• How To Start Aquaponic Farming

    1. How To Build Your Own Aquaponic System From Scratch
    2. Starting The Aquaponic Farm
    3. How To Keep Your Fishes In An Aquaponic System

    What is Aquaponics?

    Aquaponics Rendering by JHGImagesAquaponics is an alternative farming method that focuses on combining the traditional aquaculture with hydroponics system to grow and harvest various types of plants. Basically, you take care of two systems in order to be successful with your aquaponic farm. Although this may sound difficult, caring for and maintaining two different systems is quite easy as long as you know the right process.

    In aquaculture, you need to take care of the creatures you take care on your water tank. These can be snails, fish, prawns, crayfish or any water creature that are cultured on tanks. Hydroponics farming focuses on mineral nutrient solution on water in order to grow healthier plants without the use of soil.

    Aquaponic farming roots can be traced back to the earlier centuries. The Aztecs, Chinese, and Thai were among the first to use the alternative form of agriculture. Early farmers raise fish on their farms while they plant and grow fruits and vegetables.

    Nowadays, more and more farmers are being hooked to alternative farming methods because of the advantages they present. Compared to the conventional farming methods, you can expect more benefits once you use the aquaponics system on your farm.

    Growing Medium

    Any growing medium can be used as long as it is not soil. Similar to hydroponics, it is a soilless culture where you grow plants without using soil in the process. Instead of soil, you can use perlite, pebbles, and other materials as your medium. The germination process of your seeds usually takes place on a medium. This is why it is very important that you also pay attention to your growing medium.

    seedlings

    Components

    Basically, all you need is a fish tank and some materials that can support the flow of water from the tank to the plants. In most cases, you can use anything as long as it can fit well to the system. Aside from the fish or rearing tank(s), you need to have a unit for catching or filtering uneaten food from your farming system. A biofilter should also be present on your aquaponic farm as this allows your system to convert ammonia into nitrates.

    home aquaponics

    Fish

    You can use any fish you want on your aquaculture as long as you provide a good environment. There are various fishes that are commonly used on such farming system though. Among these are the tilapia and catfish because of their voracious appetite and resilience. Although you can choose any fish you wish to raise on your aquaculture, following the recommendations of established aquaponic farmers is much better. In case you are not sure on what to raise, you can ask an experienced farmer who is using the alternative farming method of aquaponic.

    tilapia

    Pesticides

    In aquaponics, never use chemical pesticides on your system as you can kill the creatures you raise on your tanks. Instead, use organic pesticides that are safe to use on your fish, snail, prawns, or any living creature on your farm. There are several products that do not harm the creatures on your aquaculture.

    How To Build Your Own Aquaponic System From Scratch

    DIY aquaponic systemAquaponic farming is a good alternative to the conventional method of planting and growing plants as it eliminates the need for fertilizers. Instead of using soil for your farm, you use other types of mediums for your plants. In addition, you no longer need to invest on fertilizers as the fish will provide it for you. Aquaponic farming can be done anywhere as long as you have the tools and supplies needed to build one.

    First of all, you need to have a plan on how your aquaponic system will turn out. This depends on the available space in your place. In case you do not have enough space, it is highly advised that you build a vertical system. This means that your farm will look like a ladder to save enough space so that you can have more containers for your plants. For those who do not have an idea on how it looks like, you can check the internet for various aquaponic systems.

    You need to have the necessary tools and supplies in order for you to get started. Here’s what you’ll need to prepare to make an aquaponic system.

    • PVC Pipes
    • Water Pump
    • Garden Hose
    • Elbow Pipe Connectors
    • Saw
    • Sealant
    • Elbow Pipes

    First and foremost, cut your pvc pipe to your desired length. As mentioned above, your aquaponic system will depend on your preference. Carefully use your saw to cut the pipe to your desired length. Be sure to wear protective gears while you are on the process of cutting the pipe to avoid accidents.

    If you have a power tool to cut the pipe while lying horizontally, do so at the size of your container. In case you have a disposable plastic cup, you can use this as your container by cutting holes on the sides near the bottom. Check if the cup fits perfectly on the holes you’ve cut on the pipe. Put the elbow pipe on both ends of the pipe with one facing up while the other facing downwards. The purpose of the elbow pipe facing up is to prevent the water from running out. The other elbow pipe serves as a downspout for the water that returns back to the fish tank. Seal the joints on the outer side by using the sealant.

    vertical aquaponic system

    Decide on what types of mediums to use (pebbles, perlite, river stones, coconut husk and others) on each of the container on your aquaponic system. You can use any medium as long as it is not soil as you do not want to wash it away to your fish tank.

    Connect the garden hose from your water pump to the elbow pipe that’s facing upward. This will let the water run from the pump to your aquaponic system which feeds the plants on each container while the water gets filtered on the way back to the downspout going to the tank. You can modify your aquaponic system by using the elbow pipe connectors in case you wish to add more farms (pipe with holes for containers).

    This is a very simple guide on how you can build your own aquaponic farming system from scratch. You won’t be spending a lot of money when you create this kind of farm. Always remember to be creative when it comes to building your aquaponic system to add more beauty to your farm site.

    Starting The Aquaponic Farm

    beetAquaponic is a traditional form of agriculture which uses aquaculture as the source of nutrients to supplement the plants grown on a tank. With this innovation in the system of farming, fish wastes no longer becomes a toxic threat to the aquatic creatures. Instead, the plants filter the fish by-products and utilize them as nutrients which provides nourishment to the plants. As a whole, this system of farming is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture.

    Basically, almost all types of vegetables can be grown on your aquaponic farm. However, doing a research on when to plant your preferred vegetables will let you acquire the best advantages of aquaponics system.

    Planning and Preparation

    First and foremost, it is important that you have a plan for your aquaponic farming. You need to plan on where your farm will be situated. From there, consider purchasing the necessary farming supplies you’ll be using for your new project. This is important if you do not want to experience the cons of aquaponic farming system along the road.

    Install Your Tanks

    Set up your tanks on your preferred location. Make sure that they are properly installed to avoid accidents from occurring. Once you are sure that they are secured, you can now go on to the next phase.

    Build and Set Up Your Aquaponic Farm

    Aquponic farming is similar to the other form of agriculture. However, the debate on aquaponic vs aeroponic vs hydroponic seems to never end. Basically, I would say that they all have their own pros and cons but are similarly beneficial. In short, their advantages outweighs their disadvantages. When it comes to setting up an aquaponic farm, most farmers prefer materials that floats on the water. They also make sure that the materials do not produce any by-products on the water that can be dangerous to the fishes. Most farmers use plastic materials as they do not get decomposed by the frequent water contact. Make sure that your farm has the right holes so that the water does not overflow. The main objective is for the water to go back to the tank after being filtered by the plant’s roots as well as the pebbles. In case the water overflows from the top, then there will be no filtering process. Make sure that the water goes straight on the holes beneath the plant’s roots.

    Fishes

    Instead of throwing every type of fish on your tank, it would be a lot better if you do a research on which fish would be easy to grow as a newbie. You can visit your local fisheries to get some ideas on which fish will be good for beginners to farm. Choose those that are not delicate as you will be frustrated if the fishes gradually die while you are still planting your seedlings.

    aquaponic garden - healthy fishes swimming in the pool of water

    Photo Credit: amymyou

    Feed and Farm

    Once everything is all set up, you can start feeding your fish with whatever you prefer. In case you are into green living, you can order organic feeds. If you don’t mind using conventional products, you can purchase and feed these to your fish. Farming is quite easy as you won’t be worrying about the soil borne diseases. However, you should be checking the condition of your fish and water to make sure that your farm is safe at all times.

    Harvest

    Continue the farming and feeding process until the plants mature. You can start the harvesting of the plants once they are old enough to be sold to the market. When harvesting, make sure that you remove the aquaponic farm from the top of the tank to avoid accidents. You can safely start pulling out the plants once the farming system has been taken off from the tank.

    How To Keep Your Fishes In An Aquaponic System

    tilapia-photoAquaponic farming is a form of agriculture that focuses on the use of water instead of soil. It is a good alternative to the conventional way of farming if you do not wish to go through soil borne pests and diseases. In addition, it is also ideal to farmers who are on a tight budget when it comes to pesticides and fertilizers.

    Unlike with the other farming methods though, you don’t just focus on the farm itself as you also need to pay attention to the fishes inside your tanks. Keeping your fish alive and healthy should be included on your priorities. In fact, growing your fishes is a requirement if you want to have a successful aquaponic system.

    Basically, you can grow any fresh water fish in your tank. The best fishes to grow and keep in your aquaponic system are the ones of your preferences. Preparation is essential to your success. Make sure that your fish tank has been prepared before you go to a fish breeder. Although you can always get adult fishes, it is wiser for you to get their young instead. Aside from the fact that they are much inexpensive compared to the adults, they are also ideal for beginners. Do not purchase too much as overpopulation in your tanks is not advised. You need to know how many fish would be ideal inside your tank to avoid the competition for oxygen.

    By the time you get your fish home, make sure that your tank is ready starting with the temperature. In case the temperature is right for the fish, you can put them right away in your system.

    Feed your fish at a minimum level during the first 1 to 2 months to avoid overfeeding. Make sure that you do not feed too much as this can kill the fish. One way of making sure that you are feeding them the right amount is to stop feeding after 5 minutes. Always keep in mind that overfeeding is a killer and underfeeding is good. Your fish will be fine even without food for weeks. Always give the fish as much as they can consume within 5 minutes and then stop feeding.

    Feed your fish based on what type of fish they are. You can ask your breeder what they are feeding the fish so that you can continue with the same feeds. In most cases, carnivores such as the trout should feed on feeds with high level of protein. Omnivorous fishes like the koi should be fed with a low protein feeds.

    japanese koi - aquaponic

    Change the water when needed so that they will grow healthy. In case the water is ok, then there’s no need for you to replace the water. Do not worry too much regarding the condition of your water as the plants will take care of the filtration process. You can also help keep the water clean and clear by putting a filter at the end of your aquaponic system where the water runs back to the tank.

    Always remember to check out what fish to grow in your tanks before you begin so that you can fully enjoy aquaponic farming!

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