Aquaponics for homesteaders: 5 Benefits of this water-based food production system
06/18/2021 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
Aquaponics for homesteaders: 5 Benefits of this water-based food production system

Aquaponics is an eco-friendly and self-sufficient way of growing your own vegetables and raising fish that can also be used for human consumption.

Through this unique food production system, you can harvest vegetables that are grown without any harmful pesticides, unlike most produce sold in stores.

Aquaponics, a gardening system based on aquaculture and hydroponics

Compared to traditional gardening methods that require soil, aquaponics only requires fish and clean water. Additionally, food grown in an aquaponics system is produced in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.

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You can start aquaponics as a hobby to grow food on your homestead or you can invest in it as a primary or supplementary source of income.

But how exactly does aquaponics work?

Aquaponics is a food production process that combines aquaculture with hydroponics and it is based on the interdependence between fish and plants. Aquaculture is the raising of fish while hydroponics refers to the practice of growing plants without soil. Aquaponics blends the basic elements of both these practices into an integrated, symbiotic system.

Aquaponics systems are closed-looped and recirculating. Both it and hydroponics differ from traditional gardening because of how the plants are fed.

Hydroponics uses synthetic (chemical) fertilizers as its nutrient source and aquaponics uses fish waste to provide an organic food source for your plants. This unique aspect makes aquaponics an appealing option for conventional organic gardeners who have never tried soilless growing methods.

Through the symbiotic plant/fish relationship of aquaponics, plants act as a natural bio-filter to keep the water clean for the fish. Meanwhile, the fish produce fertilizer for the plants.

As a gardener your jobs include:

  • Feeding the fish
  • Monitoring the system (e.g., pH level, water temps, water levels, etc.)
  • Supplying supply the energy for the pump, lighting and water heater (depending on your setup and location).

5 Incredible benefits of an aquaponics gardening system

Curious about aquaponics? Here are five amazing benefits of this unique and ec0-friendly food production system.

It’s a beginner-friendly gardening method that’s easy to set up

There are different ways to set up an aquaponics gardening system and you can choose one that suits your needs, budget and available space.

Below are two of the most common aquaponics setups.

  • Nutrient film set up – This setup draws water from the fish tank through a narrow, cylindrical tube, like PVC, with holes drilled into the top. The roots are dangled through the holes so they can draw nutrients from the water. This setup works if you don’t have a lot of ground space since you can run it across walls or hang it from ceilings. Additionally, a nutrient film set up can be set up horizontally or vertically and it suits plants that don’t require any support to grow, like leafy greens.
  • Media bed set up – In a media bed set up, you can grow plants in a certain type of media like clay pebbles. The media bed normally sits on top of or next to the fish tank. You need a pump to draw water from the tank, which then passes through the media bed. This allows the plants to draw nutrients from the water before it is returned back to the fish, fully filtered. It’s one of the easiest and most commonly used techniques for home growers.

It provides organic food without any waste

Aquaponics is a nature-friendly and sustainable method for growing fresh, organic vegetables. When you grow vegetables using aquaponics, the waste nutrients of fish are absorbed by your crops.

While you occasionally need to add a bit of water to the fish tank from time to time to compensate for the loss due to evaporation and water absorbed by the plants, you don’t need to discharge water into the environment, which is a major cause of pollution.

It’s an economical gardening method

One of the major benefits of the aquaponic system is that it allows you to be financially independent. With a large enough setup, you can earn enough money to pay for your daily expenses.

Compared to a system like hydroponics, fish raised for aquaponics provide a steady stream of nutrients to your plants. This helps you save on commercial fertilizer.

Using nutrients from fish waste also helps you save time and money that is normally required in a hydroponic or traditional garden.

It’s a cleaner form of gardening

If you don’t have the time or energy to cultivate a traditional garden, aquaponics may be the best method for you. It doesn’t require large plots of land and it can solve the problem for those who don’t have access to quality soil.

You can also eat the fish in your aquaponics gardening system

Aquaponics is unique since it also gives you a chance to raise fish for food. You don’t have to consume the fish if you don’t want to but with aquaponics, you can grow fresh, organic vegetables and raise fish at the same time.

Crop varieties and fish for an aquaponics system

Here are some of the best fish to use for aquaponics:

  1. Catfish – Catfish prefer warmer water and are more disease-resistant compared to other fish.
  2. Carp – Carp is best for beginners and they can grow in a variety of conditions.
  3. Koi – Koi are hardy fish but they are not meant for consumption. Use them if you want to raise ornamental fish for your system.
  4. Tilapia – Tilapia are the easiest to raise. They grow faster and can thrive in various conditions.
  5. Trout – Trout is harder to raise because they prefer colder water, but they are perfect if you’re growing cool-weather crops.

The crops you can plant will vary based on the size of your setup. Grow these plants if you have a smaller set-up:

You can grow larger crops with fruit if you have a set-up that can handle the number of fish needed for healthy plants. If your crops need more nutrients, you need more fish in the set-up to produce the nutrients from their waste.

If you have a larger set-up, you can grow the following vegetables:

Things to consider before starting an aquaponic system

Beginners have two concerns before starting this kind of gardening system: Cost and skill level.

Aquaponics costs more compared to other gardening methods like container gardening. But while the upfront cost is bigger compared to other methods, aquaponics is worth investing in if you want to grow organic vegetables and raise fish for consumption. In the long term, you will eventually earn back your investment.

While aquaponics isn’t as simple as container gardening, you can get a lot of help from articles online or in user-shared video tutorials. You can also borrow reference books from the local library to learn more about this beneficial gardening method.

An aquaponics gardening system is an efficient and sustainable way to grow your own vegetables and raise fish for eating.

Visit HomeGardeningnews.com to learn more about aquaponics and other sustainable gardening methods for your homestead.

Sources:

Gardening-ABC.com

Gardenerd.com

Learn.Eartheasy.com

MorningChores.com

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