Aquaponics is all about balance. There must be the right balance between the fish, plants and bacteria. You will be trying to replicate a naturally occurring ecosystem. Unlike hydroponics which has a human element, the aquaponics system is meant to run itself with little human intervention.
Setting up an aquaponics system is the hardest part of the equation. Once it is set up, it really does not need much work. The tips below will help you setup a system that is effective and runs itself well.
1/ Use a cloth or some kind of cover for your fish tank. This will prevent foreign matter from falling into the fish tank and it’ll also prevent any fish from jumping out.
2/ Check and see if you require permits to keep the fish and setup your system. Local laws must be followed for the safety of the environment and to prevent you from running afoul of the law.
3/ Try to minimize the use of metal in your system. Use food grade plastics that are safe and will not degrade.
4/ Plan for a power shortage. Keep batteries or a generator available to operate the pumps in the event of a power failure. If the pumps don’t work, the water will not be aerated and the fish will struggle for air and die. Depending on the scale of your system, this can lead to a small or severe financial loss.
5/ Monitor the pH levels of your water to ensure that the plants are not getting water that is too acidic.
6/ It takes about 3 to 6 months for the water to cycle. So, be patient and allow the bacteria time to grow. Do not be too hasty to cultivate the plants. If there are not enough nutrients due to a lack of nitrification, your plants will not flourish and die.
7/ There are a few types of aquaponics setups such as intermittent flow, nutrient film technique and ‘flood and drain’ method. Choose the method that suits your plants best. You will need to do research on this. Using the wrong method may result in the plant roots rotting and the plants dying.
8/ Have a few objects in the water that will enable the fish to hid and be in the dark. They like it like this sometimes and it reduces their stress.
9/ Normal tap water contains chlorine. Always allow water to stand for a day or two in a separate bucket before adding it into your system. Chlorinated water will kill off the beneficial bacteria that are in your setup.
10/ Decide if your system is just a hobby or to provide for your family or earn profits. Your decision will affect the scale of the setup. You will also have to consider if you are rearing fish to sell or vegetables or both. Each decision has its own requirements and you will need to be aware what they are.
These are just a few tips to help you get going with your system. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. You should research as much as you can on aquaponics so you are knowledgeable and can run your system smoothly and effectively.
There will be a learning curve but this is normal. If you stay the course, you will master aquaponics and the rewards are well worth it.