Aquaponics are the scientific combination of two forms of aquatic agriculture, those being aquaculture and hydroponic method. Therefore, aquaponics combines the growth of aquatic plants as well as animals in a single, artificially created habitat. Hydroponic is the method used for cultivating plants in water mixed with nutritious minerals. Unlike traditional methods of agriculture, this process does not use soil as its medium and instead uses fine gravel or simple cotton balls or clay. Terrestrial plants find hydroponics a suitable environment to grow and are successfully able to absorb mineral nutrients from the water.
The Aquaponic System
Aquaculture or aqua farming is the breeding of water organisms such as fish, oysters, lobsters, water plants, and many more species. These are cultivated in both salt/freshwater and in a controlled environment. This system is divided into two parts, one for the animals and the other for the plants. It also uses either fresh or saline water and the size of the system may vary depending on its purpose or the variety of plants and animals being bred.
Commercial systems are usually large, while home systems can be smaller. The bacteria present in the water processes the animal waste to create nitrates from toxic nitrites. These nitrates are then absorbed by the plants as nutrients, which in turn, helps keep the aquatic animals and plants healthy and nourished. Now, that you have understood what an aquaponic does, let's find out how to build one.
Things You'll Need
Here is an example of a small aquaponic. Making the system at home will require some basic items. You'll firstly need a small pond and a grow-tub with a grow-bed, which is to be kept above the fish tank. Here are the parts you'll need for build one yourself.
- A pond bin of about 250-300 liters for the fish. - USD 4-15
- A grow tub of 150-200 liters, that is rectangular and long. - USD 4-20
- A grow bed that is placed on top of the fish tank. - USD 5-15
- A 1000-1500 liter capacity pump for the pond which should be powerful enough to pump water to the upper plant tank. This tank is usually situated at a height of 1 meter or more. - USD 20-40
- A waterproof extension cable that is about 10-15 meters long.
- An air pump with dual outlets that are at least 15 meters long. - USD 7-15
- An automated surge protector that will pump water in the system every 2 to 3 hours.
- A water purifier pump for constant circulation, purification, and oxygen supply.
- You'll need tiles or slabs of brick to make a roof for the fish tank.
- A wire gauze or bird wire to protect the fish from prey.
- A long garden hose pipe.
- A pH level testing kit - USD 6-20
- Electric tape, a driller, and a pair of scissors.
- Last but not the least, some fish, the type you'll like to eat or keep as pets, along with some aquatic plants (for consumption or decoration).
How to Build Aquaponics at Home
Assembling this system may seem tricky at first but it's relatively simple once you get the hang of it.
- Step 1: The fish tank will need to be partially buried in soil in order to maintain optimal temperature for the fish to survive. Place the tank in a shaded area to prevent frequent evaporation and refilling.
- Step 2: Now, take the waterproof cable and connect it to the water and air pump, and attach them to the plug point. (Please ensure that the power source is switched Off!) Remember to keep the electric parts away from the fish and always covered with a waterproof container.
- Step 3: Place the plant-grow tank diagonally above the fish tank. This will ensure better pumping and circulation between the two tanks. The grow-tub should also have tiny holes drilled at the bottom, so that the water penetrates and returns to the fish tank.
- Step 4: Connect the pond pump with the garden hose pipe and automated surge protector.
- Step 5: Now, dechlorinate the water, leave it be for an hour, and then add the fish.
- Step 6: Add some grow matter, such as clay or gravel into the plant tank and place your plants. You can also consider growing plants from seed.
Things to Do
You will need to keep a check on the water level and fish. Keep them well fed, because they are responsible for the growth of the plants. Also, giving the plants regular vitamin supplements will be very beneficial for their general well-being. Make sure that the tanks are not contaminated by birds feces and dead insects. Always remember to clean your aquaponic at least once in a month.
You can also consider introducing variations to your own homemade system.