Environment Friendly Indoor Aquaponics Systems
With an indoor aquaponics system, you’ll be able to yield healthy and organic pesticide free crops at your convenience from home. This may just be one of the most ecologically friendly and fascinating gardening methods ever contrived. Whether you’re thinking about engaging in aquaponic gardening and fish rearing as a hobby or as a constant source of food, there are a few things you’ll want understand first. Below, we will explore this topic and answer some of the most important questions pertaining to indoor aquaponics.
The environmentally friendly practice of indoor aquaponic gardening has been increasing rapidly in popularity over the last three years. Aquaponics blends hydroponic plant growth with aquaculture in a highly-efficient and masterful way. This innovative process can save you money while maximizing the utilization of space and materials with less effort than you may realize.
Why is aquaponics increasing in popularity?
Exponential growth in the aquaponics industry has likely been caused by a number of contributing factors. Here are the three main reasons that aquaponics is becoming so popular.
Aquaponics gardening may just be the most efficient method of gardening that there is.
- Firstly, aquaponics allows for sustainable plant growth. It is a superior gardening method that is economically and environmentally friendly. Water from fish tanks is used in combination with cultured bacteria to keep plants growing at a minimum cost. This allows maximum resource conservation.
- Additionally, there’s quite a lot of space to be saved with an aquaponics system. Many indoor aquaponics gardens have raised hydroponic plant beds that allow for supreme space utilization. An entire system can fit easily in a greenhouse, sun room, or other designated space.
Aquaponics gardeners understand that efficiency tends to lead toward the optimization of their finances and even the achievement of financial goals. A multitude of financial benefits may be reaped by aquaponic gardeners. From saving at the grocery store to saving on water costs, aquaponics just makes sense.
- These gardeners have access to fresh, healthy produce, at home. They need not worry about paying greengrocer prices or for the cost of food transportation.
- Building an aquaponics system at home isn’t as expensive as most would think. You can create your own DIY indoor aquaponics gardening system for a fraction of what it costs to plant, perpetuate, and manage an outdoor soil garden.
- As they say, time is money. Aquaponics systems need little in the way of maintenance, thus saving you time, energy, and ultimately, money. They don’t require weeding, pesticides, or soil maintenance.
A Healthy Alternative
Aquaponics gardening gives you healthier, and in many cases, better tasting, produce.
- You’ll have constant access to non-GMO, organic, and pesticide-free crops.
- It feels good to eat food that you can trust the source of. This can lead to better health both physically and mentally.
- On top of that, raised garden beds are better on your back. No more hunching or stooping over a low plant bed on the ground.
Are there different kinds of aquaponics systems?
Aquaponics systems come in a multitude of sizes, types, and configurations. Pretty much any type of aquaponics garden can be scaled down for indoor home use. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common aquaponic configurations.
Media Filled Growbeds
These are the simplest types of aquaponics systems. A set number of containers are filled with suitable growing media like clay or pumice which will hold plants in place. Water is then pumped in from a fish tank either by continuous flow or using a flooding method with a drain and flow cycle. This is one of the easiest and most practical aquaponics methods and works quite well for most indoor home aquaponic gardens.
Nutrient Film Beds
The nutrient film technique is used most commonly in hydroponics. It works well with leafy greens and herbs. Plants are placed in usually individual containers where their roots are exposed to a very thin stream of nutrient-rich water via a gutter or trough. If you want to grow an indoor aquaponic herb garden, this method is likely your best option.
Deep Water Culture
Though this can be done a number of ways, this may be the least practical DIY method as it is primarily applied in instances of large-scale commercial aquaponics. The DWC method floats plants on top of water using a raft or other apparatus so that roots can hand down into the nutrient-rich fish tank water. If you have lots of space and want to engage in aquaponics on a larger scale, this method might be worth considering.
Other Aquaponics Methods
There are many other ways that aquaponics systems can be configured. The possibilities are nearly limitless. Whether you’re building a system in a greenhouse, garage, backyard, or sun room, you can harness your creativity to create a system that works perfectly for you. For example, one ingenious method utilizes an outdoor koi pond for nutrient-rich water and pumps it to indoor plant beds that also serve as decorative foliage. The koi pond is gorgeous as well and works with the visual aesthetic of pre-existing landscaping. This creates an attractive and practical garden that serves multiple purposes.
How much space will you need?
This will depend on a few factors, namely the size of your system and desired crop output. While many more crops can be grown in a smaller space than with traditional soil gardening methods, the larger the desired crop yield, the more space you’ll need. If you wish to grow an indoor aquaponic herb garden you don’t need much space at all. A media tank or mini nutrient film bed can fit in a space as small as 2 feet square. Another example would be a large 13 ft x 26 ft system with a higher crop yield. A system of this size will support about 120 medium-sized freshwater fish and will require total 88 square feet of growing room. It may be wise to locate the space you wish to use first, and then plan your aquaponics system from there.
What kind of lighting should you have?
Aquaponics systems allow you to grow plants year-round. It also lets you control the amount of lighting that plants and fish are exposed to. The lighting required for your garden will depend primarily on the kind of plants that you are growing. Heat settings must also be taken into consideration. Here are two separate links that can help. The first explains how lighting should be handled for aquaponics. The second, gives you lighting specifications for different types of vegetables.
Hydroponic and Aquaponics Lighting
Your vegetables are going to need sun light exposure which they can get from the proper indoor lighting strips, with out the lighting they will fail to thrive.
The lighting needs to be at the correct height to give optimal coverage. It would be a good idea to purchase a light mover which waves back and forth to give a natural exposure that covers all sides of the plants.
Your going to want an automatic timer that turns the lighting on and off as needed.
Vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vine crops such as
melons, and squash need about 8 hours of sun exposure daily.
Leafy vegetables like lettuce and Swiss chard need at least 4 hours
Root crops like carrots and beets will need 6 hours
Keep in mind that these a minimum amounts of light coverage so be sure to monitor your plants as often as you can in case you need to adjust your timer.
What can be grown in an aquaponic garden?
An abundance of organic herbs, vegetables, and even some kinds of fruit, can be grown using aquaponics. Your choices will include:
- leafy lettuce
- pak choi
- swiss chard
- sweet corn
- dwarf citrus trees: lemons, limes, and oranges
- dwarf pomegranate tree
- and even edible flowers such as nasturtium, violas, and orchids.
How To Build Your Own DIY Indoor Aquaponics System
If you want to build your own aquaponics system, there are a few ways to go about it. You can either purchase an indoor aquaponics kit or start from scratch. Both indoor aquaponics kit methods and DIY methods have many benefits. Either way, you’re going to need to make a plan, gather tools, and assemble components. Below are a few tips for creating your own indoor aquaponics system.
Plan and Prep
You will need to come up with a plan on how you will build your system. Preparing properly before you execute this plan is also important. Your system will have two main components, no matter which method you use. The two main components will be your fish tank and your plant bed. Decide what you’ll grow, what kind of aquaponics system will fit your purposes best, how much crop yield you’ll be expecting, and which type of fish will be best fitted for your tank. You’ll also need to choose a grow bed material, pick a fish tank type, decide on a water pump and possibly media material, and know your lighting requirements.
You will need a few materials to get started. No matter which kind of bed you choose, you will want to get your tank, grow bed or bed containers, media, water pump and tubing, and lighting source. Even in a sun room, winter seasons can slow plant growth. An aquaponics system works best all year round, so you will need to figure out how you plan to handle lighting.
Get Your tools
The tools required will generally be:
- A Drill with 1/4” or 3/16” bit and 1/2” bit
- Electrical tape
- Marking pencils
- A heavy-duty PVC cutter
- A Hacksaw
Hopefully, this concise guide has given you some insight into the genius of aquaponics. Good luck and happy gardening!