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Aquaponics System FAQs

Posted at July 6, 2015 | By : | Categories : Basics | 0 Comment


Aquaponics System


Have you ever heard of Aquaponics? Do you like organic food? Aquaponics Systems FAQs Frequently Asked Questions


1- Have you ever heard of Aquaponics? Do you like organic food?  


Have you ever thought about eating healthy organic food that you know how it is grown, and making sure that it avoids chemical and hormonal manipulation?   Yes, do not be surprised most vegetables and fruits also fish are grown this way, which may cause health problems and that is why many families do Aquaponics project these days. Add to that the very high cost of organic vegetable and fruit that most families can’t afford.


2- What Is Aquaponics Systems Idea?

Aquaponics systems bring together the practice of aquaculture (which is raising fish in tanks) with hydroponics (the practice of growing plants in a soil free environment).   In an aquaculture system, waste accumulates in the fish tanks which eventually have to be removed to maintain the health of the fish. The fish byproduct contains rich nutrients that plants build around which allows the water to be recycled, purified and sent back to the fish tank to start the process all over again so, it is symbiotic system. An Aquaponics system begins from small individual use, all the way up to large commercial operations.   This simple system can supply yourself and your family with their needs of healthy fish and organic vegetables or fruits with almost no cost.   An initial investment for equipment for equipment can range from a few thousand dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the size of operation.   But here in our website we will show you how to make the whole system with just a few hundreds of dollars that will help you make it by yourself from items that might be in your home already.

3-  What is the best plant for Aquaponics system? Does it differ according to the climate conditions and the owner needs?  

Like selecting the species of fish, choosing what plant to grow is an important decision that affects infrastructure in the business of planting. Leafy green plants like Basil do well in Aquaponics, but any common garden vegetables can be grown. Careful selection must be given with plant selection because in Aquaponics system,  the plant side tends to generate more income than the fish side, so you should study the market and choose the plant that brings the largest profit margin.   Focus on the market that pays premium for organically grown vegetables like farmers market and stores that specialize in natural and organic food. Packaging your own products is also an option.   But in case you decide to use Aquaponics system exclusively for your family needs, it can be customized to suit the preferences of your specific household.


4-What Is Aquaponics System Lights?

Water is only half the equation when it comes to the plants growth; the other of course is light. Your power needs depends on the location of your Aquaponic system. In the Midwest where Aquaponics systems are indoors, artificial lights will be necessary. There are several types of lights that can be used depending on the budget and application:

  1. High output fluorescence is commonly used. The benefit of having a low heat output is that this allows for a very close light placement which provide for a minimum plant growth.
  2. LED grow lights, (which are more expensive than florescence, usually the cost is two to three times that of fluorescence);  are more power efficient, have longer lasting bulbs and have the flexibility of adjusting the lights spectrum. Red light is more desirable for budding plants while blue light work better for vegetables’ vegetative growth.  It is possible to mitigate the cost of LED lights by installing a track system above the grow bed and reducing the number of lights pictures needed. The growth rate of plants under a constant source of light will be faster than grow bed utilizing the (track system).
  3. Middle highlights are also used in Aquaponics system, these grow lights put out an intense amount of light high in the blue spectrum. The individual pulp can be expensive and they do produce a considered amount of heat so, you need to be sure that your space has proper cooling and ventilation. Middle highlights are the best for large plants while fluorescence do better with small weak plants. You also want to avoid using middle highlights in seedlings due to the intensity of light. Grow light can be used as a sole source of light or combined with natural light in green house environment. A green house provides economic advantages reducing the amount of artificial light required.


5- How to optimize the plant system (hydroponics) in the aquaponics system?    


The grow beds can be soil free environment or use a growing medium like ceramic stones. The plants roots are immersed in the water absorbing the rich nutrients while simultaneously they remove the nitrogenous compounds that are toxic to the fish within hydroponics discipline of Aquaponics. There are few different growing methods that you can choose from:

  1. Deep water raft Aquaponics : uses Styrofoam mats to secure the plants compatibility in water medium.
  2. The seedlings are placed in net pots with planting medium (i.e outer shell of a coconut), this medium stimulates and protects root growth but contains no minerals. The plants can be grown to maturity in these pots or can be removed from the pots. The growing medium can be removed after a couple of weeks and placed in a different floating mat to maximize space in the growing beds. Plants can also be grown in a solid medium like ripple or perlite. The aquaculture water lodge the grow bed containing the plants and growing medium, this type of system is known as recirculating aquaponics or closed loop aquaponics . A common growing medium used is Perlite. Perlite is a volcanic rock that provide superior root growth by absorbing the nutrients rich water and keeping the moisture level constant and consistent throughout the plants root system. Depending on the growing technique there are several medium options to choose from.


 6- What Is Aquaponics  Nitrification cycle, aquaponics nitrogen cycle?


The mineral rich water that moves out of the fish tank up to the plants bed, it moves through the bio-filter allows for the natural biological process called (nitrification) to occur through the breakdown of large amounts of ammonia (NH4) that are released in the water, the natural bacteria present in the water will  use the oxygen in an aerobic process to efficiently convert the ammonia to nitrite then to nitrate, the bio-media in the bio-filter expedite the process allowing the bacteria to colonize in an area of optimized water temperature, PH and dissolved oxygen bubbles. These nitrate rich water then moves to the plants’ grow bed where the plants absorb this valuable organic nutrient that makes the plants grow rapidly faster than normal soil plants.

   7- How to remove harmful materials like waste products (ammonia NH4) or uneaten food to purify your Aquaponics system?    


The key component to the recycling in aquaponics culture is the removal of the harmful waste products and uneaten food from the rearing tanks while continuing to recycle the water instead of disposing of the material which you will do in strictly aquaculture system, the practice of aquaponics utilize the fish effluent in the growing of plants in hydroponic setting by converting the toxic ammonia to nitrates (the valuable nutrients for the plants). Concerning the wasted uneaten food that collects at the bottom of the rearing tank, its access is by way of a PVC pipe to a electrifier or settler in where the anaerobic mineralization of the wasted uneaten food occurs over the time. The waste material collects in the clarifier and begins to break down and release its nutrients to the water.   Trace material such as iron may have to supplement the plants nutritional needs so, it should be added in certain cases.


  8- How to take care of the fish in the Aquaponics System?  


The fish farming aspect of Aquaponics is based on the eco-friendly re-circulating aquaculture-hydroponics mixed system; recirculating system is an indoor system that allows for careful control of fish’s environment. There are also economic advantages of not being affected by the outside elements. Practices which are necessary to be applied in the re-circulating system:

  1. Water quality needs to be maintained and carefully monitored. Constant and consistent testing of water quality is a must to keep the fish healthy and disease free.
  2. Access to water and reliable electricity is crucial for success, even though is being re-circulated, run off and evaporation will occur and water supply will need to be occasionally replenished.
  3. Electricity or some sort of power is necessary to keep the fish tank at ideal temperature and run pumps to re-circulate the water back between tanks, this type of optimal conditions allows for a fast growing start that is less susceptible to disease, but regular observation is still an important factor in maintaining fish health.
  4. Any behavior changes, particularly during feeding, are an indicator of a problem.  The feed you use will be determined by the type of species you choose to raise but whatever feed you select, it must provide a complete diet and be of the floating variety. An auto or demand feeder is frequently used in Aquaponics re-circulating environment. Even though the feeding process is automated you still want to be present to observe feeding behavior.
  5. Talipia is the most common species raised in the re-circulated Aquaponics systems because of its:

-Large size

- Rapid growth


-High densities

Also, you can grow:

1- Perch


3- Hybrid striped

4- Catfish.

They are also known to do well in Aquaponics tank environment.  Each species of fish is going to have their own set of guide lines for proper feed amount. Harvest of the fish will be determined by the individual species growth cycle. Be sure to practice proper fish handling in the harvesting and transportation of the fish to the market.


9- What is the best ratio between fish, plants and water in Aquaponics System?  


Keep in mind, for every gallon of water in your fish tank you can have one half to one square foot of grow bed space depending on fish density and for every pound of fish to be raised you need one to two gallons of water.


10- What are the benefits of mixing the Aquaculture and Hydroponics in one thing which is the Aquaponics Systems?    


Aquaponics system is the integration between aquaculture which is raising fish in fish tank and hydroponics in which you grow plants in a soil free medium, so this new integrated system has many advantages and avoids many drawbacks of aquaculture and hydroponics when you set each one of them separately, and that is what makes it almost a perfect project. The fish live in aquariums and they have waste product which is ammonia that is toxic to the fish in the water tank. This toxic ammonia is converted by naturally occurring bacteria to nitrite then to nitrate which is a valuable organic nutrient and fertilizer for the plant, and then water is pumped to the plant bed. Hence the plant take in nitrates and purify the water that return back clean to the fish tank.   So you removed the toxic substance from the fish tank hence, you have healthy fish with high growth rate than normal as in aquaculture. You can also increase the density of fish in the same tank to have greater production and on the other hand, you get a valuable nutrient for the plants, and that increases the rate of growth several times, and with greater quantities than plants that can be grown in the same area in regular soil land.


11- Is there large scale Aquaponics Systems or commercial Aquaponics projects?


Or is it only done in a small scale for family needs?   Aquaponics is a very easy way to get organic vegetable or fruit, plus good healthy fish that can feed your family with almost no cost. Not only that, but also many people have gone beyond that and now they have commercial Aquaponics projects after they tried small scale Aquaponics and made sure 100% that Aquaponics is a successful project.


    12- What happens if a disaster strikes, where can we get our food?


People should feel confident. We want everything to be local hyper market as possible. I would like to see all the transportation taken out. Instead of food miles, we have feet distance that we may ensure our food by, so Aquaponics has an opportunity to help fill a gap. It is not the answer to everything, but get excited to know there is a low cost in producing food.   I think it will be awesome when you can see vacant lots and think that it could be an ice floor for a city and an incredible green house!


13- What Is The Best Fish Species For My Aquaponics System?  


You have many options according to the climate in your area. Cat fish can take extremely warm temperatures and can take cold temperature. They can take clear water, and also they can take muddy water, so it just seems like a very good adaptable fish for a lot of people.   Tilapia is good if you live in the southern states where it does not ever hit freezing, or near the Equator. Tilapia is a good fish as it likes warm climate or you can use heaters to adjust the temperature.


    14- What is the difference between the fish grown up in Aquaponics Systems and those fish we buy for example Tilapia?


In Aquaponics we are sure that we have no exposure to any harmful things like heavy metals, and that there is no genetic manipulation of the Aquaponics fish like what some people do in the traditional way of growing fish in fish farms. There is no hormonal manipulation either, as it is often used in traditionally raised fish. They are using hormones to stimulate the fish growth.   Also Aquaponics fish avoid what is called sex-verse process, for example in Tilapia , the males grow faster than females, so they change the females to males to grow faster and of course all these things are not healthy and may cause health problems in the long run. But in case of Aquaponics  there is no possibility for any of these wrong practices, as the fish is 100% healthy and natural because if you do anything to the fish it will affect the plants and if you do anything to the plants it will affect the fish, as it is very balanced integrated system.



 15- What are the benefits of growing the Aquaponics fish, with the fish waste as fertilizers?  


One benefit is that we do not have to discard this fish waste into the environment. For example, the average salmon farms today put enough rough sewage that can really and already do cause environmental problems in the states. So Aquaponics technique is really a good way to reduce the environmental pollution.  Using these natural fertilizers and nutrients increase production rate and the amount of plants more than regular outcome of soil plants with the same area that may reach, in some cases, up to 10 times.


  16- Why is Aquaponics a higher technological form of organic gardening?  


As in Aquaponics we try to get the most amount of production out of the least amount of the ground  and the least amount depending on symbiotic bio transformation of organic materials that gives the system many valuable advantages.



17- What is the Aquaponics Cycle in brief?    



We feed the fish,then the fish produce waste products that are valuable nutrients for the plants, so the plants absorb it and purify the water and the cycle repeats itself.  Again, it is a symbiotic automated system, that finally gives you healthy fish and valuable organic food.


18- What Is Aquaponics Systems?    


Aquaponics system is the Mix of aquaculture (growing fish in a fish tank) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in semi solid medium) in one circulating system. In aquaponics systems you get the outcome of both hydroponics (which is healthy fish) and aquaculture (which is organic vegetables) in one integrated system. The fish waste product is nitrates, which is a very natural nutrient for the plants and the plants serve as a natural filter for the water in which the fish live as when the fish waste increases in fish tank could kill the fish. Aquaponics systems produce fresh, organic and healthy vegetables and fish. Many families use Aquaponics systems nowadays to feed on its healthy products or, in large scale, to make profits as organic vegetables are very expensive. You will find all details and how to build your aquaponics system step by step and all the answers to problems that you might encounter when you are doing your own Aquaponics System project.




See How to do it yourself:

Click Here


17- What is the importance of fish in Aquaponics systems?  


Aquaponics fish is the source of energy and power that sustain the whole system. The fish waste is a very good valuable source of nutrients for the plants and if you are growing edible species of fish in your system that will provide you with a valuable source of protein for yourself and your family. You may think it is too hard to raise fish at first, especially for those who do not have any previous experience; however you should not be discouraged. Raising fish in Aquaponics systems is much easier than raising fish in a normal aquarium. As long as you follow the right instructions starting from the fingerling size, to fully grown fish, it can be very simple.     23-How much does an indoor Aquaponics system cost? I will give you approximate estimation of what an indoor Aquaponics system might cost, but you should know that I excluded some equipment as I think you have scrounged around and borrowed a drill, used your yard gravel, etc. Also this cost does not include plants, fish, lights, timer (if you will not use the way that I will explain to you and go the easy route). Here is the list of things and materials you will need to build your Aquaponics system:   -Aquarium (ten gallons) -The grow bed which is approximately 20” * 12” * 6” deep plastic storage -Hose clamps (stainless steel) -Hose -T-fitting -Growing media for the plants (hydroton, gravel, perlite) -Drill -Air pump/stone -flathead screwdriver   All that can cost you about $300. The majority of this cost is just to get a timer, lights and pump. So here is a technique that can save you from $50 - $100. It is called the DIY cycle timer  check the previous link to see how it works.   This is the cost of a small Aquaponics system that can produce 3 heads of lettuce per month, so after one year or less you could get more than that cost back if we considered the price of fish you will get from that Aquaponics system.   Are you ready to do your own Aquaponics system by yourself, Her is the best way  Click Here
For more you can read this Aquaponics Systems in Wikipedia.

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