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For many beginners, setting up an aquaponics garden often requires hours of thorough research and analysis. This can include topics such as understanding how to properly size the system based on space availability, choosing the best aquaponics design, as well as selecting the right fish and plants to use. While this may seem overwhelming at first, it can become even more challenging to find one store that has everything needed for the setup. Many local retailers in your area will likely have a limited inventory of materials, forcing aquaponics practitioners to source parts from both physical and online stores. So if you’re asking yourself the question, “what are the best aquaponics stores near me” know that the answer may be slightly more complicated than previously imagined.
Unfortunately, rarely is there a local store that caters to all your aquaponics needs. Hardware stores such as Lowes and Home Depot often can provide some of the parts needed for the physical infrastructure setup. However, specialty items such as LED grow lights, sump pumps, and others can be more easily obtained from online stores that have more extensive selections. In this article, we will discuss some of the common parts needed in an aquaponics system, why they are needed, and some general ideas of where to locate them.
Locating Aquaponics Fish Tanks
Fish tanks are considered as an essential part of an aquaponic system. This is where the fish live and leave fecal waste that is necessary for plant growth.
The size of the fish tank will significantly depend on the size of the system a grower is trying to build. For instance, for a small aquaponic garden, a small aquarium made of glass or a big blue plastic drum will work. But if the target is to grow edible fish, the tank that should be bought is relatively large and can hold at least 150 gallons of water.
Many online retailers such as Amazon offer both rectangular and cylindrical open-top tanks that can hold 16 gallons to 1000 gallons. But for growers who want to create their fish tank, the use of old bathtubs, stock tanks, and old barrels will do.
Locating Aquaponics Grow bed
The next essential item that should be on the list of an aquaponic enthusiast is the grow bed. This is where the plants are arranged using grow media.
When buying or creating the grow beds, the tank size should be considered because the volume of plants should be directly proportional to the amount of fish you have. The aquaponic source suggests that the grow bed to fish tank ratio should be 1:1, or for every 50-gallon tank, 6 to 8 cubic feet of grow bed should be used.
In terms of grow bed height, the minimum requirement is 15 inches since a large part of it will be submerged in water. Just like the fish tank, grow beds can be made using recycled materials like old containers and tubs, but this can be easily sourced from Amazon.
Grow bed support or stands
The grow bed support is a frame that would hold the weight of the grow beds and keep them in place. The best material in making the grow bed stand is 2×4 wood or center blocks to avoid the risk of the grow beds collapsing. These stands are available at Amazon, or you can gather materials from a hardware store like Lowes to easily build your own.
Locating Aquaponics Sump Tanks
Sump tanks are used to collect liquid runoff in an aquaponic system. This is not a unit requirement, but most growers find this very useful in maintaining the water height of the fish tank.
To illustrate, let’s say the number of grow beds is not proportioned to the volume of your fish tank. Whenever the multiple grow beds are filled with water, there is a possibility that a minimal amount of water is left in the tank. The role of the sump tank is to make sure that your fish tank will not get drained through providing constant water supply. This item can be purchased from Amazon or other online retailers.
Locating Aquaponics Plumbing Pipes and Fittings
Most aquaponics enthusiasts who are asking themselves “are there aquaponics stores near me?” will find these items easiest to find. These can be bought at a local hardware store and are mainly used for transferring water from the tank to the grow beds.
The size of the pipes and fittings will depend on the unit you are building. Small systems usually require a 3-inch pipe, but for a larger and more commercial unit, bigger pipes are used due to biological films that can develop and possibly reduce its size. These pipes are available at the nearest Home Depot, Lowes, or Walmart.
Locating Aquaponics Bell Siphons
A bell siphon is necessary for controlling the water flow of an aquaponic system because it regulates flood and drains the media beds. Aside from regulating water, it also helps the oxygenation of plant roots and guarantees that there will be no water stagnation. It is very efficient since it’s automatic, and the growers won’t have to drain the grow beds themselves from time to time. Given its important function, you might be asking “are there aquaponics stores near me where I can purchase a good quality siphon?”
There are different sizes of bell siphon available on Amazon, but consulting the comprehensive guide made by the University of Hawaii at Manoa on constructing automatic bell siphons will prove useful before purchasing.
Locating Aquaponics Water Pumps
Purchasing a good water pump is vital in an aquaponics system for the fish and plants to thrive. There are two types of pump that is mostly used:
Submersible pumps are the most common type of pump and also the cheapest. It is quite easy to set up because it only has to be put inside the water reservoir. However, this kind of pump is not suggested for larger units because it heats up quickly.
Contrary to the submersible pump, the inline pump is placed outside the water tank. Using an inline pump is ideal for those who have extensive aquaponic gardens because it is more durable and it doesn’t heat up the water reservoir.
In choosing the water pump, factors such as desired head heights and growing media used should be taken into consideration. These pumps are all available on Home Depot and Amazon.
Locating Air Pumps and Air Stones
The primary purpose of an air pump is to provide oxygen to the fish by creating bubbles that cause surface movements. The air pump should be placed in an area that is well-ventilated to give enough air to the system. The right way of choosing an air tank is to buy one that fits a tank that is one size larger than your current tank.
Buying air stones is also suggested because the added amount of dissolved oxygen will help the fish in respiration and will make the plant roots grow healthier. If you’re new to aquaponics, you might be asking “are there aquaponics stores near me where I can buy both of these?” Air pumps and air stones can be purchased from Home Depot, Lowes, and Amazon.
Locating Grow Lights
Grow lights are primarily suggested for indoor aquaponic gardens since the plants would have little to no access to the sun. Through artificial lighting, the crops will grow faster since light is one of the critical elements of photosynthesis.
There are several types of grow lights that can work for aquaponics gardens. Some examples of which are compact fluorescents, HID (High-Intensity Discharge), led lights. But the most common light that is used for indoor planting among all these is the HID because they closely resemble natural sunlight, and they aren’t that expensive. These are available at Home Depot, Lowes, and Amazon.
Locating Aquaponics Grow Media
Grow media will serve as the support of the plants in the grow bed. Even though growers can practically use anything to support their crops like lava rocks, clay pebbles, and coco coir, they still have to do intensive research on which media will enable the plants to receive more nutrients. Some key considerations in choosing the grow media are listed below:
- The grow media should be pH neutral.
- It should not be too small to cause clogging and not too large to cause air gaps.
- It should also be smooth so the plants will not get damaged.
- Its weight should not be too heavy that it can no longer be managed and not too light that it could float.
Since this is necessary in an aquaponics system, your question might be “what aquaponics stores near me offer the best grow media?” You can check out Amazon, Lowes, and even Walmart because they offer different varieties you can choose from.
Locating Aquaponics Monitoring Systems
Growing an aquaponic garden requires careful maintenance. The growers have to keep an eye on critical parameters of water level and temperature, pH level, and dissolved oxygen. To make sure that the unit is always in place, the aquaponics system needs a good monitoring system. Amazon has different monitoring systems that can work with any aquaponic unit.
Locating Aquaponics Timer and Controllers
To control the water pumped into the system, a timer and a controller is a must-have. This will make the flood and drain system manageable since it will automatically function based on the interval that you have set.
If you’re curious and asking “what are the aquaponics stores near me where I can buy timers and controllers?” just check the nearest Home Depot and Walmart, and online shops like Amazon.
Locating Aquaponics Solids Filter
The primary role of a filter in an aquaponic system is to capture solid matter generated by fish as well as the excess food that may cause pH levels in the water tank to rise. If the fish to plant ratio is proportional, there is no need for a filter because the grow beds will be enough to break down these solids produced by fish. In addition, adding certain types of worms can help with this breakdown process.
However, if the stocking density is high, the grow beds will not be able to handle the amount of solid waste in the system, thus, needing intervention in the form of a filter. Amazon or a local pet store like Petco may have a few options in case your system needs one.
Locating Aquaponics Seed Starting Tray
Using seed starting trays are entirely optional. Any available container at home can serve as a germinating tray as long as they have holes at the bottom to allow drainage. The only advantage of using ready-made trays is that they can be moved quickly, and the seeds get enough moisture. Seed starting trays can be bought at Lowes and Walmart. They are also available online at Amazon.
Locating Aquaponics Seeds
After careful consideration of the plants that best grows in an aquaponic setup, a grower must prepare a list of seeds he would include in his system. The best option for purchasing seeds would be an online retailer since they offer a wide selection of herbs, flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Organic seeds that weren’t exposed to any synthetic pesticides and fungicides can also be purchased.
Locating Aquaponics Fish
Before deciding on the fish that would be included in an aquaponics unit, it would be best to read the technical paper published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on a small scale aquaponic food production. In that paper, FAO has listed some of the best fish species that thrive in aquaponics and provides the best nutrients for the plants.
Some of the fish mentioned are Tilapia, Carp, and Catfish, mainly because they are resistant to many diseases and parasites. If you’re curious and asking “are there aquaponics stores near me where I can buy these species?” they can be ordered from Petco, which has a wide selection of fish that fits in small scale fish tanks and large commercial ones.
Conclusion: Are there aquaponic stores near me?
Some aquaponic materials can be bought from local hardware stores, while others can only be found online. If you already have a list of materials, including specifications, try visiting shops near you so you can physically inspect each item.
However, if some elements aren’t available, try to research online shops because chances are, they have exactly what you need, and they can even deliver it to your doorstep. Just make sure that before investing time and money in an aquaponic system, you have researched the process of building one.