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Aquaponics

 

Aquaponics combines Aquaculture and Hydroponics to very efficiently grow fish and plants. Aquaponics are growing in popularity, particularly with hobbyists, and with good reason- fresh fish and vegetables grown in your backyard is a great way to access fresh vegetables and herbs be self sufficient.
Before stocking your aquaponic system, it is important to fill and run the tank to ensure that there are no leaks and the syphons work, etc. Once this is done, run the system for at least a week with all the grow media installed and pumps running, etc. This is called 'cycling' and allows the system to establish bacteria and the water parameters to settle.
If you have access to water test kits, test your pH, Ammonia, hardness and Temperature morning and night. Log the results for a week to establish a baseline trend in your water quality and to assess whether further treatment is necessary and when fish can be safely stocked.
 
 
 

Feeding

All species of fish sold by Ace Aquaculture and recommended for use in aquaponics are weaned onto pellets. These pellets are a complete diet specifically manufactured to meet the nutritional and growth requirements of the fish. No further supplemental food is necessary. Pellets are available in 1mm, 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, sizes and mostly in the floating type. It is important to feed fish the right size pellet, although keep in mind that a larger fish can eat a small pellet but a small fish can’t eat a large pellet.
When feeding your fish, a general rule is to feed as much as they can eat in 2-3 minutes. This amount will change as the fish grow and the water temperature changes. If after 3 minutes there is uneaten food in the tank, the fish have probably been fed too much and it is best to remove it before it pollutes the tank.
 
Husbandry and stocking rates
We recommend stocking your aquaponic system at no more than 1 fish per 20L/ water, assuming that you have adequate filtration to process the fish waste. Remember the plants are mostly absorbing Nitrates which is the end product of nitrification, so the wastes need to be processed by bacteria in a filter medium, whether it be a aquaculture filter or your grow bed.
Good general husbandry involves feeding your fish daily, observing their behavior, and testing the water if their behavior is abnormal. Fish going off their food is one of the best indicators that water quality is not optimum and necessitates further investigation.
To get the most from your fish in aquaponic systems, we do not recommend mixing species or fish of different ages together. Doing so will usually result in health or cannibalism problems and losses will occur.
Health
From time to time, fish will get sick. Health problems usually occur when the fish are stressed from poor water conditions, not ideal water temperature, aggressive behavior, poor diet, or sometimes it can be from their environment. Examples of such that we have seen include- toxins leaching out of grow bed media, using culture tanks that have previously being used for harsh chemicals, using old or 2nd hand plumbing and glues/ silicones. When constructing your system, it is best to always use food grade materials and media/ pumps that are meant for use with fish.
As a general rule however, once you become familiar with your setup and the fish you will be able to observe behavior that is conducive with sick or diseased fish. When this happens, drop us a email, give us a call or talk to someone who has experience with fish diseases. There is plenty of information available on the internet from aquarium based sites which will help you to identify the disease/ problem.
If the fish do get a disease that requires treatment with a chemical medication, it is important to note that all medications used to treat will in some way harm your plants. For this reason, it may be necessary for you to isolate the grow bed, or remove the fish to a separate tank with adequate filtration. 
We will never knowingly sell sick, diseased or un- healthy fish. If you suspect this to be the case, please contact us as soon as possible.
One issue that we have identified with some customers is regular 'salt bathing' utilizing a cage or pen setup. Whilst the use of salt and salt bathing, when done correctly, is a very effective treatment for many fish ailments, the use of a cage setup and the stresses involved with transferring the fish rapidly from one water body to another can be counter- productive and result in further health issues or losses. We do not recommend the practice of weekly preventative salt bathing using a cage. It may also be necessary to look at other issues if regular salt bathing has become necessary.