If you are searching for ways to be ultra sustainable at home by growing your own vegetables as well as fish, then the solution that you have been looking for is something called Aquaponics. This is a unique system that brings together the raising of aquatic animals and plants in one really awesome way.
You may have actually heard of hydroponics before, which is the way that you can grow plants in water. Well, you take that and add some fish or snails or the like to the water and you end up with aquaponics.
The beauty of this system is that the plants work to take care of the toxic by-products in the water so that your aquatic animals have clean air and your plants thrive as well. It is a beautiful cycle that works like no other you have seen.
This type of system can use either fresh water or salt water, but are primarily done with fresh water. And you can find setups that range from small indoor systems to large outdoor commercial ones. If you are interested in this unique way of growing vegetables and fish, keep reading for some additional info and instructional videos.
Aquaponics Starter Kit
The easiest way to dip your toes in this unknown area is by buying yourself a starter kit. These are small little things that give you a feel for it but on a very small scale. I find that this is a great way to introduce people to this world without a huge expense or intensive learning curve. Sure, you can get some step by step aquaponics manual guides, but this is a definite quicker way to begin.
Now, this kit is designed for kids and will only hold some pet fish instead of some that you can fry up for dinner. That being said, this is the absolute cheapest kit that you can buy to give this whole thing a try. It works in the same basic manner as a residential system, so it is still a good choice. Otherwise, you will end up putting in a few hundred dollar to get started.
Aquaponics System Key Features
-some basic tips on the components-
To put together this sort of thing, you need some fish, some plants and all the hardware to get it all together.
For your fish – stick with fresh water varieties like catfish, trout and some small bass.
Herbs and other non-acidic plants are a good choice for this project.
For your aquaponics design, the hardware you need includes things like water treatment products, the tank, the grow beds, water pump and such.
Keep reading for more detailed info.
Learn Aquaponics How To With A Book
There is a lot to learn about aquaponics and you might want to get a complete guide on it to soak up all the info that you can.
While are there are several books out there on the subject, only one is available that we currently recommend. And that is the step by step guide by author Sylvia Bernstein, who also just happens to be the head of several different aquaponics associations. So, she really knows her stuff!
Introduction to Home Aquaponics Video
Get acquainted with this revolutionary system via this informational short video.
DIY Beginners Guide to Aquaponics Systems
-The Main Components of Your Setup-
Whether you are an avid gardener or a complete novice, making the transition to this type of system have have a little bit of a learning curve. Of course, it does not have to be as difficult as you may think or may have been led to believe. So, let’s get started with aquaponics made easy for everyone.
So, the first thing that you will want to do is come up with the type of fish that you want in the water tank. Choose a fresh water fish that you enjoy eating. If you are having a difficult time making a decision, a common choice is tilapia since they have low oxygen requirements and that makes them easy to raise.
Next up, you need to decide on the plants that you want to grow. And the cool thing is that you can plant more in the space since you are able to plant them closer together than if you were doing traditional gardening. One word of advice – avoid plants that are acid loving.
The most important part of your setup is the bacteria because it is vital to the success of the entire system. It converts all the toxins into nitrates to ensure the survival of your fresh water fish.
Would you be surprised to learn that worms are also a part of this unique setup? Yup, it is true. Composting worms have to be added to the mix because they help break up the fish waste into usable goods.
More Necessary Components
For this entire thing to work as intended, you have to maintain a temperature that is suitable for the fish. Now, the exact temp needed will vary depending on the type of fresh water fish that you select for your tank. So, I cannot give you a reading that you need to follow for this part. Keeping up this requirement can involve things like a water heater or chiller and a tank thermometer.
You also need to maintain certain levels of light – but only for certain parts of your setup. For instance, you do NOT want the light on the tank area or you will get an algae problem with the fish. But, you DO need a certain amount of light for your vegetables or other plants. How much light? That really depends on what you are growing.
One of the major parts of this whole thing is your fish tank. Why? Because the size of it truly does matter. Only have space for one of those small little rectangle shaped home aquariums? Well, you can use that but the only type of fish that you can put it in are the pet fish kind. Hello, goldfish. The larger fish that you can eat need way more room than that to swim around in. In fact, you’re looking at needing at least 50 gallon tank for the type of fish that you can eat. Oh, and do not forget that you need a tank that is made from food safe materials since you plan on eating the fishies.
As expected, you have to get grow beds that match the size of your tank. And for growing media, I suggest sticking with something like gravel or clay pellets because you need something that will not result in debris in the water with the fish.
Finally, the plumbing is vital to ensure that the water flows constantly. And remember, it has to be filtered water. Basically you can choose to go with either and ebb & flow plumbing system or a flood & drain system. Which one you choose is really left to a matter of personal preference as each works quite well of the purpose.
Over the useful cycle of this system, you have to carefully maintain your system to ensure that everything is in proper order. Some of the things you have to check are the nitrate bacteria levels, ammonia levels and ph level. Getting this part wrong can result in mass die off of you fish. And no one wants that.