Aquaponic Garden setup at Home
Today, we are learning the Aquaponic Garden Setup Ideas. Aquaponics is an aquaculture system in which the wastes which are produced by fish or any other aquaponic creatures will act as nutrients to plants which are grown in a hydroponic way which helps in the purification of water. As aquaponics is a process which can replicate the ecosystem easily, you can build an aquaponics system on your own which will work just like any other aquaponics system which is set commercially. To prepare your own aquaponic garden setup, you should know some basic components of aquaponics.
Aquaponic garden setup and design:
Components required for basic aquaponic setup will be mentioned here. In this article, we will show you how to build an aquaponics system in your garden. Each and every aquaponic system design will consist of the components which have been mentioned below. There are several options to include these components which will help in the customization of the system. For instance, most of the human beings in cold weathers will choose to build their own aquaponic system in a greenhouse in order to run it successfully all around the year. For starting an aquaponic garden, you can also buy the aquaponic kits for sale.
Theoretically, an aquaponic system which is tuned in a good manner will be able to provide support to one pound of fish per one gallon of water. When you are just starting an aquaponic garden, it is always better to plan on stocking one fish per ten gallons of water in order to ensure that the system is not out of balance. Moreover, with this, the fish will also have a larger amount of space so that they can swim.
Most of the aquaponic fish tank DIY will initiate either with a barrel of 55 gallons or with a square bin with a capacity of 225 gallons, two food grade tanks with standard sizes which are obtained easily by recycling from the industry of food. Always ensure that they are used to hold gentle things like soy sauce, instead of something which is poisonous which might have left the residue. If you are planning aquaponic garden above the ground, then vinyl swimming pools are the best choice for the tanks which are larger.
The vegetables will always require some kind of container which is resistant to water in order to keep the soilless medium in which they will be raised. There are several products which are available solely for this purpose, but there is somewhat less approach to aquaponics DIY. The easy route for this is to build wooden boxes which are shallow that is with a depth of at least 10 inches, same as beds which are ordinarily raised for the sake of vegetables and line them with the help of pond liner.
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Each and every bed is then filled with a growing medium which is inert, like the ones which are very light and lets the beds to be elevated off the ground or fine gravel from your landscape supplier who is present in your locality. Coco coir is one of the fastest growing mediums these days and is mostly used by experts for its capability of retainment of air and moisture parallelly. A combination of the same amounts of all the three products is the best formula for experimenting.
You can also take a decision on injecting fertilizers in the growing area up to ten times the area of the surface of the fish tank.
Hardware and pumps of Aquaponic Garden Setup:
The specialty of an aquaponic system is that the plants will involve in the filtration of the products which are not necessary to the fish tank, by letting them survive even without adding fresh water, whereas the nutrients present in the wastewater will act as fertilizer for most of the vegetables and herbs which are growing. Hence, a pump is required for the circulation of water in between the two components and also to create a system which is self-sustainable. If you have chosen for the installation of a pump which runs on solar energy, then your aquaponics will be almost self-sufficient.
Pipes and pumps are the ones which make the aquaponic system look tricky. If you are not aware of basic plumbing and electrical skills, you will have to find someone close to you to do that for you. The pump will help in the collection of water which is draining from the grow beds and will put that water back into the tank. Instead of this, a pump can also be placed at the tank bottom and can be used to spread the water on the grow beds surface.
The beds will require a network of PVCs for themselves on the surface for the distribution of water from the fish tank. You can drill holes of a ¼ inch for every six inches in the pipe and indulge yourself in the structuring of beds with many parallel pipes, each of them 12 inches apart from each other. You can also plant a seedling one hole each in the PVC pipe.
There is another critical hardware piece to create an aquaponic system and make it work. That is aerator and it will help you to provide a sufficient amount of oxygen for the fish in your fish tank.
Fish in Aquaponic Garden Setup:
Tilapia are the species which are most commonly used in the small scale systems of aquaculture. They are the species which can be grown in the tropical climates and will require the temperature of water at a minimum of 21°C in order for them to stay healthy and also to grow in a rapid way. They are also used because of their ability to tolerate the stocking densities which are high and also to the water conditions which are not that perfect. Moreover, they also have a very good rate of growth, which makes them reach a harvestable size of one pound in about six months. Hence, in climatic conditions which are temperate, it is always possible to stock the fish tank with fingerlings in the month of May.
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Catfish are also one of the species of fish which are suitable for the recirculation systems of aquaculture which are of high-density and have no issues with too much cooler climates, even though they are made to start growing in warm waters. Yellow perch are another common species of fish which are used in the aquaponic system. The advantage of this fish is that it has the ability to grow in waters which are cooler.
Plants in Aquaponic Garden Setup:
Few food plants are very simple to grow in an aquaponic garden. Generally, anything which is harvested as a leaf such as kale, lettuce, spinach, basil, etc will respond in a fine way to the nutrients which are found in fish water and can be usually grown without the additional supplements of nutrients. It is also possible to grow the species of plants which bear fruits like strawberries and vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. But there will need supplemental fertilizers to grow.
Starting an Aquaponic system:
You can start an aquaponic garden by following the instructions given below. Irrespective of the size of your aquaponic system, whether it is large or small, the below-mentioned information will be applicable to any sort of scenario in order to bring you the best results from your aquaponic garden. You will need to follow the below steps to start an aquaponic garden after you have completed the setup.
You will require a flat and sunny space in order to set up your aquaponics garden. If you are not constructing it inside a greenhouse, you will have to put everything together early in the spring so that you can start stocking the fish immediately after the temperature of the water is at 21°C.
Adding Grow medium:
As a first step, you will need to add growth medium into the grow beds. It is highly recommended to make use of ¾ inches of river rock. This is a solution which is less expensive and adding to this, you will also get additional benefits like the introduction of worms into your aquaponic system. This is done because there would be eggs of worms available naturally in the rocks. Fill the grow bed in such a way that there are 10 inches of grow medium in the grow bed. Make sure that you are not filling more than 10 inches as this will enhance the changes for anaerobic bacteria to grow which will in turn cause death to the fish, microbes and the plants in your aquaponic system. Always ensure that the growing medium is distributed in an even manner, level and is not covering the water spout which helps in bringing water into the grow bed.
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Addition of water:
The next step after the addition of growth medium is filling up the fish tank with water. If you are making use of tap water to fill the aquaponic system, then you will be required to turn on your pump and aerator so that the chemicals will be bubbled off which is a most common issue in the municipal water. It will generally take three days for small aquaponic systems and seven days for large aquaponic systems for completing getting rid of these chemicals from water. Always remember that you are required to aerate the water whenever you need the addition of more water to your system for the uptake or evaporation. Chlorine is toxic to plants and fish. You will have to use a remover of chlorine for the treatment of water. Addition of 5 ml of chlorine remover to 50 gallons of tap water will help in the removal of chlorine.
Addition of plants:
When your pH has been adjusted, the next step will be the addition of plants into the grow beds. Plants can be added into the aquaponic system even when the water is not that clean. The plants will help in cleaning the water and also absorb nutrients which are healthy for their growth. If the plants you are adding are grown in soil, make sure that you remove soil as much as possible from the roots. It is recommended to use vermiculite as a medium of growth to start the plants. This type of growing medium will rinse off easily and will help in the elimination of capability of cross-contamination of harmful bacteria into the aquaponic system.
For the plantation, you can simply dig the growing media up to 2 inches and gently place the roots and plants in them. Now you will need to return the grow medium. Make sure that you are not causing any damage to the roots or even covering the plant leaves. Ensure that there is enough support to the plant to stand straight. As you keep adding plants, ensure to provide sufficient space between the plants so that they have enough space for their growth.
It is common for plants to go into shock after the process of transplantation takes places. Mostly, because of this shock, the leaves which are located in the outer part of the plant will start wilting and eventually die. You will be able to see new growth of the leaves after the plants get established in the system. If you cannot see any sort of recovery in the plant, check to ensure that the root of the plants are planted in a sufficient depth making them reach the water which is rich in nutrients. If the roots are not enough deep, repositioning the plant will be a good idea and you can continue monitoring the plant to check if there is any improvement.
By making use of a pH test kit, it is always advised to test the water. When the pH range is in between 6.5 to 7.5, it is the best time for the addition of fish.
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Activation of Nitrate and Nitrogen cycle:
For the preparation of your aquaponic system in order to lend support to your fish, you will need to start with the establishment of beneficial microbes and bacteria which will help in the conversion of waste products of ammonia into bite-size chunks so that the plants will be able to absorb. For this, you will have to add ammonia to the water in your tank.
For small aquaponic systems, with 100 gallons of water, you will have to start with one cup of ammonia. After that, you can add one capful of ammonia every day for 15 days.
For medium aquaponic systems, which have up to 500 gallons of water, you must start adding ammonia in pints. You can add one capful every day for 15 days in a line.
For large aquaponic systems, which have water more than 500 gallons, you will need to start with 500 ml on the first day and you can add 30 ml of ammonia from the second day for 15 days.
Make sure that you are checking the levels of Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in order to see the cycle move further. Once you see that there is no ammonia or nitrites showing up, then it is safe to add the fish to your aquaponic system. This process will take up to 15 days.
Another method for the addition of beneficial microbes to your aquaponic system is to buy MicroBacter. You can simply add 2 teaspoons of MicroBacter to ten gallons of water and test the quality of water in order to measure pH, nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia on every day at the start and after that, it can be reduced to once a week.
Addition of fish:
When your aquaponic system is having clean water with its pH levels right and also has microbes which are healthy who can deal with waste of fish and ammonia, the next step to take is the addition of fish. You can find several varieties of freshwater fish which will work on these aquaponic systems.
Combining the system:
You will need to first stock the fingerlings and start seedlings in the potting soil medium at the same time. When the seedlings become sufficiently big to get transplanted, the fish will be able to produce sufficient waste to support the growth of grow beds. The water has to be circulated through the grow beds for fish, irrespective of the growth of plants in them.
Management of your aquaponic system:
The aerator has to run continuously in order to provide oxygen to the fish. The pump which moved water from the tank to grow beds will have to be fixed with a timer which turns it on for short intervals. You will need to start experimenting with watering length and frequency. The main goal is to run it to the maximum so that the water can be maintained clean. But the growing medium should not be made wet excessively.
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The fishes should be fed with enough food they eat for three times a day, each for 15 minutes. You can make use of automatic feeders and many other components which can automate the system and make it streamlined. This will also make the process of feeding easier. Make sure that you are not overfeeding your fish as it will make them produce more waste which will make the water conditions in the aquaponic system degraded.
That’s all folk about Aquaponic Garden Setup. Keep growing!.
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