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The Cost Effective Way of Setting Up an Aquaponics System

by 09 Apr 2023

The Cost Effective Way of Setting Up an Aquaponics System

Making your own aquaponics for your grow space can be a lot of fun. It is also a unique way of growing your plants that comes with many benefits.

Making an aquaponics system combines two practices. There’s aquaculture which involves breeding fish to be ultimately consumed, and there’s hydroponics which involves growing plants and vegetables in the absence of soil. Aquaponics is a highly productive form of cultivating plants all over the world. The best aquaponics system is that it is self-sustaining.

Therefore, setting up an aquaponics system is effectively setting up a self-contained ecosystem. It’s highly efficient and simple to set up as well.

If you want to give it a shot, this article is a great guide for you to set up your own aquaponics system.

Aquaponics System: The Basics

As we mentioned before, aquaponics involves the hybridization of two growing practices, aquaculture, and hydroponics. This involves breeding fish and growing plants in the absence of soil.

Aquaponics has been gaining popularity, especially in urban regions, where it can be difficult to find a conventional garden space. An aquaponic setup takes care of a major problem involved in breeding fish, which is the ammonia they produce as waste. Nitrifying bacteria are added to this to convert the ammonia into nitrates which can be used as nutrients for your plants.

Put simply; an aquaponics system utilizes the feces of the fish for fertilizing plants. This is beneficial for both the plants and the fish. An excess of ammonia is harmful to fish which would make cleaning the fish tank a necessity.

All of this results in balancing pH, regulating nitrogen, and fertilizing the plants in one go.

Why Setup an Aquaponics System?

Why should you bother taking time out to build and maintain an aquaponics system? One of the main reasons is that anybody can make it, irrespective of the environment and your skill level.

Secondly, it is an eco-friendly system and enables easy multi-tasking because you can produce two types of food simultaneously.

Thirdly, the system has high efficiency in that it requires minimal work from you. However, you need to monitor the growth of your plants and take care of any issues that may occur.

Benefits of Setting up an Aquaponics System at Home

As mentioned earlier, a huge advantage of an aquaponics system is that anyone can set it up. With a little investment and not much space, you can have it all. You can set up an aquaponics system in any home space, including apartments. Further, you can adjust the size of the system for any space that you’re situated in.

The waste produced is almost zero. Also, since there’s no soil, there’s no depletion of soil nutrients. Moreover, you'll be saving on the water as it is recycled between your fish and your plants. Once the system is set up, it is largely self-sufficient and requires minimal effort to maintain.

Some aquaponics systems can be very costly. Therefore, this guide will run you through how to build a cost-effective aquaponics system in your own home.

Things that are Possible to Grow in an Aquaponics System

You're probably wondering, by this time, is it actually easy to set up an aquaponics system? With the necessary know-how, it is! Also, it’s a great way to effectively utilize limited space. An aquaponics system confers the benefit of being able to cultivate multiple types of crops. The two broad categories of "crops" that you'll be able to harvest are plants and fish.

Choosing Fish for Your Aquaponics System

Tilapia is usually the fish of choice for raising in an aquaponics system, as they adapt well to the environment of an aquaponics system.

Keep in mind that tilapia are tropical fish. Therefore, the optimum temperature for the water needs to be between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a water chiller or water heater, depending on whether you need to cool the water or heat it up. Yellow perch or catfish are other options for an aquaponics system. They are slightly more suited for water at colder temperatures.

In order to determine the type of fish you need to raise, there are four things you need to keep in mind.

  • Your location
  • The plants you plan to grow
  • The temperature of the water
  • Aquaponics system layout

Apart from tilapia, perch, and catfish, there are other fish commonly used in aquaponics systems. These include angelfish, barramundi, and koi. Keep in mind that some of these aren't fit for human consumption and are mainly used for the waste they generate.

Which Plants do you want to Grow in an Aquaponics System?

There are some plants that are easier to cultivate in aquaponics systems. Leafy greens are easy to grow and ideal for aquaponics systems. Arugula, basil, kale, dill, lettuce, and spinach are all excellent candidates for aquaponics systems.

All these plants thrive on high nitrogen levels, which are available in fish water. They are easy to cultivate and do not require additional supplements. It is also possible to grow fruiting plants such as tomatoes, strawberries, zucchini, raspberries, or cucumbers. However, you would need additional nutrients for them.

DIY Cheap Aquaponics System

Aquaponics systems can vary depending on the grower, but there are some essential components that need to be included at all costs. You can augment or modify your system as necessary. That depends on the goals you have decided for yourself.

What Do I Need to Setup a Home-based Aquaponics System?

Setting up a home-based aquaponics system requires tank or reservoir. An aquarium is a common choice for this. When deciding how much water is needed, keep in mind that a gallon of water can support a pound of fish. If an aquarium isn’t available, you can also use a reservoir.

It's best to start small so that you can contain any unforeseen circumstances. You also need to get a flood table. This is where you’ll be putting your plants. You’ll be filling the tray with water/nutrients periodically, hence the term "flood table."

Aquaponics systems use the plants as a filtering mechanism for the water. Therefore it’s necessary to have a water pump to circulate the water between your fish and the plants and increase the effectiveness of your system. Hydroponic tubing is also needed for carrying the moisture/nutrients from your fish tank to the flood table. The purpose of the pump will be to collect the water trickling from the flood table and take it back to the reservoir. You will also need an air stone and an air pump. This will be a source of oxygen for both the plants and the fish, which is crucial.

Growing In an Aquaponics Setup

Aquaponics systems are usually located indoors. It isn’t possible to have an aquaponics setup outdoors because electricity is needed to run it. You can have an aquaponics system in a greenhouse, but it is advisable to have the system installed indoors.

It’s best to have some grow lights for your plants. However, if you're cultivating plants that do not require much light, that might not be a necessity. It would also help if your system was situated near a window.

However, as mentioned earlier, it would be best to consider LED grow lights as a compulsory requirement for your aquaponics system. If you’re not sure about which grow lights to purchase, check out this guide to the best LED grow lights available.

Start the Seeds and Put Fingerling Fish in Your Tank

Firstly, you need to put fingerling fish into the fish tank. At the same time, you need to separately start your seeds as well. Once the seedlings have grown big enough for transplantation, the fish will be generating enough waste to sustain them.

Ideally, your aerator should be running 24/7 to provide a constant supply of oxygen to the plants and the fish. However, if you run the pump using a timer in order for it to run at periodic intervals, that can also work.

You need to then run the pump frequently enough so that your fish have clean water. However, you need to take care that your plants aren’t being flooded all the time. If care isn’t exercised, your plants could get root rot.

Given that you take care of all the things mentioned above maintaining an aquaponics setup essentially boils down to keeping your fish fed and crop harvesting.

Ideally, you should be feeding your fish thrice a day, whatever they can consume in 20 minutes. If you can’t be at home for this, purchasing an auto feeder would be easier on you.

Last Thoughts

Aquaponics is a growing method that is versatile in that it can be used anywhere. Aquaponics setups are not restricted by the amount of space you have or the amount of crop you want to produce. It maximizes the use of whatever available resources you have.

Now all you need to decide is how big you want your aquaponics system to be and get the requisite supplies! You can get everything you need at Groindoor.com.

Jul 22nd 2022
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