So you’re interested in starting your own aquaponics system but don’t know where to begin.
Many people have different aquaponics plans and in this article I’ll be giving you a rundown of what I consider to be the most simple and logical plan there is.
The Four Important Questions
First things first, in order to create an aquaponics system that will serve you for many years to come, you need to ask yourself the four important questions of:
- Why? – What’s the reason you’re doing this? Is this an experiment? Are you showing your children an alternative way to grow fish and plants? Do you want to save money on your grocery bill?
- Where? – Where will you be keeping your system? Will your aquaponics system be in a greenhouse, in the garage, in the basement or anywhere else? The size and location of your setup will all dictate a lot of your system design.
- When? – When are you planning to get started? Bacteria takes a while to establish itself and that time frame is increased dramatically by warm temperatures. Certain plants don’t grow as well during cooler months. Also, many suppliers will not send fish during the winter period.
- Who? – Who’s going to be looking after the system? Is the person tall or short? Will there be children involved? You can adjust the height of the grow bed accordingly and install a window for the fish tank if you want. Also, if the caretaker is going to be away often, then you’ll have to install back-up aeration systems and design to increase robustness and reduce maintenance time.
Have clear answers to these questions will save you a great deal of time and put you in the right direction as you’re building your home aquaponics system.
1) The Hardware
I would consider all the apparatus including the water as the hardware of an aquaponic garden. These elements combined give birth to the structure or home for all living things of the finished system.
Using a computer as an example, the monitor, CPU, keyboard and mouse are all necessary elements to bring the computer to life.
The hardware side of the system has to be built first, before the software (living parts) can be initiated and dictate the type of software that is suitable for running on the system.
Two important hardware components of an aquaponics system is the grow bed and fish tank. The elements of these components such as size and type will come as a result of how many plants you want to grow, how many fish you want to raise and how much space you have. Make sure that you’re firm on your intentions before starting out.
The plumbing side of the system is wiring and the arteries that connect the different components of your system. The heart of the system is the pump, so you must select a high quality and reliable pump. Definitely read reviews before making a purchase. You may find our Top 7 Must-Have Products For Your Aquaponics System article helpful.
2) The Software
Just like the software in a computer gives it purpose, the plants, fish, bacteria and worms bring an aquaponics system to life. You can read about the cycle of an aquaponics system here.
Selecting a type of fish all depends on whether you just want to raise them as a means of giving life to your plants, or you want to raise them as food as well.
Plants on the other hand are grown to be eaten, but in order to have large, healthy and rapidly grown plants, you must provide them with enough light (whether natural or artificial), water, nutrients and space.
Each living component in your aquaponics system plays an important role and keeps your system flowing efficiently, so keeping them in the right environment and conditions are essential.
3) The Integrated System
So now that you have everything in place, it’s time to flip the switch and turn on the engine to your aquaponics system.
You must learn about Cycling, which is the process of establishing the bacteria that make up the biofilter in your system by using fish or not using fish. It’s also important to learn when you should add plants and when to add fish if you’re cycling without fish.
The plants help to filter water for your fishes, but you still need to monitor pH levels and clean the pipes once in a while. These are all things you need to consider in order to maintain a healthy system in the long term.
This article is just a brief rundown of my aquaponics plan explained in the simplest way possible. If you want to go more in-depth about various sections of the system, browse through this website and you’ll be separate articles with detailed information on it.
I also highly recommend John Fay’s Aquaponics 4 You guide which gives you a step-by-step plan in building your own aquaponics system at home.
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.