Understanding Three Aquaponics Setups

The majority of aquaponics systems fall into three broad categories.

These would be the media filled beds, NFT (nutrient film technique), and DWC (deep water culture) systems. There are many ways to setup each type of system within the categories. The common thread is that fish and plants are raised together in a closed system.

Each system must be custom tailored to site specific conditions such as normal high and low temperatures. The systems will need to be protected from wind, weather and contamination by chemicals and animal wastes. The best location will also be influenced by the amount of sunlight and the compass direction.

A major determinant in the final design will be the budget and scope of the project. Small system built for residential use will share little resemblance to a large commercial system. However, most aquaponics systems are derived from these basic systems.

1. Media Filled Beds are containers filled with a growing media which is usually commercially manufactured. Water infused with fish waste is flooded into the media to nourish the plants. The media should be pH neutral to avoid affects the plant’s absorption of minerals. The media should also be shaped to provide good surface area and air voids. This type of system has been used successfully by countless farmers and it relatively low cost and easy to get started.

2. Nutrient Film Technique: Enclosed gutters are circulated with the water from the fish tank and the plants are grown in plastic containers where the plants root feed off the nutrients. The flow is only a thin film. This method works well for lettuce and other leafy green vegetables, but is not well suited for larger plants or plants with large root systems. This method of farming is also very commonly used in hydroponic systems. The gutters are slanted to allow the water to gravity drain to the next level in the system. You will need solids removal and a bio filter built into the system as well.

3. Deep water culture uses floating rafts to grow the plants. This is typically used in a large scale commercial setup where water is continuously pumped through the fish water holding system and aerated. The production is optimized at a large scale using this technique.

The best system for beginners is the flood and drain method of farming. It can be done in a thousand different ways and can be designed and built using recycled materials.

The deep water culture technique is commonly used in commercial systems due to its lower overall cost on a larger scale and the ability to expand production in a smaller footprint.

You will love growing aquaponics fish in your very own aquaponics system that you built with little or no start-up cost.

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