What is aquaponics?

Not everyone can afford healthy food. Prices for vegetables, fruits and good fish are growing every year, and not everyone has their own garden. This is where aquaponics comes to the rescue - the art of growing plants and fish at the same time, without using soil. So any city dweller can grow their own organic vegetables, fruits and fish at home.

The essence of aquaponics is a skillful combination of hydroponics (growing plants without soil, in water) and aquaculture (breeding fish, shrimp and other aquatic creatures). That is, everything lies in a closed biological system, where waste from fish activities serves as a source of food for plants, and plants, in turn, filter water for fish.

Another participant in the process is microbes, or rather nitrifying bacteria. They serve to convert ammonia from fish waste into nitrite and then into nitrate. These substances are used as food for plants and promote their growth. As for solid waste, it becomes vermicompost, which also promotes plant growth.

It turns out that aquaponics allows you to grow fish, the waste of which feeds the plants, which, in turn, serve as filters for water.

The essence of the aquaponics method

Aquaponics is one of the most high-tech methods of farming in modern times. Her method is to use the waste of some participants in the process as food for others and vice versa.

Aquatic animals (fish) emit various wastes containing:

  • nitrogen;
  • potassium;
  • phosphorus;
  • ammonia;
  • carbon dioxide.

All of these substances can be hazardous to the health of fish - at high concentrations, the water becomes toxic. This is where beneficial bacteria come to the rescue. That recycle waste to make it plant-friendly.

The trick of aquaponics is that chemical fertilizers are practically not used hereThe whole process takes place in a natural way, so the products grown in this way do not contain nitrates and other harmful substances, since they are 100% organic.

But aquaponics also has its own challenges. For example, important rules must be followed:


  • monitor water quality. It is important to control 5 key points here - oxygen level (5 mg / l), pH (6-7), water temperature (18-30 ° C), percentage of nitrogen and alkalis. It is easy to keep track of performance if you buy test systems.
  • add useful substances - calcium, potassium and iron. The first two are used in the form of potassium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide and are needed to maintain the pH level. Iron is added to the water as a chelate.
  • choose the right food for fish. If carnivores (for example, trout) are bred, then the feed should contain a lot of protein - 40-50%. For omnivorous aquatic animals (perch, carp) protein should be less than 32%. Moreover, the younger the fish, the more protein they need.
  • remove feed residues from the water in time. Otherwise, they will start to rot, which will cause illness and complications, as well as lower the oxygen level in the water.

Following these guidelines will help you grow healthy, clean plants and fish.

Aquaponics plant growing farm

Benefits of using aquaponics

What is aquaponics? It is a farming method that has many benefits:

  • natural - no harmful substances, herbicides or pesticides are used in aquaponics. Food grown in this way will be wholesome and clean;
  • saving water - if we compare aquaponics and conventional gardening using soil, then in the first case, only 1/10 of the water is needed;
  • no toxic effluent - in the aquaponics system there is a continuous circulation of nutrient-rich water;
  • the absence of annoying weeds - only those plants that a person himself plant will grow in the water;
  • aesthetics - fish floating among the plants look beautiful and delight the eye;
  • less hassle - no need to water the plants, weed the beds, etc. You can focus all your efforts on caring for fish and plants;
  • mobility of systems - they can be placed anywhere and moved at any time;
  • systems can always be increased or decreased as desired.

When using aquaponics, the water does not need to be changed and constantly drained - it will be cleaned automatically, with the help of organisms living in it. Water can be used endlessly until it becomes less due to evaporation.

Benefits of aquaponics

Compared to other farming methods, crop cultivation has a number of advantages:

  • double harvest - the gardener collects not only plants, but also grown fish;
  • easily add nutrients and minerals necessary for the growth of plants and fish;
  • the harvest will be environmentally friendly due to the abandonment of chemical fertilizers from harmful pesticides and herbicides;
  • water is the basis for planting plants and fish breeding, in aquaponics it is automatically filtered and saturated with oxygen;
  • compactness of aquaponic systems - large areas are not required for cultivation;
  • it is not necessary to maintain large warehouses for storing hazardous fertilizers, since they are not used here;
  • saving money on paying water bills and buying fertilizers;
  • you do not need to buy a lot of fish food, as they eat up some of the plants;

Aquaponics helps you avoid the problems of growing in soil - the need for regular watering, weeding, wasting many liters of water and constant pest control.

Disadvantages of aquaponics

Despite all its advantages, aquaponics also has disadvantages:

  • you must have extensive knowledge of botany, biology and aquaculture;
  • novice aquaponists will have to spend a lot on the purchase of equipment and seeds;
  • you need to be able to combine plants and fish so that they do not interfere with each other. Growing them individually is much easier;
  • beginners can make even a minor mistake that will lead to the death of the entire system;
  • the system must be constantly monitored in order to successfully harvest the crop;
  • you need constant access to electricity to maintain the system.

All these problems can be avoided if you study the necessary material in advance and prepare thoroughly.


Fish raised in water that waters the plants using the aquaponics method

What plants can be grown in aquaponics?

Almost any plant can grow in aquaponic systems. The most unpretentious will be:

  • leaf salad;
  • kale;
  • arugula;
  • beet;
  • mint;
  • basil;
  • decorative cut flowers.

Some plants are more demanding on conditions. For example, in high-density systems, fish will grow:

  • tomatoes;
  • pepper;
  • Strawberry;
  • beans;
  • eggplant;
  • pumpkin;
  • white cabbage and cauliflower;
  • broccoli.

When choosing plants, it is worth considering. What conditions do they prefer. In this case, it is better to take into account the experience of foreign companies, where aquaponics is very popular.

Basic elements of aquaponics

Aquaponic systems are complex and consist of the following elements:

  • tank for growing fish;
  • capacity for growing plants;
  • water pump for water supply;
  • air pump for aeration;
  • biofilter.

Usually, the container with fish is placed below the plants, and with the help of a pump, water is pumped from the container with the fish to the container with the plants. The water is then drained back, so it is best to place the drain hole at the other end so that the water can flow through the entire tray. So the plants will be able to assimilate more nutrients.

A biofilter and a siphon for aquaponics are needed to create optimal conditions for bacteria, and a pump oxygenates the water.

What equipment do you need for aquaponics?

The acaponic system consists of 2 parts - for fish and for plants. To grow successfully, you need to buy the following equipment:

  • containers for hydroponics and aquaculture - must be durable, airtight and sufficiently voluminous;
  • a tray to collect excess water;
  • biofilter for water purification;
  • sump;
  • hydroponic system.

Aquaponics can be assembled in different ways - either as one section or dividing it into subsystems. Best of all, the aquaponics scheme is suitable for a private house - the system can even be placed on the veranda, if there is heating there.

How to make aquaponics with your own hands?

Drawings for creating do-it-yourself aquaponics are very simple. The main thing here is to make the pipeline correctly. This requires a good pump. Which is designed to maintain the right pressure. An equally important detail is a ball valve to block the pipe leading to the container.

The aquaponist will also need external and internal threaded fittings - the holes in the container with plants must match the external threaded fitting, and the internal fitting is for a filter with a mesh.

Another important part of aquaponics is the siphon. A hole must be made in it at least 3 cm from the lower edge of the pipe. This will allow the water to slowly drain into the container and can be quickly drained if necessary.

Also, to build the system, you will need a filter from a pipe (with a diameter of about 100 mm), where you need to make several holes. This is necessary to retain large debris when water enters the container.

A faucet with a pump will help return the water back, and a bypass pipe with a ball valve will help regulate the water flow for the container with plants.

Tanks for fish and plants must be chosen carefully. A container with a volume of 1000 liters is best suited for these purposes. If you cut it in half, you get 2 containers 55 centimeters high, 50 centimeters wide and 60 cm long.It is better to pour rubble or put ceramic tubes on the bottom of the fish breeding container - this will make it easier for microorganisms to multiply.

Questions and answers related to aquaponics

Answers to questions related to aquaponics

To successfully practice aquaponics at home, you must follow a number of rules. However, people who are not familiar with the basics of horticulture and aquaculture will find it more difficult. Therefore, many beginners have questions:

  1. How to lower ph level in water?

  1. The use of nitric, hydrochloric or phosphoric acid will help here. Phosphoric is very popular, because it is the safest and brings a large amount of phosphates. However, if algae are growing very actively in the aquarium, it is better to use a different acid, because phosphoric acid promotes their active growth. It is not recommended to use citric acid and vinegar as they can damage the system.

  1. What ph level is desirable in aquaponics?
    System management only seems simple. In fact, you need to constantly monitor fish, plants and bacteria. Most plants like environments with a low acid content (5.5-6.5), while fish and bacteria prefer a low alkali content (7-8). For the system to function successfully, it is necessary to find a "golden mean" between these indicators. It is recommended to keep the ph level between 6.8 and 7. Then all system participants will be happy.
  2. How often and with what substances should fish be fed in aquaponics?
    It all depends on the type of fish. Carnivores prefer protein food, and omnivores, on the contrary. It is also worth considering the age of the fish - the young need more protein than the old. In the first months, fish should not be fed tightly - they should eat all the food in 5 minutes. This is about 1 tablespoon of food for 20 fish daily. The fact is that fish are unpretentious in food and can live without it for a long time. When the water is consistently clear, you can increase the number of feed intake up to 2-3 times a day. In this case, you need to control how much food the fish eat in 5 minutes.
  3. When can crop plants be planted in the system?
    Plants need more time to take root, so they need to be planted earlier, I eat fish. It takes time for them to take root and survive the transplant, as well as get used to the new habitat.
  4. How important is aeration?
    For the successful and rapid growth of fish and plants in aquaponics, they need an optimal level of oxygen dissolved in water. For tanks with fish and plants, the oxygen level should be at least 5 mg per liter of water. Oxygen is also important for bacteria, which play an important role in the system. They convert harmful ammonia and nitrite from fish waste into useful nitrates. All these operations are impossible without a normal oxygen level in the water.
  5. How to start a growing cycle in such a system?
    First you need to buy all the necessary equipment and properly assemble the system for aquaponics. To start a cycle, a source of ammonia must be placed in the system. The optimal way out is to put fish into the water, the waste of which contains a large percentage of this substance.

For the further successful cultivation of vegetables and fish in aquaponics, you need to very carefully monitor the state of the system, check the indicators and regularly measure the temperature.

Aquaponics technology is very popular overseas - it is often used commercially to grow food for export. For example, in Chicago, aquaponics is used all year round with vertical structures. The costs of this method are minimal, and the benefits and incomes are several times higher than with traditional methods.

Everyone can create their own system, even a city dweller in his apartment. Aquaponics is unpretentious, although it requires constant monitoring.