We grow plants on the top of our aquariums through a process known asaquaponics.
AquaPonics is the marrying of Aquaculture and Hydroponics. Aquaculture is raising fish and Hydroponics is growing plants without soil (H2O).
We feed the fish. The fish feed the bacteria. The bacteria feeds the plants. The plants feed us. We feed the fish. Nice little cycle really. Whether you are wanting to grow some yummy produce or simply provide a healthier environment for your fish,
AquaPonics in our opinion is the way of the future. It almost makes aquaculture a sustainable offering. The flaw of land based aquaculture was that you had to catch fish to use as a feed in the raising of fish. Now consider that you will not only be raising fish but also producing produce like strawberries or basil. The benefits really become apparent.
We started playing around with aquaponics in March 2013. We used the raft method where you float the plants above the water level with the roots sitting in the water absorbing the nutrients straight from the water column. Initial results were good but issues like the fish eating the tasty new roots and cost of artificial lighting was just not feasible.
Root growth was good as can be seen in the photos below. New leaf growth was good in color but small due to not enough light of the correct spectrum. We felt that the fluorescent lighting was too costly in usage and bulb replacements and so we decided to pull the pin on the project.
None of these setbacks diminished our optimism for aquaponics. We have been developing our own brand of custom aquariums for the past year and aquaponics is one of the core principals of our holistic aquariums. Our AquaPonicAquarium range of custom fishtanks makes use of the aquaponics principals to provide a healthy and beautiful environment for you and your fish.
Indoor house plants like the Money Vine and Peace Lilly remove air toxins and bring financial prosperity to your home. Not to mention how great it looks. It really finishes of the slice of nature that we all deserve to bring calm into our chaos.
The reason that we have now found success with aquaponics is that we have discovered the power of LED technology. Our range of Sanrise LED light units provide the perfect spectrum* of artificial light to grow corals, underwater plants and flowering plants like strawberries. They use very little electricity for the light that they output. For underwater plants and the plants grown on our APA range of tanks we use the AquaLover unit which pumps out light in the white 7000K range.
Leafy greens need blue light and flowering plants like strawberries, chillies and tomatoes you need light in the red spectrum. We have brought in and are now distributing the Sanrise Grow Light. The 300watt unit is phenomenally powerful covering a good 1.2sqm of grow-space. These units are known as full spectrum as they contain LED chips in all of the required color spectrum including UV.
You can see from the layout that we have plants in a tight group. A benefit of aquaponics or hydroponics is very concentrated growing patterns. The sad and withered Basil that we got from a local New World bounced back within a week. The strawberries we brought in from the cold had started growing new leaves by week 2.
We have planted some leafy greens within this group to try and keep down the nitrates which will be beneficial for the flowering plants. We are hoping that the Potassium needs will be met by the food that we are feeding the fish. Norill is a mix of Nori and Krill and seaweed is an excellent source of potassium. Hopefully the trickle down effect will be sufficient.
Week 4 has seen fertilized strawberries plumping up nicely. We have to do it artificially with a paint brush. If the potassium needs are not met naturally we will use foliage spray purchased from our local hydroponics store, Otaki Hydroponics. Regular trimming of the Basil is essential to ensure no plants are shaded. Lets be real who doesn't like Basil pesto.
The only other problem that we foresaw was an Iron deficiency. To prevent this we have placed some Flourite Black Sand around the base of the stem. Flourite Black sand is an excellent source of chelated Iron which has proved its worth in all of our planted aquariums.
So far so good. The only hiccup at this point is some small insects. Not a big problem as we place any heavily infested plants in tank with small fish who will find the critters a tasty morsel. With Spring approaching we expect a surge of growth on all tanks thanks to natural sunlight and the installation of a skylight in our tropical fish hatchery. Until then we will rely on the truly awesome Sanrise Grow light.