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No doubt there is a lot of benefits with homegrown food. But, what if you don’t have enough outdoor space for a garden in your home? Or maybe you live in a cold climate that will make gardening quite a chore. You’re not alone on this, as a lot of people are facing this challenge as well. Nevertheless, what if I tell you there is an alternative? A method that allows you to grow your food regardless of where you have space, including indoors. That method is called Aquaponics. The following is a quick guide to Aquaponics.
What is Aquaponics?
Simply put, aquaponics is a combination of hydroponic (growing soilless plants) and aquaculture (growing fish) – a unique system that mutually benefits both environments. This means you grow your plants in water instead of dirt or soil. To explain further, in an aquaponics set up, you basically expand your plants in a container that runs off right into a fish tank (where you’ve your fishes). The waste from the tank break down into minerals and nutrients that are usable by the plants.
Generally, the plants sit in a bed and grow in clay or gravel pellets. You can deliver water to the plants by exposing their roots to the tank or through a pump.
The aquaponics equipment you need will depend on the type of aquaponics system. There are three main types of aquaponics system: deep flow/deep water culture, media bed and Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). Every system require a fish tank, with the size dependent on the type and number of fishes.
Deep water culture – It is mostly used in commercial set-ups, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it for your home aquaponics system. This system uses planters, which allows the plants to sit firmly on top the tank. Which enables the roots to absorb water directly from the tank, therefore you don’t need a pump or a watering rig for this set-up.
Media bed system – This is mainly for a backyard aquaponic setup, and most home-based aquaponics system make use of this set-up. Here, planters sit either on top or alongside of a fish tank. A watering rig is then set up above the plants with a pump line running into the tank below. This helps deliver water from the tank to the plants.
If you have your media bed on top of the tank, the water from the rig will filter through the plants to fill up the tank. The media bed set-up makes use of clay or pebbles for cleaning purposes.
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) – In NFT setups, nutrient-rich water pumps from the tank through small enclosed PVC pipes. Plants sit in small cups, with their roots growing into tiny holes openings of the pipes. This allows their roots to absorb the nutrients as the water flows.
Read our article on best starter kits.
Type of Fish to Use
You can use just about any fish in your aquaponic rig, but tilapia fishes are the most common. There are reasons for this – they are strong, and can withstand many conditions, they rarely spread diseases and they have low maintenance. Tilipia is a good choice if you plan on eating the fish. Other options for aquaponic fish include catfish, carp, goldfish, bass, bream, etc.
Types of Plants to Grow
So, what type of aquaponics plants do you want to grow? Well, just because you’ll be growing soilless plants (hydroponic) doesn’t make it any different from the normal plants you grow in traditional soil. Nevertheless, some plants thrive more in an aquaponic setup than others. Such plants include mint, leafy green vegetables, basil, squash, cucumbers, beans, and other vining plants.
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Benefits of an Aquaponics System
Firstly, a nicely set up aquaponics system can provide fish and fresh vegetables for your consumption all year round. Other benefits include:
• No digging whatsoever like in a typical garden.
• Fertilizers or chemical nutrients are not necessary as in a normal garden.
• Reduces the amount of water needed.
• The use of pesticides in the garden is minimized.
• No waste products to discard, as these are used to fertilize plants.
• You don’t have to keep weeding like in a normal garden.
• Grow your choice of fish in your aquaponic rig
As you can see, the aquaponics system is straightforward, and you can get started right away. It makes gardening accessible whenever and wherever, the climate notwithstanding. Plus, you don’t get to bother about not having enough outdoor space for your gardening. Just pick your aquaponics and hydroponics equipment, and you’re on your away to growing your own foods.