Gardeners who want to go green may want to explore the world of aquaponics. This gardening system sets up a symbiotic relationship between a tank full of fish and the plants you want to grow. Once the system is established, the plants are nourished from the waste products of the fish, making more efficient use of resources than would otherwise be possible.
If you're new to aquaponics, you can start small, with a 5-gallon fish tank and a few simple plants. As you learn, you can expand your aquaponic garden to produce a greater variety of food and decorative crops.
Set Up Your Grow Tubs
Dig a hole slightly larger than the tub you want to use for your fish. Choose a spot that has at least partial shade, otherwise you may experience excessive algae growth and other problems. If you plan to keep goldfish, be aware that those fish can be distressed when the temperature gets too hot. Providing partial shade can help you solve this problem.
Protect Your Equipment
Position the waterproof extension cord you'll use to run the pump in the aquaponics system. Locate the extension cord near an outdoor electrical outlet, along with the water pump and air pump. Keep all of the electrical equipment in a waterproof container.
After you have your equipment laid out, the next step is to prepare your grow tub carefully. Drill holes in the bottom of the tub you want to use to grow your aquaponic plants. These holes will help the water move through the system and provide your plants with nutrients.
Position the Grow Tub
Place the grow tub near the spot you chose for your fish tub. Positioning the two tubs close to one another makes it easier for the pump to do its work.
Attach one end of the hose to the pond pump and the other end to the grow tub. Set the digital timer on the pump to turn the pump on and off at the desired interval. Follow the instructions on the pump to determine the proper interval for turning the pump on and off.
Start Your Garden
Fill the fish tub with water that doesn't contain chlorine or chloramine. Put your fish in the tub and turn the pump on. Watch to make sure that water is flowing between the grow tub and the fish tub. Adjust the position of the hoses if the water isn't flowing properly.
Rinse the gravel thoroughly, then place it in the grow tub. Place the seeds or transplanted seedlings into the gravel and wait for the plants to germinate. You can use any type of houseplant or vegetable plant in an aquaponics system.
Once you have your aquaponic garden in place, it should be relatively easy to maintain and keep going. One of the biggest advantages of an aquaponic system is that it is self-sustaining and also helps save on high water rates. The plants are nourished by the waste products of the fish, providing a rich source of fertilizer that can help you grow bigger and healthier plants than traditional methods.