What are the best plants for Aquaponics?
One of the most necessary things to consider while setting up an aquaponic system is the aquaponics plants that go in there. These plants usually grow on top of the water and provide a clean environment for the fish to thrive. Additionally, the waste from the fish is used as fertilizers by the plants. Therefore, both plants and fish contribute to each other’s growth and give you access to fresh and healthy food all through the year.
Even though aquaponics is a relatively old concept, it has only started gaining attention in recent years. So, if you are planning to add it to your premises, here is everything you need to know about choosing the best aquaponics plants.
The Best Plants for an Aquaponic System
There are a lot of plants that can be categorized as aquaponics. However, written below are some of the most popular and easy to grow plants for your system.
Tomatoes are enjoyed worldwide due to their distinct flavour and smell. These are added to almost every variety of food and drinks. Talking about tomatoes as aquaponics plants, they do really well since an aquaponic system provides them with the required nutrient content. However, the only drawback is that tomatoes attract pests, and it can get really difficult to get rid of them.
Watercress grows exceptionally fast and is a hardy crop. Other than that, it is super easy to grow and requires minimal care. It adds a strong flavour to the food and can be consumed in several different ways, including salads. Moreover, watercress can get along with almost any type of aquaponics fish, so you won’t have to worry about providing optimal nutrition. Just make sure it doesn’t overcrowd the bed and clog it.
Being one of the most versatile plants used in salads, lettuce is, without a doubt, one of the best aquaponics plants. The optimal temperature required for lettuce to grow can be found in an aquaponics system. Hence we have added it to this list!
This plant’s nutritional requirement is also very low. Therefore, if you are thinking of trying your hands in aquaponics and are relatively new to the concept, lettuce can provide you with a great result.
Even though cucumber grows from flowers and is botanically a fruit, it is widely used as a vegetable. It is a water-based plant; therefore, an aquaponics environment provides it with some of the best conditions to grow. Keep in mind that cucumbers creep on the ground and can spread to the entire system and block the pipes. So, if you have a small aquaponics system, growing cucumbers in it won’t be a suitable deal.
Cabbage is a tasty and nutritious plant that can be easily grown in an aquaponic system. It requires very little care while growing; however, one needs to be careful when it comes to dirt and diseases. Additionally, the pH level should be between 5-7, and the temperature should be around 60 and 70°F. Upon getting the right conditions, cabbage can be ready to harvest in under nine weeks.
When grown in traditional gardening, peppers can be difficult to deal with. However, growing them as aquaponics plants is easy-peasy. Since peppers are particular about the amount of water they require, it is advised to put them in a small system. This way, you can create a perfect environment for your plant by monitoring the temperature as well as the nutrients.
Just note that peppers do well in a flood and drain system, and an approach to any other filtration method isn’t suggested.
You can enjoy this scrumptious berry all through the year. Not only does it need very little space to grow, but it is easy to cultivate in an aquaponics system since you get to control the environment. However, keep in mind that you will require several plants to create a yield that sustains for a longer period.
Tips for Growing Aquaponics Plants
Ideally, any type of plant can grow in an aquaponic system. But, they all have different needs and require an environment that helps them thrive. So, before you choose an aquaponic plant that goes into the system, here are some tips.
The type of Aquaponics system
You need to choose a particular aquaponics system, depending on the root structure of the aquaponics plants. This includes NFT, a media-based or raft. While vegetables thrive better in a grow bed, plants that do not have a root structure grow in a floating raft system.
What does your plant need?
Since plants and fish live in a symbiotic relationship, you need to provide a system that helps both the components grow better. Make sure you choose only the ones that have similar needs so that you can get maximum benefits.
Determine the space that will be required for the plant to grow
You need to select aquaponics plants according to the space available in the system. While some plants require a large area to grow, others don’t. Therefore, consider the height and width and also how many plants can your system accommodate.
The number of fish
Apart from the space required for the plants, you need to consider the number of fish that go into your system. If the plan is to grow several fishes, then consider growing more plants so that they can absorb the nutrients from the waste.
To grow healthy and nutritious plants in your aquaponics system, you need to provide it with a healthy environment. This includes sunlight, temperature, and rain.
If you are choosing an outdoor system, select vegetables that will grow best in your climate. On the other hand, if you use a greenhouse or grow the plants in an indoor system, choose plants that do well inside the house. Additionally, you could also use artificial sunlight, but it will increase the electricity bill.
In aquaponic farming, there are two main components – plants and fish. Both of them cater to the needs of each other. However, you need to be super-duper careful when choosing which one goes into the system. Therefore, to make things a little easy, consider choosing the above-mentioned aquaponics plants!