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Biological interactions

“I may not be a polished politician, but as a lifelong farmer, I know that most problems can be solved with a little common sense”

Stephen Fincher

bioloigical interactions in aquaponics

Fish, plants, insects and bacteria working together

close up of breeding pair red tilapia in aquarium

Food web in aquaponic systems

  1. The aquaponic food web starts with fish food in the form of processed feed or naturally occurring food such as smaller fish, insects, agley or vegetable and meat introduced into the system. The fish feed must be added by the owner because the output is taken from the system at high levels in order to be at financially productive levels.
  2. After fish the next step is bacterial as different types of bacteria use the food source of fish waste to ultimately turn it into plant food this is sometimes a large nutrient reservoir that can be used to the advantage of the farmer. The bacterial stage of the food web encompasses both the water column and the root zone this is the least understood part of aquaponics and organic farming in general.
  3. The final part of the food chain is the plants taking the food from the bacteria and making bio mass for insect, pest and human consumption.

young child recording water quality aquaponics

Its a life support system

The 4 life cycles in aquaponics are not the easiest to devise a maintenance plan as each have their own needs and ideal times to provide care for. While there is plenty information online about each of them indiviualy there is little info on how to ake care of them all as a whole in an aquaponic seting.How to spot credible online sources of aquaponic information

How to make a maintenance plan that you will stick to even before you even had any experience with aquaponics?

success in this phase will only come from mentorship witch I hope to inspire you in this post. if you haven’t read the other 3 post first you should as those provide an essential background for creating this plan and is the final stage before getting your materials and building out or purchasing a previous built aquaponic system that takes that all into account.

The satisfaction

Aquaponics is a man made life support system that is used to maintain an ecosystem that is designed for the benefit of the owner. The owner controls the inputs and the type and amount of life forms in that ecosystem. The ecosystem contains 4 main life forms, fish, insects, plants and bacteria, the 4 life forms interact with individuals in each species and each inhabits one of the 3 main life areas, the root zone, plant canopy or the water column.

Biological interactions in aquaponics act like a manufacturing process using life forms and it follows scientific principals with the aim of making financial profit. The owner controls the interaction or Krebs cycle, photosynthesis, decomposition these are well documented scientific principals and equations. This gives real life context as teaching aids and farmers have to understand these in the context of being financially viable.

The scientific method in aquaponics and determining the outcome is predictable because the system is isolated from the environment. Loses from aquaponic systems to the outside environment are negligible when compared to the high loses of open field agriculture. Your aim as a farmer is to increase biomass of saleable produce as efficiently as possible.

Once you got the aquaponic bug it can become time consuming but I want you to produce results in as little time as possible. here is how I have learnt to do it.

Biological interactions refers to the life in the aquaponics system the ones we can see like the plants, fish and pest are easy to care for or kill but the

microscopic life forms are a little different as we can only see the effects of them

how the four interact with each other determines how successful you will be.

Large red belly pacu caught in net

Fish

The fish you chose if you want to eat must be able to breed in captivity that is why talapia is the go to fish.

close up cauliflower in NFT system

Plants

Plants are something you just have to learn to maintain by trial and error if I leave you with one thing let it be that plants are designed to live so even if you try to kill them they will live. Start with plants that can be re-grown from supermarket and move your way up to buying seed and finally the last step to food security is Aquaponic farming and self sufficient seed collection

close up eggplant attacked by leaf footed bugs

Insects

Insects are good and bad. The pest either bite. chew or suck the plant and it is always best to remove the problem insects you have from the grow area. When indoors you need traps or beneficial insects. Take pictures and then ask someone online they will tell you what it is and now to kill it.

drink cork media in fish filter

Bacteria

Bacteria are the least of the worries because they if given the right conditions so you must learn what they like so that the bacteria will help you these are found everywhere a fun fact is that you are 30% bacteria by weight and without them you will die. They cover everything so be good and grow healthy bacteria.Latic Acid Bacteria (LAB) to jump start aquaponics.

Okra plants in coco coir wicking bed

Now that you know all the industry’s secrets from this 5 part series, you’re ready to start the aquaponic process without beginner mistakes

Build it your self

You can now skip major flaws in the principal of applying aquaponics and the building a independant aquaponics systems for personal use.

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