Firstly I would like to point out that this blog actually started on the 19th of August 2012, but I have back dated this post to try and get a bit of a timeline happening.
Well… Aquaponics. Where to begin. I was told about aquaponics from a guy at work. A quick bit of googleing led me to the Backyard Aquaponics website and the start of a new hobby. I say hobby but it probably should be described as a bit of an obsession.
The whole thing took me about 4 days to build. I am not going to disclose how much beer was required to get through it, but the build time should have been a lot less than it was. Lets leave it at that. There was a fair amount of tweaking required to get the overflow in the middle draining enough water. So what is it all about i hear you ask? Well at the very bottom is a fish tank. In the fish tank is a pump that pumps water up into my grow bed at the top. The water is distributed evenly around the grow bed via the loop of pipe around the outside of it. Water then drains through the media and drains down the stand pipe in the middle back to the fish tank.
Some of you might be thinking ‘I can see that, but why would you bother?’ That is simple to answer. If any of you have kept an aquarium before you may have had a biological filter. What the biological filter does is convert toxins in the water that the fish produce into something much less toxic. What i mean by this is, the grow bed is filled with bacteria that do good things for us. Two types of the bacteria I am particularly interested in. Nitrosomonas sp converts ammonia that is created by fish into nitrites. Nitrites are still toxic to the fish though, so Nitrobacter sp comes to the rescue and converts the nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates are far less toxic to the fish. So much so that you almost dont need to worry about them.
Now most people that own an aquarium will do a water change to get rid of that wonderful nitrate. I say wonderful because it is actually a very good fertilizer for your plants. That ladies and gentlemen is why i call my filter a grow bed. I put in lots of tasty vegies and herbs which go crazy and remove the nitrates for me. The great thing about this is that it saves a lot of water. The plants also get all the water and nutrients they could ever want. This comes with a few advantages, a few of which I will list here.
- You can put your plants much closer together. No competition for nutrients means you can throw you planting distances out the window.
- The plants get as much water as they need without wasting any of it. Instead of most of your water draining away, it drains into the fish tank.
- Plants grow much much faster than they do in the ground.
- Many more advantages i cant be bothered typing. You get the idea though 🙂