Growing Aquaponic Vegetables: What to Plant & How to Grow with Aquaponics

March 15, 2017 robin

While Growing aquaponic vegetables it may be an unknown phrase to some people, it is nothing new. Such approach has been put into practice since the ancient times. A merging of hydroponics and hydroponics kits and aquaculture – there’s a symbiotic relationship between plants and fish. With aquaponics systems, the fish are the ones that nourish the plants. Then the plants filter the water, keeping it clean for the fish. The system features a creative engineering design and can be set up in one grow room or area that can maximize profits both for home and commercial growers.

• Getting Started

With extra effort, patience and diligence, getting to know more about aquaponics systems isn’t a problem. The internet can give you answers to your questions, show you a lot of suitable options and some expert advice. It’s just a matter of time to be able to figure out how to do what it requires to become an aquaponic gardening expert.

You can go DIY utilizing a set of plans or search for aquaponics systems on sale. Most of these include instructions. Although it can be a challenge, it’ll be rewarding to raise plants and breed fish. Getting hands on will expand your knowledge about plant-animal interactions.

• Choosing Your Plants

Plants that you can grow can be of any variety – fruits, vegetables, edible herbs and much more. What you must grow are the ones that like to eat. This can include cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, strawberries, beans, potatoes, oregano, onions, peas, pepper, okra, garlic, and basil. Also, you can include some leafy vegetables and flowering plants to your list.

• Selecting Your Fish

Fish you can breed can as well be of any species – Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, Chinese Catfish, Tilapia, Koi, Largemouth, and Bluegill. But it requires careful evaluation, especially when breeding different species in a single tank. It is prohibited in some cities, so you have to do some consultation first to be sure.

You do not have to worry about the space as there are aquaponics systems that come in small containers or trays. But if you plan to grow wider plant varieties and breed other fish, take note that this will require a much wider space. So unless you have land available, put this into serious thought to avoid problems.

If you love to try setting up one of those aquaponics systems but are hesitant to trust your ability or budget, remember that the success factor doesn’t involve money or some farming experience. No matter what the grower’s skill level is will be able to grow pesticide-free food right at home.

The Principle of Growing aquaponic vegetables

Before Growing aquaponic vegetable beginners set up their system, they have to understand the principles that govern it and make it work. Once you learn the basic principles, you will be able to set up the system of any size. You can construct a small system for home use or a big industrial one, according to the space that you have.

First of all, decide where you will place the containers. Choose an airy and sunny location so that the plants can grow well. Sure, you are not going to use any soil here, but the plants still need air and sunlight.

Secondly, decide what kind of fishes you will use. You can have goldfish or any other ornamental fish, or you can keep trout or tilapia that you can eat.

Third, you have to maintain the water quality. The water should be free of chlorine and therefore, if you are going to use tap water, then either buy a water treatment solution from the aquarium shop or leave the water open for a week to de-chlorinate it.

Finally, you need bacteria that can convert the ammonia, which is released by the fish, into nitrite. The plants use fertilizer in the form of nitrates. To grow bacteria, you will require a large surface area. Add rocks, gravel, old sponge or filter from an old aquarium. This will enhance the process of bacteria formation that is essential for converting fish waste into plant fertilizer.

If you have understood the basic principles, you can now start setting up your aquaponic system.

Aquaponics For Beginners – Setup

You will require the following to set up an Aquaponic system. Of course, you can buy a ready-to-use kit, but it will be expensive. Alternatively, you can also do it yourself at home, and you will have a running system at a fraction of the cost. To set up the system, you will need the following:

Components of the Aquaponic system

A 20-gallon fish tank 2.5 lbs gravel for fish tank
3 – 4-watt water pump
Plastic tubing of 3 feet length to be fit to the outlet of water pump
Air pump to be fit in fish tank
Air stone
Air tubing of 3 feet length for connecting the air stone to the outlet of air pump
A 3″ to 8″ deep container for plants bigger than the fish tank
Garden pebbles to fill the plan container pH kit to test the pH of water
Ammonia detection kit
Fishes and Plants

Tools Required

Electrical Tape Scissors
Drill machine with ¼” and ¼” bit
Component Explanation Fish Tank

Beginners typically start with a smaller setup. Until you get some experience, you might want to start off small and work your way up. You can use a fish tank made of plexiglass, glass, or any other container. You can also use a bucket, a plastic tub, or even a barrel. You will need approximately 10 gallons of aquarium water to support 1 to 2 sq. Ft of plant container area.

growing aquaponic vegetables

Gravel For Tank

The gravel will be the home for bacteria, which convert ammonia to nitrite for plant fertilizer.

Tubing and Water Pump

The function of a water pump is to pump water from the aquarium to the plant container. The plants will absorb the nitrates and send the clean water back to the aquarium. The tubing will be connected from the water pump outlet to the top of the plant container.

Air Stone, Air Pump, and Tubing

The air pump is used to oxygenate the water of the fish tank. The tubing will connect the air stone and air pump and will be at the tank’s bottom. You will need the air stone to increase oxygen in the water.

To assemble the aquaponic system, wash the aquarium and the gravel, and place them at the bottom. Drill 1/8″ holes at the bottom of the plant container at a distance of 2 sq. Inches for water drainage.

Drill a 1/2″ hole at a back corner of the plant container. Fix the tubing using a silicon sealant and connect it to the water pump. The tubing should be long enough so that you can loop it inside the plant container. Fold the end and seal it using the electrical tape. Puncture holes at a distance of 2 inches in the tubing.

Fill the plant container with garden pebbles.

Fill the aquarium with water. Plug the pump and check the water movement into the plant container and back into your fish tank.

Check the pH of the water using the pH testing kit.

De-chlorinate the water and then, add fish into the aquarium.

Add plants to the plant container.

Your system is now ready for use. You can plant leafy vegetables, herbs, tomatoes and any other plants of your choice.

To make the very best decision is what’s important in order to get things started and done smoothly. From seed and fingerling to table, you’ll eventually realize how aquaponics systems can make your health better.

For more information about growing aquaponic vegetables, click here.



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