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Food For Freedom

Table of Contents

First thoughts ........................................................ 4

Self-sustainability – a safe choice.......................... 5
Benefits of Aquaponics Systems ................................6
What you need to know ......................................... ….9
How does it work? ............................................... …9
Consider your location ......................................... 13
What kind of food you can grow ............................ 13
Make your own Aquaponics System ..................... 14
Basic elements (fish, plants, materials) .................... 14
Before you start building .........................................19
Start Building Your System .................................. .22
Step 1 – Prepare your tanks ................................... 22
Step 2 – Connect PVC pipes to the grow bed ............. 23
Step 3 – Connect the return pipes ........................... 24
Step 4 – Assemble the venture aeration ports ........... 25
Step 5 – Add water................................................ 26
Step 6 – Prepare the floats ..................................... 27
Step 7 – Add fish .................................................. 28
Step 8 – Add plants ............................................... 28
Step 9 – Test and optimize your system ................... 29

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Blending Aquaponics with Soil-Based Gardening….30
Fortifying your system……………………………………...31
Sick Fish…………………………………………………………………….….32
Power outage……………………………………………………………..….34
Leaks in tank……………………………………………………………..….36
Smart Valves and the Autopot Systems……………...37
Growing Duckweed……………………………………….….39
Conclusion .............................................................42

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First Thoughts

In this modern world, health concerns and the ability

to access food are becoming more and more important.
People who live in the city are looking for easy and
effective ways to produce food and take care of their
families without having to rely on conventional food
sources for sustenance. Self-sufficiency has become not
only a trend but also a concern among our society.

Growing your own food and vegetables is much

cleaner and healthier than consuming products you buy
in the supermarket. Every grocery dealer in the market is
talking about fresh,
clean, and healthy
eating. But we all know
that this is not entirely
true. Just think about
it; the food in the
supermarket is being

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touched by many hands and passes through various

places, before you get to buy and consume it.

Moreover, with the recent inflation over the past few

decades, food prices have drastically increased. This raises
the need for people to change their l i f e s t y l e . It
encourages people to try to provide their own food, in a
healthier and organic way.

It may seem quite discouraging at first, but

growing your own vegetables and fish farming in order to
have a reliable food source is practical. The solution to this
problem is a simple Aquaponics System in your very
own backyard.

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Self-sustainability–A Safe Choice

Aquaponics is basically a clean, green method of

both growing fish and plants in one integrated system; a
combination between aquaculture (raising fish) and
hydroponics (growing plants). The fish are raised in
tanks and their waste provides an organic food source
for the plants that are growing in the system. The plants
take up the waste produced by fish as nutrients and food,
and the water used for the plants is recycled.

These plants do not need fertilizers, pesticides or

herbicides and the water is
regularly recycled rather than
being lost in the soil. The result
from these two integrated
systems produce healthier and
cleaner food than food at
supermarkets, and at a fraction
of the cost.

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Moreover, Aquaponics offers more flexibility than

conventional farming; the fish and vegetables can be
produced almost anywhere. Warehouses, rooftops,
basements or even brownfield sites are great locations to
house your Aquaponics system.

Despite these benefits, aquaculture and hydroponics

possess a few drawbacks. Growing plants in a soil-less
environment demands expensive nutrients and periodic
cleansing of the systems, which can result into waste
dumping problems.

When raising fish, you need to be very careful when

removing excess nutrients from the system in order to
recirculate the water. A significant amount of water is
extracted from the system constantly and changed with
fresh, nutrient free water (usually, this is a daily routine).

Combining aquaculture and hydroponics is a very

efficient method of producing your own fish, vegetables
and fruits.

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Benefits of Aquaponics Systems

1. Plants grow faster

In Aquaponics system, plants have constant access to

nutrients (high level nitrates that are in the water) that
make them grow faster than in soil.

Lettuce, for example, takes almost 2 months to

grow when planted in soil, but when it is grown in an
Aquaponics system, it has been proven to mature in
approximately one month. That cuts the grow cycle in half.

2. Your food is cleaner and healthier

Vegetables grow bigger and healthier compared to

those grown in soil. This is one of the main reasons why
people are starting to create their own food sources, as
the food products in supermarkets are full of many
different chemicals that endanger our health.

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3. You’ll have a sustainable system

Using an Aquaponics system, you can maintain a

certain level of production without consuming
natural resources as it simulates nature’s natural cycle.
Aquaponics is based on a natural process of animals and
plants, and this makes it an eco-friendly method of
growing food. This gives people peace of mind knowing
that they are not polluting the environment.

4. No pesticides are being used

Aquaponics systems are free from soil pests. These

pests destroy the plants and the only way to eliminate
them is by using pesticides. Consequently, pesticide toxins
can be absorbed easily by plants. Eating these plants can
result in potential health risks. Using only water to grow
your vegetables and fruits will significantly reduce the risk
of using pesticides.

Pesticides cannot be used in Aquaponics systems as

they could harm or even kill the fish. Therefore, it offers
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you a great way to grow plants without the menace of a

pest infestation or pesticide toxins.

5. No more watering

Using an Aquaponics system you’ll discover that there

will be a significant reduction is the usage of water,
because they constantly recycle and recirculate the water.
Thus, you will no longer need to water your plants.

6. Less work and energy use

Aquaponics systems require less energy than the

conventional gardening because there is no more digging,
weeding or bending down on the ground to harvest the

Moreover, maintaining such a system is very

convenient as it pretty much takes care of itself. By
providing a suitable environment for both fish and plants
to grow there is very little work involved. However, there

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is occasional cleaning (once or twice a month) required for

the fish tanks and the pumps.

7. Saving money

An Aquaponics system is much more productive and

efficient. It is easy to significantly increase the food
production using very little space. Moreover, building a
system like this is incredibly cheap and easy. Within a
year, you will recoup the initial cost investment.

What you need to know

Before you start building your own simple

Aquaponics systems, there are s o m e important
things t o note. I t is recommended to start with a
simple system in order to learn how it works out before
upgrading. Once you have a bit more experience you can
modify your system in many ways to fit your families
survival food needs.

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How does it work?

Building an Aquaponics system is not very hard. First,

what you need is a simple water container filled with fish.
Remember that the water needs to be aerated so that
the oxygen levels can be optimally dissolved; check the
pH level of the water at least once a week to make sure it
remains at an optimal level.

An Aquaponics system is based on three fundamental

elements: fish, plants and useful bacteria. In simple terms,
the fish bred in tanks excrete waste and then the bacteria
turns this waste into nutrients for plants. The plants then
filter and clean fresh water for the fish.

Another important element to keep in mind is that

your fish need a constant supply of
oxygen. This means that you need to be very
careful to aerate the water for optimal dissolved oxygen
levels. You can do this either by using a small air pump
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that is linked to multiple air stones, at the bottom of the

fish tank. Or you can install a smaller extra energy saving
air pump. Aeration is very crucial for the fish to breathe
and survive, and this is why it is important to consider
building another back-up system, in case of a power

Another important
element that we
need to consider
when starting an
Aquaponics system is
the bacteria. This
bacteria is important
to maintain the
functionality of the system. The waste that comes from
the fish contains ammonia. In nature (lakes or oceans),
the huge quantity of water reduces ammonia
concentration. Keeping fish in a small area like a tank
makes it very toxic for them. By cleaning the water
container periodically, ammonia is converted into nitrites

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and nitrates. In an Aquaponics system, it might take up

to 3 months for the nitrates to show up naturally.

In order to keep your plants healthy, you might need

to use certain additives such as potassium/calcium
carbonate or iron chelate/carbonate. These carbons give
additional calcium and potassium to the plants and raise
their pH when it’s needed. Yellowing of plants means that
they might have a deficiency in iron. This is when these
additives are beneficial.

The best way to understand what is happening in an

Aquaponics system is by frequently testing it. In the
beginning, you might need to test it thoroughly. But once
you completely understand how your system works daily
testing becomes less important.

What to test?

 Dissolved Oxygen (DO) – 80% saturation is the

recommended goal, this allows for maximum
nitrification rates (not less than 4ppm).
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 Temperature – between 77-86° F (25-30°C);

The majority of fish can endure the cooler water the
plants require.

 pH – considering the fact that you need to pay

careful attention to all the elements (plants, fish and
bacteria), you need to be very careful with your
water solution. Plants grow better in a lower pH
medium and fish tolerate a higher pH, this is why it’s
recommended to go for a pH between 6.0 and 8.0.
If the pH level is getting too low, you can supplement
the water with Phosphoric Acid, Calcium Carbonate or
mono-sodium and di-sodium phosphate.

 Ammonia levels – the optimal level is less than

1ppm, as ammonia is a source of food for the plants.
The ammonia levels should not top 6 ppm, which is
already weighed as toxic.

Nitrates and nitrites – they are toxic to the fish, like

ammonia however, they are vital for plants to grow.
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The optimal nitrates level is between 10-20ppm.

As for nitrites you should keep the levels below

Consider your location

When planning to build an Aquaponics system, you

should pay attention to the environment that you live in.
Weather is a crucial factor to consider. This determines the
kind of plants suitable for growing in your system. It also
impacts your fish options. Weather can also determine
where you place your system (indoor or outdoor).

The sun is an important source of alternative light as

it can warm the water in your system. This can be a good
thing as you wont need to pay to heat the water, but it can
also heat the water too much. That is why it is
recommended to place the system in a small greenhouse
or even a garage so that you can protect it from the
intense heat in summer or the cold in winter. You won’t
need more than 20sq ft.

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What kind of food you can grow?

The fish and plants you select for your Aquaponics system
should have similar needs as far as the temperature and
ph is concerned. There will always be some compromise
to the needs of the fish and plants but, the closer they
match, the more successful you will be. As a general rule,
for warm and fresh water, fish and leafy crops such as
lettuce and herbs will do best. In a system heavily stocked
with fish, you may have better luck with fruiting plants
such as tomatoes and peppers.

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Make Your Own Aquaponics System

When making an Aquaponics

system, you should keep in mind
that you are aiming for a high-
yield crop with minimal basic
care and maintenance required.
You should also aim to have your
system take up as little space as
possible even if you have ample
Once your system is set up
and running smoothly you can
make improvements and
modifications to fit you and your families need.

Basic elements

The first thing is to have all the components needed

for an Aquaponics system: plants, fish and materials.

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There is a wide variety of common fresh water fish that can

be raised in an Aquaponics system such as:

• Carp

• Large-mouth bass

• Tilapia

• Sunfish

• Crappie

• Koi

• Goldfish or other ornamental fish (angelfish, guppies,

swordfish, tetras, mollies, etc.)

• Barramundi

• Silver, golden or yellow perch

Local authorities dictate only certain type of fresh water

fish, thus you might need to verify at your local Agricultural
institutions or even pet stores, in order to determine what is
allowed to be raised in your geographical area.
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Another decision you have to make is weather to

purchase fry or fingerling fish. Although, fish fry might cost
you less, they will take longer to grow and mature. This
extends the duration of time to reach the optimal nitrate
level of your system. On the other hand, fingerlings are a
little more expensive but because they produce more
excrement they will make growing vegetables quicker and

The recommended option is to buy a mature fish

directly. But, if you want to mix the fry fish with the
mature fish you have to be very careful because the little
ones might be eaten. This is why the best thing you can
do is to breed your own fish using a hatchery tub.

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After making a concrete decision on the type of fish

and the phase of their maturity, you will have to consider
your options for plants.

You can either begin with a young plant which is

already seeded in the floats. Or you can move the shoots
from a seedling bed connected to the system from an
ordinary seedling tray. Usually, the fish tank is separate
from the grow bed and water flows constantly between
these two tanks.

The plants require a surface on which to attach

themselves such as the underside of the float, pipes, the
walls of the tanks and even the roots of other plants.
Separating the plant and fish tanks provides an extra
quality to the water. Raft systems are the best choice
when it comes to optimizing floor space and maximizing
the growing space.

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In order to do that, you need to grow your plants in a

different grow bed and only move them once their roots
are strong and long enough when cleaning the water for
the fish.

It is recommended to use coconut fiber seedling pots.

These pots keep the air and water circulation at an

optimal level: use net pots that are filled with coconut
fiber, then put the seeds inside and water twice a day.

After 2 or 3 weeks, the plants will reach maturity and

then it will be safe for you to transfer the young plants
to the grow beds.

Don’t forget: your main objective is to acquire a crop

base that is regularly producing while seedlings are

Luckily, Aquaponics systems impose little restrictions

in cultivating plants, vegetables and fruits:

• Tomatoes
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• Cucumbers

• Cabbages

• Carrots

• Dark leafy

• Silver beets

• Green onions

• Chives

• Leeks

• Lettuce

• Broccoli

• Melons

• Strawberries

• Peppers

• Basil

• Mint

• Flowers
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Besides the fish and plants needed for your

Aquaponics system, you will also need to purchase
materials such as: piping, valves, an aerator, tanks,
and water pumps.

Most of these
materials can be
found at any local
store. Purchasing
the tank is the
tricky part as
they have to be specially designed u s i n g specific
materials; t h e y are available online (on special
sites) or even at animal feed store (for cattle, sheep or
other livestock). Tanks are the most expensive elements
of Aquaponics systems.

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Before you start

Now that you know the basic components of an

Aquaponics system let’s talk about some rules that you
should follow when creating your system.

The first thing you have to consider is the

climate. Having optimal sunlight and temperature is
crucial to having an efficient growing system. Your
residence and the climate is an important factor when
deciding whether you want to build the system indoors or
outdoors. If the temperature varies extremely from one
season to another, you will need to use indoor housing,
water heaters or greenhouses so that the fish and
plants will be protected from extreme temperatures.

There are many species of fish that can live in almost

freezing temperatures, but unfortunately plants can’t grow
in such conditions. If you chose to use the Aquaponics
system in cold weather you will have to place a mechanical
bio-filter or change the percentage of the fish tank water
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on a regular basis. Without plants, the ammonia levels will

rapidly increase making it very toxic for the fish.

This being said, if you desire constant production it is

best to place your system in a greenhouse or indoors to
ensure that the plants have proper exposure to sunlight
through windows or other lighting systems.

The size of your Aquaponics system depends on

your needs, but in the beginning, 20 sq ft. will be enough.
Keep in mind that this system is entirely flexible. If you
want to expand your crops you just need to duplicate the
same model upwards or expand the size of the essential
fish tank. For a person just starting out it is recommended
to have the same volume of planting bed space and fish
tank space.

Another thing you need to consider when building your

Aquaponics system is the water level. Once you achieve
the optimal water levels for your tank, you may need to
add more water periodically due to evaporation. You may

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need to add a few gallons every week or two depending on

how much has evaporated.

Now is the time to decide what sort of system is best for

your needs. There are basically two types of Aquaponics
systems: the ones that require a grow bed medium
such as sand, clay or gravel for fixing the roots of the
plants in slow- moving waters. The other is a system
based on floats, where the plants are attached to floats in
quick-moving waters.

What materials you need

 Tanks – preferably 100 gallon tank for fish and 50

gallon rectangular plastic tank for plants.
 Fish
 Hardware – PVC pipes, pumps, aerator/air pumps,
 Miscellaneous – PVC cement, lumber to back the
grow bed that is placed on top of the fish basin, net
pots, coconut fiber, fish food

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 Water Chemistry – nitrifying bacteria, chlorine

neutralizer or remover, test strips for pH, calcium
carbonate for raising pH if necessary, ammonium
chloride tablets to support the initial bacterial start-
up process.
 Tools – pipe cutter tool (such as hacksaw), channel
lock pliers, drill and drill bit.

Start Building Your System

Step 1 – Prepare your tanks

The first step in building an Aquaponics system is

ensuring you have two tanks ( 1 fish tank
and 1 grow bed). The fish tank sustains the grow bed, and
the grow bed recycles the filtered water back into the fish
tank. For this reason, you have to place the smaller tank
for the vegetables above the bigger tank for the fish. This
will also save space.

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Moreover, placing the fish

container beneath the grow bed
will not only save space, but it
will also save you money on
piping material. You may have
to build a simple shelf to place
the grow bed on. Make sure
you leave small space in the
middle of the uprights before
placing the fish tank. Also, you
will need a flat surface that supports the weight of the
grow bed. You can use any strong counter top or s h e l f
that can hold the grow bed. Depending on the material
that your counter or shelf is made from, you may need to
reinforce it so that it doesn’t fall on top of your fish tank.

Step 2 – Connect the PVC feed pipes to

the grow bed

With the two tanks in the right position, now you need
to connect them with PVC pipes. Keep in mind that when
choosing a PVC pipe you will also need to take into

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consideration the pumps output characteristics. Given the

fact that the pipes will not be under high pressure, it is
recommended to use medium grade clear PVC pipe cement
for the fittings and joints.

The length and measurements of the pipes varies from

one system to another, based on the layout and design
you choose.

1. Assemble the water pipe

from the pump to the grow bed
and place the pump at the
bottom of the fish tank.
2. Measure the distance from
the installed water pipe to the
midway of the grow bed that is
above the fish tank.
3. Glue a piece of cut PVC tubing to the pump
coupling and add the inline valve at the midway of the
grow bed.

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4. Complete the pipe with

additional PVC pipes on the outside
facing of the grow bed.
5. When the pipe reaches the
top, add a 90 degree elbow so that
the pumped water from the fish
tank is redirected back into the grow
bed tank.
6. If you want to manually
control the water flow to the grow
bed, you can add a valve on the vertical side of the

Step 3 – Connect the return pipes

Make a drain for each grow bed by drilling a small

hole in the center bottom of each tank. This drain hole
has to be placed on the counter side from where the
water enters the tank; then cover the drain hole by fitting
a bulkhead adapter. Cut a PVC piece and glue it into the

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female adapter that is inside the tank section of the grow


Drill 8 small holes around the

standpipes circumference. Doing this,
you will create a standpipe that fixes
the water depth of the grow bed. The
extra pipe that remains above the
vertical ring of holes will prevent the floats from blocking
the return.

This allows nutrients to circulate throughout the

water and helps the plants to grow on the grow bed.

On the base of the grow bed, connect the threaded

female coupler to the threaded male end of the bulkhead.

Step 4 – Assemble the venture aeration


Cut the PVC pipe that is connected from the grow bed
at the desired length, almost 5 inches above the water
level in the tank.
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Compressing the water and

drilling a single aeration hole at
the half of the PVC pipe, it will
immediately create an aeration
suction port that will pump oxygen
to the water as it returns.

For the final procedure, cut

the rest of the PVC pipe in order
to take the return water to the base of the tank and
then put a 90 degree elbow so that the water can enter
the fish tank.

Step 5 – Add water

To begin with, fill up the grow bed until you reach the
maximum height where you drilled the holes. After filling
it up, it’s time to add water to the fish tank, as well.
Since all the pipes are empty, you’ll have to turn on the
pump shortly after the water level in the fish tank drops.
Therefore, add extra water in the fish tank until you
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attain the desired height. This is a good way of

t e s t i n g if the system has any leaks, cracks or holes.

Another thing you need to be careful about is the

chlorine in the water. You can either dissolve it with
Sodium Thiosulfate or you can let it dissolve naturally by
letting the system settle for two days.

When there are no traces of chlorine in the water, you

will have to add some nitrifying bacteria so that the
ammonia that is in the water reaches an optimal level.
You will have to supplement the water with a few tablets
of ammonia chloride; the ammonia component serves as
food for the nitrifying bacteria you just added in the water.

Ammonia and nitrates are the two species of bacteria

that are necessary to the system. Be careful not to expose
them to sunlight, as they are photo sensitive, by keeping
the floats on the grow bed.

After adding the nitrifying bacteria, the nitrates will

begin to develop in 4 or 5 days. You will have to wait a

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little bit of time before putting the fish into the tank.
While you’re waiting for the water to reach the optimal
condition, you’ll have to keep the pH level between 6.0
and 8.0; the ideal level for both fish and plants is 7.0.

Step 6 – Prepare the floats

The floats for the grow beds can be made of any kind
of floating material that preserves its flexibility and quality
when you drill several plant holes. A good choice for
floats is closed insulation boards that are thick enough
to resist numerous holes drilled for the plants.

Because of the continuous moving, seedling and

harvesting the floats might shed small pieces. For this
reason it is recommended to use closed-cell mats so that
the floats can keep their quality when drilled and moved.

Moreover, if you consider gardening heavy plants like

broccoli you can put the cell mat in two layers or leave
them in a single layer for light weight plants such as
herbs or lettuces.
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Step 7 – Add fish

After adding the water and necessary bacteria, it is

time to add the fish. To begin with, it is recommended to
add one fish so that you can test the water and the entire

Eventually you can fill the tank with almost 15

pounds of fish, depending on the dimensions of your
system and your needs.

However, over time you might need to harvest some

of the fish in order to maintain the ideal ratio which is
approximately one pound of fish for every 4 gallons of

Remember to make sure the water the fish is in is

getting proper degassing and aeration. Moreover you will
have to verify that the float beds are added into the grow
beds, so that you minimize light exposure for the
nitrifying bacteria.
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Step 8 – Add the plants

Now that the whole Aquaponics system is complete,

it’s time to carefully move the young plants, seedlings,
into the float beds.

Step 9 – Test and optimize your system

Now that you have everything in its place, is time to

test your system and optimize it for proper functioning.
You will need two weeks to learn the functionality of your
system. This should be enough time for you to find out
what works best for you.

The basic elements you need to keep an eye on are: low

ammonia levels, proper dissolved oxygen/aeration, optimal
nitrite and nitrate levels and well-fed fish, but not over
fed. Learn what your fish like eating, in this way your
crops will grow faster and your Aquaponics system will be
much more productive.
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Harvesting is an important part of keeping a healthy

Aquaponics system. One important note is to remove as
much of the root system of any vegetable you harvest. You
don't want to leave any clumps behind. If it is something
like kale, then this would not apply because you are only
taking a few leaves from the plant and leaving it to
continue producing. You will discover it only takes about 6
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to 7 weeks for lettuce to be ready for harvest if you start

from seed. If you transplanted the lettuce, harvest will
happen in about half that time.

Keep a close eye on your plants. If you start to notice

any disease, like powdery mildew, on a plant, remove the
entire thing.

Do not let it stay in the system and contaminate the

rest of your plants. You want to harvest plants on
somewhat of a schedule so you always have food coming
out of your system. You don't want to have one big harvest
and then nothing for weeks.

Harvesting your fish is another regular activity. Living a

fish in the tank to fatten up isn't a good idea. Fat, big fish
take up more space. They can become aggressive and kill
the other fish. In a small system, you can expect to
harvest a fish every couple of months.

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Blending Aquaponics with Soil-

Based Gardening

Are you one of those people who really like getting

your hands dirty in the garden, but really like the idea of
raising your own fish? You can have the best of both
worlds by marrying the two ideas. You should consider
trying adding an aquaculture system to your soil-based
garden in order to get the benefits of each system.

As you may have noticed, Aquaponics is not going to

work with root-based crops. That doesn't mean you cannot
still use the nutrient-rich water from an Aquaponics system
to water your root crops in a soil-based garden. Your
plants will thrive on the chlorine-free water that comes
from your hydroponics system. You are saving water, by
using it to grow fish (food) as well as watering your
garden. And, you won't have to spend money buying
fertilizers because your plants are getting the nutrients
they need via the water.

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Now, if you have researched Aquaponics, you know

there are some who are not excited about where the
nitrate-rich water is dumped after it has circulated through
the plant system.

Some environmental agencies feel the nitrates are not

healthy for the ground or sewer system.

However, you can eliminate the debate by using the

water to feed your soil-based plants. It is truly an answer
to the problem and gives everybody the chance to get the
best of both worlds.

Fortifying Your System

Aquaponics systems are not bullet proof. There are

going to be a few things you want to do to protect your
system from some of the most common hazards.

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The following are some of the issues that could arise

and threaten to ruin all of your hard work.

 Fish become ill or contract a disease

 Power outage
 Leaks in your tank or tank breaks
 Ammonia or nitrate levels become too high

Sick Fish

Fish are prone to certain diseases that can kill them

fairly quickly if not treated right away.

One of the most common illnesses to affect fish is

something known as ICH (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis)
pronounced ick. It is a protoazoan disease that tends to be
very common in freshwater aquariums.

This could be because of the close contact with other

fish or stress that many aquarium dwelling fish experience.

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ICH can be identified by the following characteristics;

 Fish rubbing against the side of tank

 Loss of appetite

 White spots, they may start out tiny but clusters

can make them look bigger

 Fish appear agitated

If the ICH is not treated, the fish can become so

stressed they actually die. Respiratory problems and
severe agitation are dangerous to the fish. Killing the ICH
is tricky. It has to be killed when the ICH has left the fish
and is getting ready to reproduce and attach to other fish
in the tank. It cannot be killed when it is on the fish.
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To treat the water, heat it up to about 77 degrees. If

the water is cold, it will take longer to treat the disease.
You can buy various treatments for the ICH. However,
adding salt to the water is the best option if you eat the

Before you add salt, disconnect the water to your

growing system. Your plants will not appreciate the
saltwater. While you are increasing the temperature of the
water, you also need to increase the aeration to keep up
with the warmer water and oxygen levels.

It isn't helpful to move an infected fish to a new tank.

That tank would just become infected. Your best bet is to
treat the entire tank and the fish in it. It won't hurt the
unaffected fish.

As with anything, prevention is your best treatment.

You can keep ICH from being introduced into your tank by
following these practices.

 Quarantine all new fish for 21 days

 Only buy fish from a reputable dealer

 Avoid having fish shipped if at all possible to

eliminate any additional stress
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 Watch any new fish very closely

 Avoid adding new fish to a tank with existing,

older fish

 Keep the temperature in the tank at the same


 Monitor ammonia and pH levels

 Feed fish appropriate food

Power Outages

Power outages are probably the most common problem

for your Aquaponics system. Without electricity, your air
pump will not operate. This means the water in the tank
will not have proper aeration and you are at risk for
Dissolved Oxygen levels dropping and becoming a serious

As if that wasn't a big enough concern, the decreased

DO levels will result in increased ammonia levels if the
outage is extensive. If your Aquaponics system includes a
sump pump that moves the water from your grow beds to

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the tank, it will no longer be functioning as well. This

means the water from the grow beds is not pushed into
the tank and the water levels will decrease along with the
oxygen levels. It is also going to leave you a big mess on
the floor.

As the outage persists and the DO levels drop, the fish

will become stressed. If it continues, the fish will die. Now,
the DO level sill depend on the number of fish you have in
the tank and the actual size of your tank. The less fish you
have and the bigger tank you have will give you a longer
period of time before the oxygen levels reach a critical

Often times, the power goes out in the middle of the

night or while you are at work. Your system could be down
for hours with you completely unaware. You can create a
backup power system to prevent any serious damage to
your garden.

You will need the following;

 12 volt air pump

 12 volt deep cycle car battery-- a normal one will

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 Relay that will switch to back up power

 Battery charger

 12 volt water pump

Investing in a backup power system can save you a

great deal of frustration and stress. You won't have to
worry about losing all of your hard work to a power outage
that is out of your control.

Another option you should consider adding is an alarm

that sounds when the power is lost to your system. This
will alert you that you need to switch to back up power.
Having a generator on standby to keep your pump running
could also prevent any loss.

Leaks in the Tank

A leak or a complete fracture in the tank is going to

create a huge mess. You will lose all of the water in the
tank, whether it happens slowly or in one giant burst. A

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burst pipe or a blocked pipe can also wreak havoc.

You can add a float switch to your system to help

prevent it from running dry should there be a leak or
busted pipe. When the tank reaches a certain level, the
pump will be shut off.

Your best bet is to use your float switch with an alarm

that lets you know when the water level has dropped too
low. Water levels that are low are going to decrease the
DO levels in the tank.

High Ammonia Levels

When there is too much ammonia in the water or the

nitrate levels are too high, your fish are going to suffer. It
damages their gills and could actually kill them.

You can avoid toxicity by preventing the levels from

crossing into the danger zone. Toxicity isn't something that
happens in an instant or even overnight. It happens over a
period of days, which is why you need to closely monitor
your system.

If you haven't tested the water, but suspect something

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is off balance, stop feeding and start testing. You can

prevent your fish being harmed by quickly fixing the
problem. Adding more fresh water is all that is typically
necessary to balance out the levels.

Using Smart Valves and the

Autopot Systems

Jim Fah created something that is known as the Smart

Valve. The valve is part of the Autopot system that
essentially regulates the amount of water to give plants a
very precise amount of water.

Plants are placed into a tray. The smart valve fills the
tray with a preset amount of water. Once all of the water
is soaked up by the plants, the smart valve will allow more
water into the tray.

This is a great idea to help plants that need more

water, like a tomato plant in bloom, to get the water they

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need while preventing another plant from getting too much

water. Jim Fah has taken his idea and perfected it.
In his aquaponics setup, he has 1500 plants in
Autopots. The plants are fed with water from a fish tank.
In the winter, they receive 1000 liters of water and in the
summer, they require 2000 liters. Fish are grown in the
tank, but because the water is constantly being circulated,
there is no risk of ammonia concentrates becoming too
much. Since he doesn't have to worry about ammonia, he
doesn't need to mess around with bio filters, grow beds
and regular water tests.

The plants are each

fed the right amount of
water filled with nutrients
with the help of a pump
as it moves the water
from the tank into the
Autopot units. Fah
focuses his attention on
his plants and the fish
that he grows are the
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extra perk versus many aquaponics users who focus on

the fish and the output of the plants.

While some folks will argue the Autopot system isn't

truly hydroponics, it is still an effective way to grow plants
and fish, which is what truly matters, right?

Growing Duckweed

Duckweed is another perk to having your own

Aquaponics system. It is pretty easy to grow and can be
used in a number of ways. One of the main reasons you
will want to have duckweed is its ability to remove
nutrients from the water. If you are looking for a natural
way to control ammonia levels in your water, duckweed is
the answer.

Duckweed has an extremely fast growth rate. In fact,

it can double in mass about every 24 to 48 hours if the
conditions are just right. This can produce enough feed for
chickens and fish for most of the year.

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Duckweed has about 35 to 40 percent more protein

than soybeans and a higher concentration of essential
amino acids like methionine and lysine than the majority
of plant proteins. This is very good news for your backyard
chickens and their egg production. The trace minerals also
make it a very good additive to any animal feed.
Duckweed is too easy, inexpensive and valuable NOT to
grow in your prepper garden.

It is incredibly easy to grow and requires very little

work on your part. You will want to purchase your initial
supply at your local aquarium shop. You can grow it in any
open water vessel. A backyard pond, a fish tank or a large
tub will all work. You will want to place smaller vessels in
the shade to keep the water from becoming too hot.

It helps to recirculate the water from your fish tank.

This will save you the effort of scooping the water from
your tank as well as ensure the nutrient levels in your
duckweed container are level and ideal for growth.

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Your duckweed should

cover the entire water surface.
If the cover is too thin, you
risk algae blooming below it.
Too thick and it will self mulch.
Self-mulching will result in a
lower production level. If the
water is fast moving or if the
container is placed where it is exposed to high wind, you
will experience the same issue. Keeping a good cover will
also prevent the water from evaporating quickly. You can
add a few goldfish to your pond to help eliminate or at
least keep the mosquito population to a minimum.

Feeding the duckweed can be done with a variety of

organic materials. However, aquaponics is your best, free
source. The duckweed will thrive on the unionized
ammonia in the water of the aquaponics system. It prefers
trace elements of nutrients and not large doses.

Another aspect to proper duckweed growth is to make

sure the plant has enough nutrients. Duckweed that has
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long roots is not going to have the same protein level. You
will also run into this problem if you keep the same strain
of duckweed too long. Inbreeding will result in a lower
crude protein level.


Temperature plays a big role in the production levels

of duckweed. It can't be too hot or too cold. Temperatures
above 91 degrees Fahrenheit result in the plant dying off.
Optimal temperature range is between 64 and 75 degrees.
However, it can grow in temperatures as low as 42


The duckweed will grow in pH levels between 5 and 9,

but ideally, you want to aim for 6.5 to 7.5. This is actually
perfect, because this is the same level you want in your
aquaponics system.

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Now that you have your own aquaponics system, you

will not only have an endless food system but also it will
give you much healthier and cleaner products than what
you find in the supermarkets.

Moreover, in case of a disaster storing up, dried and

canned food is not only expensive but it also takes long
time to fill your stock.

An aquaponics system is a great plan for long-term

survival, as well. If something devastating happened
that can change our society forever, stockpiles will
eventually finish, no matter how much you stored.

Aquaponics gardening is something that will benefit

your family right away, and will also be crucial in the
event of a long-term food crisis.

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Growing your own organic fruits and vegetables, and

fish can save you a lot of money. Besides the fresh taste,
the best part is that they generate around five to ten times
more food per square foot than a traditional garden.

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