3 Types Of Aquaponics Systems

3 Types Of Aquaponics Systems-min
Aquaponics is basically the combination of hydroponics- the system of growing crops that doesn’t use soil- and aquaculture (traditional fish rearing) to form a simple integrated system that grows plants and fish together. In this case, the waste from the fish provides ready organic food source for the plants and the plants filter the water for the fish naturally.

Here are the types of aquaponics systems

  • Media based beds
  • Nutrient film technique (NFT)
  • Deep water culture

Media-Filled/Based Beds

This method is simple- you just get a container and fill it with media (which can range from perlite to gravel) and grow your plants in it. This technique is known to be the simplest of aquaponic systems and has the fewest components since the solid waste breaks down through the media and thus takes away the need to have an extra buffer filter. Nonetheless, this system doesn’t yield a thoroughgoing output of plant growth.

The water in the fish tank is pumped over the media filled beds as the plants grow in the clay rock media. The media filled beds contain continuous water flow systems also known as flood and drain systems.

The method is designed to pump water continuously through the media bed from the fish tank and then back into the fish tank. The flood and drain flow/ebb system is designed to have water pumped into the bed to a depth of 10 to 12 or so inches and then drained away. A timer then controls the sequence of flooding and draining.

NOTE: The deep water culture method and nutrient film techniques (discussed next) tend to produce at a higher rate because they have been improved with more components.

All in all, this method is very good for aquaponics and many people practice it more as a hobby than as a commercial venture–even though other people develop it further to serve both purposes. This method is particularly good, inexpensive and easier to implement in a classroom. You have to note that it is however not impractical to grow fruiting plants because they have a longer growing period (even though it provides a really secure grow bed for larger plants which are commonly of the fruiting type). Moreover, since the current method isn’t specially meant for commercial use, this essentially means it may not be the best suited system for dealing with issues to do with food insecurity.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

In an NFT system, water that’s typically rich in minerals is pumped into little enclosed PVC pipes or gutters. The plants grow in tiny cups that allow roots to absorb water and nutrients. You should note that water that is flowing is somewhat similar to a thin film, hence its name “Nutrient Film Technique”.

Since the surface area isn’t exposed to the air, like in the media filled system, this means you will definitely need a biological filter to enable you to develop as well as convert the available fish waste to plant nutrients. You will also require solids filtration to work on the solids in the fish waste and this is typically set up in an isolated tank which water passes through before it goes through the water pipes.

You should also note this technique is not ideal for every type of plant. Considering the fact that this method involves growing the plants in narrow channels such as gutters, thus allowing for continuous but thin water flow, the best plants you can grow using this kind of system are leafy greens since the other plants such as the larger types usually have large, invasive root systems and are thus not suitable. This will ensure you avoid problems regarding clogging. It also means you pay close attention to plumbing, and especially pipe diameter.

The NFT is obviously more widely used for hydroponics but it has been seen to be very successful with aquaponics as well.

Lastly, you have to ensure you maintain the system constantly by cleaning the piping consistently and making sure to place only a small set of plants in it.

Deep Water Culture

This method is also known as the raft method. It is basically the technique that involves making holes in a raft to secure plants and also allow their roots to remain suspended in the water. To have more securing, you can place net grow pots in the holes and fill them with coconut media or clay for plant substrate. You also have to place filters throughout the cycle to make sure there is proper recirculation. Due to the raft, it is important for the grow beds to be larger than when you use a Nutrient Film Technique or media-based method; this is important in reducing stress and avoiding potential problems regarding the quality of water in the fish tank. Due to its design, you might notice that the Deep Water Culture method is the highest producing method. This method is very promising when it comes to mass production and commercial endeavors simply because the raft can cover a lot of space and once the plants are harvested, you can easily re-use the raft for another planting cycle.

Since you can implement this method on a large scale, it means that it is ideal for a systems model to deal with the issue of food insecurity facing many parts of the globe. The Deep Water Culture method gives a really good model for viable food security and also allows for a study into a systems biology approach to science.

Lastly, with the Deep Water Culture, you will not have to worry much about fluctuations in pH or temperature and access to oxygen (by the roots) because it generally provides for a good development of the roots. What’s more, aquaponics is a great method for lettuces and leafy veggies.

I think you now have an idea of about the kind of system you would prefer. At this point, you can either decide to purchase your preferred system or build it yourself. Don’t worry, the steps of constructing one are pretty simple and I will provide a guide on how to construct your own aquaponic system in the next chapter.

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