Aquaponics is a farming method that combines aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) to create a self-sustaining ecosystem.
This innovative technique is gaining popularity as a sustainable and efficient way to produce food. If you’re interested in starting an aquaponics system, there are some terms you should know to better understand the process.
The nitrogen cycle is a critical process that converts fish waste into nutrients for plants. Fish excrete ammonia, which is converted by bacteria into nitrite and then nitrate. Nitrate is a form of nitrogen that is used by plants as a nutrient; the plants absorb the nitrate, which in turn removes it from the water and helps to keep the water clean for the fish.
pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the water in an aquaponics system. Maintaining the correct level is essential for the health of both the fish and the plants. The optimal pH level for most aquaponics systems is between 6.8 and 7.2.
Dissolved oxygen is the amount of oxygen that is present in the water. Fish need it to survive, and plants also require it to absorb nutrients. The optimal level of dissolved oxygen for an aquaponics system is between 5 and 8 milligrams per liter.
A biofilter is a system that uses bacteria to break down harmful toxins and chemicals in the water. In an aquaponics system, this is a critical component of the nitrogen cycle.
Bacteria grow on the surface of the biofilter media and convert ammonia and nitrite into nitrate, which can be used by plants.
The fish tank is the heart of an aquaponics system. It’s where the fish are raised and where their waste is produced. The size of the tank will depend on the type and number of fish being raised, as well as the size of the aquaponics system.
The grow bed is where the plants are grown. It’s typically filled with a growing medium, such as gravel or expanded clay pellets, and the water from the fish tank is circulated through the grow bed to provide nutrients for the plants.
A sump is a reservoir that collects excess water from the grow bed and pumps it back into the fish tank. It helps to regulate the water level in the system and ensures that the plants and fish have a consistent water supply.
Understanding these terms is essential to successfully operate an aquaponics system. By mastering the nitrogen cycle, pH, dissolved oxygen, biofilter, fish tank, grow bed, and sump, you’ll be able to create a thriving ecosystem that produces healthy fish and vegetables.