Another option to grow organic vegetables is turning backyard ponds into Aquaponics systems . Many gardeners go this route with great success and exceptional vegetables as well as fish farm harvesting food on the table. And it only requires you to simply follow aquaponics basics to get it done successfully.
Since plant and animal decay builds up in backyard ponds, these organic components ultimately become nutrients for vegetable growth. Just as in an Aquaponics Grow Bed, the bacteria builds up and converts the toxic ammonia into nutritious nitrates. 2 options are building an aquaponics pond design from scratch in your backyard, or implementing aquaponics using an existing pond. Populate the pond with enough fish to meet the needs of your vegetables as far as fish excrement goes. If you are growing them as a secondary food there are plenty of edible types available, You can find a list of fish including ornamentals in our best fish for aquaponics post. Be sure to feed your fish properly.
Building an aquaponics pond in your backyard can add a beautiful ambiance to the appearance of your garden. Whether you’re planning it as a home for ornamental fish (or even those that are edible) or water plants, you need to make some decisions before you break ground.
Location Requirements For Plants
You can grow a wide variety of lush green and flowering plants with a minimum of six hours a day. Don’t place it in direct sunlight that lasts all day though. In hot climate regions it’s best to build your aquaponics pond in an area that gets sun in the morning then shade in the afternoon. If you want shade plants that need no sun at all your choices of plant types are limited and difficult to care for through the seasons. More on best growing pond Plants below.
Location Requirements For Fish
Do not place backyard ponds in direct sunlight throughout the day if you are populating it with fish. There are several factors that can affect the health of fish if they get too much sun exposure.
- 1. The size of your aquaponics fish pond depends on the sunlight exposure. Big backyard ponds that run in the neighborhood of half an acre in size are generally 8 feet deep and more. This will allow the fish to avoid the sun with that depth of shade. However, fish ponds in a backyard will typically be much smaller and will usually have a depth of 4 feet or less so they will need protection from the sun.
- 2. Direct sunlight will cause the temperature to rise which lowers the oxygen available to the fish. It also increases the growth of algae in the pond. To avoid these problems the pond should not be exposed to sunlight more than 6 hours a day.
- 3. Minimizing the daily sunlight can be optimized by growing aquatic plants for shade. Water Lilies placed in baskets or plant bags in appropriate areas of the pond will be beneficial. Water hyacinth are used in the same way to protect you fish.
- 4. Some pond builders also design structures that provide shade for the fish like canopy’s or wooden floats. Other types of structures work well such as caves embedded on the sides of the pond. These not only provide shade for the fish but also protect them from predators like birds and raccoons.
You can find out more about which fish to grow including Koi pond aquaponics , Tilapia, Catfish and Trout in our aquaponics fish article.
Materials For The Pond Container
After deciding this aquaponics pond design area, and the depth that works the best in your backyard, it’s time to choose the material for the container. First off, if you use wood be sure to line it with aquaponics pond liner plastic that is at least 6 mil and preferably black. Other materials that work better are terracotta, rust resistant metal, concrete, ceramic and porcelain.
Minimize The Maintenance Factor Of Your Pond
1. Dig the container of the pond away from aged trees that have roots that can be invasive. This will save you a lot of back-breaking work cutting the roots as the grow close to your container sides. At the same time you’ll minimize debris from trees you have to clean that wind up in the water such as deciduous leaf fall and pine needles.
The catch 22 here is that fact that you DO want trees nearby for the shade the pond plants and fish need. Keep track of the predicted of the pond for how much debris falls and where so you can come up with a balanced decision.
2. Make it easy on yourself to control the upkeep even if you’re using an existing aquaponics pond. Create a workable margin area around the perimeter of the pond to reach all areas you need access to. For example don’t place the pond next to fences or walls that crimp your walking space. Your work space should be roughly a 2 foot margin. Using medium sized rocks as the perimeter will form an acceptable border to keep the water retained. Then a one foot margin of flat stone or concrete at ground level helps if you have a lawn surrounding the pond. This way when you mow you’ll cut the grass at the border without having to weed wack it which throws grass into the pond.
Emptying the Pond For Winter
In harsh winter weather regions you may need to empty your pond before it freezes over. This can be done by using a water pump. When you dig the pond be sure that the bottom floor grades down into a circular sump whole about 3 inches deeper. Place the pump in the middle of this whole for best draining results.
Using A Skimmer For Your Pond
Skimmers and other filtration types are great for collecting debris in pond water. These need cleaning out once in awhile. Place them in areas of the pond that you have access to without having to climb over obstacles like sharp pointy rocks, etc. Good thing about the leaves and other debris caught in the filers is that they will decompose into perfect fertilizer for the plants if set aside in a compost pile.
The Benefits Steps Created In The Pond
Cutting out steps on the side floor of your pond will make it much easier for your access. At times you may want to get in the pond for care of you plants or specialty cleaning tasks. These steps can provide shelves for your plant containers. Larger pots will need roughly 20 inch wide steps approximately 12-15 inches below the water line.
Types of Plants For Your Pond
In addition to the pond plants I mentioned above, here are 11 more Aquatic Plants to consider for your pond.
Creeping Jenny Pond Plants
This is a ground cover water plant usually place in cracks between smooth medium sized rocks on the surface or the water
Pickerel Pond Plants
Growing to a height of 30 inches this beautiful lilac colored flowering plant has glossy leaves the shape of a heart
Horsetail Pond Plants
common plants with reeds that grow to 2 feet with its vertical structure. The leaves are 4 to 5 inches with its heart shaped body and stalks that run from light green to purple in color
Taro Pond Plants
These tropical water plants come in a number of variants that grow to 4 feet. Some of these hybrids are known to be edible.
Growing as huge as 3 feet these dynamic rose colored flowers rest on leaves of burgundy and do best near the perimeter of the pond
These simple-to-grow plants look deceivingly like heads of lettuce floating on the surface of your pond
The patchwork image of this floating plant has yellow flowers atop clumps of tiny dark green leaves with burgundy stems. They are perfect for protection of your fish shading themselves from direct sunlight.
The aquatic iris blooming in the spring brings forth beautiful lilac and/or yellow flowers ranging from lilac,yellow, pink and blood orange, atop strap-like leaves 2 to 3 feet high.
Perfect for containers placed near the perimeters of the pond. Grass-like green-yellow leaves usually will last through the winter. They are not limited to containers as they will do fine barely submerged in the water.
Waterlilies may just be the most popular of the water plants with their assortment of colors from white to dark pink flowers nesting in in cup-like clumps of light green leaves.
Tropical plant that can grow to 7 feet. Dwarf type is available for small ponds that can over-winter if brought inside.