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Aquaponics is an integrated agricultural biosystem that combines the raising of aquatic animals (especially fish and crustaceans) with horticulture. The concept of aquaponics has been used for centurys in South-East Asia and is gaining popularity in Australia. It is symbiotic relationship and a sustainable form of agriculture that uses fish waste to fertilize plants and plants to clean and oxygenate water for fish.
Home Built Systems
There are many ways someone can build an aquaponics system at home. It can be a fun and rewarding project especially if it is used to teach children about the life sciences. Investing in a home built system for food production purposes is a different thing entirely. There are many things that can go wrong in a Aquaponic system because there are so many variables to the system. Water quality is the number one concern in aquaponics, and it can suffer major changes if just one peace of the system is out of balance or malfunctioning. So it is important with this investment, like any other, to understand what the risks to that investment are befor you begin a project. Outlined below are a few things to look out for and ways to help design a efficient system. But this, like any document, is incomplete. If you do decide to build your own system you will no doubt encounter new problems all your own. Don not be deterred though, solutions are out there and if you keep reading and keep working the answers to affordable food production are out there.
Water Quality issues and Snags
When designing a new system it is important to understand that water quality is going to be the literally the life blood of the system. Without the proper flow rate and water conveyance the system will function poorly if at all. In his instruction video Aquapnics made easy Murry Hallam points out that in small aquapnocs systems it is best to not have a system smaller that 1000L (265 gallons). This is because below that the amount of water in the system is less stable, With less water to act as a buffer when temperates vary, or when there is a spike in fish waste.
Moving that amount of water around can use up a lot of energy as well and so in designing a home built system focus on ways to use gravity to promote water transfer form one part of the system to the other. A good way to do this in the planning phase is to draw diagrams that show just where the water level will be in each tank. This way you know where in the system to order things and at the end of the diagram how much vertical lift you will need to achieve in order to move water though the system.
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