Careful planning is essential for an effective and successful long-term aquaponics system. To help you out, here are 5 of the most handy tips for an aquaponics system design.
1) Choose A Media-Based Design
There are three different styles of systems used in aquaponics for growing plants. These are DWC (deep-water culture), NFT (nutrient film technique) and media –based. The first two are techniques borrowed from hydroponics and are a bit more costly and advanced.
For beginners to aquaponics, it’s highly recommended that you choose a media-based aquaponics system design. There are several reasons for this:
- It’s a lot easier to learn and understand the process.
- It’s cheaper because it requires less parts.
- A media bed performs all three filtering tasks which includes the mechanical (removes solids), mineralization (breaks down solids and sends back to the water), and biofiltration.
- It acts as an all-in-one function because a media bed is also used as the based to grow plants.
- Media mimics traditional soil gardening much more closely therefore, it provides better support for plants.
You can find out how to build a media-based aquaponics system design here.
2) Use A Basic Flood & Drain Design
Out of all the layout designs within a media-based aquaponics system design, the basic flood and drain design is the simplest and most common for home-based aquaponic gardeners.
The main benefits of this system are:
- It’s easy to build and to understand.
- It doesn’t require much space in your home.
- It’s also the most appropriate for a 1:1 ratio of grow bed to fish tank volume.
- Allows good flexibility as it’s easily customizable.
- Easily maintained.
You can find out more about the basic flood and drain aquaponics system design here.
3) Make Sure That The Grow Bed Is Correct
One of the most important components of an aquaponics system design is the area where you grow your plants, so you need to know how to choose the right aquaponics grow bed.
It’s not as easy as just getting a large plastic box, filling it up with grow media and then planting your seeds. You need to make sure that the size is ideal for plant growth, the material doesn’t affect anything in the system, and that it’s strong enough to withstand the downward force of the media, plants and water flow.
4) Choose Your Ideal Location
The location of your aquaponics system rests upon the kind of climate you live in and how much available space you have. In a mostly year-round climate, it would be suitable to based your aquaponics system in the backyard, but for those who are not as fortunate to have such nice weather, there are several other options:
- During the suitable seasons, harvest your plants and fish and when winter or summer arrives, shut down the system until the right season comes around again.
- Do the same as the first option, but instead of shutting down during certain seasons, relocate your aquaponics system indoors.
- Set up and keep your aquaponics system indoors.
- Build a greenhouse and set up in there.
The first two options can be too much hassle for many people as you would need to start harvesting at the right times to get the best results within a certain period of time.
Building your aquaponics system indoors requires space, heat and lighting, but it’s convenient especially for high rise apartments. Although there are more considerations, there are many successful aquaponic gardeners who grow exclusively indoors.
In an ideal situation, a greenhouse would be the best option for anyone with the knowledge and resources. It gives you more flexibility and control over your system. However, it can be expensive but fortunately, there are online guides that teach you how to build a greenhouse in your backyard.
5) Get A Ready Made Aquaponics System
There are a few excellent online guides such as Aquaponics 4 You that teach you step-by-step exactly how to build your own home aquaponics system.
However, no matter how simple those guides makes it, there are some who prefer not to take on such as project by themselves, whether it’s because they find the task daunting, they don’t have the time or they’re afraid of making mistakes.
This is totally understandable. If this applies to you, then you may want to consider buying a pre-made aquaponics system. Yes it’s expensive ($800+), but you can have a professional and efficient system up and running very quickly, and there are a variety of aquaponics system designs to suit your preference.
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.