How would you feel knowing that two of your passions- gardening and fish keeping can be mingled? Fascinating, right? Well, it is true because the advanced agricultural practices give immense opportunities to explore the world of plants and fish together.
When you are down with time and money yet want to have a nice garden and a beautiful fish tank, aquaponics could come to rescue.
What is Aquaponics?
Speaking technically or rather agriculturally, aquaponics is a combination of conventional aquaculture and hydroponics in a symbiotic environment. Generally, it is done on a large scale where different aqua creatures and plants are raised for the commercial purpose. However, one can do this for artistic purpose as well and maintain a small aquaponics tank in their home.
Hydroponics is a practice of raising plants without the use of soil. They are supplemented with a mineral nutrient rich solution for growth and development. The roots of the plants remain submerged in this solution where sand and gravel is often added.
Aquaculture is fish farming and raising aquatic animals like snails, prawns, etc, under controlled conditions mostly for commercial purpose.
So, if you want to try your hands in fish keeping and gardening in an innovative, highly artistic and creative way, aquaponics could become your ultimate option.
What creates a symbiotic environment for plants and fish
As we now know that aquaponics make use of both plants and fish and they both live symbiotically. The waste materials of the fish are used by the plants as nutrients and plants, in turn, filter the waste materials and toxicity of the tank through respiration. This way they both get the source of their living and flourish.
Although aquaponics may sound complicated, if you get the right information and details of setting it up, you can fulfill your passion of fish keeping and gardening both. It has been observed that fish raised with plants always remain un-stressed, happy and gay. Plants and fish both can enjoy and help each other in growth and development.
How to set up an aquaponics?
Floating foam rafts are used to grow the plants where gravel and clay pebbles act as a planting medium. Plants keep floating with their roots hanging down where fish water will come in contact with them.
Roots of the plants start extracting the nutrients and minerals from the water that they need to thrive. They remove all the impurities in the water due to fish produce, thereby maintaining its neutrality. There is the presence of certain bacteria on the growing bed which aids on converting ammonia waste into nitrates. The plants can use this nitrate for further processes.
Fish, on the other hand, are always assured of getting clean and toxic free water as plants work on them continuously and filter it. Since the water quality always remains up-to-date, the chances of fish getting sick cease to a great extent.
Benefits of aquaponics?
Aquaponics not only provides an excellent means of redefining your hobbies but also endow other alluring benefits. It is highly energy efficient and makes sure you get great entertainment. Some of the significant benefits are:
• You can grow vegetables and breed fish at the same time for commercial purpose on the same tank.
• It doesn’t require too much cleaning of the tank.
• There is no need for fertilizers as plants get it from the natural sources.
• It doesn’t require weeding because there is no soil for weed development.
• Water gets continuously recycled; therefore minimal electricity is required for the purpose.
With so many pros, people get attracted to working on aquaponics. The only downside of setting it is making the right choice of plants and fish for getting a better result.
Fish for aquaponics
It completely depends on you to either have edible fish, only the ornamental ones or a combination of both in your aquaponics. Some of the fish that are considered right for aquaponics are sunfish, koi, carp, bluegill, tilapia, catfish, goldfish, crappie, tetras, guppies, etc. out of these some are edible, and some only serve the purpose of recreation.
Plants for aquaponics
The best way to pick plants for aquaponics is by studying their nutrient requirements. You should not consider plants that have specific needs or higher requirements of nutrients for growth. Once you gain good know-how of raising plants via aquaponics, you can go for broccoli, cucumber, peas, corn, tomatoes, squash, etc. Professional aquaponics culturists raise dwarf citrus trees also. However, for new hobbyists picking easy plants is considered the best.
You can easily grow certain vegetables and herbs and consume them whenever required. Green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, lettuce are widely grown. Basil, mint, and chives are the herbs people love to have in their aquaponics culture. All in all, low maintenance plants that do not have any specific requirement can be grown in an aquaponic system with fewer efforts.
Being an all-inclusive setup, you can have many hit and trials to obtain the result of your choice.
Aquaponics fish tank
If you are thinking to give aquaponics a shot, you need to consider having a special aquaponics tank. Since you have to provide a conducive environment to both- plants and fish, the tank should meet specific requirements like:
• The tank should be completely airtight- You can use silicon or rubber gaskets for not allowing the air to escape from anywhere.
• The tank should be completely sterile- Presence of any toxicity may harm the fish as well as the plant. Since fish are there not only to live and grow but also to provide a living to plants and bacteria; therefore, a sterile ambiance is a must.
• Do not use metal containers- Metal tends to corrode with time when coming in contact with water and air. It can drastically affect the water quality specifically the pH and ammonia balance.
Other than this, it is essential that the conversion rate of ammonia into nitrates and waste materials into a usable form is apt. It is advised to have the right balance of grow bed and fish tank volume to get the best outcome. Here you must also consider the size of the fish you are going to raise. Large fish will need a large aquaponics tank.
Aquaponics tanks come in different shapes as well like oval, broad and square. You may choose one as per your personal preferences. However, more than space, it is the location of placing the tank that holds more importance. Things you should keep in mind are:
• Do not keep the tank over a weak foundation.
• Do not keep where the temperature fluctuates considerably.
• Keeping in front of a window may affect the plants when winds blow severely, or sunlight falls directly.
Apart from these, you must also think about the fish’s temperature requirements as well before placing the tank.
Who can consider aquaponics?
Aquaponics is not rocket science. All that you need is a detailed insight into its set up and running and try your hands. It is a wonderful home cultivation hobby which can give you amazing results. You not only get an artistic approach to fish keeping and gardening but also promote eco-friendly agriculture.
Being a low-cost and low-maintenance system, you can easily grow your own food and relish anytime. In today’s time when everything is coming in an adulterated form, what else is more glorifying then getting green, fresh, organic and delectable vegetables at home?
You might see someday that your mere hobby of aquaponics is turning into something that you not only enjoy but get lucrative returns as well.
So, if you are really into gardening and fish keeping, and have some spare time, space and a small amount of money, invest in an aquaponics. It will definitely make you stand out of the crowd and your tank something worth to ponder.