What is Aquaponics

What is Aquaponics?

As was mentioned in the section “What is an Aquaponic Eco System” we discovered the word AQUA means WATER so “AQUAPONICS” means using a technology based on water to grow (fish, vegetables and plants) in as close a way to mimic natures technique (way) without interference by way of man-made interference with all its various included chemical and similar additives.

The greatest requirement of all, we “mankind” but be prepared to be patient and allow “time” for an Eco System to be created in which organisms thrive and nutrients can be available as food for plant life.

When scientists examine all the various forms of water-ways they determine so many types of eco systems within various levels of pH that nature is able to work and thrive with.

In Aquaponics, mankind tries to emulate and reproduce such a bio-diverse eco system, all naturally, without any recourse to chemicals – yes just allow Nature to take its own course.

Now in order for us to achieve such a replication we need a basic range of items, which are not necessarily size dependent except that there will be a ratio between the units that comprise the unit be they a suitable size for indoor home use, outside home use or commercial use.

 

Components of an Aquaponics Eco System

A tank suitable to hold water is required as the basic need, however, we need to ensure that tank (no matter its size) is supplied oxygen to oxygenate the water contained therein because fish shall be required to live and swim in that body of water.

The task of the fish will be to eat what they can find growing inside the tank (plus whatever we may feed them), so that they “poop” into their swimming water. This “poop” will be attacked by bacteria (also living in the water) such that nutrients are formed and remain also floating around in the water.

Next you will need grow boxes which can either float on the surface of the water or alternatively have the water pass over or thru them.  These grow boxes can be any size and shape and can be made of any material except they should not leave any residue particularly of a chemical or unnatural nature because this would clearly upset the delicate eco nature that will exist in our man-made created eco system.

Mention was made of the need to oxygenate the water, particularly for the fish but also for the plant life.  This oxygenation can be achieved in several ways and is best determined by your overall design, however, irrespective of the design, you will need a small electric pump that can be immersed into the tank of water such that it will pump the water to a high enough height (1) to reach the highest section that needs to be supplied with water and (2) to fall down into the water so as to break the surface of the water and in doing so oxygenate the water for the whole eco system.

It is certainly possible that water can cascade down from one grow box to the next in a form of attractive and colorful water-falls (by the use of electrical lights) back into the main body of the water tank, however, the issue of oxygenation is one that must be taken seriously as oxygen is an essential.

In addition, it is desirable to include some form of ultra-violet light as this will simulate the rays of the sun and further enhance the growth of plant life.

Once you have designed and completed the construction of your new Aquaponic pond and grow tanks ensure that all construction waste is removed from the interior then fill with the best and cleanest water available to you, and wait for about 2 weeks before adding a quantity of fish.

 

Adding items to your eco system

The fish you add are required firstly for their “poop” however, the side advantage is that once they grow (and most suitable type will grow quickly) then you can select and eat a fish from time to time ensuring that you still leave sufficient fishes to “poop” the system and ensure sufficient nutrients are available to maintain a balanced eco system.

You MUST check and ensure a suitable and stable pH level is maintained within the whole body of water as it is circulated. (Levels of pH are discussed in detail elsewhere in this site).

After about 3 months (yes 12 weeks),  sufficient “poop” will have been deposited into the water which with the help of bacteria in the water will have created sufficient levels of nutrients to be in the water to support the existence and growth of various plants, including vegetables (see elsewhere in this site for further details about human edible items).

Again it is necessary to REPEAT that you MUST MONITOR very regularly – the pH level and oxygen levels.

You will find that there is many things to observe within your Aquaponic experience so it would be wise to keep a log of all events that happen within your eco system as you try to establish the appropriate levels of fish stock, plant types and area plus water volume.

It is an exciting voyage you undertake with Aquaponics because you become more in tune with the workings of Nature. Whilst you can supplement the fish by the addition of fish food stocks make sure you never add any chemical additive to your system (refer article on Hydroponics Vs Aquaponics elsewhere in this site).

Depending upon the type of fish you select and your isolation techniques (or lack thereof), you might find that some breeds of fish might like to eat at the roots of the plant (should they be able to obtain access).

Often it is ideal to have a large tank to hold your fish stocks and to circulate the water into or over the grow boxes either at the same level or in a cascade type of waterfall.

Finally you can be assured that there will be great benefits to your health that will certainly come from the “chemical free” fish and vegetables you will be able to eat (at a much lower cost than any market price), however, the benefit of contentment and  relaxation will far exceeded your expectations.

You might find a mix of fish could be ideal, however, we caution that some fish might attack or even try to eat other species – so check with your fish suppliers or alternatively – provide separate swimming area for different species.

Remember that “water always finds its own level” and know that it is not necessary for you to engage (pay) your local plumber, because it is so easy to set-up, and in a very short time you (yes even an unskilled person) can quickly join water pipes so they do not leak.

You might even consider having a section of your Aquaponic Eco System display (via a series of in and out water pipes) inside your main house room (perhaps featuring suitable gold fish – for decoration), whilst the main system might be outdoors.

Irrespective of how large or what design you chose, we know you will have so much fun and enjoy a continued supply of fresh vegetables and fish.  Enjoy.

Water Changes Everything. from charity: water on Vimeo.