A Beginner’s Guide to the Method of Growing Food Without Soil
Aquaponics is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising fish and other aquatic animals such as crabs or shrimps in tanks) with hydroponics (growing plants in water).
Aquaponics is a popular form of sustainable farming, which means it uses minimal amounts of resources to produce large amounts of food. It also provides an opportunity for people to grow their own healthy food without the need for land, There’s also no weeding, no fertiliser and no pests involved!
In an aquaponic system, the waste from farmed fish provides nutrients to plants while the plants help filter and clean the water that the fish live in. The two systems work together in a symbiotic way, which means they both benefit from each other, a win-win for plants and fish!
We recommend DIY Aquaponics Made Easy.
The History of Aquaponics Development
The history of aquaponics development is an interesting one. Aquaponics has been around for hundreds of years in certain regions of the world. The Aztecs of modern Mexico practiced aquaponics as far back as 1150AD. However, it has recently gained attention as a viable alternative to traditional agriculture because of its ability to produce vegetables without the use of soil in a more sustainable manner and very little space.
Nowadays, it’s a combination of science, engineering and farming. Aquaponics as we know it, has been around since the 1970s.
In this system, fish are grown in tanks or other containers with their water filtered through plants growing on the ground or suspended above them. The plants clean the water for the fish and provide food for themselves with nutrients from the fish waste.
A Breakdown of an Aquaponics System’s Components, Processes, and Benefits
Aquaponics is a sustainable form of farming that offers many benefits over traditional soil-based agriculture. The main components of an aquaponic system are:
- fish tanks or IBC
- grow beds
- water pumps
- filters/growing medium
The fish produce ammonia-rich waste which is then converted into nitrates by bacteria in the grow beds. These nitrates are absorbed by the plants’ roots as they grow in their water-filled environment. The water, which ideally would be natural rainwater is then recirculated within the system.
What is the Best Fish for Aquaponics
Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and barramundi (Lates calcarifer) or Asian sea bass are two of the most common fish used in Aquaponic systems. Mainly because they grow quickly and can be used as food.
In addition Koi and goldfish can be grown in your system as they are available in most places throughout the world.
Practical Examples of Aquaculture and Aquaponic Systems
Practically speaking, there are two types of aquaponic systems: recirculating and non-recirculating.
In recirculating systems, water from the fish tank is pumped to a grow bed containing plants. The water is then filtered back into the tank.
In non-recirculating systems, the water flows through an exterior grow bed before being returned to the tank.
Aquaponics has many advantages for both commercial and private growers. The most obvious advantage is in the amount of food that can be grown. However, commercial growers also have lower labour costs, because they only need to tend their crops on a small scale; with non-recirculating systems, they are able to grow year-round throughout the winter months when outdoor space is unavailable.
Another major advantage of aquaponics is that it offers pest control without pesticides or herbicides (assuming the plants are grown well). This is because pests don’t have easy access to the plants.
For more in-depth practical examples of aquaponic systems, we recommend Aquaponics: Design Plans, Construction, Operation, Income by professional aquaponics consultant David H. Dudley, P.E.
Life Cycle of Different Types of Aquarium Fish & Plants
The life cycle of different types of aquarium fish and plants is a long and complex process. The fish life cycle is usually divided into four stages: egg, larva, juvenile, and adult.
The plant life cycle is also divided into four stages: seedling, juvenile plant, mature plant, and dying plant.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Aquaponic Farming?
Aquaponics is the process of growing fish and plants together in a symbiotic environment. The plants take in the fish waste as a form of fertiliser, while the waste from the fish provides nutrients for the plants.
The advantages of aquaponics are that it is an efficient way to grow food, it can be done anywhere, it does not require much water, space, soil or chemicals and it can be used to grow both vegetables and fruits.
The disadvantages of aquaponics are that you need to invest in equipment. Also, if you don’t maintain your system properly then it will fail and lastly you need to know how to keep fish which may not come naturally for some people.
How to Set Up an Aquarium Garden at Home
It is important to know the limitations of your fish tank before you decide what type of aquarium garden you want to set up and how many plants you want in it. If you are not sure what limitations your tank has, ask a local fish store.
A good place to start is with a food grade 1000L IBC. These make for a good aquaponic system. You would need to make a cut at the 2/3 distance from the base. This section will be your tank and keep your fish. The upper 1/3 will be inverted and hold your growing medium and plants.
I searched on Google for easy to follow plans and found the Home DIY Aquaponic System. I’m sure you will find one of the three design fits your space and budget. If you know of better plans, let us know in the comments below.
A Brief Tour of What You Can Grow in Your System
What you can grow in an aquaponics system depends on the size of the system. A small system will be able to grow herbs like basil or thyme while a larger one will be able to grow lettuce or tomatoes.
And don’t forget, you will also have a great source of protein with fast growing tilapia fish.
Tips for Starting a Sustainable Aquaponic Garden
Aquaponics doesn’t have to be a complicated and time-consuming process. In order to start an aquaponic garden, you will need to invest in a little time and money to get it off the ground and from then on it’s pretty sustainable.
To reduce start-up costs, you can use recycled materials for your aquaponics system with some modifications. For example, you can use plastic bottles or bamboo as grow beds for your plants instead of PVC pipes.
It’s also important to note that keeping a healthy aquaponic system for your fish, plants and beneficial bacteria requires a neutral pH from 6.8 to 7.2
Benefits and Drawbacks to Consider When Setting Up Your Own Aquarium Garden
The benefits of setting up your own aquarium include the ability to choose what fish and plants you want to use, as well as the ability to control everything that is going on in your aquarium.
The drawbacks of setting up your own aquarium include the cost and time it takes to set up an aquarium garden. Personally, I think it’s time and money well spent.
Lettuce us know if you are planning on setting up an aquaponic system in the comments below.
What is Aquaponics and How Does it Work?