Aquaponics: a disaster-proof method of growing food?
Looking for a weather-proof way to grow organic food? Home DIY aquaponics systems are hydroponics without the chemicals, PLUS fish.
With aquaponics, you grow fish and plants together. And you end up with very healthy fish and huge nutrient packed vegetables and fruit.
Aquaponic gardening requires no soil.
For light, you can use the sun or use grow lights. Sunlight is always best. A sun-grown aquaponics system looks to be one of the more promising trends right now in the home food growing world.
This post will introduce DIY aquaponics systems in a very broad way. It’s basically a culmination of my notes on the subject, taken when preparing for building our own. We hope to expand on this topic once we have our own DIY Aquaponic setup going at home.
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Being stewards of this earth, knowing about and having an alternative to diesel farming is a nice asset.
Farming requires a lot of equipment and labor. Aquaponics cuts out most of it. I’m a gas vehicle enthusiast. I love motorcycles, and wouldn’t touch an electric bike with a 100 foot poll, but eliminating the need for diesel consumption throughout the farming process can only be a great thing.
4 Key Aquaponics Benefits
- Conserves water: Because you cover the water, it doesn’t evaporate much. The end result is that 90% of the water introduced into the system is captured! You only use 10% of the water! This is a very desert-friendly farming method.
- Food is extremely nutrient rich: Thanks to the fish, the water is always clean, the plants are always getting the right nutrients, and best of all, there are absolutely NO pesticides in aquaponics.
- There are no limits: You can do it at home for you and your family, or you can grow it into a full-scale business that supports your local community.
- Lets you grow food literally anywhere: From deserts to snow, you can do this successfully anywhere, all year long.
Aquaponics Helps Bring Bartering Back
Aquaponics (hydroponics minus the chemicals) is a newer trend going on in the world of farming.
The ones that stand to benefit the most are regular folk who rely on grocery stores, farmers who have a tough time purchasing all the equipment for farming, and restaurants who are always buying “fresh” vegetables, but could obviously benefit from them being more fresh.
When you can go farm to table, you don’t have to harvest prematurely in order to take delivery into account. So aquaponics would give restaurants better tasting food as well.
You don’t have to be vegan if you live off this system because you can fish farm out of it too! And instead of learning animal husbandry for satisfying your meat and dairy needs, you can barter with someone else who does! Who doesn’t want fresh vegetables and clean fed fish?
If you have your friends and family covered with fresh veggies and fish, maybe one of them can have you covered with organic meats, poultry and dairy.
You can work together to help each other out without relying on any trips to your local grocery chain.
Fresh picked is always better.
A neighbor with an aquaponics system at home can supply a restaurant with freshly picked vegetables. Every chef knows that fresh harvested food is 10X better than something delivered via a truck to the local grocery store or market.
For example, if you pick a lime off its tree, the lime is covered in a fragrant lime oil that has a strong, wonderful scent. You wouldn’t ever know this if you’ve only ever bought limes at the market. These you have to scratch or cut open to get that strong lime scent out.
Aquaponics offers a way to always have fresh picked fruits and vegetables… and organic meat, dairy and cheese too if you take bartering into account.
Fish are the key.
Tilapia, cray fish, and any fast growing fish species would be ideal. Even lobsters and crabs are successfully farmed with aquaponic systems.
DIY Geodesic Dome Greenhouses
Live in harsh weather conditions? You can use grow lights and do this indoors. However, sunshine is always best. So you have another option to still be able to use sun for your home aquaponics system… geodesic domes.
Inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller, the geodesic dome greenhouse provides an excellent solution to harsh weather conditions.
There are many books out on the geodesic domes that shares plans on how to build your own. And there are also actual easy to set-up geodesic domes for sale on Amazon and elsewhere online.
These 3 books offer well rounded information, starting from Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome patent, to Hugh Kenner’s practical manual for its construction to newer greenhouse specific use cases for geodesic domes. All are good books if you’re embarking the journey of building your own geodesic dome greenhouse and garden:
Buy Ready-Made Geodesic Domes
Here below are a few geodesic domes you can buy outright.
This first geodesic dome kit below is the most affordable of the dome kits. It does not have the wood sticks you would need, but it has the hubs and ball connectors that all geodesic domes rely on. As well as the hardware needed to screw it all together.
You could use this one with a bit of ingenuity to come up with a very affordable and high quality geodesic dome greenhouse:
- Simple to snap together connectors that make durable geodesic domes quick, fun and easy to build.
- The kit contains everything you need except for the sticks.
- Scaleable – choose the size that suits you
- Stainless steel metalwork
- Automotive Grade, UV resistant plastic
And here are 2 more geodesic dome greenhouse ready made options that have plenty of customer reviews and questions that give a lot of information that’s good to read before buying.
- Tierra Garden 50-2510 Haxnicks Garden Sunbubble Greenhouse, Large
- INSTANT GREENHOUSE – Our Haxnicks Garden Sunbubble Greenhouse is an exciting, dome-shaped, instant plant house/conservatory The Haxnicks Sunbubble Greenhouse is easy to set up, easy to move and easy to store Our unique, patented one-piece folding design means you can have a beautiful, quality greenhouse in your garden in just minutes
- ADJUSTABLE – The Sunbubble is built to work for you Featuring adjustable vents that let you adjust the temperature to optimal growing conditions and a strong, zipped doorway to keep nosy pets at bay, you can personalize your Sunbubble Greenhouse to meet your needs When you're taking a break, pack the greenhouse away in the sturdy storage bag for safekeeping
- INNOVATIVE DESIGN – The innovative dome shape provides ample room for plants and greenhouse staging Made from UV stabilized PVC and flexible fiberglass rods, Sunbubble is both sturdy and adaptable to your gardening and outdoor needs
- MAXIMUM SUNLIGHT – Sunbubble Greenhouse makes it easier than ever to keep your plants happily outdoors in the sun! The curved shape of the Sunbubble makes it warm up quicker than a traditional greenhouse Because of the curve, the surface stays at 90 Degrees to the direction of the sun all day long, achieving minimum reflection and maximum penetration of light,
How To Get Started With Aquaponics
First you should pick up some books on the subject or bookmark a few experts. Aquaponics Expert Murray Hallam and his murrayhallam.com website is a good place to start.
Murray Hallam teaches others how to “discover the potential of aquaponics” and looks to be one of the very best for learning DIY aquaponics. So if you’re looking to take action on it right away, I’d head over to his site. He’s got all the learning materials.
The Aquaponics System Model
The end result is a suspension system that has biologicals floating around in the water.
Microbials break down waste from the fish into a form that the plant roots love. Roots take it right up.
However, you’re not smothering your root systems with fish poop. That’s not how this works. The tiny microbes first break down the fish poop into nitrites and nitrates that the roots then soak right up. This is what makes aquaponics so effective. Without fish, it would not be worth it.
Aquaponics VS Hydroponics
Hydroponics requires you to use chemicals for the plants. This means it’s not a closed system. Part of what makes aquaponics so great other than the fact that you don’t use chemicals, is that it can truly be a closed system (once you develop a method to replace fish pellets which would have to be purchased).
Closed system farming means you don’t rely on anything external, such as chemicals or even fish pellets. Duck weed and other natural substances can potentially replace fish pellets.
Hydroponics is not a closed system.
Aquaponics is a true closed system.
For fish, you would have a separate breeding tank for the small fish. These then get introduced to the aquaponics system, co-habitating with the larger fish.
What About Power For Lights (And pump for towers)?
In order to cap off this high efficiency closed system, you need a source of power for an indoor lighting system if that’s what you’re going with. A few options for power:
- Solar Panels
- Wind generation
- Deep cycle marine batteries
And then as an emergency backup, you can have your gas powered generators.
2 DIY Aquaponics Systems
You can use growing towers or water based tanks. The options are endless once you see how it works. Some aquaponic farmers have truly creative setups created thanks to towers.
1. Growing Towers
The essential thing needed is a small sprinkler that creates droplets of water that constantly go down into the tube and drip into a material for growth such as a natural sponge like substance. This surface eventually has microbes that grow onto it and the roots from plants also grow into this growth medium used in the vertical tube.
An energy efficient pump makes this possible.
Every plant must have its roots grow into the growth material you stuff the vertical tube with.
Because the growth medium sponge-like material you use to stuff the tube with has microbes that grow throughout it, the fish waste pumped up from the water below will be broken down into the nutrients that the plants take up.
2. Aquaponics Boxes
The box can be made with an unused food grade plastic shipping container. These shipping containers come with an outside metal frame already formed around it.
An electric jigsaw can then easily cut it into the shape needed for the open top aquaponics box.
High Efficient Farming
You can build your system from all recyclable materials. The pwer generation only need to be very low energy. High volume low pressure water pumps can run off just 12V from an efficient 12V battery. If you back this up with an inverter running off a solar cell or wind generator, you’re good to go.
Anyone Can Start DIY Aquaponics!
In this day of everyone relying on the grocery store, it’s imporatnt to think back to our grandparents and great grandparents and how they lived. You never know when a disaster can strike in any of various forms that force you to have to provide for yourself.
Honorable mention: Beekeeping. Raising bees can be another essential skill to learn for your aquaponics system because there are plants that require pollination. Having a couple beehives would be perfect for your aquaponics system.
Thanks for reading this article on “aquaponics” farming.
NEXT POST: A more traditional type of farming, Natural Farming. Learn all about Korean Natural Farming (KNF).
Last update on 2022-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API