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Whether you are looking for a reliable source of emergency food, an interesting experiment in sustainable agriculture or just a fun hobby, setting up a home aquaponics system can be very rewarding. Aquaponics combines hydroponic agriculture, which lets you grow plants without soil, and aquaculture, will allows you to raise fish in a large aquarium or backyard pond.
In an aquaponics system, the fish generate waste, and that waste in turn nourishes the plants. You feed the fish, the fish feed the plants, and eventually both the fish and the plants can feed you.
If you are thinking about setting up an aquaponics system, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked aquaponics questions.
What Kinds of Crops Grow Best in Aquaponics Systems?
As with any type of gardening, it is important to tailor the seeds you choose the needs of your backyard aquaponics systems. While many types of crops will grow quite well in this type of setting, others are less suitable to aquaponics systems.
Some of the many types of plants that do well in backyard aquaponics systems are onions, beets, radishes and similar root vegetables. Other types of root vegetables, like carrots and potatoes, are not as well suited for home aquaponics systems, but you can grow them easily enough with a traditional garden plot.
What Types of Fish Are Suitable for Home Aquaponics?
The choice of plants is important, but so is the choice of fish. The health of the home aquaponics system depends on the health of the plants and the fish, so choose your aquatic livestock with care.
Tilapia is the main type of fish found in aquaponics systems. Tilapia are fast growing, lean and versatile for all types of cooking. Whether you prepare them on the outdoor grill, fry them in a pan or bake them in the over, you can enjoy a steady supply of delicious seafood, all courtesy of your home aquaponics setup.
You can buy small tilapia from online suppliers, but there are also local sources you should explore. If you find a local tilapia supplier, you could save money on shipping charges and enjoy a steady supply of healthy livestock for your backyard aquaponics system.
If you prefer to keep ornamental fish instead of foodstock, you can grow Koi or goldfish in your home aquaponics system. The waste the fish generate will still nourish your plants, and you can still enjoy health foods fresh from your aquaponics garden.
How Do I Control the Temperature in My Home Aquaponics System?
Temperature control is very important for the health of your fish and the health of the entire backyard aquaponics system, so choose your heater with care. Tank heaters should be used in colder climates to keep the water at the proper temperature, and a good thermometer is a must.
Depending on where you live and the ambient temperature outside, it could take two or three tank heaters to keep the water sufficiently warm. You should monitor the temperature in your aquaponics system on a daily basis and make any adjustments needed to keep your fish, and your plants, happy and healthy.
What Should I Do if the Power Goes Out?
The health of your aquaponics system depends on the pumps that move the water, and you should check the condition of those pumps on a daily basis. If the power goes out, so do your pumps, so it is a good idea to have a backup generator or other source of emergency power in place.
You can run your backyard aquaponics or home aquaponics system off of a solar panel or wind turbine, so you can enjoy fresh food even if you are off the grid. But no matter what form of power you use, it is important to have a backup plan just in case.
Once your aquaponics system is up and running, it should require little in the way of maintenance and day to day care. You will obviously need to keep the fish fed, and you will need to monitor the water temperature, check the pumps and make sure the plants are healthy. Other than that, all you need to do is sit back and wait for your crops, and your fish, to be ready for harvest.