Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beginnings: Basics of Aquaponics and my first Fish Tank.

Welcome to my Aquaponics Blog!!!

Lets start with the basics:
What is Aquaponics? - It is the combination of Hydroponics and Aquaculture.
We basically have a bunch of fish that crap in the water.  The water is pumped in a circulating system through a system of grow beds where we have plants that thrive on the fish waste.  A nice little eco system.  The plants keep the water clean, and the fish supply food to the plants.

 The above is an over-simplification..
What happens in detail, is the fish crap contains a crapload (sorry, had to do that) of ammonia.  The ammonia is broken down by a colony of bacteria (not scary things, but the good kind) into Nitrites.  There is another bunch of bacterial critters who in turn break down the Nitrites into Nitrates.  And the plants happen to love Nitrates..
Where do the bacteria live?  All over the place.  They need lots of surface area to cling to, so the sides of the fish tank, the sides of the plumbing, and of course the grow bed provides the surface area that is required.

This is my fish tank, when I first put it up: 
I cover it up so that the algae does not have such a field day (they need sunlight)
In Aquaponic-speak, we refer to the FishTank as the FT.  And Aquaponics is often referred to as AP.  On top of the FT you will notice a plastic 25Litre container that I cut open and filled up with gravel.  I pumped water in there to run through the gravel.  The idea was to use the gravel as additional surface area for my colonies of bacteria.    In aquaculture, the place where the bulk of your bacteria are housed, is called the bio-filter..

I will be adding some more information soon.  My system consists of much more than the above fish tank, but I will take you through it step by step, as I went along..  Please comment if you feel like it, and send this blog to people who may be interested.  I will be much more likely to update the blog on a regular basis if I know there are people who want to know..



  1. Interesting. Like the swirl filter. Put some screen over the inlets and outlets and throw a couple of sacrifical fish in there to keep from breeding skeeters.

  2. What fish can we keep in our hot Western cape? Something nice to eat?

  3. Hi Kitkat
    I have been experimenting quite a bit.

    Tilapia loves the heat but die in the cold. Lovely fish.
    Trout loves the cold and die in the heat. Aggressive and ugly (IMHO) could not get the hang of cooking it properly
    My new idea is to go for species that are surviving in local dams and rivers. Bass and bluegill.. maybe a side-order of locally-caught tilapia (already acclimatized to cold water)