important too.  Somewhere near neutral (7.0) promotes a good balance–and remember, the pH may differ naturally in the fish tank versus the growing beds, so monitor each.  When you allow the system to operate with natural principles in balance, they should keep themselves near optimal, in each respect.

Water Quality these two words together add up to a very big thing.  This includes the quality of the water you started with (chlorine is not welcome) and ultimately how well your system is able to filter out and mineralize the organic debris from waste waste in your bio filter, which in this case is a media based hydroponic system.

Fish Population & Health is critical.  Make sure you learn about the fish you intend to cultivate long ahead of introducing them to your aquaponics system.  There’s lots to knowing how many fish and at what size in relation to tank size and growing beds. You can comfortably house a dozen good sized tilapia in a 150 gallon tank, provided all factors are being met adequately.

We at Grozine are excited to be starting off our own aquaponics endeavor-while we don’t mind admitting we are experts in growing plants, raising fish alongside plants in harmony is new to us–but not new to nature, so we have built it–now to work, learn and share starting aquaponics.

starting aquaponics plans
plan carefully, and be prepared to adapt and change your ideas as you learn more

 

aquaponics systems construction

starting aquaponics water tank

tiered aquaponics system

aquaponics systems operation

aeration for oxygen aquaponics

About Erik Biksa 233 Articles
Erik Biksa has been writing about and discussing hydroponics growing, related technologies and cropping methods since 1999 in a variety of professional publications and platforms globally Erik has travelled the world learning and teaching modern growing techniques and technologies and is appreciated by many growers for his informative yet hands on approaches. Presently, he is the Editor at Grozine Hydroponics Mag.

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