Tag Archive | "aquaponics"

Aquaponic Food Production Using Aquaponic System

Aquaponics is easier than growing fish in a fish tank aquarium. And you get to eat them! Well, as long as you grow something you want to eat. Usually baramundi, tilapia and catfish are grown in aquaponics systems, but you can grow goldfish if you wanted.

In addition to raising your own fish, you are making the system easier by growing plants who help to filter the water for you. This system is a natural ecosystem that provides food for you and your family.

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How Aquaponics System Works

We discovered this fantastic aquaponics infographic from Aquaponic Systems:

How Aquaponics Works Infographic, see transcription

"How Aquaponics Works" image © Reynolds Thomas

How Aquaponics Works Infographic Transcription:

Fish are fed food and produce Ammonia rich waste. Too much waste substance is toxic for the fish, but they can withstand high levels of Nitrates.

The bacteria, which is cultured in the grow beds as well as the fish tank, breaks down this Ammonia into Nitrites and then Nitrates.

Plants take in the converted Nitrates as nutrients. The nutrients are a fertilizer, feeding the plants. Also, the plant roots help filter the water for the fish.

Water in the system is filtered through the grow medium in the grow beds. Thw water also contains all the nutrients for the fish.

Oxygen enters the system through an air pump and during dry periods. This oxygen is essential for plant growth and fish survival.

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Fish for Aquaponics

You need fish for an aquaponics system. Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, aqua- and -ponics combined. Without fish you can't feed your plants naturally and you're just doing hydroponics.

Aquaponics is great. You get to grow your own produce and are raising fish at the same time. It's easier than having a traditional fish tank aquarium.

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Fish for Aquaponics

Depending on whether you are doing aquaponics indoors or out has a lot to do with what type of fish species you pick. If outside you'll need to take into account your local fish supply and climate. Trout do great in cooler climates, while Barramundi prefers warmer climates.

Ask yourself these questions to determine the best aquaponics fish for you:

  • Do you want to eat your fish?
  • Do you want to harvest your fish seasonally or year-round?
  • What fish is available in your area for you to buy fish stock?

Tilapia in an aquaponics system

Aquaponics Fish

One of the most popular fish used in aquaponics tanks is tilapia. Tilapia for aquaponics are truly ideal. They grow very fast to edible size. Even if the water conditions aren't ideal, this fish will still grow.

​Catfish (edible, warm water, omnivore) – Channel catfish are the most aquaponics cultured fish in the United States. They grow quickly and have a good food conversion ratio. 

Tilapia​ (edible, warm water, omnivore) – The second most cultured fish in the world. Tilapia is one of the most popular fish to use in an aquaponics system. They are easy to breed and fast growing. Tilapia taste great and can withstand poor water conditions. 

Trout (edible, cool water, carnivore) – Trout grow quickly and taste great. Their food conversion ratio is very good.

For a more detailed look at aquaponics fish in Australia, please visit BackyardAquatics.com.

​Beyond Aquaponics Fish

Why limit yourself to just fish for your aquaponics system? You can easily incorporate fresh water crayfish, fresh water prawns, and fresh water mussels into your aquaponics system.

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Aquaponics Designs and Aquaponics Plans

Aquaponics Designs and Aquaponics Plans

Basically a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, thus aqua-ponics, aquaponics systems utilize hydroponics while growing fish in a semi-enclosed to fully-enclosed system.

Aquaponics uses the best of both systems to optimally grow plants with natural nutrition. The plants and  grow bed medium filter the unclean water and return it to the fish tank. Water doesn’t need to be replaced or removed. Water only needs to be added occasionally due to evaporation and transpiration, essentially sweating by the plants.

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Sidenote: If you prefer to purchase a pre-made aquaponics system, there are several good options at Amazon (including the popular AquaBundance Aquaponics System).

Aquaponics Designs

While some aquaponics systems can be incredible complex and intimidating, there are several simpler designs available. All utilize a grow bed medium, such as crushed basalt, expanded clay, gravel, or riverstone.

Continuous Flow

Water is trickled down through the grow bed into the fish tank. The water from the fish tank is then pumped up to the surface of the grow bed. The water is constantly flowing over the grow bed medium.

Advantages of Continuous Flow
  • Simplicity
Disadvantages of Continuous Flow
  • Water flow doesn’t allow plants to receive all the nutrients
  • If you choose to permanently flood the grow beds, to a degree, the plant’s roots may become waterlogged.

Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)

In an effort to mimic ocean tides, you can flood the grow bed and then drain it completely. Copying nature is a great way to build your aquaponics.

When the grow bed is flooded the plants are absorbing nutrients through their roots in the water. Then you drain the water completely letting the roots obtain oxygen.

Advantages of Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
  • Limits the build up of solids
  • Reducing need for irrigation grids
  • Plants have greater grow potential throughout the entire bed
Disadvantages of Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)


CHIFT PIST, or Constant Height in Fish Tank – Pump in Sump Tank, is an unique setup.

From BackyardAquaponics.com:

This style of system uses a pump in the sump tank that pumps water into the fish tank, the overflow pipe causes the water to flow out of the fish tank, when it exceeds a certain height, and into a grow bed where it drains back into the sump tank. A simple version of this system can be seen on the left, the black pipe pumps water into the fish tank, while water flows out of the white PVC pipe into the the grow bed before draining back into the sump. This system was run with a timer on the pump and a restricted outlet on the drain, this allowed for a flooding and draining action in the grow bed.

Advantages of CHIFT PIST
  • No pump in the fish tank
  • Water level in fish tank stays at somewhat constant height
  • If pump failure the fish tank stays full
Disadvantages of CHIFT PIST
  • Need a raised or tall fish tank
  • Need a sump tank, short height and a large volume

Simple Flood and Drain

The fish tank sits under the grow bed. Water is pumped into the grow bed via the fish tank, then the water empties right back into the fish tank below.

Advantages of Simple Flood and Drain
  • Simplicity
  • If pump failure the water still drains into fish tank.
Disadvantages of Simple Flood and Drain
  • Fluctuating water level in fish tank when flooding grow bed.
  • If pump is small the solid waste might cause clogs. You’ll need to do periodic maintenance.

Sump Tank Two Pump

From BackyardAquaponics.com:

A two pump sump tank system works by pumping water from the fish tank into the grow beds, the water then drains from the grow beds into a sump tank. Within the sump tank is a pump operated by a float valve, as the water level in the sump tank rises the pump switches on, pumping water back into the main fish tank. The float valve switches the pump within the sump tank on and off, the hieght that it turns on can be set so that the sump tank retains a good volume of water, allowing a second species of fish, or young fingerlings to be stocked in the sump tank.

Advantages of Sump Tank Two Pump
  • Fresh oxygenated water is supplied to the fish tank several times per hour.
  • Can accommodate a large system.
  • Can stock sump tank with fingerlings or other species
Disadvantages of Sump Tank Two Pump
  • If pump failure, or blackout, and grow beds are full water may overflow from the sump tank. You’ll lose water from the aquaponics system.
  • You need two pumps.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

Nutrient film technique in aquaponics system

From BackyardAquaponics.com:

Nutrient Film Technique is a commonly used hydroponic method, but is not as common in aquaponic systems. In NFT systems, nutrient rich water is pumped down small enclosed gutters, the water flowing down the gutter is only a very thin film. Plants sit in small plastic cups allowing their roots to access the water and absorb the nutrients. NFT is only really suitable for certain types of plants, generally leafy green vegetables, larger plants will have root systems that are too big and invasive, or they become too heavy for the lightweight growing gutters.

Advantages of the Nutrient Film Technique
  • Easy to do yourself
Disadvantages of the Nutrient Film Technique
  • Generally only specific types of plants can be grown this way, typically leafy green vegetables
  • Heavy plants might be too large and heavy for the lightweight growing gutters

Deep Water Culture (DWC)

Float plants directly on top of the water, perhaps on a floating island, allowing roots to hang in the water. The most common way is to use a floating foam raft in commercial methods.

Advantages of Deep Water Culture
  • Simplicity
Disadvantages of Deep Water Culture
  • Roots can become waterlogged and dirty

Aquaponics Plans

First, you need to know that BackyardAquaponics.com offers a “Design your own aquaponics system” with Google Sketchup. You can create your own custom aquaponics design using 3D components.

You’ll need to download Google Sketchup. After installing it you can open the BYAP components.

There are many different ways to set up your own aquaponics. It’s really as simple or complex as you decide. The most reliable and simple method is to use a flood and drain style.

Here are a few aquaponics system plans to get your started:

Floating Aquarium Raft

Add a simple raft that holds plants to your existing fish tank aquarium and you have one of the simplest aquaponics setup.

  1. Cut holes in a large piece of foam.
  2. Place some herbs, like mint, into the holes.
  3. Float the raft on top of the water in your fish tank.

We’ve seen that some edible plants, like green leafy vegetables, don’t do good with this method. The roots become waterlogged and aren’t able to absorb the nutrients or get oxygen. Do research on your plants.

Goldfish and Home Fish Tank Aquarium

Adapt any fish tank for your own simple aquaponics system. Use goldfish, or any fish you’d like, and set the aquarium on a sunny window ledge.

  1. Get a fish tank and some fish.
  2. Fill pots with gravel and plant your plants.
  3. Set up water pump to dump water into these pots.
  4. Place the pots directly above the fish tank, this way the water drains back into the fish tank.

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What is the difference between aquaponics, areoponics and hydroponics?

Hydroponics, Aeroponics, and Aquaponics are growing in popularity as more people become aware of this new way to grow plants. It works well because the plant is receiving what it needs to grow when it needs it. The plant is only receiving what it needs and the resulting plant is as healthy as genetically possible.

While the idea of hydroponics and aeroponics aren’t new, aquaponics is a relatively new farming technology spreading like wildfire. It seems everyone is talking about it or doing it. And we’re no different.

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When we first learned about this we were inspired and couldn’t wait to do something ourselves. That’s why we’re dedicating this week to all about hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics. Each day we’ll give you new information, a new product or something fun relating to these innovative farming techniques.

To stay informed, be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed or get the recap in our newsletter.

Differences Between Hydroponics, Aeroponics, and Aquaponics

Watercress grown without soil.

While all three share similarities, such as growing plants without needing soil, they each differ from each other.

Hydroponics Grows Plants in Water

Using water to transport the nutrients, hydroponics is how you grow plants without soil. Plants can be grown using liquid, sand, or gravel. All of the nutrients are supplied by the water directly to the root system.

Aeroponics Grows Plants in Water

Using an environment without soil, aeroponics is the process of growing plants in a moist environment. Whether in an air or mist environment, this system is used by NASA and plants can be grown in tubes.

Basically aeroponics suspends the plant in a somewhat closed environment and water is sprayed on the roots with a nutrient-rich water. A drawback to this type of environment is that the roots are exposed and pests can become a problem if it’s not isolated.

Aquaponics Grows Plants in Water and Breeds Fish

In addition to utilizing water to provide nutrients to growing plants, aquaponics adds the breeding of fish. It needs to be a controlled environment and the system is integrated. Aquaponics is a well-balanced ecosystem that is mutually beneficial for the plants and fish.

Conclusion: Hydroponics, Aeroponics, andAquaponics

From SmallPlotGardens.com:

While all three can be implemented in a raised garden, all three are very similar in every way except hydroponics and aeroponics require the addition of fertilizer and there’s no fish in the nutrient solution. In aquaponics, plants and fish live a symbiotic life with the fish feeding the plants, and the plants cleaning and filtering the fish’s environment.

In addition to NASA growing food utilizing aeroponics, normal people are finding ways to incorporate these different farming methods in their own backyards. The idea of growing healthy food that wasn’t bought in a grocery store is growing mass appeal.

Hydroponics is the base for all these methods and would be the easiest to set up. It could be later adapted to create an aquaponics setup. However, the aeroponics requires more maintenance and care in creating a semi-enclosed to fully-enclosed environment. This probably wouldn’t work for most people.

Remember to stay informed of our week long focus on the -ponics farming techniques, be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed or get the recap in our newsletter.

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