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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and horticulture. It grows fish and plants alongside each other in a sustainable way.

Why Aquaponics?

Using our home aquaponic systems you will be able to grow plants and fish all year round, faster than you would growing in conventional soil.

It is a more efficient way of growing plants in terms of the amount of time required. You will never forget to water your plants, growing your plants you will use just 10% of the amount of water you might use in growing in soil. You do not need to weed the plants or apply any herbicides, fungicides or pesticides.

All plants grown using aquaponics are required to be organically grown. The fish, which produce the ammonia which drives the system are intolerant to synthetic and non-organic supplements. The use of such products are fatal to them, so that means just organic veggies!

How does aquaponics work?

Fish produce ammonia which is toxic to them in high quantities. Naturally occurring bacteria in the atmosphere take this ammonia and convert it into nitrites. Nitrites are also toxic to fish. Another bacteria convert these nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates are the most important nutrient to plant growth. The plants take up the nitrates, and the water is returned to the fish is clean of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.

It’s useful to think of the plant grow-bed as a glorified water filter, taking a waste product from growing fish, and turning it into a fuel for the growth of plants. If you are growing the fish to eat then the system becomes dual raising, growing both fish and plants for the plate.

What plants can I grow in Aquaponics?

Using our home aquaponic systems you can grow any shallow root base plant whose main fruit grows above the surface. This means any leafy greens, herbs and low growing fruiting plants will grow well in an aquaponic systems.

Root based plants such as potatoes will not grow in aquaponics as they require more space below the surface. The perpetual submergence in water would also not be helpful.

What fish can I keep in an Aquaponics system?

This really depends on the size of your tank. We currently keep goldfish and loach in our home systems. The system will also run well using tropical fish. You cannot use a saltwater system as the plants would not survive.

What are the cons to Aquaponics?

Clearly if keeping fish is not your thing then this will cause a significant problem. We would recommend a superior fish food rather than the standard aquarium flakes. As the fish food is the only nutrient input into the system using a higher grade fish food- as well as being better for the fish- will also mean that your plants have a better supply of other nutrients. You should especially look out for feeds that have a higher level of phosphorus and potassium as these (alongside the nitrates) are the main nutrients needed for healthy plant growth.

As with growing any plants you should keep an eye on their growth and look out for particular deficiencies. These can be easily remedied by adding additional organic supplements. We use liquid seaweed as it rich in most of the nutrients required. Please look out for our future post on nutrient balancing in aquaponics. We would recommend this site in the interim.

How much space do I need for an aquaponics system?

Our home aquaponics systems are 65 x 33 x 60 cm (Width x Depth x Height). However, really an aquaponics system can be as big as you would like to be. Commercial scale aquaponics systems fill vast green houses all over the world!

Final Thoughts

We certainly don't claim to have all the answers. It's part of the reason we call ourselves the Aquaponics Project. We are always learning. There is an amazing community of people involved in aquaponics who we have learned so much from along the way of designing our units, growing food for our table. They are a constant source of inspiration to us and a dream of educating people for a more ecological sustainable future.

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