What is aquaponics and what does it have to do with your pond? Aquaponics is basically using fish waste to grow plants. The plants in turn help clean the water for the fish and the cycle continues.
Traditionally, with a garden pond this was accomplished by using what is referred to as a “bog filter” or a “veggie filter.” These are a wetland-type area at ground level and are contained within the pond liner. The water is pumped in one side, goes past the plants very slowly, and drains back into the pond. The plants involved would be the typical marginal plants and flowers that like to grow in wet areas.
Aquaponics takes the same principle but applies it differently. The water is removed from the pond and pumped into a series of pipes, tubes, shallow troughs, tubs, or raised bed- style planters before returning the cleaned water back to the pond. The plants grown this way are usually food plants such as lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, etc. This helps you by having the plants remove the final fish component, which is nitrate. However, most pond filters are not able to remove nitrate in the quantities needed to maintain a heatlthy system. By using the nitrate to grow edible plants you are reducing the amount of water changes needed to keep your pond clean while growing healthy food for yourself at the same time.
There are three main types of aquaponic systems:
Nutrient Film Technology (NFT)
This is where the water is pumped through pipes or shallow troughs with the plants suspended so just the root tips are in the water.
Ebb and Flow or Flood and Drain
This is similar to a raised bed planter. The bed is 10”-12” deep and filled with expanded clay balls or some other non-limestone gravel. The bed fills up with water and then drains out on a repeating cycle. The drain cycle allows air to the roots of the plants, as many plants do not do well being fully submerged at all times. The drain cycle can be controlled with a timer on the pump or an auto-siphon.
Deep Water Chamber (DWC) or Floating Raft
In this setup, the plants are suspended in a large floating raft with holes in it for the plant baskets. The roots dangle in the water at all times, and water continuously flows through the growing bed.
While we are not yet in a position to do custom designing of aquaponics systems, we would be more than happy to assist you in completing your design.
If you are not comfortable fitting and gluing PVC pipe or installing your own pumps, or even want someone to build the grow beds, we can help you achieve your goal.