Article by: CERES Greenhouse Solutions
Some quick tips taken from our e-book – Designing an Energy-Efficient Aquaponics Greenhouse. You can download that for free here and get more info, floor plans and strategies for making the most out of your greenhouse investment.
1. Place grow beds in sunlight; fish tanks in shadier areas
If fish tanks are in direct light they can easily get too hot during the day, lowering the dissolved oxygen in the water, which can kill fish. Fish tanks are much easier to heat than to cool, so it’s imperative to avoid overheating your tanks. Plus, if tanks are uncovered, direct light on the water can facilitate unwanted algae growth.
Of course, you’ll want to place all grow beds in maximum light for optimal year-round growing (particularly to increase production in the winter). For this reason, passive solar greenhouses – ones that have an insulated north wall, and glazing facing the South – are a perfect fit for aquaponics systems. Tanks will stay more stable temperature-wise against the North wall, the greenhouse will be a warmer year-round environment overall, and beds will get full light. You can see some example floor plans of how this looks, on our Aquaponics Greenhouses page.
2. Insulate your greenhouse
Or, more broadly, create a super energy-efficient greenhouse that minimizes temperature fluctuations. This is a good strategy when dealing with any greenhouse, but particularly important in an aquaponics greenhouse, where you not only want to keep the air temperature and root temperatures stable, but the fish tanks as well.
If in cold climates, using a hardier fish species like perch or koi that don’t require warm water temps will reduce heating costs. However, remember that an average uninsulated and unheated greenhouse will be the same temperature inside as outside. That means if it’s 20 degrees outside, it will be 20 degrees inside and you could have dead plants or worse, an ice block of frozen fish. People traditionally overcome this by heating the greenhouse, but these are extra yearly costs that add up. In many areas, traditional greenhouses aren’t used through the winter because the heating expenses make it cost prohibitive.
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