Fish play a vital role in an aquaponics system for the production of vegetables. The survival of the system depends upon good, healthy fish and plants. Fish waste contains nitrate which is mixed in water then separates these nutrients for plants. If fish don’t excrete these nutrients, the plants in the system cannot survive.
This method is called aquaponics, and is quickly becoming a popular way to grow food and other plants. Aquaponics is based on hydroponics (growing plants in water without soil), but is much better. Plants are grown without any soil in grow beds similar to hydroponics, but the water in the system is shared with a fish tank. Fish growing in the system release nutrients into the water that the plants use, fish aquaponics the plant roots do a great job of filtering the water for the fish.
Aquaponics functions in a «give and take process». Water circulates around the aquaponics system where plants do the work of maintaining a clean water to supply more oxygen for the fish. The fish, in turn, provides the byproduct, ammonia, needed by the plants to grow faster.
An Aquaponics system in its most basic form is similar to the common fish tank, however since there is no continuous flow in this basic system you are limited to growing plants that thrive in stagnant water, like the lettuce plant. Other types of plants that require more oxygen will die in a basic system like this. And that is why you need a continuous flow system.
With traditional gardening much of the time and expense is spent on tilling the land, conditioning and fertilizing the soil, pulling or spraying for weeds and battling pests, like gophers. With aquaponics, none of that applies. Instead of being at mercy of nature, you create a simple system that mimics nature, but is under your control.
A great bonus with aquaponic source is the production of fish. With many concerns about the quality of imported farmed fish and depleting natural fish, the fresh clean fish from these systems in some cases be even more valuable than the plants they grow. This more than pays for the cost of fish feed while creating free fertilizer for the plant crops.
Just a few components are needed to build an an aquaponics system at home. A tank is needed to hold the fish, and a grow bed is needed to for the plants. A type of rock called red scoria is often used as a grow bed. Washing it to make sure it is free from anomia is important. An efficient water pump is necessary to move the water from the fish tank to the plants. Tubing is also needed to connect the tank and grow bed. To keep the water at a consistent temperature, normally in the range of 70 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, an aquatic heater is required. Clay or gravel is normally used as a surface to rest the plants on. These materials support the plant and also help filter the water. Finally, a testing kit is required to measure the pH of the water.
It takes away a lot of the back breaking work of a typical vegetable garden because the plants can be harvested above ground level and there is no need for any weeding. The watering can will also become a tool of the past as the system waters itself.
Just briefly for a full definition, hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water without soil. Aquaponics is «the cultivation of fish and plants together in the same water using organic food sources in a sustainable, resource efficient manner».
There are a number resources on the internet that will provide you with information about choosing the correct aquaponics fish for your location. Some of these resources are free and others will require payment. Often the resources that require payment provide better quality information and are worth the investment in the long run.