Aquaponics systems commonly involve raising freshwater fish because they can tolerate diverse water temperatures and pH…
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You originally got into Aquaponics because of the wealth of sustainable benefits it offers. However, now that the system is up and running, you notice that your setup could already benefit from some TLC. Whether you are a commercial Aquaponics operator or a small scale gardener, the principles of managing your aquaculture environment will be primarily the same. Regardless of your purpose, keeping a daily, weekly, and monthly Aquaponics system maintenance checklist is vital to maintain a healthy and high-yielding ecosystem.
In this article, we will discuss the specific routine Aquaponics maintenance activities that you can follow to help keep your system producing quality crops for many years to come. At a minimum, these are the activities you should conduct weekly:
- Check water quality
- Readjust the pH if needed
- Harvest fish if necessary
- Add plants and harvest vegetables if necessary
- Inspect if there are plant deficiencies
What is an Aquaponics Maintenance Checklist?
A daily, weekly, and monthly Aquaponics maintenance checklist can provide a routine guide for managing your system, and also provide employees with an easy schedule to follow when necessary.
Topics such as preventing fish diseases and monitoring water pH values are crucial to maintaining a healthy ecosystem and having a checklist keeps you focused on the areas of your setup that require intimate care.
Why Having an Aquaponics Checklist is Important
Keeping a record of your Aquaponics checklist is essential primarily if you have multiple attendants monitoring your system. This way, every attendant will have an idea of what to do, and keeping a checklist will minimize mistakes and negligence.
Daily Aquaponics Checklist
Here are some easy routine management tasks you can follow on a regular basis:
1) Feed the fish
We recommend feeding your fish 2 to 3 times a day if possible. After 15 minutes determine if the fish consumed all the feed. If not, get rid of uneaten feed leftover in the tank and modify quantities in the future to minimize waste.
2) Inspect fish behavior and appearance during fish feeding
The perfect time to monitor fish behavior is during their feeding time. Consider evaluating the fish before and after you have given their feed so you can take note if any are exhibiting symptoms of disease or stress.
3) Scan for leaks
In cases where you observe that the flow of water through your aquaponics system is alarmingly low or you see a pool of water at the bottom of your setup, it is possible there are leaks somewhere in the tanks or pipes. Obviously, if not addressed, this could lead to water drainage issues and ultimately result in both crops and fish not receiving adequate nutrients.
When you encounter this scenario, immediately repair holes or leaks and refill the water.
4) Observe if air and water pumps are functioning properly
There are primarily two reasons why water and air pumps fail. Those being that either there is a lack of electric power or perhaps the pumps are faulty. In either case, you should address the issue right away because, without the pumps, the levels of dissolved oxygen will drop.
If you have faulty pumps, replace them as soon as possible. Also, consider installing backup power supplies or generators in case of emergencies.
5) Asses system water circulation
Proper water circulation is essential to ensure adequate aeration. If there are obstructions within your system, remove the impediments as soon as possible.
Weekly Aquaponics Checklist
1) Check water quality
On a weekly basis, test the levels of your pH, nitrite and nitrate (yes they are different), and ammonia before you feed your fish. If there is a problem with the water, it can cause stress, disease, and even a high mortality rate of your fish stocks.
2) Readjust the pH if needed
The pH range of the water usually fluctuates because of its environment. It is optimal that the water retains its ideal pH range so that stocks can access all available nutrients.
3) Harvest fish if necessary
In an Aquaponics garden, it is vital that growers keep a balanced stocking density of fish. Thus, it is important to harvest when necessary to maintain this balance.
4) Add plants and harvest vegetables if necessary
Of course, same with the above, to keep the balance of your system, you must plant new crops after harvesting.
5) Inspect if there are plant deficiencies
Some of the signs of plant deficiencies can include vegetables not growing, or their leaves altering its color. If this happens, it is possible the plants are lacking in vital nutrients. We recommend checking your water quality if you encounter this issue to see if it is ideal for plant growth.
Monthly Aquaponics Checklist
1) Restock fish supply
As previously mentioned, refilling your fish stock is vital to maintain the balance of your system. There should be symmetry between the stocking density of your fish and the number of plants that are being actively cultivated in the system.
2) Test a sample of your fish and assess for disease
Even with preventive measures, sometimes disease will occur in an Aquaponics system. Hence, we recommend monthly assessing a sample of your fish so you can recognize early symptoms of disease and prevent it from spreading to other stocks.
3) Clean all your filters, clarifiers, and biofilters
To avoid clogging, consider performing a monthly cleaning of your filters, clarifiers, and biofilters. When something blocks your system’s pipes, it may result in low efficiency of your filters and an increase in the fish tank’s ammonia levels. This is a scenario you should try to avoid because ammonia can be harmful to fish.