Aquaponics for Kids: How to Do It?
Kids aquaponics is an activity that is both fun and productive. Aside from that, it will also help your children become closer to nature and appreciate the fruits of hard work.
However, you might be thinking that aquaponics is complicated, so how can you get your kids to be involved with it? If this is your case, then you have come to the right page. In this article, you will learn to introduce your kids to aquaponics and get them started.
What is Aquaponics?
Before anything else, it’s important that you first introduce the concepts behind kids aquaponics. Doing this will help them understand what it is in the first place, which can help stimulate excitement and interest.
It is important to emphasize that kids aquaponics involves science which makes it even more interesting than traditional gardening. Explain to them that you will be taking advantage of the ammonia-rich waste produced by fish in aquaponics. This waste is then absorbed by the roots of the plants and acts as its food.
In normal circumstances, fish’s ammonia-rich waste will typically result in algae growth, making traditional fish tanks look dirty. The fact that it can be repurposed to plant feed in kids aquaponics is something that they will surely find fascinating.
Tips on How to Teach Kids Aquaponics
Suppose you’re planning on teaching kids aquaponics. In that case, then the following tips will be helpful for you:
Introduce them to Different Types of Fish
Most kids love fishes since they are colorful, and they come in many different shapes and sizes. This is why introducing them to fish for kids aquaponics will not be that challenging. The following are some of the fishes you might want to include in your aquaponics fish tank:
When letting your kids choose what kind of fish to include in their aquaponics fish tank, you have to explain to them the following factors:
The first thing that you have to ask when teaching kids aquaponics is whether they are willing to eat the fish that they grow or prefer those that are ornamental?
When introducing the concept of fish edibility to kids, it is important to emphasize that the fishes for kids aquaponics are not pets. Instead, they are bred for sustenance and food. This will help them feel less guilty about eating them later and understand the concept of livestock
Size and Space Requirements
It is also important to help them understand that they need to consider the size and space requirement of the fish type. Tell them that in order to thrive, they must have enough space. This will also help them realize which fish are best suited for your space.
This is one of the most important concepts that you have to help them understand. Kids aquaponics requires them to maintain the fish. Some fish are higher maintenance than others. Most of those that require more effort to grow are those that are edible. However, fish like goldfish are easier to grow.
You also have to teach about fish diets when introducing kids to aquaponics. It is important to emphasize that the fish diet is vital in the success of aquaponics. This is because if they do not have the necessary nutrients in their body, they will be unable to give good nutrients back to the plants.
Fish diet mainly depends on what type of fish it is, to begin with. Their diets are categorized under the following:
As their name suggests, these are meat-eater fish. These types of fish usually have sharper teeth and big mouths that allow them to chew on their prey. They also have significantly larger stomachs and are able to swallow food without chewing.
Carnivorous fish are not recommended for kids aquaponics. This is mainly because they are quite difficult to grow, and they are dangerous for kids to handle. Besides, they can be harmful to other species in an aquaponic fish tank because they might feed on them
Herbivore fish are those who mainly feed on algae, fruits, and plants. Their intestines are designed to break down plant matters. However, these types of fish require more frequent feeding since their stomachs are not big enough to store large quantities of food.
Fish with this type of diet eat both vegetables and meat. However, they are not very good at digesting grains, but since they can eat both vegetables and meat, they are considered to be the easiest to grow.
Getting your kids’ opinion in the decision-making of what fish to pick for the fish tank will make them feel more involved and invested in the product.
Pick Easy-to-Grow Plants
Of course, one of the most important things that you should not forget to introduce when teaching kids aquaponics is the plant. This can be quite exciting for kids because they will be amazed to see how a small seed can turn into something green and luscious.
There are plenty of plants that you can pick for aquaponics. Some of the most common options are the following:
- Swiss chard
- Pak Choi
One of the major considerations you should make when choosing a plant for kids aquaponics is the size of your space. If you have a small space, it is best to go for plants that are smaller like lettuce or strawberries. However, if you are abundant in space then you can go for melons or tomatoes which require larger beds that can withstand the weight of the plant as it grows.
For kids aquaponics, in particular, it is highly recommended to start with smaller plants. This will be less overwhelming for you and your kids.
Prepare the Materials and Start the Build
Here’s another concept of kids aquaponics that can be quite fun and enjoyable and that is the preparation of the materials and building the system. For kids aquaponics, you will need the following things:
Grow Bed and Tubings
The grow bed is where your plants will be sitting. Without it, the plants will just be freely floating around in the water which might cause them a lot of harm.
On the other hand, tubings are necessary because this will be the delivery system of the nutrients required by the plants to thrive. This tubing must also allow the water from the fish tank to reach the plant.
Water Pump and Filter
Kids aquaponics requires excellent water pumps and filtration systems. The water pump will deliver the nutrients from the fish to the roots of the plant. Meanwhile, the filtration system will prevent and remove debris that can contaminate your plants and the fish tank.
When deciding on which pump and filter to choose, make sure to take into consideration the size of your entire system. If you have a big system, it is highly recommended to use a stronger pump to allow the water to flow well throughout the entire system.
Moreover, if you are planning on putting your kids aquaponics outdoors, a solid filtration system is highly recommended to protect the plants and fish from the outdoor environment.
One of the most basic things that you will learn about plants is that they need sunlight to thrive. However, most aquaponics systems are indoors or under the shade because the conditions are much more manageable that way. But, the problem is that the plants might get less sunlight. In this case, the solution is to use UV lights.
UV lights help plants undergo photosynthesis. By providing your kids aquaponics adequate lights, you are helping the plants to grow faster compared to traditional planting.
pH Testing Kits
It is not mandatory for you to have a pH testing kit for your kids aquaponics. In fact, you can still do aquaponics without it. However, it is highly recommended because it will tell you whether the water in your system is good enough to grow your plants. Other than that, it will also tell you whether you need to do some adjustment.
pH testing kits are quite easy to use that even kids can manage it. Most of them just need to be submerged in water for a specific period and wait for the paper to react. The testing material’s color will then indicate the pH level of the water, allowing you to know whether it is giving your system the suitable conditions.
In this day and age, not many children look forward to playing outdoors or with nature because of all the gadgets that they have. Although the advancement of technology and entertainment is a good thing, it is still important to teach your kids about sustainability and the environment and one excellent way of doing that is aquaponics. If you are looking for a great starter aquaponics system for your kids, the back to the roots water garden is a fantastic choice.
Aquaponics might sound complicated for kids but with the proper guidance and education, they will surely enjoy these productive and fulfilling activities. Besides, with the tips mentioned above, kids aquaponics is sure to be more manageable