Your choice in an aquaponics grow bed is crucial to how well the rest of your aquaponics system is run. It’s essentially the foundation of your system, and the place where your fruits and vegetables are nurtured.
An aquaponics grow bed will take up the majority of the space but it’ll also provide you with the lion’s share of the food that your system produces.
Here are some tips to help you choose the right aquaponics grow bed.
Aquaponics Grow Bed & Fish Tank Relationship
In order to create a successful aquaponics system, you must understand the ideal ratios between the grow bed and the fish tank.
Having the perfect balance between the amount of fish waste, the biofilter’s performance and the plants that transfer the fish waste into its own food, is a recipe for a very effective system.
Here are some general rules of thumb as a result of many years of trial and error:
- For beginners to aquaponics, you should start off with a simple 1:1 ratio of grow bed to fish tank. The total volume of your grow bed should be equal to the total volume of your fish tank. This will ensure that your fish tank has sufficient filtration.
- Once you gain more experience and you’re ready for a larger system that has an even bigger fish tank, you can expand it to a 2:1 grow bed to fish tank ratio. This will enable more filtration in your system which is better for your fish’s long term health.
Rules For Your Aquaponics Grow Bed
The following rules are vital to abide by when looking for an aquaponics grow bed for your system. Failure to uphold these rules will lead to disaster.
- The grow bed must be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the aquaponics grow media (clay media = 450g per litre), water (1kg per litre) and plants. There’s also added force from the constant filling and draining of water and expansion of plant roots. Choose strong and thick material for your grow bed.
- Choose material that is non-toxic and safe for food as your aquaponics grow bed will be the home for plants, bacteria and worms.
- The material you choose must also not alter the pH levels of your system. Avoid materials such as metal because they can corrode very quickly which can lower your tanks pH and cause imbalance to your system.
- Your grow bed should be deep enough for a wide variety of plants to be grown and to have adequate filtration. The industry standard is 30cm deep.
- Make sure that your aquaponics grow bed is waterproof to ensure that no water escapes from your system. This is very important since there will be plumbing fittings that enter and exit the grow bed and fish tank, so everything must be watertight. This is where marine grade silicon and rubber gaskets come in handy.
There are many different types of aquaponics grow beds that you can integrate within your system, but a suitable one all depends on the type of aquaponics system you have, whether it’s a vertical, IBC (intermediate bulk containers) or closet system. Here are some aquaponics grow beds that may suit your needs.
Carefully plan how you want your system structured and apply the rules above. A well thought-out aquaponics system will be aesthetically pleasing, flexible and functional, therefore providing a better experience for yourself and others.
To get the most out of your aquaponics system, I highly recommend the following articles, where you can decide from the highest rated and bestselling products for aquaponics.