What is Aquaponics and how does work?

Aquaponics is a system for farming fish and plants together in a mutually beneficial cycle. Fish produce wastes that turn into nitrates and ammonia.

These aren't good for the fish if they build up too much, but they're great fertilizer for plants. As the plants suck up these nutrients, they purify the water, which is good for the fish. Many cultures have made use of this cycle to grow better crops and nurture the fish as an additional food source. Rice paddies in the China and Thailand have used aquaponic techniques for years. The Aztecs developed a system of building floating islands for food-plants such as maize and squash. Fish propagated around the islands, leaving their waste on the lake bottom, where it could be collected to fertilize the plants.

The Basic Setup
Before getting your hands dirty it’s important to have a basic knowledge of the most common diy aquaponics setup. Looking at the image below, and in it’s most basic terms you have a fish tank and a grow bed. The fish poop which is turned into nutrients for the plants to grow, and the plants clean the water(by absorbing the nutrients) so the fish are thankful.

It’s a complete, self eco friendly system that produces delicious food for you and the family!

What You’ll Need?
To get a basic DIY aquaponics system setup here is what you will need.

Fish Tank: This is obviously where the fish will live. It can be anything from a typical fish tank, to a plastic container, to a pond. This is where the fish will live, eat, poop, and generate the nutriets for your plants.

Grow Bed: Here is where your plants will grow. This can be purchased from any hydroponics shop or built on your own(the true DIY way). In the basic setup you will most likely have this filled with grow media(which is clay pebbles or rocks) that replace soil and support the root system of your plants. Other systems, such as a Nutrient Film Technique(NFT) or Deep Water Culture(DWC) are setup differently, depending on your needs.

Water Pump: Not a lot of explanation needed here. This is simply a water pump that pushes the water from the fish tank to the grow bed to keep the cycle going strong.

Bell Siphon: One of the coolest things I learned to make during my first build was the bell siphon. You see with a basic setup, or a media filled bed, if you simply pumped the water up into the grow bed and let it drain back at the same rate the roots would drowned. So what a bell siphon does is lets you filled the grow bed to a certain level, and then using air pressure it automatically kicks in and drains the grow bed at a very quick rate. This allows for the plants to get the water and nutrients, yet also get the air needed to stay alive. We will teach you how to make one of these later.

Last modified on 09/04/2017
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