Aquaponic gardening tips and benefits
Today, let us jump into home aquaponic gardening ideas. Aquaponics can be defined as a combination of hydroponics which involves growing plants without soil and aquaculture which involves raising of fish. The waste produced from fish will act as an organic source of food for plants and the plants will filter the water in a natural way for the fish.
Despite fish and plants, the other participants in aquaponics are microbes. These are the bacteria which convert ammonia which comes from the waste of the fish into nitrites and then to nitrates. Nitrates are one form of nitrogen which plants can take and make use of it for their growth. Fish waste which is in the solid form is converted into vermicompost which also acts as a source of food to plants.
By the combination of the hydroponic system and aquaculture systems, aquaponics will take advantage of their benefits and eliminates the drawbacks of both the systems.
To set up an aquaponic garden, you will need to have proper planning, mainly for the beginners so that it would be a success. If you are a beginner, you can also go through aquaponic gardening books in order to get some information about aquaponics. You can also go through aquaponic gardening videos and aquaponic gardening blogs to get the information you need.
Aquaponic gardening benefits:
- This will play a vital role in the protection of the environment because of the less amount of water it uses and less amount of waste which it generates. The system which is self-contained will recycle the water thereby removing the pollutants. Very less amount of water is wasted.
- There is no requirement of fertilizer in the aquaponic gardening system. But making use of beneficial bacteria, it is produced in an organic way from the waste produced by the fish and cutting the expenses of the fertilizer.
- Aquaponic gardening is very easy to adapt at home and also for small scale needs.
- This type of gardening will yield both carbohydrates and proteins in the form of fish and vegetables.
- Fish will not have exposure to mercury, any pollutants or PCBs. There is no need to use any sort of antibiotics or hormones for growth which is generally used in commercial aquaponics.
- The growth of the fishes and plants would be quick and healthy which will decrease the insect problems.
- There is no requirement for weeding.
- Gardening beds are mostly placed on the top of the tanks in which the fishes are raised which brings them to a comfortable height so that the work will be made easy for the growers. There is no need to bend or stoop.
- This can be carried out in the off-season too.
Aquaponic gardening plants:
Not all the plants will be suitable for aquaponic growing. Basically, the vegetables which do well in the hydroponics can be grown in the aquaponic systems too. This will include leafy vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs like mint, basil, chives, etc.
Root vegetables like carrots and turnips can also be grown if the media of planting is sufficiently deep. They are tough to grow in setups which are like floating rafts where they can produce roots which are of strange shapes and are also twisted.
Best fish for aquaponic gardening:
Aquaponic gardeners will not grow fish for consumption. The fishes will give fertilizers to the plants. While you are growing fish for consumption, you need to take into consideration their hardiness, growth rate, requirements of water temperature. The fishes which are grown in aquaponics are:
Tilapia: These are the ones which are at present the most popular ones and can be easily grown as the food for fishes. They will reach the size of harvest very quickly and will also tolerate a wide range of pH and temperature of water levels than most of the fishes. Tilapia are the fishes which are carnivorous and generally will not feed on the small fishes. Trout: These are the favorite food for fish but are very tough to grow. They will need water temperatures which are cold. Water which has a temperature of 55 degrees will have an effect on the vegetable grown. Lettuce and other crops which grow in cool temperatures will grow gradually with water at a cool temperature. Cucumbers, tomatoes and other crops which grow in warm season are not suitable for the systems which are growing trout or other species which grow in cold water. Carp: These are the fish which grow in a wide range of environmental conditions. This will make them a very good option for beginners. The carp which you grow in an environment which is clean and aquaponic water will not have any taste of mud.
Goldfish: These are the popular ones and are also non-harvestable options for home aquaponic systems. These are easy and hardy to get. These will add some sort of decoration to the system.
Other kinds of fishes which are used in aquaponics systems will include bass, perch, bluegills and several types of non-fussy fish which are grown in aquariums such as guppies.
Calculation of density of the fish to the water present in the tanks is very important. Less fish means there is less nourishment to the plants in the aquaponics system.
Aquaponic gardening tips:
- When you are adding new fishes to your aquaponic system, contain them in the first place for at least five days in order to ensure that they will not introduce disease into your tanks.
- Do not make use of copper tubes in your aquaponic setup. Copper is poisonous to fish.
- Fishes are sensitive to quick changes in temperature. You need to keep the temperature of water in fish tanks as frequent as possible.
- Do not expose outdoor fish tanks to the sun which will give rise to fluctuations in temperature of water in tanks.
- Always make sure that you are providing shade for the prevention of algae from growing in the fish tanks.
- Water heating in the fish tank in order to maintain it at the proper temperature will be consuming the power of your aquaponic system. Insulation has to be done as much as possible. Outdoor systems which are located against the house will help in the gradual loss of heat.
Read: Aquafeed Formulation.