Commercial aquaculture methods would be impractical for the average Aquaponics DIY enthusiast to use for growing his or her own fresh produce. Luckily there are plenty of things you can do right in your backyard to grow a decent aquaponics garden. This extremely efficient method has exploded in popularity due to the versatility and simplicity of its system. Moreover, it does not require a huge area to setup the system and get it started.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a type of gardening method that has been around for almost four decades. This system eliminates the need for huge amounts of space, water, and chemicals. It is a combination of aquaculture, which is fish farming, and hydroponics, which is water-based farming. The system synthesizes the best produce from both methods.
How An Aquaponics DIY System Works
To briefly describe how it works; the system is comprised of growing beds and fish tanks. Freshwater fish like Tilapia or Trout are placed in the fish tank. The water in the fish tank is then oxygenated using a basic circulation system, which allows the fish to thrive and reproduce.
Fish food pellets or other natural fish food are then used to feed the fish. When the fish starts to consume the food, they will start to produce waste. The waste that comes from the fish and the unused fish food mixes in the water and collects in the tank. These wastes become nutrients and food sources for the plants. The growing beds, which contain the vegetables and fruits, filter the water from the fish tank and return it back to the tank. This cycle is repeated over and over again, keeping the water in the fish tank clean. This keeps the fish in the tank healthy and the plants in the growing bed well-cultivated.
Do-It-Yourself Aquaponics Tips
An Aquaponics DIY system is simple enough to set up at home, may it be indoor or outdoor. There are many ways to build an aquaponics system. However, there are several important aspects and tips that need to be considered when creating this system from scratch.
Decide on what technique to use
Generally, Aquaponics come in three main versions: deep raft technique, nutrient film technique, and media-based technique. Choose the best one that will suit your budget and needs. Traditionally, home owners used the media-based technique for their backyard. However, if you want to grow crops, either the deep raft technique or the nutrient film technique will work best for you.
Level Your Draining system
The aquaponics system operates using water. Hence, it is important to make sure that the excess water is drained out in a regular basis and that both the fish tank and the grow bed are aligned properly for optimal growth.
Insulate your greenhouse
It is also important to use a well-insulated unit for your aquaponics DIY garden. Some homeowners make use of masonry such as bricks to keep the heat inside the fish tank. The trick is to find a system that allows water to penetrate into the ground.
Use proper aquaponics tanks
To attain a balance level, controlled environment, it is recommended to use fish tanks that are made from polyurethane. The best ratio is to make use of one 700-gallon fish tank for every two growing beds.
Height and width of the growing beds
It is also important to consider the height and width of the growing beds that will be used. Make sure that it is high enough for the plants to get an adequate sunlight and should be at a level that is not too low or too high for your reach. The size of the growing beds mainly affects the growth of the plants.
For beginners, start with small growing beds to keep the initial mistakes minimal. This enables you to decide which Aquaponics setup will work best for you. Once you are comfortable with the system, you can always expand its size.
Overall, an Aquaponics DIY system is not as difficult to make as you might think. Setting it up is a no brainer. However, you have to do it correctly to make sure that it is cost-efficient. Otherwise, you will end up spending more time, effort, and cost to maintain an incorrect system.