How to Grow Fish and Plants in Closed Loop Aquaponics
There are many advantages to growing your own food, particularly when it comes to saving money and eating healthy. However, for those who do not have a large amount of space for a traditional garden, a good substitute is using an aquaponic system. Aquaponics is a highly popular form of gardening that uses water instead of soil to provide nutrients for the roots.
Around the world, many households and even apartments have an aquaponic system of one type or another that grows a wide variety of food in a relatively small space. Of the different types of systems available, one of the most effective is the closed loop aquaponics that combines fish and plants to create a very beneficial environment.
What is Closed Loop Aquaponics?
Sometimes called recirculating aquaponics, this is a system that uses beads of gravel or clay to help hold the plants in place inside the container. The container is then flooded with water and fish are introduced to provide nutrients to the plants. This type of system is very popular because all it requires is providing nutrients for the fish that then pass it along to the plants in terms of the waste materials that they leave behind.
Basically, you have a fish tank where the fish inside are fed and the water is pumped into the clay or gravel beds of the garden area where the waste product of the fish provides the plants with nutrients and cleans the water which is they put back into the tank, thus the closed loop system.
Benefits of Having a Closed Loop Aquaponics System
There are several benefits to having such a system, particularly if you are new to using aquaponics and have a relatively small area to grow plants which is perfect for apartments and houses with small yards.
Space: This may be the best aspect of the system because you only need a limited amount of space which can be created vertically along the walls or inside a closet in your home. You can provide the light yourself with LEDs that take up very little energy and continue the growing process 24/7.
Self Cleaning: This may be the best reason for having a closed loop system is that the fish tank is constantly cleaned of the waste materials which goes to support the plants. This means for those who enjoy raising fish there is less maintenance to perform in the tank.
Easy to Maintain: While you will need to monitor and maintain the system more carefully than you would for plants that grow in soil, the entire process is self sustaining as long as the fish are fed in a regular manner.
At Organic Garden Harvest, Inc. you can find all the aquaponic supplies you need to create a beautiful garden for growing food and as a home for your fish. Check out the catalog of products, parts and supplies that are available for a low, affordable price. Let Organic Garden Harvest, Inc. be the place to supply all of your aquaponic needs.
Aquaponics System: What You Need To Know
You probably want to know what’s exactly involved in an aquaponics system before purchasing the materials to set up the system. It is wise move to take time for your preparation and research on what aquaponics system can do and how it satisfies your needs.
Aquaponics is a mixture of two farming approaches, hydroponics and aquaculture. This new technique has been attracting passionate practitioners over recent years because it eliminates the troubles of older approaches. With aquaponics system fish farming and gardening becomes easier and cleaner to maintain.
Balance in the Backyard Ecosystem
Aquaponics is a biological system that you can keep in your backyard (backyard aquaponics). In order to make it thrive, the system must maintain its balance. To do so, there are three main key players to consider: the plants, the fish and the bacteria. All three must be present to create and maintain the system, otherwise the system cannot be completed.
When you raise fish in a tank, they naturally produce waste products. That will contaminate the water. Also, since you need to feed them daily, leftovers of fish feed will add to the dirt in the water. As you can imagine the water becomes quite dirty over time and it can be toxic for the fish to live in.
While that’s happening in the water, there is something else happening. The growth of bacteria. Naturally occurring bacteria like nitrobacter is another key player to the aquaponics system because they can break down the waste products from fish such as ammonia. Those bacteria can change the form of dirt in the water into something that plants can absorb as nutrition.
When the water gets pumped up to the garden beds, the plants soak up the nutrition. As the water moves through the plants, the water gets filtered and aerated. The cleaned, oxygenated water goes back to the fish tank after the filtration, and the whole cycle resumes again.
The process needs to be repeated at least once every two hours. Once you set up the system, you’ll have the biological filter operating at all times. You don’t have to replace or drain the fish water to keep the water quality. It’s automatically done by the plants while you can enjoy fresh harvests of organic vegetables.
Another advantage of aquaponics is that the plants are looked after automatically too. You don’t have to water them everyday, you don’t have to fertilize them either. With the advantage of no soil gardening, it eliminates soil related disease. So it is easier to grow your vegetables with NO herbicides, No pesticides and practically No chemicals.
All you have to do is monitor water levels and make sure the fish tank is not overcrowded, which can be easily done when you feed them.
Vegetable production guidelines for common aquaponics plants
The information below provides technical advice on 12 of the most popular vegetables to grow in aquaponics. Information on optimal growing conditions, including specific growing instructions and harvesting techniques for each vegetable, is included. The guidelines below are based on the experience gathered from long-standing aquaponic farming, from horticulture manuals on soil/soil-less cropping, extension papers, and the professional experience of farmers and researchers. This list is by no means exhaustive. Rather, it should be used as an example of the types of information needed for any crop grown and help readers target their research when growing crops that are not listed here.
Plant spacing: 15–25 cm (8–40 plants/m2)
Germination time and temperature: 6–7 days with temperatures at 20–25 °C
Growth time: 5–6 weeks (start harvesting when plant is 15 cm)
Temperature: 18–30 °C, optimal 20–25 °C
Light exposure: Sunny or slightly sheltered
Plant height and width: 30–70 cm; 30 cm
Recommended aquaponic method: media beds, NFT and DWC
Growing basil in aquaponic units: Basil is one of the most popular herbs to grow in aquaponic units, particularly in large-scale commercial monoculture units because of its high value and the high demand in urban or peri-urban zones. Many cultivars of basil have been tried and tested in aquaponic units including the Italian Genovese basil (sweet basil), lemon basil, and purple passion basil. Owing to the higher nitrogen uptake, basil is an ideal plant for aquaponics; however, care should be used to avoid excessive nutrient depletion of the water.
Growing conditions: Basil seeds need a reasonably high and stable temperature to initiate germination (20–25 °C). Once transplanted in the units, basil grows best in warm to very warm conditions and full exposure to sun. However, better quality leaves are obtained through slight shading. With daily temperatures higher than 27 °C plants should be ventilated or covered with shading nets (20 percent) during strong solar radiation seasons to prevent tip burn.
Growing instructions: Transplant new seedlings into the aquaponic unit when the
seedlings have 4–5 true leaves. Basil can be affected by various fungal diseases, including
Fusarium wilt, grey mould, and black spot, particularly under suboptimal temperatures
and high humidity conditions. Air ventilation and water temperatures higher than
21 °C, day and night, help to reduce plant stress and incidence of diseases.
Harvesting: The harvest of leaves starts when plants reach 15 cm in height and
continues for 30–50 days. Care should be used when handling leaves at harvest to
avoid leaf bruising and blackening. It is advisable to remove flowering tips during plant
growth to avoid bitter tastes in leaves and encourage branching. However, basil flowers
are attractive to pollinators and beneficial insects, so leaving a few flowering plants can
improve the overall garden and ensure a constant supply of basil seeds. Basil seeds are
a speciality product in some locations.
Plant spacing: 45–60 cm (3–5 plants/m2)
Germination time and temperature: 4–7 days with temperature 8–20 °C
Growth time: 2–3 months (spring crops), 3–4 months (autumn crops)
Temperature: 20–25 °C for initial vegetative growth, 10–15 °C for head setting
Light exposure: full sun
Plant height and width: 40–60 cm; 60–70 cm
Recommended aquaponic method: media beds
Growing cauliflower in aquaponic units: Cauliflower is a high-value, nutritious winter crop that will grow and thrive in media bed units with adequate plant spacing. Cauliflower has a relatively high nutrient demand, and the plants react positively to high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus. Among other nutrients, potassium and calcium are important for the production of heads. The plant is particularly sensitive to climatic conditions, and the heads do not develop properly in hot, very cold or very dry conditions; therefore, selecting the suitable variety and the timing to transplant are crucial.
Growing conditions: Optimal air temperature for the initial vegetative growth of the
plant is 15–25 °C. For the formation of the heads, the plants require colder temperatures
of 10–15 °C (autumn crop) or 15–20 °C (spring crop) providing that a good percentage
of relative humidity and full sun conditions are met to develop good heads. Plants can
tolerate cold temperatures; however, heads can be damaged by frost. Light shade can
be beneficial in warmer temperatures (above 23 °C).
Growing instructions: Germinate seeds in propagation trays at 20–25 °C. Provide
direct sun from early seedling stages so plants do not become leggy. When plants are
3–5 weeks old and have 4–5 true leaves, begin transplanting into the aquaponic system
about 50 cm apart. To preserve the white colour of the heads, use string or rubber bands
to secure outside leaves over the head when it is about 6–10 cm in diameter. Once this
stage is reached, harvest may take less than a week in ideal temperatures or as long as a
month in cooler conditions. Too much sun, heat or nitrogen uptake can cause “ricey”
heads where the main flower separates into small, rice-like grains. Temperatures below
12 °C could instead produce “buttoning”. Cauliflower is susceptible to some pests
including cabbageworms, flea beetle, white maggots (larvae) and cabbage aphids, which
can be removed manually or by using other pest management techniques.
Harvesting: Harvest when the heads are compact, white and firm. Cut the heads off
the plant with a large knife, and remove the remaining plant and roots from the bed
pipe and place into a compost bin.
LETTUCE (MIXED SALAD LEAVES):
Plant spacing: 18–30 cm (20–25 heads/m2)
Germination time and temperature: 3–7 days; 13–21 °C
Growth time: 24–32 days (longer for some varieties)
Temperature: 15–22 °C (flowering over 24 °C)
Light exposure: full sun (light shading in warm temperatures)
Plant height and width: 20–30 cm; 25–35 cm
Recommended aquaponic method: media bed, NFT and DWC
Growing lettuce in aquaponic units: Lettuce grows particularly well in aquaponics
owing to the optimal nutrient concentrations in the water. Many varieties can be grown
in aquaponics, but four main types are included here: crisphead lettuce (iceberg), which
has tight head with crispy leaves, ideal for cooler conditions; butterhead lettuce, which
show leaves that are loosely piled one on another and have no bitter taste; Romaine
lettuce, which has upright and tightly folded leaves that are slow to bolt and are sweet
in taste; and loose leaf lettuce, which comes out in a variety of colors and shapes with
no head and can be directly sowed on media beds and harvested by picking single
leaves without collecting the whole plant. Lettuce is in high demand and has a high
value in urban and peri-urban zones, which makes it a very suitable crop for large-scale
Growing conditions: Lettuce is a winter crop. For head growth, the night air
temperature should be 3–12 °C, with a day temperature of 17–28 °C. The generative
growth is affected by photoperiod and temperature – extended daylight and warm
conditions (> 18 °C) at night cause bolting. Water temperature > 26 °C may also
favour bolting and leaf bitterness. The plant has low nutrient demand; however, higher
calcium concentrations in water help to prevent tip burn in leaf in summer crops. The
ideal pH is 5.8–6.2, but lettuce still grows well with a pH as high as 7, although some
iron deficiencies might appear owing to reduced bio-availability of this nutrient above
Growing instructions: Seedlings can be transplanted in aquaponic units at three weeks
when plants have at least 2–3 true leaves. Supplemental fertilization with phosphorus
to the seedlings in the second and third weeks favours root growth and avoids plant
stress at transplant. Moreover, plant hardening, through exposing of seedlings to
colder temperatures and direct sunlight, for 3–5 days before transplanting results in
higher survival rates. When transplanting lettuce in warm weather, place light sunshade over the plants for 2–3 days to avoid water stress. To achieve crisp, sweet lettuce,
grow plants at a fast pace by maintaining high nitrate levels in the unit. When air and
water temperatures increase during the season, use bolt-resistant (summer) varieties. If
growing in media beds, plant new lettuces where they will be partially shaded by taller
Harvesting: Harvesting can begin as soon as heads or leaves are large enough to eat.
If selling to markets, remove the full plants and roots when harvesting as soon as
they reach market weight (250–400 g). Cut the roots out and place them in a compost
bin. Harvest early in the morning when leaves are crisp and full of moisture and chill
Organic Gardening with Aquaponics
When it comes to gardening, nothing beats Aquaponics.
It is an innovative system in farming in which it uses the natural cycle of life of both plants and fishes for the benefit of each other. If you’re wondering what is aquaponics and how does it work for your garden, then read on. You don’t have to rely on synthetic fertilizers loaded with chemicals just to grow your plants and crops healthily. This more natural way of gardening is not only practical, but also will help in preventing our environment from being contaminated by the harmful toxins given off by the fertilizers.
Traditional gardening may require a lot of maintenance-from filling it with fertilizers, to application of pesticides, to frequent cleaning out of weeds, and supplying of fresh new water. As you can see, it can be a bit exhausting and expensive, not to mention the effects of pesticides to the fruits of the crops. The idea behind aquaponics solves this problem, and not only you will benefit from having good crops, but also you will gain profit from growing freshwater fish at the same time, without the need to constantly change the water from the fish tank.
What is aquaponics? Aquaponics is a type of gardening system that combines agricultural and aquatic life. It uses water pump system, that supplies the water for both the fish in a fish tank and the plants in the grow beds. The waste materials coming from the fish is a great source of nutrients for the plants for it to grow healthily and be able to survive.
As the water from fish tank is pumped to the grow beds, the soil absorbs it and then it returns back to the fish tank by water pumps but this time, the water is cleaner and have more minerals since it is filtered by sands, pebbles or stones. Only a portion of the water has been evaporated so you don’t need to constantly replace the water that has lost. You can add a little, but it’s nothing compared to adding tons of water to the tanks like traditional fish-raising.
There are lots of benefits that you can get from aquaponics. If you learn deeper what is aquaponics and the way it works, you’ll realize you are spending less with this system rather than the traditional way of farming. It’s easier to maintain so it’s more economical.
For taking care of the fish, you only need to feed them with the organic foods, not the ones that are commercially prepared like the feeds being sold in the pet shops and agricultural supplies. It needs to be organically grown by you to be sure that there will be no residue for toxins and harmful chemicals. The work will be hard at first since you need to constantly check for the pH of water as well as the ammonia levels. But once they are already established (usually on the first month), you don’t have to constantly check for the pH and the levels of ammonia any longer.
Aquaponics is a system that combines raising fish and other small aquatic animals and combining that with growing wonderful organic food. With one of our Organic Garden Harvest Aquaponics units, you will be one step closer to being fully self sustaining and being friendly to the environment!
With our aquaponic designs, you can have a beautiful outdoor tank that holds all of your fish, from Tilapia to Koi, and have the water filter through our wonderfully designed bio-dynamic mini-farm. Your food will grow with the added nutrients supplied by the aquaponic tank and then the newly filtered water will re-enter the tank environment.
We are striving to help the world become ecologically effective and only by all of us working together will we be able to achieve this goal. Start your journey today with one of our Aquaponics Tanks!
For More information on Aquaponics keeping Fish and Growing Food, please visit us online at:
Or Call: 786-344-1383
When people think about the idea of gardening or growing any type of plants in the backyards, what they understand is a plot of soil dedicated to growing vegetables and other plants. Those with this idea are, unfortunately, in large number. The fact is, a lot of people are unaware of aquaponics gardening which is a good alternative to conventional soil based growing. With conventional garden, all that are needed for the plants to grow are the soil, the sun, and your continuous tending of the soil to rid it of weeds. This you do by watering and applying fertilizer to the plant if needed.
However, with aquaponics gardening system, three main components are integrated to help with the growth of plants in the garden. These 3 components are:
These 3 works hand in hand to make a success of the aquaponics garden. As the fishes release waste into the water, it is pumped into the plant growing bed. This provides feeds to the plants. That is not all. The water is recycled back into the tank, but it is first filtered before being released into the fish holding tank. This sounds fairly simple, not so? The aquaponics gardening system is simple to run and very good for backyard gardening. Some people practice it in a complex way for commercial purpose and it is simple to manage.
If you want to make success of aquaponics gardening, there are things you should bear in mind from the beginning, especially if you are thinking of commercial gardening. The need for organic fresh vegetables and other plant is great and you can take advantage of this with a well-layout plan.
Planning aquaponics gardening
Location: Deciding on appropriate location for your aquaponic gardening is very important, it is key to success. When selecting location, you must bear in mind the importance of sun – real or artificial sunlight. Your aquaponics system needs to be fully exposed to sunlight. Also, if outdoor gardening you decided upon, you must consider the temperatures of your climate. Anything over 70 degree will be destructive to the fish and plants in your system. Some people have used greenhouse for outdoor system and this may be good if the temperature is high.
Water Supply and Oxygen: This is very crucial. You must ensure that the water supply has plenty of oxygen to support the proper growth and health of the aquaculture and the plants. It should not be hard to provide needed oxygen into the tank. You can use an air pump. If the oxygen is at over 100% level, that is good.
Use Gravel or Rock: To achieve maximum result, use gravel or rock for proper growing instead of soil or clay based rocks that are not properly cleaned. Using anything different from gravel can clog the tubing system, causing ammonia to grow. However, caution is needed when selecting rocks to use because certain rocks contain chemicals that are not safe for aquaponics. Therefore, do proper research beforehand.
In addition to the above, it is important to keep improving your knowledge of aquaponics gardening by reading books about it or doing research online. In the end, you will reap bounteous benefits from it.
Aquaponics system is a method for growing a garden cheaply and actually with symbiotic relationships connections. Basically, an aquaponic system combines hydroponics and aquaculture. Developing plants in water is hydroponics. Aquaculture is matching cohabitating species in submerged natural surroundings (underwater habitat), for example, a fish tank. The merge of the two permits both the plants and the fish to benefit from cohabitation. This system is currently been practice in a lot of places including Miami, Fl.
Undoubtedly, people need oxygen for breathing, while they breathe out carbon dioxide. While, plant needs to take in carbon dioxide and remove oxygen. This is a flawless illustration of a symbiotic relationship. Every living organism must have something that the other must dispose of. They are both better off for been in the same surroundings. This straightforward comparison clarifies how both the pants and the fish can benefit from cohabitation in aquaponics.
An illustration of aquaculture is keeping fish in a tank like an aquarium. Ammonia, nitrates, and minerals are emitted by the fish because of normal life processes.
Gardening with aquaponics develops plants without causing contamination/pollution. Industrial farms make a ton of waste and have a negative impact on nature and the earth. Food from the supermarket will definitely contain pesticides and poisons to which your family will be exposed to. Fertilizers, pesticides, and different chemicals are presently known to cause sicknesses. When you grow it yourself, you have control over the people around you and your family’s exposure to possibly unsafe chemicals.
Many people ask if aquaponics can be done indoors. Absolutely! In fact, numerous aquaponic gardeners have found that basements make a wonderful space for their gardens. With the weather controlled temperatures of an indoor garden, you can grow vegetables all year long. Which means that lettuce will be readily available to you any time.
One thing you need to do is to make sure that your garden gets enough light. In an indoor space, that means adding grow lights to your system. Fortunately, this is not a complicated addition.
Numerous things you must consider before you start an aquaponics scheme. Here are some of them:
- See whether any unique aquaculture licenses are needed were you live.
- Just utilize materials that are food grade.
- Make the fundamental plans on the off chance that you are arranging to travel away.
- Verify that you have looked at the organization where you are purchasing your fish; the exact thing you would not want to have is fish that are injured or sick!
- Make future arrangements so you don’t get short on space for your system.
How to start aquaponics system installation
The concept of installing/building an aquaponic system is exceptionally enticing and because of every last bit of its concept makes a lot of sense. The initial thing is to do a great deal of research before you begin, and first start on a little scale and afterward develop. You can likewise put resources into a guide that will give you orderly and point by point guidelines for building your aquaponics system. Well the hassle of doing a lot of research and investing in guide is already settled because Organic Garden Harvest, Inc is here to help you to install your aquaponics system effectively.
Organic Garden Harvest, Inc is situated in Miami, Fl devoted to help people or organization to install an aquaponics system in the best way furthermore renders help to any individual who needs it.
If you are planning to start your very own organic vegetable garden in your backyard, then there are a lot of things you should know before you start.
For a start you should first decide your garden size. The size you choose for your vegetable garden will be determined by the amount of available space and the amount of energy you wish to commit to the project. This is just the start. Further, you will need to determine every other aspect like orientation to sun and shade, wind exposure and the type of land you are dealing with. The plants in your garden will want to face south, and will require a minimum of 5 hours of direct sunlight per day. For that you will have to make a lot of observation and calculation. Moreover, in windy areas, a fence or berm can serve as a wind barrier. And if the land is sloped, you will need to terrace the beds. Once you have decided all of these, the next step comes, which is, Garden bed and soil preparation. Attention will be required by questions like how many beds to plant? How big to make the beds? Or how deep to make the beds will need? You’ll need to establish several beds to fit the shape of your garden plot, which can be best done by Organic Garden Harvest.
Vegetable beds can be any length, but keep the widths under 4′ for ease of weeding, mulching and tending the plants in the middle of the bed. However, the soil depth depends partly on the crops you want to grow. For raised beds, the height of the beds depends on your preference – taller beds require less bending over to the gardener. Which is why let Organic Garden Harvest will take care of it, so that you don’t have to worry. When this is done, it’s time to prepare the soil. If the soil in your yard has never been gardened, chances are your vegetables will do well in the first year. This is because untapped nutrients and minerals are available. However, in the later years the outcome gets better with the quality of input from you. For now, develop the right soil texture. Garden soil should be well aerated to promote root growth and worm activity. This will be done by adding organic matter to it. This material should be dug, or hoed, into the top of the soil where it will be available to the root systems of young plants. You can add any additional soil adjustments and improvements if you wish to. The final touch will be leveling the soil and bring it to one smooth level. Once your bed preparation is complete, you can mulch the pathways between the beds. Now you can start gardening in your backyard and get the freshest, organic and healthy vegetables right from your garden. Don’t worry about all the work you had to do in preparing the beds, as it is only a one time work and you can garden as much as you want after that.
If you are planning to raise crops soil-free you pretty much have two options: hydroponics and aquaponics method. They are actually both quite similar methods, but the small differences can make eventually a huge impact.
So in this article my mission is to explain bit about the cost differences of these two, which one is more efficient and final verdict that will include what type of system is actually better. So without further intro, let`s get started.
How They Differentiate From Each Other
Simply said hydroponics alone is just a system of growing plants in a nutrient solution instead of in soil. That means the plants are growing in water where necessary nutrients are already added in.
Aquaponic system however consists of plants and animals growing in water. The difference is that the fish is the nutrient generator this time, hence why they are necessary in this plant cultivation system. This time the nutrients (food) is being fed to fish and plants convert and use the energy from the fish waste.
The Practical Differences For Potential Owners
Now we know how these systems are theoretically different, but how does it help you with choosing? Not much.
So, now I list the differences that are going to help you with choosing the right plant cultivation system.
- Understand this. There is a significant amount you have to spend on nutrients every year. Would you like to buy hydroponics nutrients for about $7 a pound or a fish food about $1-2 a pound? Choice is yours, but latter definitely sounds better.
- In hydroponic system replacing water from time to time is must, because chemicals that build up can be eventually dangerous to plants. This can be very complicated and time consuming process, where you will dispose all the waste water?
However, aquaponics system maintains a natural eco-balance thus there is no need to change the water.
- Aquaponic bio-filter is proven to be much more efficient in plant grow rate after the bio-system gets fully working. In short time frame ( about year) hydroponics provides faster growth rate, but after than aquaponic system beats it hands down. At the end, we are creating these systems for long term use! Study: http://www.aquaponicsjournal.com/docs/articles/Greenhouse-Aquaponics-Proves-Superior.pdf
- Aquaponic system has a natural eco-system going on for it which will make it way more resistant to diseases and plant illnesses. With hydroponic system there is no one resisting the diseases so change to have your all plants infected, remains high!
Like you can already read, the aquaponic plant growing system beats hydroponic in almost every category. That means if you are looking for long-term, cost efficient, organic and stable results without worrying about potential diseases and crazy-high nutrient rates then aquaponic system will fit your backyard perfectly.
Hydroponic system may look like good choice at first, but most of the time everyone will sooner or later switch it for aquaponic. You have a change to do the right thing first time!
At the end, there is nothing better than eating a fresh and clean, chemical free, homegrown plants and fish, is there? It is our hope that we have clarify the difference between hydroponics and aquaponics.