Water is one of the most important components of the aquaponics system; it ties the entire system together! What is remarkable is all the things that are taking place within the water that will not only make your plants grow healthy and strong but enables your fish to thrive in a clean, toxic-free environment. The fish waste is moved out of the fish tanks with the circulation of the water. The ammonia that is produced is processed by the bacteria colonies that live on the surfaces in the system within the water. These colonies convert it into nitrites and then ultimately, nitrates for plant growth. Properly aerated water allows the plant’s root systems to flourish along with the fish absorbing dissolved oxygen from the water through their gills.
Since the fish, bacteria, and plants are ALL dependent on the water, it is very important that you properly manage these four components to ensure proper water quality - Purity, Temperature, Aeration, and pH. Obviously, there are other things, such as the levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. We will talk about those in a later blog post.
Rainwater and potable pH neutral well water are the best choices for filling an aquaponic system. Unfortunately, not all have access to these two types of water sources. Many must settle for their city tap water to fill our systems. There are municipals to where the water is safe to use right away, but that is not the case for many others. They will add chlorine and chloramine to the water for disinfectant purposes. These compounds make the water safe for us to drink, but unfortunately, they are toxic to fish and the nitrifying bacteria in the bio-filter. If it was just chlorine we are dealing with, that would be easy, just let it sit overnight with an aerator and it would dissipate out. Chloramine (chlorine and ammonia bonded together), requires more of an effort to get it out of the system.
Be careful of all the water conditioners available in the marketplace such as pond supply shops and aquarium stores. These products on the surface may resolve the issue of Chlorine and Chloramine, but these products are not certified for use with fish and plants for human consumption. It’s important to read the labels.
Believe it or not, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) can help you treat the water. 100 mg can treat up to 10-gallons of water! Adding 500 mg can in return neutralize chlorine and most of the chloramine in 50-gallons of water. So, calculate the size of your system in gallons and appropriately do the math to figure out how much ascorbic acid you need. There are other means as well by using high-grade or medical-grade activated carbon pre-filters. You plumb a canister in the water line to pre-filter the water entering the system.
These are some viable options to consider when charging your system. The beautiful thing about aquaponics, it’s a closed-looped system. It does not require you to dump a continuous supply of water into it. Once charged, you will merely top it off as it evaporates. This little amount of water doesn’t require the water treatments discussed above.
That was our first post on "Water Quality." Next week, we will be discussing how to maintain a proper temperature for your system as well. We go into great depths on either cooling or heating your water. Make sure you subscribe to our blog before leaving. You don't want to miss our updates.
Thank you for stopping by. I certainly hope you enjoyed this article.
By Sylvia Bernstein and Dr. Wilson Lennard
By Sylvia Bernstein and Dr. Wilson LennardMany aquaponic gardeners have pointed out that we need some basic “Aquaponic Gardening Rules of Thumb” for DIY aquaponics. Why? Because the beginners among us could use some help with “Aquaponics How-To” without spending weeks researching what to do. I’ve had the distinct honor of collaborating with Dr. Wilson Lennard from Australia on just such a set of guidelines.
In 2006 Dr. Lennard earned one of the few PhDs in aquaponics in the world. After that he designed, constructed, and managed Minnamurra Aquaponics, Australia’s first truly commercial-scale aquaponic system. Dr. Lennard writes extensively on aquaponic how-to for both scientific and trade journals, and currently consults worldwide through his company, Aquaponic Solutions.
Nothing we say in the Aquaponic Gardening Rules of Thumb is set in stone and there are exceptions to almost every one of the listed rules-of-thumb given certain conditions. However, they do offer a set of generally accepted “Aquaponics How-To” that, if adhered to, will put you on the path towards successful aquaponic gardening.
Let’s get started with aquaponics how-to tips…Aquaponics System TypeMedia bed is recommended for new, hobby growers. Why not NFT or Deep Water Culture (AKA raft or DWC)?
A media bed performs three (3) filtering functions:
TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE: CLICK HERE
Here is a video I produced, how to build successful bell siphons for your grow beds. Nothing can more frustrating than a bell siphon that will not trigger properly or shut off at the right time.
When starting a new aquaponics system, it must go through a nitrification process. This process is where a colony of bacteria will develop to process the ammonia into nitrites and then to nitrates. The nitrates are the end product sort of speak for the plant growth.
You have a choice, you can either go with fish or fishless. Fish is a slower process and it can take months for the system to nitrify. If you follow the fishless procedures, you can speed the process up much quicker and be in more control of the process. During this process, you are not thinking about anything else. You don’t have to keep any fish alive. It’s less stressful this way.
Also, you will be able to raise the ammonia up to levels that would be harmful to the fish. Again, by doing so, you will speed up the nitrification process. Once it’s complete, you will be able to fully stock the system with the fish. Going with fish initially, you will have to slowly introduce more and more fish to the system as the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates level adjust accordingly. As you can tell, this way makes it much easier.
Different Ways to Add Ammonia
Instructions for Fishless Cycling
If you purchased the kit online, then disregard this. This would be only if you choose another route. This is not complicated at all. Just following these steps.
I hope you found this article useful. This system start up should be simple for you!
Thank you for stopping by and reading our articles!
The systems I teach how to build in my ebook, Step by Step Aquaponics, you can either use pressure-treated wood or angle iron. Here in Honduras, pressure-treated wood is not readily available. Metal and welders are on every corner. In all our systems we build now, they are made out of 2 1/2“ angle iron. To this date, we have had no issues at all. The dimensions of our rack systems are in my ebook.
I get contacted by people all around the world consistently and I understand because of an economic factors, some people are forced to reducing the cost to their system. They have a propensity to go cheap. This is an area I would not go cheap. To make a poor base will cost you more in the long run with time and money. I have a friend that used pallets to set his grow beds on. Guess what? He was ripping out his pallets out in 2 to 3 years later because they were rotting. My friend is a great guy, but sorry, this was not thinking forward.
Then set all my posts into the hole. If you use angle iron, you will need to ensure you weld a foot on the bottom of the post. This will ensure your post doesn’t slip through the gravel in time. After pouring the concrete and it has had plenty of time curing, you are now ready to build your system on top.
I know this blog post was short, as stated before, this is one of the most important steps. You don‘t want to go back and rebuild your foundation and rack system. Literally, tearing apart your aquaponics system and begin again or constantly be adding band-aids to it by patching and shimming.
Amazon Disclaimer: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
Copyright © 2019 MorningStar Aquaponics