I've been getting a lot
of aquaponics questions both on and offline, so I thought I'd sum the
most common ones up in a single post. Questions have been paraphrased
to save space.
"What kind of fish are you putting in your
tank? Are you going to eat them?"
I'm very new to
aquariums, so I was surprised to learn that a 10-gallon tank is actually too small for
even a single goldfish. The aquaponics aspect also mean that you're
better off raising tropical fish, since a heated tank makes the biology
of the waste conversion work better.
To cut a long story
short, we'll probably stock the tank with five guppies once
the setup has cycled.
Or possibly with some of AquaSprouts' other suggested ornamental
combos: 8 neon tetras plus 4-6 dwarf corydoras catfish; 5 tiger barbs
plus 2-4 kuhli loaches; or 5-7 zebra danios plus 2 dojo loaches. Nope,
we won't be eating our teaspoon-sized fish.
"Are you growing potatoes? If not, what
are those little round things in the grow bed?"
The growing medium in a
hydroponics or aquaponics system needs to be
something inert that holds water between drenchings but doesn't
disintegrate like soil would to fill the water below with gunk. In this
case, we're using expanded clay aggregate --- an extremely
light-weight, rock-like substance formed by baking clay at a high
temperature. You'll soon see some rock wool enter the setup when I
start my basil seeds since seedlings can't handle the large spaces
between the clay pellets.
"Are you concerned about the sustainability
of your aquaponics setup?"
I consider our tank in
the toy category rather than the tool category. It's 95% for prettiness
and 5% for production of herbs, and I'm well aware I could get the same
production results with less input of electricity by growing the plants
in a pot on a shelf. But it'll be fun and educational to watch the
ecosystem develop, and I figure that's worth a little electricity!
"Doesn't cycling with pee as your ammonia
source mean the tank stinks?
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It actually did smell
worse than I'd expected, but the odor disappeared within 24 hours.
Perhaps that's a sign that my ecosystem is starting to work (although
there's still no measurable presence of nitrite in the water). Stay
tuned for more nitty-gritty details as the project progresses!