White-flies

What Are White-flies?

Their appearance is angelic for sure, with their whitish bodies and wings but don’t let that disguise fool you. White-flies are very closely related to aphids. They can be as small as 2mm long, soft bodied, winged insects. They are found in almost all the regions and because they are so tiny, are often camouflaged. They love to hide in clusters on the undersides of leaves which make them even more difficult to be detected and they multiply really fast. White-flies are active during the day and can live through winters as well.

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Retirement Plan

I just read a report on The New York Times recently by David Wallace which states that, “One-third of beginning farmers defined by the federal government as having been in business fewer than 10 years are over age 55”. This indicates that many farmers move on to agriculture only after retiring from other jobs.

Now, the question is why? Is it because agriculture is a great retirement plan or is agricultural farming too physically challenging for the senior citizens to endure? Well, I’m here to tell you there is now a much more attractive retirement plan available today. This includes growing your own organic food and fish with aquaponics systems that can also be a source of extra income for you.

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With a mature and well managed aquaponics water chemistry, you can grow almost anything that you wish to and this amazing reality lies in three important factors: your system’s bio-filter, proper pH range, good quality fish feed.

 

Bio-Filter

The bio-filter simply refers to the nitrifying and nitrating bacteria and the composting red worms (ideally) that reside in your media bed. They in addition to the fish poop make up a mini-ecosystem in your aquaponics system. Think of the bio-filter as the motor in your car. It takes up the gasoline that you pour into it and turns it into energy source that powers up your car.

The establishment of a bio-filter begins with the introduction of ammonia into the system. This can be done either by introducing fish poop, a source of ammonia or synthetically, in a process called ‘cycling’. Basically, cycling is complete when sufficient bacteria have been established to convert all the ammonia in the system to nitrite and subsequently to nitrate, where ammonia and nitrite levels are reading zero.

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Hydroponics Vs Aquaponics
There have been debates and inquiries on the benefits and just how Aquaponics is better compared to Hydroponics and vice-verse. Today I attempt to clear the clouds, so to speak by writing this article on Hydroponics vs Aquaponics.

 

Hydroponics

To begin with, Hydroponics is a very recent technology comparatively. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without the use of soil. The system uses mineral nutrient solutions as fertilizers for the plants to feed on and is really a subset of hydroculture. Plants are grown with their roots exposed to the mineral nutrient solution or in a medium, such as perlite, gravel, biochar, mineral wool, expanded clay pebbles or coconut husk biochar, gravel, perlite, coconut husk, mineral wool or even hydroton (expanded clay pebbles).

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Aquaponics - The Big PictureThe art and method of raising fish and cultivating vegetation within a closed water system that uses the natural relationship that between aquatic animals and plants is simply known as aquaponics. Aquaculture and hydroponics are the birth place for aquaponics.

There have been great successes in producing healthy and delicious organic vegetables, fruits and fish with aquaponics globally. And the more reasons why aquaponics has developed a strong following in recent years.

Owning an aquaponics system is simple, and it might be a great investment. You can build one in your backyard, in a greenhouse, or maybe in an underground basement. Once the system is complete, you can even sell the fish and plants you have grown for an extra bug. Your profits from these will be able to pay back the money that you’ve spent building the system. Building the system may look difficult, but it is in fact easy to do if you have the right guidance and information.

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Aquaponics Fish TanksThere are specific considerations to look out for when choosing aquaponics fish tanks for your system. One very important point to take note of is the fish tanks size in correlation to your growbed.

Now, if you have been following my articles or blog posts, my recommendation is and has always been 1:2, growbed to fish tank ratio. In some cases 1:1 depending on the aquaponics fish species you have chosen. Anyway, here’s a brief guide you can use to help you pick the right aquaponics fish tanks.

Aquaponics Fish Tanks Guide

Waterproof – Well, naturally the tank must be watertight. If you have opted for a used tank, it is important to do a leak check. This simply means filling up the tank with water. Inspect for any water leak or wet surfaces on the tank resulting from a leak…you know. Should there be leaks, just use marine grade silicone or rubber gaskets to seal them.

Sturdy – It must be strong enough to withstand the total mass weight of water that acts against it. Bear in mind that 1liter of water weighs in at around 1kg. So, if you have a 200 liters of water that’s 200kg in weight acting against the fish tank. And there’s also the pressure form flowing water as well to be considered.

Toxic Free – It is critical that your aquaponics fish tank is does not consist of toxic material that is detrimental to your fish or to the plants. This is especially true if you have chosen a used tank for your aquaponics fish tank. This is absolutely fine, just make sure it is clean of toxic substances, and that it had not been used to contain any toxic substances before.

Must Be Neutral – Ensure that the material of your aquaponics tank does not affect the pH or chemical balance of your system. It is recommended not to use metal containers. This is because metal containers tend to rust or corrode and the corrosion produced will greatly affect the water chemical balance of your aquaponics system.

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Best Fish For Aquaponics

One of the most asked questions in aquaponics is; what’s the best fish for aquaponics? And this is a very valid question in view of the importance this has on the sustainability of an aquaponics system. One of the most important criteria here is that the fish species in question must produce sufficient ‘poo’ to sustain the aquaponics plants. Adding to that, the aquaponics fish species selected has got to be hardy yet tasty enough to be served as dinner.

Tilapia and Trout are definitely two of the more popular fish for aquaponics. As they are reputable for being hardy, fast growing and great tasting fish. Nevertheless, there is really no best fish for aquaponics per say really. This is mainly because there are determining factors to be considered in choosing the right aquaponics fish for your system.

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Barrel Aquaponics SystemBarrel aquaponics system is basically an aquaponics system that is built around a barrel. It’s a simple system to build and light on the wallet too. This is a project you can start and complete in one afternoon or so. No power tools are required to get this going. All you need is a saw or a jigsaw if you have one and a drill.

Well, start by getting hold of a barrel you may have laying in the house that is no more in use or buy one. The blue barrels shown here are the 200L variant, and they come in various sizes. Oh, do take note that if you are using an old barrel, make sure you know what was it used for before. If it was used to store any sort of chemicals in the past, it’s best not to re-used it.

It’s just because chemicals are difficult to clean. It may look and smell clean, but they always leave residual behind. A friend of mine had the experience of residual acid leaking out of a barrel as he cut the drum. And this is after a thorough cleaning. So, it’s best to stay away from these drums, cause you never know.

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Aquaponic systems is the birth of
traditional aquaculture and Aquaponics Systemshydroponics put into one. Both systems complement each other in terms of their advantages and disadvantages creating a symbiotic relationship.

Well, to put it simply it is the growing of plants and fish together in an environment where the fish waste is used for fertilizers
for the plants and the plants in return filter the nitrate rich water, making it safe for the fish. And the cycle goes on maintaining a synergistic effect for an aquaponics system with the help of course from the nitriting and nitrating bacteria as part of the bio-filter.


Types Of Aquaponics Systems

Media Filled Beds

Media filled beds use containers or
growbeds filled with media to grow Aquaponics Systemplants. The media is normally made out of expanded clay or more commonly known as hydroton, river stones, lava rocks or similar materials. Media Filled bed is the most popular aquaponics system at home.

In these set-ups, a water pump or an aquarium pump is normally used to push water over the media filled beds where the plants grow. Media filled beds aquaponics systems come in continuous water flow systems or flood and drain systems.

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Aquaponics MistakesGrowing food with aquaponics at home is a great way of enhancing your food supply. For one you save money spent on food and more importantly, you know you are feeding healthy food to your family. However, I’ve noticed these 5 main mistakes that most “aquaponians” are guilty of, or at least for the beginners that is. Don’t take it too hard on yourself, it’s just part of the learning curve.

 

Aquaponics Mistake #1

Doing too many things too soon; this is especially true with aquaponics newbies. I can understand the excitement of building an aquaponics system comes with the expectation of seeing results immediately. I mean that’s human nature right! Parameters like the water pH, nitrite and nitrate changes gradually and should not be influenced by adding water conditioners and etc too frequently. Give it a few days or weeks to respond and then act accordingly based on the changes.

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