It’s the most sustainable and productive farming system available!
Aquaponics produces both fish and organic vegetables, in a dynamic, natural, pond-type ecosystem that can either feed you and your family or also produce two streams of income
The fish provide nutrients for the bacteria, the bacteria provide food for the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish.
Almost anyone can learn to be an Aquaponic gardener and produce lots of food.
Aquaponics integrates into Permaculture easily and integrates as a balanced self sustaining system.
They are closed-loop systems, producing aromatic plants, vegetables and fruits, and low-fat, high-protein fish. Plants are given all the nutrients they can use and food grown aquaponiclly tastes better than conventionally or hydroponically grown food.
Systems can be small to large in size with the larger systems being easier to keep in balance. Aquaponics systems produce most all of its own system’s needs.
This is the only food production system in the world that doesn’t require direct oil inputs.
Aquaponics energy use is from 70% to 90% less than a conventional or even an organic farm.
Nature is an efficient recycler. What is waste for one part of nature is a treasure to another and there are almost no waste products
Another huge benefit of aquaponics growing is that plants and fish grow 100% organicly.
If any chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers are used, it would hurt the bacteria or the fish could die, effectively killing your system! Even most approved “organic” pesticides could kill the fish. We cannot spray the plants because the fish are too sensitive to the chemicals.
Why don’t fish in nature need an aquarium filter? It is because the fish waste is converted by naturally occurring bacteria that produce food for the plants. The waterways in nature are cleaning themselves. There is no waste or trash in nature, everything is recycled. Man invented trash and waste!
Aquaponics can use 95 % to 98% less water than conventional farming and can use even less if you collect and add rain water.
Production is up to ten times more vegetables and crops in the same space, time, and with about one-half of the work quicker than by in-ground methods! Vegetables usually grow two times faster, and at three to four times the density, without ever depleting the nutrients.
This way of growing food means does not require farm land or even soil at all, enabling the use of sites thought of as “undesirable”.
No weeding required because the plants are “planted” in raised grow-beds in media such as gravel or clay beads, not soil, thus, there is little labor required. Seeding and harvest can be done sitting in the shade or standing at waist level work tables.
Many bugs are eliminated due to the raised beds and a green house removes almost all others. We find that more bees, hummingbirds, toads, and other beneficial creatures are attracted because of the bounty and health of the plants
There is no need for, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, fish antibiotics or hormones as the system naturally balances itself.
Aquaponic Systems can be used in cold or hot weather. The volume of water in the system helps keep the system temperatures more stable which benefits the plants. Growing indoors with grow lights or in a greenhouse will let you grow year around.
Most systems pay for themselves in about three years financially and pay for themselves emotionally in the first few month of spring.
An Aquaponics System is scalable for family, community, organizational or institutional use…even commercial growing.
Most systems require a few minutes per day after they are setup and running.
The only inputs to maintain an aquaponic system are electricity, fish food, seeds, potting soil, and the little water that has evaporated or transpiration (moisture lost from the plants keeping themselves cool).
Power requirements can be low if planned well. Heaters and coolers and even green houses are luxuries you don’t have to have. All energy used is electrical, so alternate energy systems can be used to power an aquaponics system and they can be automated.
Burying fish tanks and sumps in the ground can temper and moderate temperature and the need for more expensive power hungry temperature control systems.
Aquaponics is a fun interesting, addictive, stress reducing, productive, sustainable, environmentally friendly way of growing. The systems produces vegetables, fruit, berries, algae, water plants, fish, prawns, snails, worms, fertilizer, and smiles.
Aquaponics is fun for the kid in all of us!
What is Aquaponics? Perhaps the most useful explanation is a good definition.
Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines aquaculture with hydroponics
Aquaculture is raising aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks
Hydroponics is cultivating plants in water without soil using mineral nutrient solutions
Therefore Aquaponics is raising aquatic animals and cultivating plants in water
Aquaponics is a way to combine two food production systems into one system. By doing this we get the advantages of both without the disadvantages, and create a self sustaining, ecologically sound system that mirrors what is found in nature. It is a complete cycle of symbiotic relationships. The added mineral nutrients and the frequent water changes of Hydroponics is eliminated.
The system, when in balance tends to stay in balance unless overloaded or abused. Some minor adjustments are needed over time to keep the pH balance and temperature extremes can affect plants and fish. After the system is running 30-60 days it requires little attention or maintenance.
You need only a few fish to allow the system to produce lots of plants and produce. For example, 250 gallons of water, with 10-15 pounds of fish, will nourish 128 large normal garden plants or more.
An Aquaponic system consists of:
The only ingredient you add regularly is fish food. The fish eat and gain weight and reproduce. Their waste converts into fertilizer for the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish. You can eat the fish and the plants and even feed the plants not used back to the fish. It is safe, natural, and very healthy. It is totally organic
Aquaponics dates back 1000s of years. The Aztec cultivated agriculture in lake shallows and in China and Thailand fish were raised in rice fields that were flooded. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaponics)
Chemicals cannot be sprayed onto the vegetables, because the fish will suffer. Garden pests are kept to a minimum because the plants are off of the ground and often kept in a green house. Because the plants have plenty of nutrients, water, and air – and are kept at a more constant temperature – they tend to grow very healthy and much faster. This makes them more bug and disease resistant.
To start up an Aquaponics system you need to remove harmful chemicals from the water like chlorine or chloramine, avoid any elements like limestone or marble that changes the pH, and get the biology going. Getting the biology balanced requires time for the good bacteria to start growing and for the system to get in balance regarding pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrates. This process is call “start-up” or “The Nitrogen Cycle”. It takes from 30 to 60 days typically. During that time you can be growing plants and if you are careful, even have your fish in the tank. Many people do a “fish-less start-up” so there are less variables to watch and control, then add the fish when the biology is balanced.
There is a lot of information to learn but none of it is hard to understand. The hardest part of Aquaponics is changing your gardening paradigms and learning to leave it alone, after it is biologically balanced.
The benefits of Aquaponics:
Wouldn’t you love to have fresh produce a few steps away from your kitchen?
Here is a graph with the data for the first 19 days.
This is my experience for the first 40 days all on one graph.
(Click on the picture to see it enlarged)
I started out by adding Ammonia and the Nitrifying Bacteria day 1. By day 11 the Nitrites peaked and about day 19 the Nitrates peaked. The Nitrite, Nitrate, hardness, and alkalinity all “balanced out” at about day 30.
It looks like I didn’t go through such a “fast stat up Nitrogen cycle” after all, and I’m guessing the heat directly effected the cycle time.
Note: At day 22 I started taking samples every 2-3 days to save on time and test strips.
August 17, 2011: Too much Algae in the system presently. No way to keep the sunlight out without a major shade creation effort. I’m thinking AP growing in TX in the summer is best done in deep shade! At least the Taro loves the sun. Wonder if I could setup a top layer of the Taro plants and use their huge leaves to shade the other plants? hum…