Aquaponics is the system of growing plants while looking after your fish at the same time. The setup is simple and can be done anywhere. This system combines aquatic animals and plants.
The aquatic animals can include fishes, prawns, snails, and more. In many countries around the world, these floating systems are common. They are used to grow wheat and rice.
The aquaponic system of growing plants works by creating a cycle of nitrogen. Here are things to consider when setting up this type of ecosystem at home.
The Traditional Method
Everyone who wants to grow vegetables indoors is familiar with how the process works. You have to sprinkle seeds on a seedbed or pot. You water the seedlings every day and add fertilizer on an occasional basis. You need to remove weeds and insects at the early stages of planting. After that, you wait and see whether the flowers will bear fruits after a few weeks.
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The Aquaponics Method
The aquaponic system works by creating a cycle of nitrogen. There are usually three main elements of this method. Those are the plants, fish, and bacteria sharing the water. The fish tank produces ammonia, which is a kind of waste. A pump sprinkles ammonia to the plants’ soil. The bacteria convert the wastes into nitrites. Later on, the nitrites are converted into nitrates.
The converted nitrates are considered food for the vegetables. For this to work, the plants’ roots clean the water before it drops down to the pond. You can learn more info on aquaponics on Growfoodguide.com, where detailed descriptions are available. The continuous cycle of ammonia and nitrates is ideal for both plants and fishes.
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What to Consider When Building the System?
Most fruits and vegetables are great in an aquaponic environment. There are individual plants that will thrive more, and they are compatible with specific varieties of fish. Here are some of the things you need to consider when setting up this type of ecosystem at home.
There are three types of systems available. They are nutrient film techniques, deep water culture, and media bed. Nutrient film techniques are best for plants that are for commercial use. The crops can be grown on a vertical shelf where they are easily accessible. These are suited to leafy greens such as collards, romaine lettuce, and cabbages.
The media beds use containers that are filled with clay pebbles or gravel to support the roots. One can flood the bed with water that is rich in nutrients. With media beds, you can grow more abundant crops. They are great in bio-filtration, and they are simple to implement.
Deep water culture or float systems are suspending rafts for planting root crops. Aerated water is commonly used, and the vegetables float directly in the pool with a depth of about one foot. The process does not include capture of solid wastes. Therefore, filtration techniques must be incorporated in the designs. The best use of this type is in commercial production with warmer climates.
2. Consider Plant Needs
The plants and fishes that you grow together should have similar needs. An example is taking care of bluegills while growing leafy lettuces. You can pair fancy goldfishes with swiss chard or kale. Catfishes can be paired with watercress. Most of the plants that require higher nutrition can do great in an established aquaponic system.
Consider the pH levels, temperature, and other needs of both the fishes and the plants. When both of them needed similar environmental factors to survive, you can become more successful in growing the veggies at home. Whether they are for residential or commercial needs, growing fruits and vegetables in a sustainable environment help cultivate a symbiotic relationship that benefits everyone in the long run.
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3. Consider the Environmental Factors
The rain, amount of sunlight, and the climate contribute to growing healthy herbs and vegetables. If you want to have leaves sprouting all over on where you plant them, you need to choose veggies that are growing well in your climate.
You can build a greenhouse or use indoor lighting, but you also need to find plants that grow well on them. Artificial or limited light can be a problem for some species. The best ones that thrive in your climate will mean that you will also have to use less electrical lighting because they can flourish without much aid.
The crops that can grow in warmer climates include artichokes, chives, garlic, shallots, parsley, and sludge. Plants that thrive in cold seasons are onions, herbs, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, brussels sprouts, and carrots. Read more about the beauty benefits of carrots in this link here.
4. Number of Fishes
As a general rule, you can expect at least 500g of fish for every 20 to 40 liters of the tank. You can stock at least 500g of fish for every five liters of water. In other commercial facilities, experts are monitoring the performance of fishes through computer equipment and different kinds of technology.
Most commercial systems separate and grade fishes. The bullies are taken to another tank while the smaller ones or the runts are culled. These ensure more efficient production and growing the same sizes of fishes.
Have you used aquaponic systems to grow plants?
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