More and more people are jumping on the self-sufficiency bandwagon. Being self-sufficient, however, is not just some trend that will eventually die. In fact, by practicing self-sustenance you are more likely to thrive even if the world comes to an end. Growing crops and raising animals are common ways of becoming self-sufficient. Producing your own food through aquaponics, meanwhile, is fast becoming popular, particularly among homesteaders.
If you’re not familiar with aquaponics yet, the short explanation is that it’s a system wherein fish are raised in the water while plants are grown using the same water. In other words, fish poop in the water, and then the plants use the nutrients from the poopy water to grow. In turn, the plants clean the water as they feed. The filtered water is then used by the fish once more and so on.
Advantages of Aquaponics
The best part about aquaponics is that you produce your own food. You don’t have to depend that much on grocery stores and other similar sources of food.
There’s also no need for a large area, which is usually the case with farms and your fish pens. You can do everything in your backyard or even in your home. Also, you don’t need soil to grow your veggies and other plants. Plus, you use significantly less water as compared to traditional farming so you don’t have to worry about water wastage.
You also eliminate the need to get down on your knees and get dirty with all the digging, weeding, and planting. Since you don’t need soil, you also avoid the pests that come with the territory. Aquaponics is also a good family activity. Get the children involved at the get-go so they can see the fruits of their labor.
Kinds of Aquaponics Systems
The Fish Site mentioned three different types of aquaponics systems. The deep water culture utilizes rafts that float on the water with the help of foams. The container is filled with water and fish. The plants are placed in holes in the rafts allowing them to filter the water. This is the system used by commercial producers of salad vegetables.
In the nutrient film technique, the plants are placed in holes in a PVC pipe, in which nutrient-rich water flows. This is the preferred system for herbs and other plants that do not need too much support.
The media-based aquaponics uses shale or another inert medium for the plants. The medium is necessary for biological filtration to take place, which helps turn ammonia into nitrates. Fruit-bearing plants thrive in this kind of system as well as herbs and leafy vegetables.
According to Be Survival the CHOP Aquaponics system, which stands for Constant Height One Pump, is the one preferred by most beginners. Its main advantage over other systems is little dependence on electricity, which is great for sustainability.
What to Grow and Raise
You may want to steer clear of root vegetables for your basic aquaponics system. Since you’re not using soil, it’ll be difficult to grow root crops like carrots, potatoes, and beets. However, more elaborate aquaponics systems have been successful in growing root crops and even fruit trees.
For beginners, try growing non-root vegetables first. This includes leafy greens such as cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, kale, and chard. Other favorites include herbs like basil, parsley, and chives. Be Survival suggests growing your own fish food like spirulina or duckweed after gaining some experience with aquaponics, in general.
Tilapia, crayfish, and prawns are the most popular fishes raised in an aquaponics system. Most freshwater fish will thrive in your aquaponics system but you need to check the rules with regard to buying fish. Just go to your local government and ask around.
Aquaponics for Beginners
Noobs need not break the bank for those complicated setups. You can try the cheaper ones so you can see if aquaponics is for you. Like every other dream you tried to pursue in life, building an aquaponics system will take extra effort and time. Hard work definitely pays off though as you can produce your own food through aquaponics.
Start off with a setup that costs less than $100. The Mini Aquaponic System from Back to the Roots, for example, costs only $82 but is capable of producing leafy green vegetables for your salad needs. Once you start your scaled-down home ecosystem, you can harvest your produce in as early as ten days.
If you want something simpler, try the Penn Plax Aquaponic Betta Fish Tank or something similar. This kind of aquaponics system is perfect for first-timers, particularly young ones. Purchase one (or give it as a gift) if you wish to dip your hands on aquaponics and see if actually works for you.
For a better understating of aquaponics, particularly of simple indoor aquarium systems, check the video below.
As you can see here, it is entirely possible to produce your own food through aquaponics. With this system, you don’t have to worry about putting food on the table when SHTF. In the event of a natural disaster, economic collapse, or even sudden unemployment, the food you grow and raise in your home or backyard will be enough to at least feed you until things go back to normal. Even if nothing of that sort happens, having an aquaponics system will o you a lot of good.
Check out The Gentleman Pirate for more tips on becoming self-sufficient. You can find lots of things about living off the grid and thriving in a homestead there. If you know of other ways to be self-sustaining, please share them in the comment section.
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