Easy DIY Aquaponics

Easy DIY Aquaponics:

by Octavien J. Remillard C.E.T.

Aquaponics simply involves growing plants without soil which is called hydroponics. With this new system, the plants get their food from nutrient rich water which is run over their roots. The recycling water is enriched by natural plant food generated from fish waste.That gives a whole new meaning to healthy food!

This is how nature feeds its own and this cycle is it’s simplest form. Once the basics have been mastered, it has proven over and over to be the most efficient way to grow truly organic food.

This system can be used to grow most vegetables and some fruits.

Nitrogen is the main food that plants need. In nature, bacteria breaks down organic matter into nitrites and nitrates which is the form of nitrogen that plants can use.

Organic matter that has decomposed is mixed into the soil over time. These compounds are the same ones that farmers add to their soil except that the chemicals they use are synthetically made and are devoid of many of the other ingredients that occur in nature as a by product of plant and animal decay.

Aquaponics accomplishes this naturally and with very little effort on your part. Once your system has been set up properly, all you have to do is feed the fish and a bit of water maintenance. 

The system cycles itself on it's own time naturally and can operate year-round in the proper climate. Good bye sushi!

Despite our greatest efforts to live independently, most of us have become accustomed to the quickness and ease of a trip to the grocery store. If you wanted to farm, you would quickly find out that it is a very risky business and a lot of darned hard work.

This technology allows you to enjoy all the benefits of clean, healthy vegetables and fruit from a conventional garden without the hard work.If you have access to grass fed beef and hogs, you have it made.

Eggs from free range chickens, too? Bliss.

As much as we would like to live closer to the soil, almost 90% of us have day jobs. There is little time, money or space to invest in a backyard garden not to mention the other things that enrich our lives like kids’ activities and just basic housekeeping especially in a home where both adults are working.

Aquaponics - What’s In Our Food?

  • Preservatives – For centuries, food spoilage was a great challenge. The most commonly used natural preservatives were salt, food drying and fermentation. Today, artificial chemicals such as sodium nitrite, sodium benzoate, and sulfur dioxide are in common use. Many expert studies have shown that these widely used chemicals cause allergic reactions and other issues in humans.
  • Colorants – All natural foods have colors all their own and these are brought about by natural chemicals. They don’t keep their fresh look very long, however. Much of our processed foods contain artificial dyes which makes the food more visually appealing. Many of these have been linked allergies, asthma and hyperactivity.
  • Artificial Sweeteners – Many of our foods taste better with sugar. With the modern push for healthy weight, artificial sweeteners are added instead of sugar. These include Aspartame, Sucralose and Saccharin. These have been linked to cancer, allergies and behavioral problems.
  • Flavorings – These are chemicals added to food to give the food a certain flavor. Garlic added to meat is an example. Natural flavorings have never been linked to any ill effects. Artificial flavorings have been linked to many unpleasant side effects.
  • Refinement – This includes things like refining flour so that the husk is separated from the starch. Pure starches are high on the glycemic index. This means that they quickly turn to sugars in the body and this is a contributing factor to the obesity problem we have in this country.

There is a lot more to it, but you get the idea. To recap, man made chemicals and processing of food can cause allergies, obesity, toxicity, cancer, depression and diabetes.

The Home Aquaponics System. 

First of all, there are no great aquaponics secrets. Every location is a bit different so learn all about it and experiment with what works best in your local, with whatever water supply you use and so forth.

Before buying any kits or starting to assemble your own system from scratch, I strongly urge you to learn how the process works naturally and familiarize yourself with the technology involved.

Here are some of the many advantages:

  • The system is virtually 100% hand off once you’ve set it up properly.
  • Virtually maintenance free.
  • There is no weeding as the grow beds are off the ground.
  • There is no more back breaking watering.
  • No more dirt all over because there is no soil!
  • No more manure to haul around and mix into the soil.
  • Therefore, there are no soil borne pests or diseases.
  • Simple and fun!

Start small and learn from your own personal experience before you start spending money on a large commercial aquaponic system.

Like anything else, you are much better making your mistakes (Yes, you’ll make some) on a small scale than making major boo-boo’s with a large, expensive system.

Another lesson I learned from firsthand experience is that you’ll save thousands by going the DIY route instead of using a store bought, pre-built kit.

With a bit of trial and error, you will become confident that aquaponics works and that you know how to make it work. A small system is the ideal way to learn and to make your mistakes.

Once you’ve become the aquaponics god, it becomes a very easy task for you to expand the system cheaply and effectively. All that is involved then is to multiply the number of systems and increase the number of grow beds

Aquaponics - The Basics

You will only require a few tools such as a drill, pvc pipe cutter and a saw.

A home aquaponics system has 3 basic components:

  1. The fish tank
  2. Aquaponics grow beds
  3. The water circulation system

The fish tank should be tall and opaque. You don’t want direct sunlight to get into your fish tank as this will encourage algae to grow like crazy and this is not good for your fish.

Some people are using water barrels as fish tanks. This is called barrel aquaponics. If the only containers you have are clear, you should pain the outside to block the sun’s rays. Personally, I like to use Rubbermaid stock tanks as they are opaque and tougher than a 25 cent steak.

What kinds of fish are best? Many people are using
Tilapia, but the Toronto Globe and Mail reports that eating Tilapia may not be better than eating a doughnut.

New U.S. research has found that farmed Tilapia have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids - and surprisingly high levels of potentially detrimental omega-6 fatty acids. I give up.

Personally, I'm experimenting with Brook Trout. Those little beggars sure are tasty in the wild. It'll be interesting to have my first meal of trout. Catfish just grow too darn big!

Check with your local fish hatchery. They'll have some suggestions for you. They all produce pretty well the same quality of organic fertilizer.

The grow bed can be made of plastic or wood, but the wood would have to have a plastic lining put in as the unit has to be water proof.

The water circulator is basically just a pump with enough power to push water up to the grow bed from which it fall back into the fish tank via gravity. You will also want to install a control valve to regulate the flow of water.

A little experimenting will show you the proper setting. The water does not need to be flowing all the time, but unless you have it on a timer, you will want a flow regulating valve.

You can build your water piping system using PVC pipe, but I have found that just plain old (and cheap) vinyl tubing like garden hoses works just fine as it is very flexible and it is easy to move it around when you are adding components or grow beds.

The above are the 3 basic components of your organic food system.

You don't need to live on a homestead. All you need is a roughly 10’ by 10’ space with a water source and adequate sunlight.

The small pump that is required doesn’t take much electricity, but it is a lot of fun learning to do this totally off the grid. This involves setting up a small array of solar cells or a small wind turbine and the associated circuitry. But, that’s for later if you so desire.

A greenhouse supplies store will have most of what you need after you've got the short materials list for your aquaponics starter project together.

By the way, would you like to learn more about a quick, simple and inexpensive DIY aquaponics starter system without owning a homestead? The video shows in great depth how aquaponics works, things to be careful of in your aquaponics start up and why the dangers in our food is increasing rapidly.

You will learn about:

  • The basics for healthy food
  • How agricultural engineering contributed to this aquaponcis breakthrough.
  • Some aquaponics secrets.
  • How to build aquaponics systems at home.

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