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Design Factor Benefits of Aquaponics Systems
The Benefits Of Aquaponics Systems are so extensive you may find it to be the best option for your gardening needs. This will depend on your environmental preferences as well as other factors. We will go over the advantages and usability of these systems in this article as well as in our following posts. This type of system refers to the combination of traditional aquaculture and hydroponics to create a sustainable food production system. If you have questions regarding ” what is aquaponics” please refer to our 4 post series starting with Aquaponics verses Hydroponics.
People often confuse Aquaponics with Hydroponics because they both engage water rich in nutrients, and non-soil media in a re-circulating system. Aquaponics, however, implements aquaculture. This is means the media of a fish environment as the source of nutrients to benefit the health of the plants.
Aquaponics Biofilter That Turns Fish Excrement Ammonia Into Plant Nutrients
When the fish poop in their tank it becomes ammonia solids. These not only have no use for plants, but are also toxic to the fish themselves. A process called Nitrification comes to the rescue without any effort to the growers. In some of the aquaponic systems a biofilter is created by bacteria that populate on the tank sides and convert the ammonia to Nitrates. These elements become nutrients for the plants. In other aquaponics system types the bacteria builds up on the surface of grow media in the aquaponics grow bed. In the cases where the systems are large enough, biofilter container devices are used for the conversion. In all these instances the result is that the growing plants are getting their nutrients in a natural way. Also, the fish tank water is cleaned and our aquaculture friends swim in a healthy environment. More on this in our post Aquaponics Biofilter Essentials.
Another component important to consider is monitoring pH levels. This goes for the water in the grow beds as well as the fish tank. More On pH Levels Here
An aquaponics system design can save space
More plants per square foot will thrive in an aquaponic system compared to a typical vegetable garden layout.
- Plant roots are submerged in a water environment of nourishment.
- Energy is saved that would’ve been used up tilling through soil to find the needed nutrients.
- Their energy will now be focused on leaf and stem growth above water.
- This also means faster growth and fewer days until harvest time.
- Conventional gardening requires a lot of space as well as water, weed maintenance and fertilizers.
For those who love gardening but have limited space, this becomes another one of the important benefits of Aquaponics systems.
In this illustration , the bottom portion is where the fish reside. In this design of an aquaponics system there are 3 grow beds above the fish tank to allow for more vegetable plant types as well as quantity.
Just as you can build an aquaponics design to meet your quantity and variety of veggie choices, you can also determine which fish you wish to have. Remember, the fish not only supply nutrients for the pants, they are also a source of nutrient for you when you decide to harvest a few for dinner. Aquaponics gardeners have had great success using edible fish in their tanks such as trout, tilapia, and perch.
We will go over the best fish to grow in aquaponic environments in our Post, Best Fish to Grow in Aquaponics We’ll also cover how many fish for aquaponics tanks depending on their size.
Multiple Crop Benefits of Aquaponics
Other benefits of Aquaponics systems is the variety of plant types that thrive in this type of environment. With the cost of food escalating it makes good sense to grow your own fruits and vegetables where it’s available.
Through the aquaponics method of gardening, plants have 24/7 access to nutrients allowing them to grow faster. Take an instance where regularly lettuce takes about 2 months to grow to maturity when in soil. However, the same vegetable will take only one month in an aquaponics system. With lighting systems for the plants and heat pumps for the fish, you could grow year-round.
- The Aquaponic method provides an environment of nutrients that help plants to flourish.
- This sustains a wide variety of fruit and vegetable types as well as other flora.
- The plants grow up to 2-3 times as fast without depleting the nutrients.
- The plants grow more robust leaves and fruiting parts at 3-4 times the density.
We focus mainly on edible fruiting plants like leafy vegetables, tomatoes, etc. on this website, but go over these in more detail on our post, Best Plants for Aquaponics.
Aquaponics System Grow Beds Without Weeds or Soil Pests
One of the downsides of vegetable gardening is fighting off the weeds whether it be by manually pulling them or applying toxic herbicides. With an Aquaponics system, there’s no chance of soil-born weeds growing in the media since there is no soil. That’s a lot of time saved, as well as eliminating the need for toxic herbicides.
Farms as well as backyard gardeners lean towards chemical fertilizers to maintain nutrient-rich soil. This leads to harmful fertilizer toxin run off into the watershed environment. This often leads to harmful side effects when they reach rivers and lakes.
Since there is no soil in the aquaponics system, there are no soil pests to destroy the plants. Insect pests can cause a lot of destruction and we tend to eliminate them using pesticides. This is harmful to the plants and those of us that eat them. However, with this type of garden design, it’s easy to grow plants without the presence of soil pests or the need to use pesticides.
No Need for Manual Watering of Aquaponics Plants
More important benefits of Aquaponics systems is that they recycle and circulate the water as part of the design. Therefore, there will be no need to water the plants. For many home gardeners, facilitating the delivery of water to the garden involves expensive irrigation systems to accommodate the layout of the plants. Using an aquaponics system will ensure that plants are properly hydrated since water is always present in the system.
An Aquaponics System Provides Low Water and Power Usage
Aquaponics systems can provide an environment of sustainability, particularly in “backyard Aquaponics” type systems. This means that although water and electrical power are needed, very little of these resources are used up. Wikipedia defines sustainable as “the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
In larger aquaponic tank farming businesses, the electricity needed is significant although progress in this technology is improving. But for home aquaponic layouts, smaller electrical pumps that require very little power can be used. In some cases, solar power can be added to the system which lowers the powers costs even further.
Water usage is minimal because it is re-circulated through the system. Compared to traditional gardening, an Aquaponics system loses 90% less water for the same volume of crops grown!
Because of its eco-friendly nature, Aquaponics gardening has become more and more popular in recent years. Environmentally responsible groups see the food source benefits it can provide in our communities for future generations to come.
Aquaponics Crops Can be a Good Source of Income
Aquaponics can be a legitimate and prosperous business for those who want to take it to that level. Food production is increased by the volume of vegetable plants per square foot that can be harvested . Remember, because of the nutrient-rich fish excretions available to crop roots, the plants grow 2-3 times as fast as conventional gardens!
In addition to harvesting the vegetables, you can also profit on the harvest of your fish population. Many of the best choices for fish to use in an aquaponics tank are edible.
*Interesting Fact- Did you know that the “ponics” in the word aquaponics is from the Greek word Ponos? It means growing plants with or without media.
There are many more benefits of Aquaponics systems which we will go over in subsequent posts. These layouts range in size from children’s 3-gallon kits for learning, to large industrial projects that cover acres of land.
The type of plants and species of fish involved can be quite extensive. Materials for building one can range from inexpensive depending on your resourcefulness, to top dollar technological systems for large businesses. Either way, they offer a new wave of environmentally safe methods to grow thriving veggies.
Find out more ideas on the benefits of Aquaponics highly sustainable method of Agriculture