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.
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How to Build a Simple Aquaponics System
You can save money and provide your family with amazingly nutritious food by building your own aquaponics system, and in this article I will show you how to get started.
First I will explain why I think it’s important to take the time to understand and build a DIY system. Then we’ll explore the basic design concept of any system and how to expand on that and implement it for your specific needs.
And of course I will also go over the components and materials needed, and where to get them.
Next up we’ll tackle the issue of the size and location of your garden, and to finish it off I will provide further resources for detailed DIY plans if you feel like you still need additional help with setting up and operating your aquaponics system.
I hope you will find this guide helpful and easy to follow.
Remember: With a little bit of determination, anyone can do this!
So without further Ado, Let’s get started…
Here’s What You Will Learn…
- Why DIY?
- Basic System Design
- Components & Materials
- Size & Location
- Detailed DIY Plans (further resources)
Why Build Your Own System?
So why should you DIY (do it yourself) and not simply buy a pre-built one? A pre-built solution can be an excellent option. However there are some distinct advantages to rolling up your sleeves and taking things into your own hands…
For many people cost is going to be a concern and this is one of the primary advantages to going the DIY route: you gain considerable savings by taking things into your own hands. Depending on the scope of your plans you can save 50 to 75% or even more if you get really creative & resourceful with your supplies and materials.
This is my favourite reason for taking this route: the knowledge you gain is invaluable…
By planning & designing a system and putting it together yourself, you end up re-enforcing a solid understanding of how an aquaponics system works. And this allows you to take true ownership of your system and its operation. This means that any future work will be a snap because you know your setup intimately and making additions, changes, or repairs will be second nature.
And last but not least, there’s that sweet satisfaction of a job well done. If you’re anything like me then you revel in the feeling of successfully completing a project started from scratch and followed all the way through. Especially one that will provide an abundant supply of healthy organic food for you and your family for years to come.
Basic System Design
(Please get some diagram for this section and design it following the statements below)
Before moving on to more intricate designs and layouts it helps to visualize an aquaponics system in its most basic configuration.
If you look at the diagram below you can see that I’ve labeled the primary components of any system. How you decide to arrange them, what size they will be, and where you will set them up will vary from system to system of course.
As you can see, the core concept is extremely simple.
- Water flows from the fish tank (A) to the garden (B). And then from (B) back to (A) again.
- The secondary components (c, d, & e) facilitate the movement and distribution of water between the two primary components.
This. In its most basic sense, is all an aquaponics system is. And although you might feel that this is too simple, remember that you can expand on this core design and implement it for your specific needs in an almost infinite variety of ways.
Components & Materials
There are varying degrees of size and complexity when it comes to designing and constructing your aquaponics garden, but there are some common components of any system, and it helps to understand what they are and how they work.
- Fish Tank: This is the main tank in which you raise and feed your fish. The waste from here accumulates and is pumped into the garden where it nourishes your plants and helps them to grow.
- Garden: This is where you grow your plants. It has its own watering system which is provided with water & nutrients from the fish tank and there are different strategies for how to set this up. For instance you can use media filled beds which receive a continuous flow of water, a flood and drain system, or even a deep water culture system which allows the plants to simply soak their roots directly in the water below.
- Sump Tank: This is the lowest point in an aquapotics system, and it’s where the water is collected from the garden before it returns to the fish tank. This is a non essential component but using one comes with some advantages. Not only does it allow you to maintain a constant water level in your fish tank, but it allows you to easily remove collected and unwanted waste before sending that water back to the fish tank. Your pump also operates much better with cleaner water, so this ensures that your fish tank pumps water to your garden at a consistent rate.
- Pump: This is the workhorse of your system, it moves and directs the flow of water from each area of your aquaponics garden to the next.
- Plant Trays
- Air Pumps
Size & Location
One of my favorite things about aquaponics is that you can setup a system of almost any size, either indoors or outdoors. From a mini garden with gold fish growing vegetables and herbs, to a large backyard farm, or even massive commercial operations.
The key thing to keep in mind when growing indoors is that you need to choose an area that receives at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight per day, this is the minimum required for most plants to grow properly. With that said, any place in your home that meets the minimum requirements for sunlight is perfect for setting up a small aquaponics system. And of course you can always use a hydroponic grow light if getting adequate sunlight is a problem.
Common Indoor Locations
- Front Room
- Spare Room
When it comes to outdoor growing, the logical solution for most people is their backyard. Not only does this give you privacy and security, but it also provides adequate space for any future expansion. It is not uncommon however to see people with systems at the side of their house or even in their front yard. A lot of it depends on where you can get the right amount of sunlight for your garden.
Common Outdoor Locations
- Balcony, Porch, or Veranda
- Side or Front of House
The possibilities for the size and location of your setup are endless. Small, big, indoors or outdoors… Whatever your current situation, you can definitely get your own aquaponics system up and running!
Raising Fish at the Comfort of One’s Own Backyard
Backyard aquaponics is the latest trend concept for a healthy, environmental and economic-wise choice when it comes to backyard fish farming. With its great benefits not just to the health, but to the environment as well, it is now one of the most popular backyard projects of many families, much like that of chicken raising.
Backyard aquaponics or backyard fish farming is much like backyard vegetable gardening and it is a farming trend that many families found to be healthy, environment-friendly and economic-wise. As such, more and more people are choosing to grow fish at their backyards especially with the numerous benefits people can have from fish farming.
One of the benefits that come with backyard aquaponics is the enhance look and beauty of one’s backyard landscaping. Together with this, families who engage in backyard fish farming gain a steady food supply as well. This is the good news that backyard aquaponics provides to families who have their own fish ponds at their home. Moreover, backyard aquaponics ensures that the food families have in their dinner table is safe and without any harmful chemicals or antibiotics that can harm their health.
How Backyard Farming is done
Fish farming in the backyard is advantageous as it is done according to one’s preferences, needs and abilities. This means that one does not need to have any expert skills or knowledge for them to be able to grow fishes at their backyard. They can simply choose the type of fish that they want and need according to their capabilities.
What is truly great in backyard farming is the fact that when one wants to feed their family with homegrown fish, they can simply dig a pond at their backyard and easily start fishing in it. In case they don’t have a backyard, then there are also other options like aquariums, fish tanks and pools. With these, not only they can grow fish at their backyards. They can raise fish indoors as well. If the family has a bigger property, then raising fish commercially can be a good investment.
Backyard Aquaponics at Home
When starting a backyard aquaponics system at home, one can simply start with just a small pond at the backyard. If the place has bigger space, one can be fortunate with it as they can easily stock the pond with various types of fish. Several types of fish that is appropriate for backyard fish farming include carp, barramundi, trout, tilapia, catfish, cod, koi and many others.
When it comes to backyard fish farming, it is also important that one is able to choose the right fish based on one’s local climate. Choosing a suitable type of fish based on the local climate as well as one’s pond space and budget is very important. This ensures that the fish to be raised will be fed well. It must be considered that if one lives in a place with cold weather conditions, fishes that are ideal with cold like koi are the best choice. This also means that tilapia should not be raised in places with cold weather as they are ideal in warm places.
The environmental condition of the pond should also be considered. If the pond is ecologically balanced, then the fish farmer will only need very little management of the pond. With an ecologically balanced pond for backyard fish farming, one can have it almost easy as it can almost run in autopilot without much pond management. When it comes to farming, one should remember the eating habits of the fish. Fishes can be classified to three when it comes to their fishing habits. There are those bottom eaters, mid-eaters and top eaters.
The tops eaters are the fishes that can be easily seen and the fishes that eat green algae as well as all the stuff that can be found visible at the top of the pond. On the other hand, the bottom eaters are rarely seen and they are those that often keep the pond clean. It is best that fish are fed once in awhile for fast growth of the fish and for quick harvest, but one should not overfeed them for overfeeding is the number one cause of problems related to bacteria, fish diseases as well as degradation of the quality of water in the pond.