What is Aquaponics
Basically it is a farming technique for plants and fish. Aquaponics is an ecosystem cycle that uses fish waste to give the plants the nutrients they need to survive. It combines the techniques of hydroponics and aquaculture, without having to add fertilizers full of chemicals.
What actually happens is that the fish and the plants are kept in separate tanks so that you can grow things such as vegetables. The water from the fish tank is pumped into the soil-less plant side to feed the roots, so that they are fertilized naturally. The plans they clean the water before it is send back into the fish tank, adding cleaner water for the environment of the fish. Microbes are a combination of nitrates and red worms that make up the organic compost. The microbes change the ammonia in the fish waste into nitrates. These nitrates and solids make up vermi-compost that is now plant food.
These systems can be used for commercial or home use to produce organic vegetables. For people living in apartments or those of you who have no garden; with this method you can still be a vegetable gardener.
There are many advantages to aquaponics gardening compared to normal soil gardening, and these are no more weeding, no worries about whether we over water or under water, insects in the soil, the actual physical gardening of digging and the measuring of soil composition, such as balancing lime, clay and using fertilizer.
Some people prefer hydroponics (gardening without using soil), But this alone comes with its own problems. When gardening with aquaponics you do not have to make the fish food from expensive nutrients to feed your fish just get a cheap food or throw in some vegetable scraps. No more measuring pH values with meters that are expensive just get your tank set up and then only check this along with ammonia when plants and fish start to looked stressed. Chemicals and salts in water need to be emptied in hydroponics as it is toxic for the fish, but in aquaponics, this never needs to be done. The only thing you have to do is top-up if evaporated due to hot temperatures. Aquaponics is virtually disease free, but hydroponics, is prone to pythium, which causes root rot.
Aquaponics The Science:
There is more use for your pet fish tank than meets the eye. Welcome to the science of aquaponics! If the term sounds too scientific for you, it is probably because it is, as it involves a little understanding of chemistry and physics. However, fear not, with a little reading and a few experiments, you are on your way to using your pet fish tank to grow food.
First, you will need to build an aquaponics system. It involves using the waste from the fish in the tank as fertilizer. The plants will feed on the affluent, which in high concentration can be toxic for the fish. It is a symbiotic relationship between the plant and the fish. Aquaponics is considered a sustainable food production system and can be used for households and in large industries for commercial purposes. The benefits are multifold, as you will be recycling water, but also because you can efficiently produce high protein food, while taking care of the environment. Your fish, plants and beneficial bacteria, all rely on each other to breathe and live. You will only replace water lost as a result absorption by the plants, or evaporation into the air.
You can visit here for a guide on building your own aquaponics system
- A tank for the fish
- A pump to take the water from the fish tank to the hydroponics subsystem
- A bio-filter for nitrification (the conversion of ammonia into nitrates) bacteria to grow and then convert ammonia into nitrates, which will be used by the plants
- A hydroponics subsystem where plants will grow separately by drawing excess nutrients from the water
- The lowest point will be the sump, where water flows to and from the pump back into the tank.
Once your system is in place, you may want to learn two techniques. The first is the raft method, which involves growing the plants on rafts, separate from the fish tank. The raft provides support for the plants, with the roots submerged under the water. This method is favored for commercial settings. The nutrient film technique (NFT) does not submerge plant roots in the water. Instead, a thin film of water drips over the roots of the plants, which are grown in restricted channels.
For a novice, you will need a test kit, to test the levels of oxygen, nitrates and additives in your water. Once you have the hang of the levels required, you will be on your way to growing food with the help of your pet fish tank.
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