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The Alternative To Gardening Aquaponics

Updated on May 20, 2013

The economy is terrible, the price it cost to eat in a month has not only increased, but the quality has decreased. It has not only decreased in quantity, or taste, but in vital vitamins that we need to make are body's healthy. In America we have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), supervising to make sure these vital vitamins are in the food, and the toxins are out. Although its starting to seem like the FDA surely is not caring about the public’s health.

If we look at the water for example, it's clear, has no taste, has no smell, and is healthy. However just because water is healthy, does not mean there is not something your not aware of. Ever since 1940, the water has gone through a process called fluoridation. Which is deadly, at one particle per million, they even make bombs out of fluoride. But that is just one example of how the FDA, has let something slide.

It truly seems as if the FDA, feels more comfortable taking money under the table, than to care about the brilliant minds,and great health of the American citizens. However they truly don't, and it seems as if more and more of are food is going over seas. Where the FDA is incapable of checking the status of the food.

Its time we stand up and take back are will to live, starting with are health. Aquaponics, allows for that to be done. Not only will aquaponics save you money, but it will also supply you with healthy vitamins and a hobby.

Aquaponics is a mixture, of two different variations of farming, consisting of hydroponics, and aquaculture. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants, that uses mineral nutrients, found in water. Without the excess baggage of unneeded soil. The minerals needed for this type of farming, are extremely expensive, and get wasted more times than not. Then there is aquaculture, which is a type of livestock farming, that consist of water animals, that you produce for food. Over years aquaculture, has found issues dealing with fish waste. This waste creates deadly toxins, that eventually kill the fish, if not dealt with.

Aquaponics works, by using a sump inside the fish tank, to pump water out. This water goes through PCP piping, that leads to a standpipe. The standpipe is connected to the hydroponic grow beds. The plants in the grow beds, break down the toxins in the water, then returns the water back into the fish tank.

Fish tanks come in various sizes, materials, shapes, and colors. The sizes can range from 10, 15, 30, 125, 250, 450, 1200, 1500, gallons. These tanks can be any color, and made out of polyethylene, fiberglass, wood, glass, pond liners, bricks, and other various materials. The shapes can vary pending on if you make your own or not.

There are five types of fish, that are practically perfect for this type of project, and can be easily bought. They can be found online, at pet and aquarium shops, or at a hatcheries. These five are:

  • Koi – The Koi, is a type of ornamental carp, that lives best in temperatures of 59-77°F. However Koi's don't react well to long periods of cold, winter temperatures. Koi's are usually bright in color, this put's them at a severe disadvantage, when dealing with predators. Koi's will eat peas, lettuce, and watermelon, and will eat out of people's hands, if trained.

  • Tilapia- The tilapia, is preferred to as the aquatic chicken. Tilapia are perfect for thous who are thinking about major farming, do to there growth. If your thinking of also raising fish, for human consumption they would be best do to their high protein. But the down fall is that some country's, city's, and states, have banned the farming of tilapia.

  • Catfish- The catfish, is a bony fish that varies great, in the length and size. In fact some catfish have been known to weigh 650 pounds in some parts of the world. The catfishes diet is very suitable, do to their ability to digest almost anything. Catfish live in freshwater environments, and should only be used in large tanks.

  • Trout- The trout is very adaptable, to lower water temperatures. The trout is a carnivorous fish, meaning another fish could be its lunch.

  • Carp-Carp can be eaten, but highly suggested not to, although they can adapt well to the environments of all aquaponics systems. The carp would allow your vegetables to be multiple and plenty, but on the other hand you would be without a meat source

After the fish are in the tank, and the water has began to filthy up a little its time to turn on the sump. Sumps power the circulation of water from the fish tank into the grow beds. Most people use pond sumps, because they were designed for continuous use. However there are a few downfalls, to using the pond sumps. First it runs on electricity, which means that your electric bill will go up, then there is the issue with blackouts. If a black out would accrue with a pond sumps, then your whole project would be destroyed.

That is why I personally prefer the solar powered pump, which takes the sun and creates power for the battery. This saves money, time, and possible loss of your aquaponics system.

The grow beds come in many different styles, but there are a few that are becoming more popular than others. These styles of beds are:

  • Medium Beds - Medium Beds are types of systems that use containers filled with mediums of various sorts. Most mediums consist of rocks, pebbles, clay, or any filler, other than soil. These types of non-soil beds, become flooded periodically, with fish tank water that get's pumped through a sump. Once full the water, is then drained back into the fish tank. The water returns to the tank, through either siphon or flush kits. Most people agree that using medium beds are the easiest way.

  • Raft Beds - The basic setup for the raft, begins with fitted styrofoam sheeting, that sits upon your tank. These styrofoam sheets consist of pod wholes, allowing the plant an area. This type of system allows plants to grow roots. Once the plants have rooted, they are then transferred to more suitable structures.

  • Nutrient Film Techniques (NFT) – The NFT system is very common, within hydroponics, but is seldom used in aquaponics. It works by having planets sit in pods, inside of a inclosed gutter system. The sump, pumps water down the enclosed gutters, in a very thin stream. This stream feeds the roots of the plants, then goes back into the tank. This type of system is only suitable for lightweight plants.

Those are just a few types of grow beds, that are becoming more common. But to fully gain knowledge about these systems, we need to explain how they work. Each system works a little differently than another, this is because of the produce. Here are a couple of different examples of how they work:

  • Simple Flood, Simple drain -The simple flood, and simple drain, starts out with a stand pipe. A standpipe gets used to deliver water to your grow beds, depending on its length will decide the amount of water. For example if you want a flooded grow bed your standpipe, will be longer. If you want a slow stream, the pipe will be much smaller. No matter what length of pipe gets used, long or short, the pipe will always have two holes at the end. These wholes allow water to drain out of the bed, when the pump is off. By using the standpipe, and a timer on the stump. The water will evacuate the grow beds, at a certain time. .

  • Simply Flood – The simple flood, uses the same method as above, except it removes the timer, to cause a continuous flood.

Regardless of what type of bed, or flood system you use. Aquaponics gives you an availability to grow over 300 various types of vegetables, and fruits. As long as they have the roots to support it. So why not try it today, if food prices keep going up, you will have wish you did.

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