In its simplest sense, be it aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is about raising fish while hydroponics is about the soilless growing of plants. So, aquaponics is the growing of fish and plants in a single integrated system. The waste that comes from the fish is used by the plants as an organic food source. In return, the plants offer a natural water filter so the fish can live.
The third element in a DIY aquaponics system microbes or nitrifying bacteria and eventually, composting red worms. They convert ammonia into nitrites, and subsequently into nitrates. They also convert solids into vermicompost that the plants use for food.
Different Types of Aquaponics Systems DIY
In general, there are three types of aquaponics systems that have been designed for both home and commercial use.
The Media-Based System
This is also called the gravel bed system. Of the three systems, it is the simplest and easiest to set up. It can also be used on either a large or small scale and is generally preferred by individuals interested in backyard aquaponics. In this system, the containers are filled with tiny rocks or clay pebbles that absorb air and water. Seedlings are directly planted into these containers. The water coming from the fish tank circulates through the container so that the plants can receive the nutrients that they need. The rocks serve as some sort of biological filter and solids filter.
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) System
This system is commonly used in hydroponics and is ideal for large-scale aquaponics production. Note that setting up mechanical filtration and PVC pipes can be quite complex. A biological filter is necessary to let beneficial bacteria develop and convert fish waste into plant nutrients. Likewise, solid filtration is necessary to deal with solids in fish waste.
With this system, plants are kept in netted pots and are suspended through the holes in pipes. Water runs along the bottom of gutters for the plants roots to reach. However, this system is only applicable to plants with small root systems, like green leafy vegetables.
The Deep Flow, Raft, or Deep Water Culture (DWC) System
This system involves the use of foam rafts that float atop the water. It is inexpensive and easy to set up and operate, which is why it is very popular in backyard and commercial aquaponics. It features a channel or container that holds the water as it gets pumped through the fish tank. It uses large amounts of water that provide stable temperatures for the fish and plants.
Benefits of DIY Aquaponics
Having a diy aquaponics system in your home can benefit you in many ways. For instance, you can save space since aquaponics systems allow you to grow plants closer to one another. You can also custom design the system to suite the space that you have.
There is no more weeding or watering necessary since the aquaponics environment is not conducive for weeds to grow. And water is always available. DIY Aquaponics systems re-circulate or recycle water, so you do not have to water the plants. Moreover, you wont worry about any soil pests that destroy plants.
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