Do It Yourself Aquaponics
DIY Aquaponics is a system that combines aquaculture with hydroponics, essentially bringing the raising of aquatic animals and the growing of water-based plants into one supplementary environment. Through this system of aquaculture, the waste produced by the raised marine animals acts as nutrient providers for hydroponically cultivated plants. These plants then, in turn, purify the water.
The origin and history of Aquaponics is immensely rich, with there being substantial debate as to its invention:
Some say that Aquaponics is borrowed from Aztec culture where they built agricultural islands holding portable plants cultivated in waste materials from various sources. Others relate the earliest aquaponic systems to have been at work in the rice fields of China where they grew alongside an exotic combination of fish. Historians have even marked floating rafts of cultivating crops as early back as the Tang and Northern Song dynasty, hailing from the 6th and 8th century respectively.
Today’s modern day Aquaponic system stems from the workings of Dr. Mark McMurtry.
Methods of Aquaponics
– Deep Water Culture (DWC)
This method makes use of rafts made from soft materials to allow the crops to float in channels laced with fish discharge. The plants are placed in punctures made in the raft so that the roots can interact with the nutrient-rich water. This aquaponic method is best used for growing low nutrient varieties in large scale commercial farming.
– Media-based Aquaponics
This method involves planting media, like shale or pellets, to grow plants in. Said media provides both biological and mechanical filtration within the same body. Media based Aquaponics is recommended to those looking to engage in the Aquaponics world through the ease of their own home as this method can grow a large variety of crops, including fruits, greens, and herbs.
– Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
This type of system makes use of a small device within which crops are planted. Nutrient-rich water then passes through this device, intermixing with the roots of the plants. As this system is not very sturdy, it works best with plants requiring little support, such as strawberries.
– Vertical Aquaponics
Vertical Aquaponics sees crops stacked one on top of the other in a tower like construction. Nutrient-rich water then flows down from the top of the tower allowing the roots of the plant to intermix with it before shifting into a fish tank. This method enables great quantities of produce to be cultivated within a small space and facilitates crops that require little support.
– Environmentally friendly with minimal water and power usage
– No chemical inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides, Aquaponics operates through fish food and water
– Crops grown through Aquaponics are highly resistant to pests and disease
– Produces greater quantities per square foot as compared to traditional methods of farming
– Aquaponics is a reusable system, with several crops and sea animals being grown from the same setup