Aquaponics is the combined culture of both the fish and the plants in a a system that recycles and recirculates making it extremely efficient. Nutrients that are generated by the fish, either by direct excretion or microbial breakdown of the organic wastes from the fish are absorbed by the plants hydroponically.
The fish provide the majority of the liquid nutrients in the water required for proper plant nutrition. As the aquaculture effluent water flows through the hydroponic component of the recirculating system, fish waste metabolites are expelled by the nitrification and the uptake by plants.
This process treats the water which flows back to the fish tank component of the system for excellent recycling and reuse of your water right on site. This is extremely economically and environmentally friendly at the same time.
Aquaponics System Size is Very Important
One of the biggest and most important decisions you will make regarding your aquaponics system will be its size. You will need to ask yourself what your goals are. Is this just a hobby to grow a few vegetables at home? Are you planning to make money selling vegetables on a small scale? Will you be selling the fish too as a food source?
All these questions will affect your decision. The rules and fundamentals will apply regardless of the size of your system. The aquaponics system has a few rules that must be adhered to if it is going to be successful. The rules though not set in stone have to be closely followed and maybe adapted a little here and there based on the setup and environment that you choose.
If you’re setting up a system at home and using an aquarium to hold the fish, you will want to stock the correct amount of fish. One inch of fish per gallon of water is a good rule of thumb but keep in mind that if your system is in check, your fish are going to grow in size; so plan accordingly.
What if Your Aquaponics System Size is Too Small?
If you add too many fish, the overcrowding will lead to stressful tank conditions for the fish and they will die. If you’re planning a bigger system, of course you will use a much larger container and will have more fish.
However, since some fish are much larger than others, a container which holds 15 goldfish may only be suitable for 5 to 7 tilapia that are very fast at growing. It all depends on your chosen setup.
It’ll also be helpful to know roughly how much feces will be produced since your plants will need the sufficient liquid nutrition to survive.
A study conducted at the University of the Virgin Islands found that for about 60-100 grams of fish food consumed per day will effectively sustain 1 square meter of plants in a raft aquaponics system. This will probably hold true for a system using a media bed too. So, you’ll need to do the math here on your own as you begin to study your aquaponics system.
Plan Your Aquaponics System Size Appropriately
If you have plans to scale up your system in future, you’ll really need to plan ahead of time. Many enthusiasts who start out small often have their system setup in a small room or garage. Later on when they see they are successful with their aquaponics system, they may wish to scale up and make it a bigger operation.
However, because they started off in a small location, there are space constraints. They’ll need to shift their setup or build a new one or do whatever they need to. Whatever the case, it will be a hassle tearing down and moving your system so plan ahead a bit and it will serve you well.
A simple room or garage system is a great place to start but if you’re thinking BIG in the least little bit then It’d be wise to setup in a place where you have enough space to expand a little bit as you need to. Hobby aquaponics gardening and fish farming are one thing, but if serious production farming is on your mind, think carefully about future growth if you are going to set up a larger operation at a later time.
There’s a ton of information available for aquaponics for both beginners and experts alike. Learn whatever you can about aquaponics and you’ll be able to make better choices and become somewhat of an expert on the subject.
Get a few books on the subject. Find a video course online about aquaponics like this one http://myliquidsupplements.com/aquaponics-guide so that you can understand the concepts. Read the other articles at http://myliquidsupplements.com/aquaponics/ and they will serve you well in setting up the right size of aquaponics system to suit your needs.