So, you have decided to give Aquaponics a try. Good decision! But, take a look on the Internet and you will find that when it comes to an aquaponics system there is much to think about, much to plan and much to buy.
Therefore, let us help you make the right choices and give you the top 7 must haves for a successful aquaponics set-up.
From your aquaponics fish tank to your indoor garden and everything in between, you want to make sure you have all you need to make this a viable and enjoyable experience.
Let us start with the garden.
Grow lights are the next best thing since natural sunlight and that is, in fact, why they were invented. Grow lights replace the job of sunlight, in that they enable the photosynthesis process, which all plants need to grow.
Photosynthesis, in a nutshell, is where plants use sunlight to glean or make food from carbon dioxide and water.
If you have a lack of sunlight, overcast weather or your plants are indoors, artificial lighting is necessary.
Choosing your grow light all depends on whether you want to go with fluorescent lights, HID (High-Density Discharge lamps), incandescents or LED lights (Light-emitting diodes). The latter, generally, are the more cost effective in that they utilize less energy but at the same time emit huge amounts of lumens (light).
In addition, you want to look at the size of your garden. The smaller the garden and the smaller the plants, the less wattage of bulb energy you need. On the flipside, the larger your garden or further on in its cycle of growth your plants are, the higher the wattage needs to be.
Generally, artificial light sources range from as low as 70 watts right up to 1000 watts.
On to your aquaponics aquarium, here are a few must haves to create the best aquaponics set-up.
It makes sense to have a really good fish tank for your aquaponics system.
Here is what to look out for when making that choice:
Dependent on the type of fish and how many fish, you want to make sure your tank has the capacity. Another thing to remember with aquaponics, if you have your media beds draining into the tank, it needs to be able hold all the water from the media bed and also have enough water for the fish when the media bed is full. In other words, you probably need a bigger tank than you think. The larger the tank, the more stable the water temperature. In aquaponics, the bigger the system the easier it is to maintain.
An obvious point, but essential so that your fish do not lose water and of course, that you don’t waste water and mess up your house.
This is what you do not want. Ensure, once you purchase your tank, that you disinfect the tank before filling with water and your fish. In addition, ensure that the chemical balance is correct. Do not use a metal object as a tank as this will affect your pH.
The tank must be able to hold the right volume of water. If not, your tank will burst and you stand the chance of losing all your fish and, again, messing up your house.
Ensure your fish tank is in an optimal position for the type of fish you house. Too much or too little sunlight is not good for your fish. I personally prefer to keep my tank in a dark place, to reduce the amount of algae growth.
An oval or round fish tank is best, so that you eliminate dead zones. In addition, short and wide is better than deep and narrow.
Water is an integral part of your aquaponics aquarium, of course, and with water you want to make sure that you have the right balance and temperature.
Water contains a multitude of nutrients, minerals and chemicals. In order to test for these in your water, you need a good water test kit.
These minerals are the ones you want to be aware of and ensure that they are balanced so that your fish are not stressed or worse that they don’t die.
pH levels –this is the measure of hydrogen-ion concentration. A too high pH level will stress your fish out, as will a too low level.
Nitrate and Nitrite levels – this is the amount of nitrogen in the water – again, to high levels is detrimental to your fish.
Ammonia – a nitrogen-containing nutrient, which can be converted to nitrite and nitrate – too much ammonia in your fish’s water is dangerous. In aquaponics, it’s bacteria that converts this ammonia into plant food for your plants. This how your plants clean the water. Make sure you have a sufficient amount of plants to filter your water before adding your fish. For hobbyist, there’s no reason to push your system. So do not overstock your system with too many fish! Better to start of slow!
Hardness of water – broken down into KH (Carbonated Hardness) and GH (General Hardness) – our tap water can be very hard and this, too, is not good for your fish
Alkaline levels – another mineral to test for to ensure the levels are optimal for your fishes well being
.Choosing your water test kit comes down to a few factors. Take a look at our Top 5 Water & pH Test Kits article to make the right choice.
Thermometers and Aquarium Heaters
Water temperature is another important factor to consider when putting together and maintaining your aquaponics aquarium.
The temperature needs to be optimal for your fish and the way to measure this is a good thermometer. In addition, the way to keep the temperature right is with an aquarium heater. Also, remember the smaller the tank, the larger the water temperature swings.
There are many varieties on the market. Here are our Top 5 Aquarium Heaters to get you started.
Every aquaponic system needs a good water pump. The pump is what brings the oxygen into the water and of course, just like us humans, fish need oxygen.
In addition, the water carries important nutrients and minerals to your fish. A faulty or dodgy water pump can mean your plants and fish will not be receiving all the goodness they need to flourish. It’s always a good idea to have a good back up air supply to your fish in the case of pump failure.
Investing in a good water pump is vital and there are many on the market to choose from. Take a look at our Top 5 Water Pumps and let us make it easier for you.
Feeding your fish is an important part of caring for them in an aquaponics system. You might be planning to eat your fish, so you want them to be healthy. Also, the fish feed your plants, hence it’s paramount to use quality feed.
There are many varieties, many sizes and many price variants.
Here are our Top 10 Best Fish Foods to make your buying process easier.
As you can see, there is a lot of think about before you take yourself on the journey of establishing a successful aquaponics system. Aquaponics is the way of the future and while you may start off with a small system, you will find, as you get to understand the benefits of aquaponics, that you will want to branch out into larger a larger system and become obsessed like me.