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Shifting from traditional gardening to aquaponics has a wealth of benefits. This is a primary reason many practitioners are now establishing their soilless garden to maintain a more sustainable way of cultivating plants. However, there are also challenges in setting up an aquaponics system for the first time. If you are starting, choosing the best aquaponics system for beginners will depend mainly on your plant and fish cultivation goals. After some experience implementing and managing a novice system, you can confidently move on to more complex setups.
The best aquaponics system for beginners is the Media Bed system, which uses various grow media for plant growth. If the gardener’s goal is to create a small backyard system as his family’s food source, this would be an excellent system to build. Here are some advantages of building a media bed system:
- It requires less maintenance.
- It can be built through recycled materials.
- There is a wide variety of growing media available.
In this article, we will discuss some of the considerations in choosing the best aquaponics system, the media bed technique, and why it is considered the best type of system for beginners.
Common considerations in choosing an aquaponics system
Starting an aquaponics system requires a lot of research to ensure that the initial investment would be put into good use. For interested gardeners, looking into different books and journals and attending training and seminars will help them get a better grasp of how aquaponics works, especially if the system will be built from scratch. If the growers are overwhelmed with technical literature on aquaponics and do not know where to begin, below are some considerations in choosing the best aquaponics system for beginners.
Objectives in building the system
The gardener’s goal is one of the essential things to establish when starting up an aquaponics system since everything else is anchored to this. If the goal is to produce crops and harvest fish to provide food for the family, a small media bed backyard system will suffice. However, if the objective is to gain maximum yield and sell it commercially, bigger systems would be necessary.
Budget also plays a vital role in choosing the type of system that will be built. For farmers who can invest a large amount of money, they can opt for more complicated systems. However, if the budget is limited, recycling materials such as blue drums and old bathtubs can serve as a fish tank or grow bed support.
When assessing the space used in an aquaponics system, gardeners also have to consider whether they are going to grow indoors or outdoors, aside from how many square meters will be used by the system. Space and location will, most of the time, dictate the size and type of method suitable for the grower.
Identifying the water source before going ahead and setting up the aquaponics system is also vital because it must be tested first for potential toxins and other contaminants. By doing this, the proper filtration system for the unit can be determined.
The electrical source is often taken for granted, but it is also another factor in choosing a system. It would be better to identify which system uses less electrical power, especially in areas that often have power outages.
What is the best aquaponics system for beginners
The most popular type of system used in aquaponics, which is highly recommended for beginners, is the Media Bed. This system uses plant beds filled with grow media, which serves as a plant support and, at the same time, as a mechanical and biological filter of the unit.
The media bed system is also called Flood and Drain or Ebb and Flow. This is because the water in the fish tank is pumped into the plants’ grow beds to access nutrients. The grow media will hold the water and filter solid materials before the bell siphon drains the water back to the fish tank.
Some of the best plants to grow in media bed systems are peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and turmeric. But almost any kind of greens and fruiting plants thrive in this system, given the correct parameters.
To further understand how this system works, click here for our detailed article on media bed aquaponics.
Why choose a media bed system
The media bed system is widely used by hobbyists, home gardeners, and commercial farmers worldwide because of its various strengths. It requires lesser maintenance as compared to NFT and Raft systems because it uses a simple design. Growers can also use recyclable materials to build the media beds, and there are several grow media options available in the market that fit the plant’s needs. Below is a detailed analysis of these benefits.
It requires less maintenance.
The media bed system requires lesser maintenance because of its simple design. Unlike NFT and DWC that need a more complicated filtration system, the medium used in the grow beds serves as the filter of the whole unit. This system saves up a lot of space, and the grower will not be required to maintain complicated filtration components.
It can be built through recycled materials.
For aquaponic enthusiasts on a tight budget and want to save up money, creating a media bed system out of recycled materials is possible. This is the main reason why this system has a relatively lower initial cost. Old drums and bathtubs can serve as fish tanks, while pallets and shipping crates can be used to build the media beds.
There is a wide variety of growing media available.
Many materials can be used as grow media that can be bought from local and online aquaponic stores like Lowes and Amazon. Some of the most popular media used in this system are gravel, clay pebbles, and lava rock. These media are cost-effective and allow bacterial growth needed to convert harmful ammonia into plant nutrients.
For gardeners interested in soilless planting, starting with a media bed system is the best way to learn more about how aquaponics works. The media bed system is space-saving and low-cost since repurposed materials can be used in constructing it. Another advantage of building this system is its simple design, which requires little maintenance compared to NFT and DWC. There are also many available grow media in the market, so growers won’t find it complicated to set up.