Home Aquaponics and Available Kits!

aquaponics system

You have probably heard of Hydroponics where vegetables and other plants are grown in a soilless mix with continual access to water laced with nutrients, but the popular thing now is called aquaponics.

Aquaponics grows plants, but it also grows fish, and we are not talking tropical fish. These are edible fish like tilapia and trout, but the option for koi and smaller fish like beta and goldfish are also available.

Aquaponics systems grow fish and plants in an integrated system where the fish waste provides food for the plants and the plants filter the water for the fish. It is a sustainable system that comes in a variety of sizes from tabletop sizes to outdoor systems capable of providing enough food to feed several families.

How Aquaponics Work

Several different types of systems are available, but in all of them, roots of plants are exposed to nutrient rich water.

The addition to hydroponics is that there is an aquarium involved that holds fish. The bacteria from fish waste is included in the nutrient solution.

Microbes are added to change the fish waste ammonia into nitrates, which is a form of oxygen that plants use. Solid fish waste becomes vermicompost, or food for the plants.

Benefits of Aquaponics

There are many benefits to aquaponics. In regular gardening, the gardener must weed, take care of pests, water the plants, dig to plant and then figure out how much water and fertilizer to use. All of these are solved in aquaponics. There is no weeding, there are no soil-born pests, no digging is required, and the water is constant, and fertilizer included in the water. The gardener does not have to kneel or bend because most systems are waist high.

Hydroponics has its own list of problems including expensive solutions and equipment. Hydro systems must be flushed occasionally, and the nutrients must be strictly monitored. The only things needed in Aquaponics is to monitor the pH level occasionally, fill the tank with water occasionally and feed the fish inexpensive fish food.

Another great benefit of Aquaponics is that you either have the beauty of small fish or the opportunity to use larger food fish for family consumption. Aquaponic systems come in many different types and sizes giving the gardener many different options for both indoor and outdoor systems.

Types of Aquaponic Systems

Media Based systems are the most used in-home systems. Plants are grown in pots in shale or clay pellets. These systems are good for leafy vegetables, herbs and some fruiting plants like strawberries. There is a fish tank involved and the water for the plants comes from that tank and flows over the media and pots continuously.

Raft Based systems or Deep-Water Culture (DWC) requires plants to be grown in floating foam rafts that have holes cut in them that contain the plants. The roots dangle freely in the tank. These systems are larger than Media Based systems, but also produce more food.

In Nutrient Film Technique systems (NFT), water flows through a PVC trough and plants are in holes drilled in the pipe and dangle in the water. Pipes are usually hung on stands or from the ceiling and the water flowing through looks like a thin film.

Large quantities of food are produced in Vertical Aquaponic systems in small spaces. Plants are stacked in a tower system and water flows from top to bottom and into the aquarium taking nutrients all the way through with it. These systems are good for smaller plants with small roots that do not require a bigger support system.

What Can You Grow in an Aquaponics System?

A table top system is limited as to what can be grown and, in most cases, ornamental plants and herbs are suitable. Most home systems can grow leaf lettuce, chard, arugula, kale, strawberries, mint, basil, thyme and other low growing herbs.

Larger systems can produce tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, peas, broccoli, summer squash, cauliflower and cabbage. Tabletop systems can only handle ornamental fish, like goldfish, angelfish, guppies, tetras, betas and mollies, but the larger systems can produce food fish. They include tilapia, blue gill, sunfish, trout, yellow perch, silver perch, barramundi, crappy and koi or carp.

Available Systems

introductory aquaponics systemA great introductory tabletop system is made by Back To The Roots. It is a very simply easy to use system which comes with a fish tank and a grow station on top of it.

It is good for herbs or ornamental plants and small ornamental fish.

It will give you a taste of aquaponics to see if you would like to go a little bigger and more extensive.

AquaSprouts Gardens are great for home, office and schools. It even comes with curriculum for teachers. It includes a 10-gallon tank and is about 20 by 10 by 12 inches.

This system comes with a light bar that hangs above the aquarium and media/plant tray. It still is for ornamental fish, but does grow leafy green vegetables and strawberries. It runs $150 to $170.

Genesis makes several larger systems including the G-12 that is about 12 square feet and 140-gallon tank suitable for food fish. It is a media system and grows about 120 pounds of vegetables and 25 pounds fish. The dimensions of this system are 40 by 48 by 42 inches and looks like a small washing machine. It fits in your basement or utility room quite nicely and will run $1500 with larger systems and more trays costing up to $5000.

The system below is a Genesis one bed system and it is inexpensive. You can read more about it here.

genesis aquaponics system

Clearflow Aquaponics systems create a home garden through the raft system. It has two 110-gallon tanks with three 4 by 6-inch rafts. It has the potential to grow 200 pounds of fish and 1000 pounds of vegetables or fruit.

Aquaponics is a sustainable system and it does not use a great deal of water because it recycles water throughout. The water will evaporate somewhat and need to be topped off occasionally. Choose from table top ornamental systems all the way to farming systems that supply enough food for your family and more to sell if you choose.