The Right Aquaponics Grow Media for Healthy and Luscious Plants
The aquaponics system is a marriage of hydroponics and aquaculture. However, in most cases, you will require some sort of grow media for your plants to grow. The only exception to this rule is if your setup involves floating the plants on a raft like platform over a nutrient filled solution.
If you’re not doing this, then you’ll need to be aware of the choices you have regarding your aquaponics grow media.
An important factor to be aware of is the type of media you will be using. This could be clay pellets, gravel, etc. Whatever you decide to use, you need to use media that has a particle size of about 8mm to 16mm. The size is important. If the particles are too big, you will have less space to grow the plants. If the particle size is too small, there will be less air space in the media.
Expanded Clay is a Great Aquaponics Grow Media
One highly recommended grow media is expanded clay. It’s clean and easy to use. However, it is expensive. A cheaper option would be to use lightweight lava rocks. There are also many types of crushed rock media commercially available for aquaponics systems.
Watch pH Levels – Some Aquaponics Grow Media Affects pH Dramatically
You will need to keep an eye on the pH value of the water when trying out these rocks. Some rocks such as limestone can raise the pH value of the water quite high.
There is a quick way to test if the rocks you are going to use will affect the pH value. Place a few rocks in a clear plastic bag and pour some vinegar in the bag. If the rocks start bubbling and you see bubbles being released from the rock, then you may wish to choose another type of media.
Expanded clay pellets do not have such issues. They are also lightweight and porous. That means your whole setup will be lighter and there will be less need to have very strong supports in place for your system. A media that uses rocks will be heavy and needs to be well supported.
Another advantage of clay pellets is that they do not absorb water effectively. That means it is ideal for a system that uses a flood and drain method of supplying water to the plants. With clay pellets, water must constantly be pumped back and forth so that the plants are receiving the liquid nutrients frequently and don’t dry out.
Don’t Waterlog Your Aquaponics Grow Media
The key point to note when choosing your grow media is that it must allow the water to drain well. If the water does not drain well, the plants’ roots will get waterlogged. Once that happens, the roots will start to rot. Porosity is very important when choosing your grow media.
Since aquaponics has been steadily gaining popularity over the years, there are several companies that produce media ideal for aquaponics systems. It would be best to invest in a good media to ensure that your system is going to be really good right out of the gate. Treat this cost as an investment that you only have to make one time and the re-usability of it will pay dividends well into the future.
You may wish to learn more about aquaponics before taking the plunge. There are aquaponics books on Amazon if you’re interested and you can get an awesome video guide at http://myliquidsupplements.com/aquaponics-guide. Do check it out because it can help to make you and expert on aquaponics grow media as well as the entire aquaponics system.