We love all things water and funny enough aquaponics ticks both our water and eco-conscious boxes.
If you are starting out your aquaponics experiment, we would suggest starting small so that you get to know and understand how the system works.
To start small, you will need:
A fish tank and filter
A few fish (we recommend Tilapia)
An oven grate or something reused to hang just above the water level
Vegetable seedlings of our choice (start with lettuce and fresh herbs)
Set up your fish tank in an area where there is natural light. Full sun will warm up the water fairly quickly and most likely boil your fish. Set up your grid 5cm above the water level of the tank. Remove as much of the soil from your seedlings and place them on the grid. Ensure their roots are in the water. Wait, watch, learn and remember to feed your fish.
Candy’s aquaponics system for the more adventurous
Candy does not claim to be the expert in aquaponics (although we think she is) and I am sure if you google you will find a number of tips and steps to start your system but here are a few things to think about.
The number one thing to start on is your pond. It’s not called aquaponics for nothing. Whether you purchase a concrete pond from the local nursery or make your own, just make sure it’s in an area that is protected from direct sunlight and has enough space for you to elevate and start your grow beds. Fill your pond with fish (Tilapia) and remember to keep feeding them. Please bear in mind that although your pond may be small, water safety should always be top of mind. You can cover your pond with a net or gate it off so small children can’t take a dip.
Next is the fun part, deciding on what to grow and how to grow them. Candy has a variety of grow beds and relies on the following 3 systems:
Deep water culture
Also known as a raft system, this system consists of rafts (discarded polystyrene) where offcuts or seedlings are suspended at the water surface in floating rafts. This allows the plant to sit out of the water whilst the roots swim in the nutrient rich water. This system works well for water-loving plants like lettuce and celery. It is important to note that this system does require extra aeration of the water to supply adequate oxygen, prevent mould developing or the roots rotting.
Flood & Drain
The flood and drain system is much like it says. The container is filled with gravel or clay beads and rooted plants are placed at various sections. Water from the pond below fills the container and when fill, a bell syphon drains it back into the pond.
You will find worms in this system too. They eat the organic matter (fish poo) deposited from the pond water which in turn allows the worms to produce a valuable liquid called worm "tea". This is an extra nutritional source for the plants as the worm tea is absorbed by the new shoots and encourages healthy growth.
The trickle feed refers to the gutters that run the water back into the pond after the two systems have drained. The gutters have small holes which trickle water into various potted vegetables as well as those vegetables that tend to grow as spirals wrapping themselves around the gutters. Butternut thrives off of this system.
The grow beds and bigger systems are a bit technical in terms of setting up. It’s at this point that you may want to ask for a helping hand whether it’s your husband or friend that can help you source containers, pumps and connect the system together. Your local nursery will also be clued up and can provide some guidance on which pumps to purchase.
If you get stuck, drop us an email and we will connect you with the right people.
Blue Betty Life