By Laura @ The Greenhouse
It all started when my brother, David, and I brewed the last pot of coffee from a big container of Folgers coffee.. As I approached the recycling bin, I looked down at the empty container and asked "what do you think we could do with this?" After a few moments, we decided on turning it into a small aquaponics system.
Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (which is fish farming) and hydroponics (which is soil-less plant growing).
The fish are raised in a separate tank from the plants. The water is then pumped from the fish tank to where the plants are growing (in a soil-less container)... and then the water drips back into the fish tank. The nutrients from the fish waste become fertilizer for the plants. The plants help to purify the water for the fish. So this is an enclosed system that benefits both the plants and the fish.
Now that you know what it is... This is what we did. David drilled some small holes on the bottom (only on one side of the containers) so that they can drain into the next container. Then we used expanded clay pellets which is a grow medium for hydroponics to hold the plants in the containers. The clay pellets are used in order to allow the water to flow freely through the system and hold the plant up. Soil is not used in aquaponics, because it can cause the system to get clogged.
Expanded clay pellets:
Since it is such a small system, we made it a constant flow system. Which means it flows like a waterfall. We put a small pump into the fish tank, and the tubing carries the water up from the fish tank into the first container then drains into the second container. The water then drips back into the fish tank from the second plant container.
We weren't sure if this would actually work, but after a week, the test plants didn't shrivel up and die. They actually look like they doubled in size. The plants I chose are: celery, cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli and peppers which my brother grew from seeds and blogged about it HERE. He has an unusual way of starting seeds in damp paper towels and then transplanting them into peat pellets.
We are also working on a much bigger aquaponics system in my greenhouse.
As we learn, you learn! If you want to read about more developments of aquaponics, check out Aquaponics Journal.
Here is a little video on our little aquaponics system in action.
Two days since adding the fish, and the plants look like they've really started to grow.... FAST.
All the Best!
Laura @ The GreenhouseSharing at: Cheerios and lattes
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