A well-managed and mature aquaponics water chemistry system will help you grow almost anything you have ever dreamt of growing. This is made possible by three factors and these are: the best pH range for your fish and plants, biochemical filter, and feeding fish with quality food.
The Best pH Range For Fish and Plants
In the above chart, the horizontal axis represents the pH, while the vertical one represents different essential elements. A thicker horizontal line represents how easy it is for a plant to take-up that specific element. For instance, consider the red horizontal line representing Iron. Iron, in the above case, is easier to absorb when its pH ranges from 4.0 to 6.0. However, absorption lowers once the pH goes past 6.3.
From the above chart, you will also see that the best spot would be between 6.0 and 7.5. This is where most elements’ lines are thicker. What this tells you is that if you could get your system’s pH to stay within this region, then your plants would be best suited to get, and absorb, all the elements they require to grow.
The key to maintaining a good aquaponics system is in creating a system that comprises pH levels where the fish, bacteria and plants are all benefiting. In most cases, fish and bacteria thrive in pH conditions that are between 7.0 and 8.0. To create levels where all involved elements can benefit, it is essential that you maintain your aquaponics system’s pH level is between 6.8 and 7.0. It is important that you acclimatize your plants to standard water pH and slowly adjust it as your system matures.
It is very important that you be very careful when attempting to raise or lower water pH. The secret to accomplishing this is doing it gradually. The shift needs to be no more than .2 a day. This way, your fish can handle the gradual change. Massive swings in pH will strain them and may eventually lead to the death of your fish.
Good thing is that there is a safer way to lower pH levels. You can do this by using a product known as AquaDown, and which is available at Amazon. The key is to avoid products containing citric acid as it would kill the entire system, and AquaDown, which is an Aquaponics Source product, is safe and reliable to achieve this. This product will also supplement your plants as it provides them phosphorous by lowering the level of pH in your system.
A natural option to raise the level of pH in your system is by adding crushed seashells, snail shells and eggshells. However, it is important that you first boil or bleach them before adding them into the system to kill all unwanted bacteria. For a synthetic approach to raising pH is by using AquaUp, which is also an Aquaponics Source product. aqua is packed with potassium carbonate and calcium, two essential elements that plants require and can be found on Amazon.
All aquaponics systems pack a bio-filter and which simply refers to the nitrating and nitrifying bacteria plus the red composting worms that live in the media bed of the system. These, plus poop from your fish, create the perfect mini-ecosystem within the system. This bio-filter is more or less like the motor that makes your car run. The motor utilizes the fuel poured into it, turning it into the energy required to power the automobile.
To establish a bio-filter, you will need to start by introducing some ammonia into your aquaponics system. You can accomplish this either by introducing some fish poop, which is a natural source of ammonia, or through a synthesized process known as cycling. However, the cycling process can only be complete if enough bacteria are introduced into the system to convert the ammonia into nitrite, and eventually to nitrate with no nitrite or ammonia levels reading in the system.
During the first stages of the aquaponics system, which is the initial three months, all you will be able to cultivate will be plants that require lesser nutrients like salads. As your bio-filter hits maturity, that’s in about six months, you then start cultivating heavier feeders like beans, cucumber or even tomatoes; however, what you cultivate will be determined by your system’s pH levels.
pH Levels and Their Effects On Your Aquaponics Set-up
The pH level of your aquaponics system will determine the strength and health of your produce. pH levels greatly affect how a plant takes up nutrients. Each element has a pH level on which the plant will comfortably absorb it. If your aquaponics system offers pH ranges where some elements cannot be absorbed by your plants, then these plants will grow deficient in them.
Feeding Fish With High-Quality Food
What you give, is what you get. This virtue is true to a great extent and will apply in your aquaponics system; more so, with your fish. Feed your fish the best and highest quality food you are able to afford for the specific fish you rear. The aquaponics principle is, the healthier and happier your fish are, the better and tastier your produce will be. Feeding your fish with quality feeds will go a long way in promoting healthy production from your system in the long run.
By feeding your fish right, you will rarely need to supplement your system; that is if your system has a 12 inch deep grow bed just as it is recommended by the Easy DIY Aquaponics step-by-step guide. As a matter of fact, did you know that you could end up harming your system by opting to add supplements? This is because an aquaponics system is a natural ecosystem on its own. Once your system has matured, all you have to do is feed your fish, manage your system’s water temperature, pH and oxygen levels and just letting it be.