Can Aquaponics Be Done At Home?
How Does Home Aquaponics Work?
Have you ever thought about having a garden with a home aquaponics of your own? There is no way you can go wrong with growing, harvesting, and serving organic food all by yourself!
If soil gardening is not an option for you for some reason, home aquaponics might be worth looking into. There are certain benefits associated with this type of gardening. Allow us to guide you through the process so that you can better understand what home aquaponics entails.
Introduction to Aquaponics
Aquaponics combines fish farming and hydroponics with the creation of a self-sustaining garden despite limited resources and space. A simple operation will involve raising fish and growing plants by using beneficial bacteria. These components will work together to make an efficient system regardless of whether you have a commercial operation or a home aquaponics setup.
How Does Aquaponics Works?
The plants grow in the grow bed, while fish stay in the tank. The fish tank water will contain fish waste, which is used to feed the grow bed as beneficial bacteria break down ammonia into nitrites and then nitrates. By absorbing the nitrates and nutrients, the plants grow. It is a symbiotic system as the plant filters and cleans the water. The oxygenated water then re enters the fish tank and keeps the cycle going.
The Components of an Aquaponics System
We have previously mentioned the three main components, so let us now take a closer look at them. These are its 3 components:
Due to the waste produced by fish, these animals play a key role in aquaponics. The excrement serves as a natural fertilizer and helps achieve optimal growth output. It is good to go with a fish that is easy to raise, resistant to diseases, and locally available. Goldfish and tilapia are the most commonly used fish, as these hardy creatures can thrive in most environments.
The plants have a big role in the maintenance of the cycle by oxygenating and cleaning the water. They absorb the nitrates and filter water before reintroducing it to the fish. Choose plants that suit the local climate and location. In the beginning, you might want to avoid nutrient-hungry plants and instead go with more low-maintenance ones.
The plants are planted in pipes, floating rafts, or grow beds. Get a grow bed container that is strong and deep enough to accommodate the plants as they grow bigger. On the other hand, get a buoyant and lightweight floating foam capable of holding the plants upright in the future. In any case, the base should be sturdy enough. Net pots are great since they let the roots absorb lots of nutrients and secure the position of the plant.
Do not underestimate how important bacteria are when it comes to an aquaponics system. They are responsible for the conversion of fish waste into nutrients for the plants. The fish tank water fed to the plant bed has plenty of ammonia from fish waste. The nitrifying bacteria then convert that into nitrites and, later, nitrates that plants use. Your system must have a healthy bacterial colony to ensure the best output.
The Benefits of Home Aquaponics
Home aquaponics is a good choice if you want to grow your own food organically and sustainably. Among other things, it is ideal since you can go with either indoor aquaponics or backyard aquaponics. You can also go with a controlled environment such as a greenhouse to produce more food regardless of the weather conditions.
Here are several other benefits of opting for a home aquaponics system:
● Aquaponics uses around 90 percent less water compared to traditional farming. Water is rarely discarded or changed in this system since it is recycled.
● Plants have access to nutrient-rich water at all times, so they grow faster.
● With no soil, few weeds crop up in aquaponics systems.
● When conducted on a commercial level, an aquaponics system will prove to be a good source of income.
● Aquaponics is affordable to set up since it does not need big plots of land.
● It is possible to grow food without relying on harmful fertilizers or chemicals.
● Food security is guaranteed when you grow your own plants.
With these things in mind, it is not hard to see why so many people have started their own home aquaponics systems.
Environmental Factors to Consider
You need to achieve the optimum environment to succeed in aquaponics. Here are several things to keep in mind before you set up your home aquaponics system:
● Water Spillage
The aquarium or fish tank might leak. It is a good idea to be prepared for this possibility by choosing an area that can handle spillage.
Plants rely on light for growth. Through photosynthesis, they get the energy they need to grow, bloom, and bear fruit. Artificial light is going to supplement the needs of your plants if you go with indoor aquaponics. However, you must remember that certain plants prefer shade. On top of that, fish require dark and light periods and might turn lethargic or ill if this condition is not met.
Constant water flow is imperative in any aquaponics system. Therefore, you should think of the natural evaporation and moisture in the location. The temperature difference is going to result in extra humidity, after all.
Different Aquaponics System Types
The following are the most common types of aquaponics systems used both in home aquaponics and commercial farming:
Media Based System
This type is used in backyard aquaponics systems, commercial farms, and DIY builders. Plants grow in porous planting media like expanded clay pebbles or gravel that then filters waste. It is perfect for beginner home aquaponics enthusiasts since it is simple, efficient, and affordable.
Nutrient Film Technique
On the other hand, this involves growing plants in a long and narrow channel like a PVC pipe. Nutrient-rich water flows through them to provide the roots with the requirements, while plants are placed in the holes on the pipes. It is ideal for home aquaponics in urban locations with limited space but is more expensive than the alternatives.
This involves growing plants on raft boards floating in the raft bed on water. The water continuously flows from the fish tank to the raft tank via filtration before returning to the fish tank. This is common in commercial operations since the plants grow faster and have a higher yield.
Hybrid Aquaponics System
As the name suggests, this combines different types. Many commercial farms rely on a hybrid system due to its efficiency and space requirements. It essentially involves combining various types to suit specific needs, so there is no one way to go about this.
Supplies and Materials Needed
Here is a rough guide of the things you will need to build a home aquaponics system. We will divide these objects into “materials” and “supplies.”
This refers to equipment necessary to construct the home aquaponics system, such as:
- Fish tank: This will house the fish in the system.
- Grow bed: This will store both the growing media and plants.
- Grow bed support: The frame will hold the weight of the grow bed.
- Fittings and pipes: This will depend on the kind of system, grow bed, and other factors.
- Water pump: Its size will depend on the preferred tank exchange rate and grow beds.
- Bell siphon: This is necessary to drain the media bed.
- Aerator: This will come in handy in the media bed and fish tank.
- Grow lights: They are necessary for indoor aquaponics systems.
- Grow media: Clay pebbles, gravel, and expanded shale are common in media-based systems.
- Timers and controllers: They help with pumping, lighting, and temperature control.
- Sump tank: Based on the design of the system, you might need this.
- Heater: While optional, it can help if you are in a cold area.
- Monitoring system: You might benefit from this if you want to keep a close eye on the system
Meanwhile, this describes objects needed to optimize or manage the home aquaponics system:
- Fish food: Ensure a constant supply to give the fish the nutrient they need.
- Gardening supplies: It is important to have all the common gardening supplies you will need.
- Seeds and starting supplies: These include net pots, seed starting kits, and germination trays that will help you get started with your plants.
- Fish care products: A thermometer, automatic feeder, and fishnet will help you take care of the fish.
- Water quality test kit: This is important to monitor the water quality of the system.
- Cycling kit: Ammonia and nitrifying ammonia are required to keep the cycle going.
As you can see, home aquaponics is easier than it might sound. Many people get intimidated because it has so many moving parts. Despite this, you can actually install your own indoor aquaponics system. Backyard aquaponics is also worth checking out if you have the space for it.
We hope that you have found this article useful! We wish you the best of luck in all your home aquaponics endeavors.