The Ultimate Introduction to DIY Aquaponics!

The basic definition of “Aquaponics” is to grow food using fish to feed the plants.

Wait — grow food with fish?

That’s right.

A rising choice for DIY enthusiasts, aquaponics is a great way to grow plants without having to deal with the hassle of soil, chemical levels or even weeding.

If you’re interested in growing your own garden at home and want a convenient, efficient way to do it, keep reading to learn all about DIY aquaponics systems.

The Problem with Soil-Based Gardening

Soil-based gardening has been around for a long time, but that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect way to grow plants. Far from it; soil-based gardening is actually not practical for most people. First of all, a good soil-based garden needs a lot of room. If you don’t have the space for a garden on your land, a community garden could be a solution, but you run the risk of someone else taking your plants or ruining your crops.

A soil-based garden is also a lot of work. Maintaining proper soil pH levels and nutrient levels is nearly a full-time job. Buying all-new soil every season gets expensive. The money you save by growing food yourself is usually outweighed by the cost of supplies plus the cost of your time.

Another time-based problem of a traditional garden are the seasons. Some plants simply won’t grow in soil at certain times of the year, really limiting your options as a gardener.

Finally, soil-based gardening can mean excessive water consumption, problems with pests, and lots of hard work.

There is a solution to all of the problems above, though. It’s a way of gardening that is nearly self-sustaining and allows gardeners to produce their plants year-round. Plus, it makes for a really cool do-it-yourself project. This solution is aquaponics.

What is Aquaponics?

If you’ve done some research on Aquaponics, you’ve probably come across photos of fish and vegetables living and growing in harmony. What do fish have to do with plants? When it comes to aquaponics systems, plenty.

1. Plants Grow in Nutrient Rich Water

Basically, aquaponics is growing plants in nutrient-rich water instead of soil. Plants absorb this nutrient-rich water in a few different ways such as floating directly in the water, being fed with a drip system, or having their grow beds periodically flooded and then drained. But how do the nutrients get there? The answer is the key to aquaponics technology: fish.

2. The Fish Create the Nutrient Rich Water

The fish living in an aquaponics system create waste such as Ammonia. This waste is then converted into Nitrates by beneficial bacteria. This Nitrate-rich water is perfect fertilizer for the plants.

The water the fish are raised in is then circulated out of the fish tank to the roots of the garden plants. There, the nutrients from the fish waste are absorbed by those roots, feeding the plants with an ample source of what plants need to grow. This cleans the water, allowing it to be recirculated to the fish.

This cycle continues, benefiting both fish and plants.

The discovery of aquaponics technology in recent years has been a boon to many people…. Instead of having to spend hours and hours tending to the proper soil mixture of their garden plants, people using DIY aquaponics can grow high-quality, delicious food for themselves and their families all year-round.

Why Would You Choose Aquaponics for Your Garden?

There are a ton of reasons why building your own aquaponics system is a fantastic idea for even beginning gardeners. Here are just a few:

  • No dirt needed
  • Grow plants faster any time of year
  • No weeds, pests, poisons or other traditional garden killers
  • No need to stay hunched over in the garden all day
  • Low energy and water requirements
  • Beneficial to both plants and fish — reuses waste water to turn it into something productive
  • Great educational opportunity

Don’t Buy a Hydroponics System Until You Read This!

If you are familiar with alternative gardening systems, you may be wondering how aquaponics is different than hydroponics. While it is true hydroponics use nutrient-enriched water to feed plants in a similar way as aquaponics, hydroponics actually has many different problems that aquaponics solves. Some of the problems with hydroponics are:

  • Expense: Traditional hydroponics uses expensive, man-made chemical mixtures to feed the plants. Aquaponics uses water that has been naturally enriched with nutrients through the fish waste.
  • Time/Frustration: Hydroponics requires that you CONSTANTLY monitor the chemical balance in your water. This can be very time consuming and frustrating to keep right. With aquaponics, the water balances itself.
  • Switching Water: Finally, hydroponics systems REQUIRE that you switch out your water pretty frequently to avoid root rot and other problems. Since aquaponics enriches the water naturally, you never need to switch it out.

Which sounds better: constantly mixing and testing chemicals, or simply feeding fish a few times per day? Aquaponics is simple, fun, and easy, making it the best water-based gardening system available.

Should I Buy an Aquaponics Kit or a DIY Aquaponics System?

After hearing about all the benefits of aquaponics, you’re probably thinking, “Okay — I can definitely see that I want an aquaponics garden. Where can I buy a kit?” Don’t start shopping yet! There are definitely some benefits to purchasing a pre-made aquaponics kit, but choosing a DIY system is almost ALWAYS a better choice. Here’s why.

A pre-made kit is a simple, mindless way to get started with your aquaponic garden. Sometimes, simplicity and not having to make a ton of decisions is a major selling point. However, when it comes to your unique aquaponics garden, you don’t want to go with a system that looks best (even if online reviews promise great results) only to find out that it’s completely wrong for your needs, garden space, and even climate.

Not all pre-made aquaponics kits are equal. Some promise great results but deliver crummy performance. Some claim to be easy to set up but are instead very complicated (and sometimes you’re lucky if the instructions are even in English)! Finally, some kits are easy to set up, great to use but incredibly expensive. It’s hard to find the right system that completely meets your needs at an acceptable price. (That is, unless you do it yourself!)

DIY aquaponics systems are the only way to ensure you get exactly what you want and need. Like most do-it-yourself projects, building an aquaponics garden yourself will actually save you money over buying a kit. Plus, there’s a unique sense of satisfaction that comes with building a cool DIY project like an aquaponics garden you can show off to your friends.

Get Started with Your Own Aquaponics System

Setting up your own aquaponics system doesn’t take too much to get started. Whether you want to set up your garden in your backyard, garage or somewhere else, there are many different aquaponics courses that can help you learn all you need to know. A thriving, fast-growing garden can be yours with just a little set up. Check out some DIY aquaponics systems today.

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