Since the aquaponics system is almost self-sustainable and easy to assemble in the backyard, many people are interested in building one. It is a small ecosystem itself where the living and non-living components interact with each other in order to sustain order. It produces food in the most natural way possible, contributing to the welfare of the environment. Since people gain many benefits from this system, it is not surprising to see a lot of them getting interested in building one at the comforts of their home.
Creating an aquaponics system should have the basic components. First, a tank is necessary in order to house the aquatic organisms to be grown. It is suggested that one fish should be placed for every ten gallons of water. This is important to provide a large area for the fish to swim and in order to prevent overcrowding. For starters, a 55-gallon to 225-gallon container of basin can be used. The tank can be made from recycled materials as long as no toxic waste was placed in the containers.
Grow beds are also necessary for the plants to grow. Wooden boxes can be made in order to house the plants. The boxes should be deep enough (at least six to ten inches deep) in order for the nitrifying bacteria to proliferate. Perlite or fine gravel are also added in the grow beds in order to elevate the beds from the ground. For professionals, coco coir is useful as a growing medium since it retains the moisture content suitable for the plants.
The fish tank should be positioned below the grow beds. The plants still need sunlight in order to grow so it is important to avoid exposing them in an area with sufficient amount of sunlight. A greenhouse is a great place to build the aquaponics setup, but if it is not available, then the setup can be placed in the backyard. It is also crucial to avoid exposing the fish tank to too much sunlight since an elevated water temperature is detrimental to the fish.
Pumps are also among the basic components in the system. The plants filter the water from the fish tank and the filtered water should go back to the fish tank. Pumps are provided in order for the water to circulate within the setup. For a first time user, he should be knowledgeable in plumbing so that the pipes connecting the fish tank and grow bed is operative. Otherwise, one can seek help from professional plumbers.
A one-fourth inch hole should be enough to insert the pipes. Parallel pipes are positioned 12 inches apart from each other. Apart from the pipes and pumps that are essential in circulating the water, an aerator is also needed in the fish tank to provide a continuous supply of oxygen for the fish.
Other additional elements include a biofilter, where the nitrifying bacteria can grow and convert the ammonia into useful by-products. A settling basin is also optional for uneaten fish food and other solid particles that may settle.
The basic setup of the aquaponics system is now ready. The plants can now be placed in the grow beds. Many choices are available like green leafy vegetables, basil, bell peppers and radishes. Fingerlings like tilapia and catfish are the most commonly used fish species grown in the tank. It is highly recommended to grow only one species of plant and animal in order to prevent interspecific competition. For the nitrifying bacteria, it is possible to use a bio-filter to grow Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacterium. The roots of leguminous plants like peanuts are good sources of nitrifying bacteria.
The aquaponics system is now complete and in order to sustain the growth of both the plant and fish, one needs to check it regularly. This is to ensure that the environment stays in good condition.