Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and Hydroponics. Aquaculture is the raising of the marine animals such as Tilapia, Koi, Trout, Salmon and Striped Bass. Hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil. There are many types of hydroponics such as NFT, gravels beds, and water trough.
Aquaponics mimics nature’s natural processes of breaking down waste so that other forms of life can thrive off of the nutrients. In Aquaponics the fish are the driving force producing the nutrients in the form of ammonia and fecal matter. Their solid waste is collected in a filtration system and allowed to decay and release the nutrients. The ammonia is broken down by nitrifying bacteria to nitrites and then to nitrates. The nitrates and other nutrients produced from the decay and nitrification, are perfect for plants. The plants in the system uptake the nutrients out of the water, and in turn clean the water. This is critical for the fish, because if these plants did not take the nutrients out of the water it would become toxic and kill the fish. One of the most amazing things about Aquaponics is the small amount of input it needs to create a large output of protein and produce.
Here are pictures and a step by step look at our Aquaponic system.
These three Fish tanks are the home of our fish and are also called the rearing tanks. They are Bottom Drained and hold between 800 fingerlings to 500 adult Tilapia.
We apply constant aeration to the water and each tank is completely circulated with fresh system water every hour or so. After water is pumped into the fish tanks it is sucked out of the bottom and begins its journey through the system.
The waters next stop is this blue Solids Settling Tank. This tank removes large fecal matter, roots masses and other heavy materials. This tank is bottom drained a few times a day to remove any build up of large heavy materials.
The sludge that comes out of this tank is one of the best organic liquid fertilizers around. When we put this on our outdoor plants and trees they explode with growth.
The water that comes out of the Solids Settling Tank enters the Suspended Solids Capture Tanks also called the net tanks. There are two of these tanks and they are filled with a filtering material that collects fine suspended organic solids from the water. It’s amazing how much these nets collect and how clean the water coming out of these tanks is.
The next stop is the degassing tank. The net tanks are the nastiest places in the system. These tanks are filled with anaerobic areas. An anaerobic area is an area devoid of oxygen. This is where harmful gasses such as hydrogen sulfide and methane are generated. The degassing tank does just what it says, it degases the water. Air is pumped into the water and violently agitates the water, which releases these gasses as well as some carbon dioxide, which is created by the fish.
After the water has been stripped of the large and fine particles as well as the dangerous gasses, it makes its way to the rock bed. This is a bed filled with river rocks and buffers that help with the systems PH and with Alkalinity as well.
After the water travels through the rock bed it enters one of three hydroponic troughs. This is where the majority of the water in the system is. Nitrifying bacteria lives throughout these troughs, on the walls and undersides of the rafts and within the water column. You always want to keep all the rafts on the troughs, because the nitrifying bacteria is photo sensitive and will be killed by the light. Also the light will allow the formation of algae, which will strip the water of it’s nutrients and at night it’s oxygen.
After the water has run it’s course through the hydroponic troughs, the entire process starts over. This means the water is used over and over again. This large system uses a very small amount of water in comparison to growing in dirt.