Introduction of Aquaponics Design:
Today, let us discuss about Aquaponics Design, Advantages, Disadvantages, types and components of system.
Aquaponics is a combined of aquaculture, which is growing fish and other aquatic animals, and hydroponics which is growing plants without soil. Aquaponics uses these two in a symbiotic arrangement in which plants are fed the aquatic animals’ waste. In return, the vegetables fresh the water that goes back to the fish. Along with the fish and their waste, microbes play a key role in the nutrition of the plants. This beneficial bacterium gathers in the spaces between the roots of the plant and converts the fish waste and the solids into substances the plants can use to grow. The result is a great collaboration between aquaculture and gardening.
The fish waste provides organic food for the rising plants and the plants naturally filter the water in which the fish live. The beneficial bacteria exist on each moist surface of an Aquaponic system. They convert the ammonia from the fish waste that is toxic to the fish and hopeless to the plants, first into nitrites and then into nitrates. The nitrates are moderately harmless to the fish and most importantly, they make terrific plant food. The worms change the solid waste and decaying plant matter in your Aquaponic system into vermicompost.
Advantages of Aquaponics:
Aquaponics measured a sustainable production system. It presents a series of valuable features of the environment. Some of the benefits are the following:
- Environmentally responsible with low water and low power usage.
- The major inputs to the system are Fish food and water.
- No Chemical usage. Aquaponics requires no synthetic fertilizers and slight pesticides.
- Many of the plants that thrive in Aquaponic growing are easy to grow.
- Very low susceptibility to pests and diseases.
- Increased crop construction per square foot versus traditional farming.
- Multiple crops and fish can be developed from the same system.
- Fish can be harvested as an additional food and revenue source.
How Aquaponics Works
Aquaponics is the successful combination of the practices of aquaculture and hydroponics to create a sustainable, self-sufficient ecosystem that can be harvested like a farm. In order to make an Aquaponics system, an aquaculture subsystem and a hydroponics subsystem must first be created, along with the addition of bacteria.
Aquaponics system recirculates water from a fish tank through a vegetable grows bed. Nutrients from the fish waste feed the plants, and the plants filter the water to maintain the fish healthy. The two major components of the system are the fish tank and the grow beds with a small pump moving water between the two.
Components of an Aquaponics Farm:
There are many components of an Aquaponics farm. In aquaculture tanks, waste formed by the fish in the tank will sink to the bottom and, unless removed, become toxic in larger concentrations. This waste, however, contains many nutrients that support plant growth. So, plants are added to the bottom of the tank, consuming the waste from the fish and producing food that the fish can later eat. The end result is a productive cross between aquaculture and hydroponics — Aquaponics. The mechanism of a typical subsistence Aquaponics system includes:
Rearing Tank: Fish are raised and fed into the tank.
Settling Basin: A component that catches uneaten food and detached biofilms, as well as settling out fine particulates.
Biofilter: An area where bacteria can change ammonia and waste into various nitrates that plants can use as nutrients.
Hydroponics Subsystem: A portion of the system where plants are developed from excess nutrients in the water.
Sump: The lowest position in the system. Water flows to this Sump point and is then pumped back into the system.
Types of Aquaponics Systems:
These are the four common components of every Aquaponics system:
- Aquarium (fish tank).
- Grow bed for plants.
- A method of transporting water from the fish tank to the grow bed (water pumps are often used).
- A method to drain water from the grow bed back into the fish tank (pipes or siphons are often used).
Choose a Media-Based Design:
There are 3 different styles of systems used in Aquaponics for growing plants. The three different systems are DWC (deep-water culture), NFT (nutrient film technique) and media –based. The first two systems are borrowed from hydroponics and are a bit more costly and advanced.
For beginners to Aquaponics, it’s extremely recommended that you choose a media-based Aquaponics system design. There are some reasons for this:
- It’s a lot easier to learn and recognize the process.
- It’s cheaper because it requires fewer parts.
- A media bed performs all 3 filtering tasks which includes the mechanical (removes solids), mineralization (breaks down solids and sends back to the water), and bio-filtration.
- It acts as an all-in-one purpose because a media bed is also used as the based to grow plants.
- Media mimics traditional soil gardening much closer so, it provides better support for plants.
Read: Backyard Fish Farming Guide.
Use a Basic Flood & Drain Design:
Out of all the layout designs within a media-based Aquaponics system design, the flood and drain design are the simplest and most common for home-based aquaponic gardeners.
The most important benefits of this system are:
- It’s easy to construct and to understand.
- It doesn’t need much space in your home.
- It’s also the most suitable for a 1:1 ratio of growing bed to fish tank volume.
- Allows excellent flexibility as it’s easily customizable.
- Very easily maintained.
Make sure that the grow bed is correct:
One of the mainly important components of an Aquaponics system design is the area where you grow your plants, so you need to know how to choose the right Aquaponics grow bed.
It’s not as easy as just getting a large plastic box, filling it up with produce media and then planting your seeds. You need to make sure that the size is ideal for plant development, the material doesn’t affect anything in the system, and that it’s strong enough to withstand the downward force of the medium, plants and water flow.
Choose your ideal location for Aquaponics Design:
The location of your Aquaponics system rests upon the kind of climate you live in and how much obtainable space you have. In a mostly year-round climate, it would be appropriate to base your Aquaponics system in the backyard, but for those who are not as fortunate to have such nice weather, there are several other options:
- During the proper seasons, harvest your plants and fish and when winter or summer arrives, shut down the system until the right season comes around again.
- Shutting down through certain seasons, relocate your Aquaponics system indoors.
- Set up and stay your Aquaponics system indoors.
- Construct a greenhouse and set up in there.
A 1,000 liter (264 US Gallons) tank in your Aquaponics system will maintain between 50 and 80 fish. That will support between 1,200 liters (317 US Gallons) and 1,800 liters (475 US Gallons) of growing beds taken that the grow beds are about 300 millimeter (12 inches) deep.
A system made up of 1x 1,000 liter tanks and two 600 liter grows beds will require at least 18 meters square (200 square feet). That is a 3 m x 6 m (10 ft x 20 ft). It would maintain say 50 fish and a growing area of 4 square meters (44 square feet).
Disadvantages of Aquaponics:
Aquaponics system also has certain disadvantages.
- High start-up investment costs for Aquaponics system technology and equipment
- Aquaponics systems include a number of places where dysfunction could lead to failure of the whole system (and loss of fish)
- More Power Usage- More power is used in an Aquaponics system than in traditional farming, crop methods, but this is expected for the fish tank heating. Aquaponics system may cost more than farming crops, but there is the added bonus of fresh fish and a dramatic decrease in waste.
- More Research Involved- Of course, you will have to research how to keep a sustainable Aquaponics in place, but this also comes with growing crops or raising Fish for the first time.
The above Pic source: Wikimedia Commons.