Aqua Culture

Welcome to the World of Aquaponics

Interested in Aquaponics? Tired of maintaining a fish tank? Take a look at our setup on a fish tank that maintains itself. All you have to do is add food and water and we can show you how. Even if adding food and water is too much then you can invest in some awesome technology and it will feed the fish and add water to the tank. We have not found a good working auto feeder yet. Let us know if you find one. Seems like they are all cheaply made and I somehow have to feed the fish manually. But I like feeding the fish, it’s the best part about owning them.

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What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics (/ˈækwəˈpɒnɪks/) refers to any system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish, or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.

Tank Specifications:

55g Top Fin Tank Aquarium Starter Kit (12.75″L x 48.25″W x 20.187″H)

2500 Lumen BeamsWork EA Full Spectrum LED with Extendable Timer

Marineland Magnaflow 220 Canister Filter

Fluval AquaClear 70 Power Filter

The Setup:

We stumbled upon aquaponics by accident. It all started with a fish tank. We were just thinking one day, with our lazy human brain, wouldn’t it be cool if the fish tank maintained itself? Similar to larger aquatic ecosystems, such as lakes, rivers, and even the ocean. No more water changes, glass scrubbing, or restocking fish. So how do we pull it off? Even an aquarium with a filter requires water changes. Take a look at our aquaponics project in which we create a small aquatic ecosystem.

What is an Ecosystem?

An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows.

We used to think that fish were some of the more simple pets to own. The desire to eliminate water changes leads us to a scientific breakthrough. So why do we need to perform water changes? Well, if you do not change the water of a fish tank, eventually all of the dirt, poop, leftover food, and ammonia build up inside the tank and will eventually kill the fish. Changing the water removes waste. Many fish keepers are familiar with the Nitrogen Cycle. But you don’t want to change all of the water. The aged water also contains bacteria that are beneficial for the fish. If you have a filter then no worries, most of the bacteria will be housed there, that’s why many people do not clean their filters.

So long story short, the fish eat their food, which gets broken down into fish waste (ammonia). The build-up of ammonia will kill the fish. Scavengers such as snails and shrimp, break down the fish waste into even smaller forms of ammonia. The ammonia is then broken down by beneficial bacteria, usually housed inside a filter. The bacteria convert the ammonia into nitrites, which is still toxic for the fish, but less harmful than ammonia. Another group of bacteria converts the nitrites into nitrates, which is still harmful to the fish, but a lot less toxic than the prior forms. This is usually the end of the road for hobbyists, as the nitrates are removed by doing water changes. But… That is not the only way to remove nitrates.

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Often overlooked, plants help maintain the water quality as well. By adding aquatic plants we can stabilize the water a bit. Plants absorb nutrients from the water such as ammonia, nitrates, iron, phosphorus, as well as other chemicals added to the water. But not just any plant, we need fast-growing plants. The plants absorb nitrates as they grow. Slow growing plants will clean up slower. So we decided to stock the tank with as many fast-growing plants possible. We stocked with floating plants because they absorb chemicals the fastest as they have constant access to carbon dioxide (can limit plant growth in aquatic species). The plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen for the fish. Next, we added carpeting plants, which lay down their roots into the soil. These plants help keep the soil clean. We decided to use a sand substrate as the soil to help establish beneficial bacteria. Lastly, we added a pothos or peace lily to the HOB filter. The filter filtrates chemically, biologically, and mechanically. The buildup of waste in the filter makes a perfect recipe for the ideal growth of the plant. These plants grow above the water level and have nutrients in both the water and the air (carbon dioxide). Another plant material that is often overlooked is algae. We placed the aquarium in a south-facing window, this gives the plants a secondary source of light it’s too much light. This recipe leads to algae growth, which many scavengers will gladly eat as food.

Alright so now we have our nitrogen cycle completed. We set our LED lights on a timer for automatic day and night mode. Many of the inhabitants will do fine on the algae and fish waste the plants add another food source for the fish. With all the extra food, you can cut back on feedings. We decided to add freshwater clams to the mix, adding another biological filter. And tada! Just like that, we have created an ecosystem that does not require water changes. Since I pump carbon dioxide and air into the water column, the gases tend to change the PH of the water to be more acidic. This is countered by using a PH buffer, we like to keep the water neutral. The PH buffer is only needed when dosing with carbon dioxide, the PH balances at 7.4 otherwise. So we eliminated water changes… well almost. There is still an issue of evaporation. Unless you want to invest in an auto top off system, you will need to add water to the fish tank periodically.

Meet the Inhabitants:

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Published by Nature's Uprise

The author of the website. https://link.medium.com/W3a1cOdQRib

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