Aquaponics allows us to grow year round fish produce. We can also tailor the environment to maintain certain pH ranges, allowing us to grow specific plants and fish.
Growing food has always been satisfying and rewarding, but aquaponics allows you to become more self-sufficient from the comfort of our own home.
Here at Aquaponic Life we are particularly interested in growing plants with purpose e.g. edible, scented, medicinal or air purifying plants which we can use in numerous ways to please our senses!
Our aim is to create ‘living’ food banks where people can come and access nutrient rich food.
We prefer to use organic seeds because of the uncertainty of Genetically Modified foods. The first commercial crop of GM wasn’t until 1997, so the long term stability and effects of GM foods are still unknown.
When choosing where to position your aquaponics system, remember water is heavy, so will require somewhere sturdy, and evaluate what light is available for the plants.
WHICH PLANTS CAN I GROW IN AN AQUAPONICS SYSTEM?
Nearly anything you can grow in the soil, you can grow using aquaponics!
The lowest maintenance aquaponics systems lend themselves to growing leafy greens best, as aquaponics utilises the nitrogen cycle.
With the simple addition of a few organic ingredients, you can also grow an abundance of fruit and veg too!
WHAT DO PLANTS NEED?
Plants require carbon dioxide for respiration to produce food (glucose + starch) for energy. This makes them autotrophs (self-nourishing). Plants also need air at their roots.
Flowing water oxygenates the water, so the addition of rain-bars and waterfalls are beautiful and practical additions to your home aquaponics system.
If required, the addition of air-stones in the water ensures a good oxygen supply to the roots, and eliminates dead patches in the water.
Light is essential for plant growth. Light measured in a number of ways, including quality and quantity, requirements for plants varies between species. Sunlight is the best light for plants, so if you can make use of natural sunlight, do!
Artificial lighting needs to be carefully selected as plants absorb wavelengths at either end of the light spectrum (UV to infrared) which we cannot see.
Although plants require light, fish prefer to have some shade. Too much light hitting your tank will allow algae to grow and although fish will eat some algae, having too much will take oxygen out the water.
Did you know? Some plants have Ultra Violet markings which act as signals to insects. Some insects have UV patterns on them too.
Our grow medium (and no more manual watering!) This is what connects the plants, fish and bacteria. In aquaponics water is recirculated, which helps make the most of our limited freshwater supplies.
Water is essential for the transport of mineral nutrients needed for growth. Plants are around 90% water, so proper hydration is vital.
It’s easy to forget that water is heavy, so please ensure that your tank location is both strong enough to support the weight of the water as well as level (so the tank doesn’t crack). Aquaponic systems need to ‘cycle’ first in order to work efficiently.
Never add tap water directly to your system.
Different plants require different temperatures. Many plants need a change in temperature to germinate. Both the water (root) temperature and the air temperature can be controlled within aquaponics.
Are essential for healthy plant growth. Remember that your fish’s pH range will dictate what plants will do best in your system. pH can also affect which nutrients are available to plants. Learn more about plant nutrients here
Please note: Petro-chemical pesticides and fertilisers which are still used in conventional farming, cannot be used in aquaponics because it could harm or even kill the fish.
PLANT LIFE CYCLES
A plant life cycle includes germination, flowering, seeding and dying. These are the types of life cycles different plants have:
Plant that completes its lifecycle in one growing season.
An annual that grows fast and may complete more than one lifecycle in a growing season.
A plant that flowers and dies in the second growing season after germination.
Any plant living for more than two growing seasons.