Last Updated on August 26, 2022 by Guillermina
An aquaponics system without electricity is easy to build. I’ve built many in my life. Read this article to learn my unique tips on how to do this.
Aquaponics is the practice of combining aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (soilless plant growing) and often requires a lot of electricity use. However, it is completely possible to run an aquaponics system without electricity.
Electricity in an aquaponics system keeps the air and water pumps running, to provide oxygen and maintain water circulation for fish and plant health. Plants need water circulation to get nutrients and oxygen to survive, and fish need circulation for water filtration.
The main use for electricity in an aquaponics system is for pumping nutrient rich water from the fish tank into the grow beds where the plants are planted. This would be the main concern when you are trying to run an aquaponics system without electricity. Read the following guidelines on how to run an aquaponics system without electricity.
Steps To Constructing An Aquaponics System Without Electricity
Design your System
The first step will be to design the kind of electricity free aquaponics system that you want. It is important that you ensure that the system that you design addresses the two most important issues in aquaponics. These are sufficient water circulation and adequate air flow.
Alternative Sources of Power for your System
You can easily get a pump that uses alternative sources of power, such as solar panels, water stream or wind energy. You can use one, or a combination of these methods to power up your water pump, also ensuring that you have a suitable battery to store enough energy for when you need reserves, such as when the system fails or there is insufficient power from the sun in the case of solar energy.
Solar panels are a good investment if you are considering running an aquaponics system without electricity. Even though the initial capital investment may be high, they can provide you with up to 25 years of free energy. Many areas in India and others in Asia are currently using solar panels to generate power for their households in areas where they are mostly without electricity, or where is it unreliable. This is an you definitely want to consider.
To maintain sufficient air supply, you must ensure that there is constant water flow as this will keep your system aerated. It may also be wise to use fish such as carp, tilapia or catfish. These fish are extremely hardy and can tolerate low dissolved oxygen levels and high levels of ammonia in the water.
Choose your Fish
Your choice of fish in an aquaponics will depend on the purpose that you are rearing the fish for, that is food fish or fish for aesthetics. Since you will be running your aquaponics system without electricity, it it possible that your rate of water exchange will be quite low. This may mean that your water filtration efficiency will be low. To solve this problem, ensure that your system has good solids removal so that these don’t dissolve in the water and cause harm to your fish. It may also be wise to use fish that are tolerant to poor water quality, such as carp and catfish.
The type and size of fish tank that you will depend on factors such as type of fish you farm, as well as the size you plan to rear your fish to. Some fish prefer light tanks and some may prefer dark tanks covered with shade cloth. Determine the preference of your fish of choice, to purchase the right tank or the right materials to build your own tank.
Prepare the media using materials such as plastic, fiberglass, plastic barrels, timber, etc., that will be able to hold the weight of the media and water without falling apart. This media is where your plants are going to attach their roots and grow, and it will also act as a biofilter for you water. You might also want to consider adding red wrigglers to help with breaking down any solid waste. You should position your media bed so that it is above the fish tank. This will enable you to trickle the water slowly into the fish tank, helping with aeration.
Recirculate the Water in your System
Once you have connected all your components in a way that water can flow via gravity to your fish tank, and your alternative power pump pumps the water from the fish tank back to the media bed, allowing the water to cycle through the system. You should cycle the water through the system for a while before incorporating your fish or plants. This will enable the right bacteria to develop in the system, ensuring efficient water filtration.
How To Maintain Your Aquaponics System
After your system has matured, you can then add your fish and plants of choice (peppers, Swiss chard, kale, lettuce, roses, etc.). Feed your fish at the right proportions to ensure that they produce enough waste to feed your plants but not too much that it harms them.
Maintain the water quality in your system by checking parameters such as pH, dissolved oxygen, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate and temperature daily. These are important parameters for your fish and should be maintained at the right concentrations or you may wake up to a tank full of dead fish, which you do not want.
There you have it, simple practical advice on how to construct and run your own aquaponics system without electricity. The setup is similar to conventional aquaponics set ups but requires alternative energy pumps to circulate the water and aerate your systems. This can be done with no use of electricity. If you would like to just lower your electricity consumption in your preexisting aquaponics system. You may want to consider using intermittent water and air pump or aerating your water only during the day as oxygen demand will be less during the night when temperatures drop. Stocking fish that are best suited to your climate is also a great idea as it will reduce the risk of fish kills or worrying about heating or chilling the water when temperatures become unfavorable. This could be a great start to you running your own aquaponics system without electricity.
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Does aquaponics use a lot of electricity?
Aquaponics generally uses a lot of electricity to pump water and aerate the system. This can however be done using pumps powered by alternative sources such as solar, wind or water streams, eliminating the need for electricity altogether.
How many hours of light do you need for aquaponics?
Plants in an aquaponics system generally need 12-18 hours of light per day to photosynthesize so they can grow and produce biomass.
What type of lighting is needed for aquaponics?
There are different types of light that can be used for aquaponics. However the plants require full spectrum daylight to grow and reproduce efficiently.
An aquaculture specialist and freelance writer. Passionate about anything sustainable living, such as growing your own food, and if you can do it in conjunction with fish farming, even better! I currently work as an aquaculture researcher where I can expand and share my knowledge and skills on aquaculture, crop farming and adding value to wastewater by using it to grow food products. I enjoy reading and learning as much as possible, and writing is another avenue for me to share the knowledge I gain with others. I want my writing to inspire people to try their hand at gardening, whether indoors or outdoors. You can even start by keeping a few houseplants indoors to help you gain a bit of confidence if you need to.