7 Rules I Follow to Create Successful Aquaponics Systems
Nutrition is one of the most important ingredients in living a healthy lifestyle.
More importantly consumption of all sorts of nutrition including vitamins and minerals is what helps us keep our vital organs and senses functioning.
Whereas protein is the building block of our bodies, essential vitamins and minerals are what allow us to more than just survive.
Unfortunately, most of us today, especially those in their middle ages are dependent on external sources for vitamin supply since our diets lack those essential quantities of vitamins that only multi vitamin supplements provide.
This is due to the fact that most of the food items in our grocery stores are genetically modified and loaded with preservatives.
For the plant kingdom and the aqua kingdom these are essentially test tube babies.
Consecutive genetic modifications have rendered the items being produced today lacking in the required quantities of minerals.
As you would be well aware Aquaponics is one of the most cost effective techniques for nurturing organic vegetables and aquaculture along with requiring minimal technical expertise.
This makes it all the more easier for people living off the grid to adopt a healthier lifestyle at a cheaper price.
For a health fanatic like me, my aquaponic system is for personal consumption only.
Read on to avoid making some of the mistakes most beginners (including me) make while setting up an aquaponics system.
7) Fewer the components, better the functioning
When aiming to develop an aquaponics system for subsistence rather than commercial purposes, it is best to keep the process as simple as possible.
For example I always prefer a media bed over the NFT or Deep Water Culture since it performs the three basic functions with fewer components required.
A media bed allows for removal of solids, breaking them down and bio-filtration.
Likewise, a media bed allows more support to the plants thus cutting down on the maintenance effort required for someone as lazy as me.
Though not that it is going to be much in the first place, keeping things simple substantially cuts down on the costs too.
6) Better safe than sorry
When setting out to construct one for yourself, don’t take anything for granted.
This is especially true for the components involved because a minor miscalculation or carelessness would hamper the growth of the care intensive plants.
The most integral part is the grow bed.
To be able to grow the widest range of plants the length of the bed should not be less than 12 centimeters.
Likewise, the fish tank should not contain less than a 1000 liters with more the merrier being the rule of the day to allow space for amateur errors.
5) Do not overplant, or overstock
The amount of fish to be stocked in the fish tank and plants to be grown in the grow bed are directly related.
Do not allow more than 0.5 kg of fish for a square meter of the grow bed surface area since either of the two being out of proportion would be a death knell for both.
If there is excess fish then the waste would not be broken down quickly enough and the water would get polluted, while if vegetables are planted in excess there would be a shortage of nutrients and this time the plants will suffer.
Likewise, the quantity of fish compared to water should also be kept under check and should not exceed a ratio of half kg per 25 liters.
4) Keep the fish tank covered
Keeping the fish tank covered serves the dual purpose of preventing dust, debris and dried leaves from falling in the tank and prevents fish from diving out of the water.
For the former, a significant amount of debris over a long period of time will put speed breakers in the pumping system which hampers both the movement of nutrients to the plants and the drainage of water.
Likewise, unless you build a metaphorical fort around your fish tank by raising it a few inches above the water level, there is a high chance of the restless fish jumping out of the water.
Keeping it covered also prevents excess sunlight from seeping into the water which diminishes the risk of algae covering water’s surface.
3) Manage the pH levels
Fish can suffer from acidity too.
Unlike us, it would not be their stomachs that suffer from it, but the environment that they would be living in.
Beware of the media you use in the growing bed since materials such as concrete and limestone can really dishevel the pH levels.
The products I have found to be safest for filling up the bed with are clay balls and gravel.
These materials are largely maintenance free and allow the aquaponics system to become truly self-sustaining farm fish.
2) Keep an eye on the water temperature
Heating up the water is relatively easier than trying to cool it down.
A number of one time techniques can allow the water to absorb heat on its own including keeping your tank dark or better yet, buying a black colored tank since dark colors absorb sunlight with greater ease.
Covering it with black sheets can also prevent excess sunlight from hitting the water directly while also absorbing enough heat to keep the tank warm.
Since my aquaponics system is for personal consumption rather than for commercial purposes I adopt a risk averse attitude and look to farm fish that have high adaptability and tolerance.
1) Prevent obesity and malnutrition
The average diet of an adult fish is round about 1-2 percent of its bodyweight on a daily basis while an underdeveloped one will consume around 7%.
Ideally, the fish should be fed as much food as they will be able to consume in a few minutes, thrice a day.
While excess supply of food will be harmful to the system due to resulting increased amounts of waste, not eating anything is a more worrisome scenario.
The cause is usually a dissatisfaction with the water temperature or pH levels and should be remedied immediately to prevent malnutrition or sickliness which would upset the whole cycle of nutrition transfer and waste management.