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.
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