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Growing with Aquaponics

What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is the process of growing plants with roots suspended in nitrogen rich fish water.  A typical Aquaponics plant growing system relies on a continuous flow of fish waste water from a fish tank to supply all of the necessary nutrients needed for the hydroponic grow plant beds.  The cycle consists of plants taking up the ammonia and nitrogen from the fish water, helping to purify it as it flows down through the grow beds and back into the fish tank.

Since the water flow valves and hose lines in our small Aquaponics Greenhouse (featured in our videos) is too small to be able to handle a continuous flow of water back and forth through the grow beds and fish tank, we have designed our system to run on a timer which pauses the water flow in-between cycles to allow for adequate time for the water to flow through our garden hose system and sump tank without over-running any of the grow tubs. As a result, we have opted for additional Sponge Filters to be added to the fish tanks to aid in the filtration and aeration process of the fish water that most larger aquaponics systems, that are able to handle a continuous, unstoppable flow of water through the grow beds, do not need.

The Safest Way to Medicate Your Fish

Starting Aquaponics - The Safest Way to Medicate Fish

 

An important step in setting up Aqauponics is to medicate your fish prior to adding them to your system. This video shows you how to medicate your new fish outside of your tank so that your medication doesn't clog your filters and destroy the good bacteria balance you have established in your fish tank.

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Should You Build Aquaponics with Bell Siphons or Floating Raft Kratky Trays?

Designing Aquaponics - Bell Siphon or Floating Raft Kratky Trays?

 

When it comes to designing aquaponics, you can either build your plant grow trays with a bell siphon flood and drain system or you can use a floating raft or Kratky-type grow bin to suspend the roots of your plants in the aquaponics water, leaving a small gap for air and utilizing the water flow of a pump to help aerate the water.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems:

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4 Reasons We Converted to Aquaponics

4 Reasons We Converted to Aquaponics

 

If you've spent much time in outside gardening, you know that soil beds have their place out in a large yard where you can plot grow beds that are deep enough to accommodate the large growth and roots of larger plants, but when it comes to the container gardens we had setup in our greenhouse, soil beds definitely came with distinct disadvantages over aquaponics, and new set of challenges presented themselves with the inability to properly regulate water and nutrients in our grow bins and soil-born pests that raised havoc on our plants.  These problems were difficult to eliminate until we developed our aquaponics system.

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Problems in Aquaponics - How to Avoid 5 Common Mistakes

Problems with Aquaponics - Avoiding 5 Common Mistakes

 

When designing an Aquaponic systems to grow plants with fish, it is important to keep five key factors in mind. If you make one of these common mistakes, it can have a devastating affect on your plants and your fish. Everything must be kept in balances so that your fish and plants can thrive. To learn how to develop the safest aquaponics system for your fish and plants, I suggest you download a copy of our Quick Start Guide to Aquaponics PDF.

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Greenhouse Aquaponics - Growing Beans and Tomatoes with Fish Water

 

Growing Beans and Tomatoes in Aquaponics

Aquaponics is soilless growing method that utilizes the nutrients found in fish water to fertilize and hydrate plants. Beans and Tomatoes are some of the vegetables that grow well in Aquaponics, but tomatoes require a higher fish load than I have in my greenhouse, so I supplement the fish water in my Hydroponic tomato Deep Water Culture (DWC) grow beds with a 4-18-38 tomato formula, adding a Calcium Nitrate 15.5-0-0 formula to the baby tomatoes plants during the first month of growth. While the fish water in my bean bins cycle periodically through the grow bins and back into the fish tank several times a day on a closed circuit with no nutrients added to the bean grow tubs, my tomato plants function strictly as hydroponic grow bins with fish water not cycling back into the tanks since my additional tomato Hydroponic nutrients are harmful to fish.

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Starting and Transplanting Hydroponic Beans

Starting Beans in Hydroponics - Germinating and Transplanting Beans

 

Beans can be difficult to germinate in Aquaponics if overnight temperatures in the greenhouse are not able to be held between 70 and 80 degrees. We found that if we use a Parkseed 40-Cell Bio Dome Seed Starter Unit and fill it with 1-inch Hydroponic grow cubes, water and a heat mat, the sprout rate for our Bush Snap Beans increased from 30% to 90% in just 7 days. Now we use these Bio Domes to germinate all of our Hydroponic warm season plants.

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Aquarium Sponge Filters - Cleaning and Maintenance

 

Aquarium Sponge Filters often provide a critical component to any aquatic filter system. Whether they are being used to purify and aerate fish water in aquaponic or aquarium fish tanks, these mechanical and biofiltration filters help to purify water by breaking down fish waste and debris. When connected to an air pump, the porous surface of the filter also aids in the colonization of beneficial bacteria which aid in breaking down the waste collected and converting it from toxic ammonia to nitrite and nitrates that are later removed by frequent water changes or by the plants grown in an aquaponic system. Frequent cleaning of your aquarium sponge filters can greatly increase the overall water quality of your fish tank and extend the life of your filters.

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The Safest Way to Transfer Fish from One Aquarium to Another

 

There are many ways to transport fish from one aquarium to another. The most common method involves floating a bag containing fish with the old tank water and placing it in the new tank for an extended period of time, most commonly 15 to 20 minutes.   In order to acclimate the fish to the water temperature of the new aquarium, the bag is floated for approximately 20 minutes in the new tank water.  While this process is complicated by the need to maintain oxygen in the bag, a safer method is to use water heaters and thermometers in both the old tank and the receiving tank to match the temperature between the two tanks before you transfer the fish. 

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How to Clean and Winterize Aquaponics - Maintaining Fish All Year Around

Cleaning and Winterizing Aquaponics

 

Cleaning and Winterizing Aquaponics can be difficult if you are trying to maintain fish over the winter without the use of plants and growbeds to denitrify fish water in your aquaponics system. Since the cost is prohibitive to grow plants in the winter by heating the ambient air temperature in our greenhouse on the sub zero nights of our Colorado winters, we had to come up with an in-tank filtration way to maintain balance in our aquariums.

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Selecting Fish for Aquaponics

 

Many factors go into choosing the best fresh water fish for your aquaponic plant grow system.  In addition to matching up the nutrient and PH needs of your plants with the type of fish you are considering, water temperature and size of your aquarium or pond are significant issues to consider as well. In smaller outdoor aquaponic plant grow systems where water temperatures may fluctuate due to hash winters, pet common goldfish may present the best option as they have a large tolerance for PH fluctuations, functioning best at the 7.2 - 7.6 which is compatible with most green leafy vegetable needs, and growing the best in water temperatures between 50-75°F, while being able to hibernate for the winter in 35-40°F degree ponds.

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Supplements You Need to Start and Maintain Healthy Fish in Aquaponics

 

Setting Up Aquaponics - Supplements to Establish and Maintain Healthy Fish

A Healthy Fish Tank starts with maintaining the proper balance of bacteria that converts Ammonia into Nitrite and Nitrates which supply the nutrients needed for the growth of your Aquaponic plants. Until your aquarium filters and/or grow beds have established enough bacteria to keep up with the production of Ammonia produced by Fish waste, toxic Ammonia and Nitrite spikes in your tank can occur leading to sudden fish death.

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How to Build a Solexx Greenhouse Aquaponic System

 

To Learn more about aquaponics, download a copy of our Quick Start Guide to Aquaponics PDF below and check out our Greenhouse Aquaponics Video Course Lifetime Membership Plan at the links below:

Click here to Download your Quick Start Aquaponics PDF guide.
Purchase our Greenhouse Aquaponics Video Course to Learn how to build Aquaponic Gardens in Your Greenhouse.

 

 

 

 

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