Hydroponics have been the talk of horticulture for a while now, but not everyone has heard of Aquaponics. This is an intriguing innovative method for growing plants without soil in an inspiringly natural and symbiotic environment.
What is Aquaponics?
Imagine having a garden that is self-sufficient, eco friendly, and feeds the entire family. Hydroponic systems use water to Reed the plants as well as deliver nutrients to the works, but in a closed system you would still need to add those nutrients to the water. An aquaponic system utilizes nitrifying bacteria produced by the fish to supply the plants with nutrient rich water.
There are several different types of systems and depending on how much space you have, deciding which one to use is the first step in setting up your farm.
A Nutrient film set up is perfect for people without much ground space. Using a pump water is drawn from the fish tank up a long cylindrical tube with holes drilled along the tube to deliver the nutrient rich water to the roots of the plants in a shallow basin where the nutrient rich water. This could flow from a pond or fish tank indoors or out!
The Media Bed set up is the easiest and most commonly used system. Clay pebbles are frequently used as the media bed. The plants sit in the bed and water is pumped in so that the roots can absorb the nutrients and then drained back into the fish tank.
A Deep water set up is similar to the media bed, however there is a filter in line with the pump supplying a floating bed of plants with the all important nutrient rich water.
The first step in starting a system is to dechlorinate the water to be used in the fish tank and introduce nitro bacteria to start off the nitrification cycle. Ammonia is converted to nitrite and then to nitrate. This takes around 3-4 weeks and can easily be monitored by store bought testing kits. Ammonia and nitrite are both dangerous to fish so once these levels are below the acceptable amount (.2ppm). Your fish can now be added to the system.
Monitoring the system weekly with pH tests and cleaning your system monthly will help your plants thrive!