Filtering Water In An Aquaponics Setup
Aquaponics is a soilless planting technology relying on a symbiotic relationship between aquaculture and hydroponics to grow plants. The practice involves the growing of fish and other aquatic creatures to feed plants with the animal’s waste or discharge. On the other hand, the plants contribute to the health and well-being of the aquatic creatures by filtering the water through their roots. The vegetables play a role in maintaining the quality of water before it returns to the tank or pond. Aside from the two working hand-in-hand, microbes living in the biological filtration system contribute to providing the necessary nutrients of the plants. The whole process is a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship between two different farming practices.
There are several types of aquaponics used today. Among the popular ones are the flood and drain, drip system, nutrient film technique or NFT, and the deep culture system. There’s no one-system-fits-all approach in aquaponics. You have to find what works best for you. You have to research and do your homework to find out the ideal system for your setup. Keep in mind, there are several factors to consider when deciding on which aquaponics system to use. Among these are the tank/pond placement and grow bed size and type. In some cases, it’s about the preference of the owner.
What are the Different Types of Aquaponics Water Filtration Systems?
Water filtration in an aquaponics system is vital in maintaining healthy fishes and other aquatic creatures. Since it is a symbiotic relationship, a farmer’s goal is to hit two birds in one stone. In short, maintaining good water quality will not only keep your aquatic animals healthy and thriving but will also improve the growth and yield of your vegetables. You need a good filtration system to achieve your goals.
Mechanical Filtration and Biological/Chemical Filtration
Since you need good quality water for your plants and aquatic creatures, the water must be free of chemical contaminants. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic should never be in the water as it is a threat to animal and plant life. The water should not only be crystal clear but also clean and without impurities for both aquatic creature and plants to thrive.
Chemical filtration systems convert ammonia into nitrate which is an acceptable form because it provides nutrients to the plants. In aquaculture, you can reduce the amount of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in your tank/pond through regular water change. Fortunately, you can save water with aquaponics since you won’t need frequent water changes as your plants will feed on the nitrate in the water.
Mechanical filtration is the removal of solid waste such as feces and uneaten fish food through a series of filter media. There are many filter media used to catch the debris to keep the water clear. Some people use DIY filter media to save money while others use pre-made filter media to save time and effort.
Either way, it all depends on proper understanding of filter systems, correct setup, and regular inspection and maintenance. Some filter media like activated carbon catches impurities and contaminants like lead, chloramine, and other water pollutants. If you use private wells for your aquaponics, then you need to test the water for contaminants. You must also use activated carbon in your filter system to catch the pollutant before it reaches your tank/pond. Not all aquaponics filtration systems have activated carbon though since you don’t need one if you have a reliable water source.
Swirl filters are efficient in separating solids like fish poop and food so they won’t get into the next filter chambers. A swirl filter usually has a gate valve to unload or release the collected debris at the bottom. Upon flushing, you have successfully reduced the waste in your aquaponics system through simple filtration. A raft water filter is a multi-layered filter system designed to catch residual of fish food and the poop of aquatic creatures as the water enters the filter chambers. The collected residue in the raft water filter must then be discarded to maintain good water parameters.
Inlet water filtration like the AquaOx DF filters the water that goes through your tank/pond to keep your system clean and clear. The water doesn’t have to be murky to be contaminated. In most cases, the most dangerous pollutants are those that we can’t see with our eyes. An inlet water filtration will catch impurities and prevent them from causing health problems to our animals and plants. Most of these filter systems are easy to install and do not require technical skills. Unfortunately, they are often overlooked because of the filters used in the pond/tank. If you’re planning on starting your aquaponic garden, don’t forget to invest in a quality inlet water filtration to safeguard your farm and yourself.
The Importance of Filtration in Aquaponics
As mentioned above, aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics where both aquatic creatures and plants must sustain each other to thrive. Just like with any living organism, both aquatic creatures and plants must have a clean environment first to be healthy.
Only when you have a clean environment can you successfully grow both. No matter what you feed to your aquatic creatures, they will eventually get sick because they live in a horrible place. Both mechanical and biological/chemical filtrations are crucial to the success of your aquaponics. Since mechanical filters catch the larger debris and prevent them from returning to the pond, it is important that you clean your filter media to remove these solids.
Aside from the health and well-being of your fish and other aquatic creatures, a filter system will also prevent contaminants from entering the food supply of your plants. Filters prevent the triggering of various diseases because they keep the water parameters in check. In most cases, fish and plants get sick because of their poor immune system caused by bad water quality.
What to Grow
While you can grow anything, it would be best to do your homework on the best fish and plants to cultivate in your aquaponics system. The goal is to enjoy the soilless farming without stressing yourself due to the difficulty of caring for your fish and plants. If you have a small aquaponic based garden, you can grow vegetables that aren’t heavy feeders or dependent on heavy nutrient input. Among these are lettuce, mint, spring onions, spinach, and other small vegetables. Keep your choices on vegetables that do well in neutral pH level for your fish to thrive.
When it comes to aquatic creatures, you can grow fishes like tilapia, rainbow trout, goldfish, koi, shrimps, and even the small guppy. In choosing your fish, you must select a species that consumes a lot of food to produce ammonia that will be broken down into nutrients for your plants. The abovementioned aquatic creatures are popular among many aquaponics farmers around the world. Find out which fish is available in your area as some of these might be hard to get in your place.
Aquaponic farming is a revolutionary and organic way to grow plants and fish at the same time. It relies on water filtration to keep both living organisms healthy, safe and thriving. Since you can’t use chemicals such as pesticides on your plants, you’ll enjoy chemical-free produce that you can consume or sell at the market.