Are you struggling with your garden because of a lack of outdoor space, or living in a cold climate? That shouldn’t stop you from reaping the benefits of homegrown food. One way to overcome these challenges is by using aquaponics. Aquaponics allows you to grow food anywhere, including indoors. You can read about the 5 best aquaponic kits for beginners here.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a hydroponic-based method of growing plants, using fish to provide vital nutrients. Hydroponic-based means it involves growing the plants in water, instead of dirt or soil. In aquaponics, plants are grown on top of or next to a fish tank. Fish living in the tank produce waste, and resident bacteria break the waste down into minerals and nutrients, mainly nitrates, that are usable by the plants. Water is then delivered to the plants via a pump or by exposing the roots to the tank. The plants are housed in a bed and grown in gravel or clay pellets.
What Equipment Is Needed?
The equipment needed depends largely on the type of aquaponics used. There are three main setups: media beds, deep water culture, and nutrient film. All forms of aquaponics require a tank for the fish, although the size of the tank will depend on the type and amount of fish being used.
The media bed set up utilizes planters that are placed either alongside or on top of a fish tank. A pump is placed inside the tank, with lines running from the tank to a watering rig above the plants.
The watering rig and pump set up helps deliver water from the tank to your plants. If the media bed is above the fish tank, the water will filter through the plants and help replenish the tank.
The deep water culture set up uses planters that float on top of the tank. The roots are directly exposed to the water, so there is no need for a pump or watering rig.
The nutrient film set up is like a cross between the other two. It involves pumping water from the tank through PVC pipes. Tiny holes are drilled in the pipes, and the plants’ roots are allowed to grow into the holes. As water flows through the pipes, the plants absorb the nutrients.
What Fish Do You Use?
You can use just about any fish in an aquaponic rig. Tilapia are the least hassle– they rarely spread disease, they are generally pretty low maintenance, and they are able to withstand many conditions. If you plan to eat the fish, tilapia is a good choice. Other options include goldfish, koi, and carp.
What Kinds Of Plants?
With aquaponics, you can grow the same things that you would in traditional soil. However, there are some plants that are better suited toward aquaponics than others. Some plants that tend to thrive include leafy green vegetables, basil, and mint. Tomatoes, squash, beans, cucumbers, and other vining plants may also do well in your aquaponic setup.
Benefits Of Using Aquaponics?
Benefits of using aquaponics include less overall maintenance for the plants and the fish. The fish can serve as either pets or food, depending on your preference. Aquaponics also lends itself well to organic gardening, because any chemicals you use will ultimately hurt your fish and your rig.
Aquaponics makes gardening accessible when there isn’t enough outdoor space for a traditional garden, or when cold temperatures are limiting what you are able to grow. Rigs are easy to set up and even easier to maintain.