Homemade Aquaponics an Introduction:
While doing some research on fish keeping, I came across the topic of aquaponics and was all like…Whaaaaat!
Maybe I’ve been asleep for the past few years but apparently aquaponics is very popular and I had no idea what it was??
Check out the google trends since 2005:
Being a fish keeper I was naturally interested and wanted to know more about how an aquaponics system works and how it was related to fish keeping.
I’ve spent the last two days reasearching the hobby and there are many parallels between aquaponics and fish keeping, in fact they are almost the same with one small addition… a garden.
For the most part there were two main differences between the two hobbies;
- Homemade Aquaponics combines gardening with fish keeping. Where the garden is being used to grow herbs and vegetables by utilizing the waste created by the fish.
- Aquaponic Fish Farming: Some Aquaponic enthusiasts set up large systems in their garage or back yard and grow large eatable species of fish like: Smallmouth Bass, Tilapia, Catfish and Crappie.
So what is aquaponics?
It’s a new way that combines the hobbies of gardening and fish keeping which relys on the symbiosis between fish and plants.
Your plants will be feeding on the waste your fish produce, which will provide your plants with the food they need to grow.
As the plants use up the fish excrement they will be cleaning the water and providing a comfortable environment for the fish.
By starting with nothing more than a aquaponic fish tank and some fish you can have a garden growing inside your house.
You can start out with tropical fish or try out a kit like this aquaponics for betta fish kit.
More advanced enthusiasts use much larger fish like; catfish, crappie, bluegill or koi, whatever species you like.
Once your homemade aquaponic tanks are set up, wait about a month and add seeds to the medium so they can get the nutrients from the water.
Your garden will start to grow using the nutrients supplied by the fish.
In turn, the plants will filter and clean the water like maids so your fish can have a clean environment to live.
Homemade Aquaponics as a hobby
Why consider aquaponics as a hobby, well first off it doesn’t require too much effort, you can grow your own herbs and vegetables in your own home and it can teach children responsibility or provide a senior with new hobby that is fun and easy to do.
Aquaponics for Children: Kids love seeing things grow; aquaponics provides them with a way to make them feel responsible like an adult. Your kids will watch the fish and plants grow, feed the fish every day. They can monitor condition of the vegetables and let you know of any yellowing.
These are easy tasks for us adults but it will let your children know someone relies on them and that’s a big deal. For the same reasons above schools can set up an aquaponics garden in the class to teach children about the animals, plants, vegetables and life cycles.
For Adults: With an aquaponic garden you will always have access to fresh organic vegetables. This will help lower your grocery bills and provide you with vegetable needed for good nutrition. You can do all this will very little effort and time.
For seniors: Most seniors stick to things that don’t require too much effort. Aquaponics takes very little effort and will keep you occupied without taking up your entire day or week. By having vegetables readily available seniors can avoid trips to the market which can be difficult if you no longer drive.
Seniors will also benefit from the fact that you can place the tank and garden at waist level. This eliminates the need to bend, which can be difficult to some seniors.
You also won’t need to dig, crawl, reach or pull weeds out of the ground. Everything you need will be at waist level.
An aquaponic garden is great for all ages.
Reasons to take up aquaponics
1. Requires very little time and money. You only require a few containers for the fish and vegetables, air pump and a few other typical aquarium supplies for the fish and a few minutes each day to feed, plant seeds and wait for them to grow.
2. Very easy set up and for the most part can be setup anywhere in a house or garage. It can be looked after by one person from start to finish and requires no additional cost after setup.
3. Cheap organic great tasting herbs and vegetables ready when you need them. You can plant almost anything in the garden.
4. It’s closely related to tropical fish keeping so you already have a great knowledge base to build from and you may already have most of the equipment needed to start.
5. It involves no dirty clothes or hands, no bending, no land and very little maintenance.
In general since you already enjoy fish keeping as a hobby this will be a very easy system to put into place.
Basic things you need to know
If you are thinking of setting up your own aquaponic garden there are a few things you should know;
How aqucponics works? It’s a system that combines aquaculture with hydroponic gardening. This makes for a very effective environment for fish and plants. Even a small 5 gallon betta tank can provide some small plants and herbs.
The aquaponics garden will rely on your fish as they provide food to the plants, in the form of waste. This will require you to take good care of your fish. To do this you need to maintain clean water, temperature, PH levels, lighting and oxygen all the things you already know how to do.
Advantages of home aquaponics garden
Easy to grow your own organic vegetables. Managing a large outdoor garden can be a demanding time consuming activity that requires much of your precious time.
With an aquaponics garden you don’t need land, fertilizers or chemicals it all happens naturally which makes growing your own organic vegetables very easy to do.
Just set up the system and watch youraquaponic garden grow. You can easily grow (pesticide and chemical free) most herbs and vegetables, including legumes (Beans), leafy greens or fruity plants all while watching your fish grow.
Raise your own fish (Advanced): If you really up for a challenge you can also raise your own fish to eat. Of course you would need a larger space and larger tanks but you can easily set up a system to raise fish in your garage.
Species like Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, Chinese Catfish, and Tilapia are great options.
If you decide to try this out you could really save some money on food as you not only have fresh vegetables but fresh fish for your family.
How to build an aquaponics system?
If your just starting out and want to set up a small aquaponics garden at home there are a few options avaiable to you.
- You could download an ebook that explains exactly how to set up a homemade aquaponics garden.
- You could look at purchasing an aquaponic kit like the aquaponic back to the roots product which has recieved international recongnition. However, in reviewing the comments on Amazon it’s not without it’s issues.
Most people seemed to recommend building your own howm aquaponic systme using a aquaponics step-by-step guide.
If you decide set up an aquaponics system at home there are some basic things you will want to understand. Here are five things you should know;
1. Location of your aquaponics system : When selecting the location of your home aquaponics system you should ensure have enough light for the plants but not too much light that it would raise the temperature of the tank water.
2. Stay away from chemicals that can harm both your fish and your plants. For the comfort of your fish stay away from things like speakers, TV, Heat Sources, Direct sunlight.
3. Room to move: Ensure to place the system in a place that allows you the room to tend to your garden. It’s also best if your setup doesn’t require you to bend and stretch.
4. Oxygen and aquaponics equipment: Ensure your tank has an air pump for the fish. I’ve noticed that in the aquaponics world they call this Oxygenizing the water. I’m sure that depending on the type of fish you decide to keep will impact how this is done.
5. Aquaponic Fish Selection: Most fish will work well with an aquaponics garden. But be sure to check with the local by-laws on what fish types you can keep. This applies more to the advanced user who may decide to raise fish for eating.
Aquaponic fish species: What are the most suitable fish?
All tropical fish could be used for small gardens. However for etable options, species like Smallmouth Bass, Tilapia, Catfish, Crappie, are great.
What aquaponics plants to grow?
Using the aquaponic system almost anything you want. Cucumber, tomatoes, squash, okra, pepper, melon, small bush fruit like strawberries, most herbs like basil or oregano, most beans, peas and green leafy vegetables can grow very well in this type of system.
When will the plants be ready:
aquaponics is a natural organic way to grow your food so all the plants will follow their natural stages of growth. Have a look at the seed package to determine how long you will require.
If you are just starting out add about three months to the package. This allows enough nutrients (ammonia) for the plants to develop. All plants grown in an aquaponics system need the same amount of time to grow as those planted in the ground.
Thanks for reading my intro to homemade aquaponics. I’m sure there is so much more to cover in this interesting hobby.
I hope I have provided you with some useful information if you are also just learning of this new hobby.