A simple and classic backyard aquaponics system is a flood and drain growbed aquaponics.
Advantages: Easy to put in place, cheap, simple and convenient inconvenient: Water level in fish tank is going up and down
To this model we can add different elements such as a sump tank to absorb the water fluctuation from the growbed. It also offers more flexibility in the design as we can now place the fish tank and growbed at any level. We can have the growbed above the fish tank or the fish tank above the growbed as in the setup I designed for a restaurant here:
To this system we can add a mechanical filter to decrease the quantity of organic matters present in the growbed, capture them and use them in our garden.
To this we can also add some biological filters. It will allow to stock more fish in the system.
Then we can also add some other types of aquaponics systems such as an NFT to make the system more efficient.
Finally, if we have enough space we can create some DWC systems and evolve to a larger production.
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What is a classic aquaponics diagram, and what are the different parts that we can add to the system to improve it, starting from a very small backyard aquaponics system, to finish with a larger system, a larger scale to produce a significant quantity of food? This is what we’re going to see together in this video.
So when we talk about backyard aquaponics, most of the time we are talking about grow-bed, flood and drain grow-bed aquaponics. And the one I have behind me, the one you can see on my left hand on my right, they are both backyard aquaponics that are actually flood and drain grow-bed aquaponics systems.
So they are just composed of two tanks. One tank is a fish tank on the bottom and on top of this fish tank, we got a grow-bed which is another tank where we got some media, some gravels, and the plants are growing in this tank.
So from a water flow perspective, it’s very simple. The water from the fish tank is pumped to the grow-bed on top, and from there, the water is flushed down to the fish tank. So the water is flushed in the grow-bed which means that we got some water variation levels in the fish tank.
And if I had to say, to basically have given you the pro and cons of this type of system, in the pro, we can say that basically, the system is very simple, very basic, and very easy to put in place. You know, you don’t have too many parts. It’s very affordable, and from a design perspective, that’s really the base. And that’s where I think everyone should start at aquaponics because you just have to put two tanks on top of each other. Also they produce a significant quantity of food, but they require a little bit of maintenance.
Now, the cons is that in the fish tank, the water level is going up and down several times per hour, and this is due to the fact that the water, some water is pumped to the grow-bed. When the water is in the grow-bed, obviously, it’s not in the fish tank, so the fish tank water level decreases. And then when the grow-bed flushes, then the water goes back in the fish tank. So the water level in the fish tank goes back up again.
So it’s not going to make a huge difference in terms of water level, but it can make it vary of one quarter of the whole height of the fish tank. So if you want to have a fish tank that has a constant level, this is not adapted. That’s why we can add different parts to the system. So that’s a classic backyard aquaponics system, flood and drain grow-bed system.
Now, to this system, we can add different parts. One of them is first a filter, filtration. So we can add a mechanical filter. We have the swirl filter or the radial filters. They can be added to the setup. So I made some video about those filters, and I got some free training as well to build your own and it’s free of access.
So when you add some mechanical filtration to your aquaponics system, you’re going to decrease the quantity of organic matters that are going to be able to go in the grow-bed, and if you look at it from an ecosystem point of view, you could think, “Okay, that’s less organic matters, so less food for the bacteria, and therefore, for the plant.” But generally speaking, we are limited in the quantity of fish that we can grow in an aquaponics system because we don’t have enough bacteria. So that’s our limit.
Now, if you add a little filter, a mechanical filter, it’s going to decrease the quantity of solids that are going to finish in the grow bed and therefore, you may be able to stock a little bit more fish and to reduce also the frequency of maintenance that you will have to clean the grow-bed, basically. You know, the grow-bed needs to be cleaned every few years, which involves moving the gravels. I made some video all about it.
If you add a mechanical filter and you decrease the quantity of organic matters that are going to finish in the grow-bed, then you decrease the frequency of this maintenance.
Then you can also add a biological filter. So a biological filter is going to allow you to basically increase the quantity of bacteria that you have in your system, and as you know, the bacteria are responsible for transforming the fish poo into plant’s food. So when you do that, you’re going to increase the capacity of your system to stock fish.
Another part that you can also add into your system is a sump tank. So why would you like to add a sump tank? If you are a sump tank to the system, you’re going to be able to basically first put the fish tank and the grow-bed at different levels. So right now, you see that the grow-bed has to be on top of the fish tank in a classic flood and drain system, but if you have a sump tank, then you can work another way and you can have the fish tank above the grow-bed or at the same level so you have the possibilities basically to put your fish tank and your grow-bed wherever you want. So it’s really going to help you in the design of the system.
Now, obviously, it adds another tank and also the other big advantage of the sump tank is that now the water variation is going to be in the sump tank, and in your fish tank the water level is always going to stay the same. So it’s a comfort for your fish.
From an aesthetical point of view, as well, it may look a bit better, and so if it’s a requirement for you to have the fish tank always with the water at the same level, you may consider to have a sump tank.
Then you can also cross different types of aquaponics system together and form a hybrid system. So if you already have a backyard aquaponics, which is a flood and drain grow-bed aquaponics system, you can add also some NFT system, so Nutrient Film Technique pipes around the system, along a fence. So there are different ways to integrate this system in an existing one, and it’s quite simple to do.
The advantage is that you’re going to be able to grow some food in both the grow-bed and the NFT system so you will be able to improve the quantity of plants that you can grow and increase your aquaponics production.
Finally, you can also add a deep water culture tank in your system. So if you have enough room, you can design some deep water culture tanks, or we call them as well raft systems. So those tanks can be placed anywhere where you have room, and you can link them to your existing system. So then you have a very large productivity.
Later on, you can add all the fish tanks to have different species or fish of the same species at different stages of growth, but you can really increase the size of the system. So you start with a small system, and then you can always add parts and making it evolve to something that is way bigger at the end.
So you start from a system that is just going to be able to produce a little bit of food for your family to a large scale system that is going to be able to produce a really significant quantity of food.
I always recommend to start aquaponics on a small scale. I think it’s better because if you make some mistakes, at least you don’t have a huge crop that is going to die. So starting with a small scale system is going to allow you to build your skills, and then you can equip your system and build up, thanks to the explanation I give you in this video, and going for a bigger scale system.
You can also have a small scale system keeping it as it is and then building another bigger one aside when you have the money and when you get the skills. And in this case, you can still have the small one to make some experimentations and the big one to produce a significant quantity of food.
If you want more information about the ratio, quantity of fish you need to have, size of the grow-bed, ratio with size of the fish tank, all those type of things, I give you a free training where you get all those types of information. It’s in the description of the video just below, completely free. It’s a six-step training where you really build your skills and you get a lot of technical information to start aquaponics in the best conditions and to really understand the limits of aquaponics and the ratio that you really need to respect.
So I highly recommend you to get this free training. Again, it’s in the description of the video just below or in the ‘I’ like information in the corner of the video. And from there, you will have all the information required to build your own setup but also to start aquaponics on the good base and to be able to start and manage your aquaponics system in the best conditions.
So once you get access to the free training, you will arrive to this page, and here you will have a detail of different steps and each time you got a video or some description to really allow you to build some strong knowledge and to know and to learn the basics of aquaponics and to avoid any mistakes. So just enter your email address and you will receive access to this training.
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