A common concern that people often have when hearing about aquaponics, is about cleaning the system and changing the water. With hydroponics aquaculture and aquariums, they require periodic water changes to keep from becoming toxic. But aquaponics works on a different principal, similar to bodies of water in nature.
Obviously we don’t have to change the water in the oceans periodically to keep them clean. For the same reason, there is also no need to do the same with aquaponics.
Aquaponics creates a balance between fish and plants to create a cycle similar to the cycles we see in nature. The fish produce wastes that accumulate in water in aquariums or aquaculture. Instead of flushing the systems like traditional fish tanks, we allow plants to use these materials since they are the nutrients that plants need. With hydroponics, chemical fertilisers are added for the plants. But with aquaponics, fish and plants give each other both what they need so it eliminates the problem of cleaning and flushing the system and fertilising the plants.
As long as there is a good balance between plants and fish, and as long as you are not adding any harmful chemicals, there is no need to flush the system, and doing so could be harmful since it could upset the balance.
It can take a while to get a good balance in a new aquaponics system. Bacteria are a key component in breaking the fish waste down into usable nutrients that the plants can use. It takes some time for the wastes to accumulate in the water and then for the colonies of bacteria to get established to convert them to nutrients. This can sometimes take a few months. Once that balance is in place, it is best not to upset it by changing the water.
This is one of the reasons that aquaponics uses so little water compared to other ways of growing food. Many forms of farming like hydroponics and aquaculture are very wasteful of water, just from flushing the systems. Plus the waste chemicals in the water are usually disposed into the environment. With aquaponics, water is retained except for natural evaporation and transpiration through the plants leaves.
Aquaponics is really one of the most simple ways to grow food. It is very water efficient and needs no chemical fertilisers. It can produce fresh healthy organic fish and vegetables year round.
Learn how easy it is to grow your own food with this simple aquaponics how to guide. Get step by step instructions on how to build your aquaponics garden and how to care for it.