An aquaponics system is a food production process which combines traditional aquaculture with hydroponics.
The animals and plants in an aquaponics system have a symbiotic relationship. Effluents from aquatic animals are used by plants as food.
In the process, the plants purify water for the aquatic animals. Aquaculture and hydroponic farming techniques provide the basis for aquaponics systems in terms of complexity, size and the types of foods/plants grown in aquaponics systems.
Types Of Aquaponics Systems
There are three main types of aquaponics systems namely; Media Filled Beds, Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) and Deep Water Culture (DWC).
Media Filled Beds
Media filled beds use containers filled with expanded clay rock medium or similar material. Media Filled beds are basically the simplest aquaponics systems.
Fish tank water is pumped over media filled beds as plants grow in clay rock media. Media filled beds have continuous water flow systems or flood and drain systems.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
In NFT systems, water rich in nutrients is pumped into small enclosed gutters. Plants are grown in small cups which allow roots to absorb nutrients and water. It is important to note that the water flowing resembles a thin film hence the name nutrient film technique.
It’s also important to note that NTF is not suitable for all types of plants. The best plants to grow using NFT systems are leafy green vegetables. Other plants, particularly larger plants have big and invasive root systems thus they are not suitable.
Deep Water Culture (DWC)
DWC involves growing floating plants. This system allows plant roots to hang into water. DWC is a common commercial method of growing plants.
The method can be practiced in many ways such as floating foam rafts on top of fish tanks or pumping water from the fish tank to floating rafts with plants floating on water surfaces.
Benefits Of Having Aquaponics At Home
Setting up an aquaponics system in your home has a number of benefits which includes:
1) Saves Space
Aquaponics systems allow you to place plants closer to each other than normal which saves a lot of space.
This is possible because plant roots are constantly submerged in water which is rich in nutrients thus there is no overcrowding. You therefore save more space through aquaponics compared to any other type of gardening method at home.
2) No Weeding
Another benefit of aquaponics at home is that you don’t need to do any weeding. Aquaponics systems don’t encourage/favor the growth of weeds because there is no soil thus you get more enjoyment and freedom growing things at home i.e. vegetables.
3) No Soil Pests
Aquaponics systems are also beneficial because they don’t harbour soil pests. Soil pests destroy plants. The only way to eliminate soil pests is by using pesticides.
This method of eliminating soil pests isn’t favourable because pesticide toxins can be absorbed easily by plants. Aquaponics systems therefore offer a way of growing plants without fearing soil pest infestation or pesticide toxins.
4) No Watering
The fact that aquaponics systems constantly recycle or re-circulate water means that you don’t need to water your plants. This is a huge benefit because many crops fail because of poor watering routines/techniques.
5) Offers A Source Of Income
When you use an aquaponics system at home, you are bound to increase your food production significantly because you can plant more vegetables using very little space. Therefore, you’re able to sell surplus production of vegetables and fish to earn extra income, granted that you have the necessary licenses for it.
6) Plants Grow Faster
The fact that plants have access to nutrients 24 hours makes them grow faster. For instance, vegetables such as lettuce, which takes approximately 2 months to mature when planted normally in soil have been proven to mature in approximately one month when grown under aquaponics systems.
7) Less Energy
Aquaponics systems also require less energy. Because there is no weeding, pest control and other measures, you use less energy, approximately 70 percent less energy compared to traditional gardening.
8) Less Back Straining
Unlike traditional gardening, you don’t need to bend and strain your back when using an aquaponics system because your plants will grow at around waist level. You just need to plant once and wait for harvesting without having to do any hard follow up tasks such as weeding and pest control which can also strain your back.
9) Healthy Eating
This is probably the number one reason why people resort to raising their own produce. The generic food and vegetables found in stores contain so many different chemicals which is hazardous to people’s health. Aquaponics is one of the best, if not the best means of producing your own food.
You will have peace of mind knowing that you can maintain a certain level of reproduction without depleting natural resources and hindering the ecological balance because aquaponics is based on a natural process of the correlation between aquatic animals and plants.
In summary, aquaponics systems have numerous benefits. The systems make gardening more productive and economical. Anyone interested in a cost effective and healthy gardening at home should consider having an 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.