Last Updated on January 23, 2022 by Fabiola L.
When starting an aquaponics system, you must consider which growing media you want to use. This is why we have written this article about using grow stones vs. hydroton as your growing media.
A growing media is a material that your plants sit in. The typical growing media in nature is soil! Soil provides everything the plant needs to thrive and also holds moisture for the plant to use later.
However, in aquaponics, using soil is not always the optimum choice. One reason for this is because soil particles can easily drain out of bed and enter your fish tank. These particles will make your tank dirty.
This is why people have invented different kinds of growing mediums that are better suited for aquaponics. Continue reading this article to understand more about using growstones vs. hydroton as your growing media.
Hopefully, after reading, you will have a clear idea about which one is your preference.
What Are Grow Stones?
A growstone is a manmade product that was created to make growing plants in hydroponics and aquaponics easier. It is considered one of the most environmentally friendly products. This is because it is made from recycled glass!
The recycled glass is shaped into tiny pebbles that mimic gravel in nature. Inside of these stones are tiny holes which allow for nutrients and water to be stored. It is a very porous material.
Another benefit of using growstones is that they can be reused over and over. Since it is made from recycled glass, it will not biodegrade. As long as you keep the right conditions, you could use these stones for your whole life.
Of course, there will be times that you have to rinse and clean the growstones in order to use them again. It is not a difficult task as materials should easily wash off of the glass stones.
Any debris from your fish tank will get trapped into the small pores of the growstones. As this builds up, be sure to rinse the stones out to maintain a healthy environment for your plants.
Another benefit of growstones is that they are a very lightweight material. This means that your grow beds do not need to be extremely high load-bearing structures.
Often in aquaponics, the grow beds are raised above the ground. A big problem aquaponics’ owners face is designing a grow bed structure that can handle the weight of the growing medium, plants, and water.
Choosing a media like growstones is an excellent solution to this problem. Since it’s so lightweight, you have a lot more flexibility as to what structures you can build.
Another lightweight option is hydroton clay pebbles, also known as hydrostones.
What Are Hydrostones?
Hydrostones are a product designed in Germany as a convenient solution for aquaponics and hydroponics systems. Basically, hydrostones are clay balls with pores inside of them.
These small porous clay balls act as an excellent sponge for your plants. Water enters into these holes and is stored for later use.
As you may know, clay can only hold a certain amount of water. So the nice thing is that when those holes get saturated, the rest of the water will drain out. This will help gardeners avoid overwatering.
The unique shape of the hydroton allows for ample airflow in your grow beds. This is important for the health of the plants. Growing beds that do not have proper aeration will go anaerobic and unable to sustain life.
Another special benefit of hydroton is that it is created to have a neutral PH. This means that its PH cannot be altered by anything from the outside. When you do not have to worry about the growing medium PH, you can focus specifically on the PH of your fish tank water.
This gives owners much more control and stability for their system. Another thing is that the actual growing medium will not affect the PH of your fish tank water. Fish also require certain PH levels in order to have a healthy environment.
One common mistake aquaponics owners make is using a growing medium that alters the PH levels of their tank water too much. This results in unhealthy conditions for your fish and perhaps even death. In those situations, you have to restart your whole system, which requires lots of time and work.
So, using hydrotons or growstones could be a great way to avoid this issue altogether.
Learn more about How Many Bio Balls Per Gallon Of Water? Your Answers Here!
Other Considerations About Hydroponic Rocks
We have now outlined the benefits of using growstones vs. hydroton. But what about the potential negative sides of using these growing mediums?
There are some important things to keep in mind if you do choose to go with these types of growing mediums. According to Oaksterdam University, “While there are many advantages to using a medium with low water holding capacity, under-watering can severely affect and/or kill your crop.”
This means that you have to be sure to set up adequate water cycles. If you choose to use growstones and hydroton instead of regular soil, you may need to adjust your cycles to water more frequently. Make sure to keep this in mind.
Some people may even choose to do a blend of hydroton, growstones, and soil. It is important to pay attention to your plants to see which conditions they respond best in.
Your growing medium choice also depends on which types of plants you want to grow. Certain vegetables and herbs like rosemary require high drainage. In this case, a growing medium like hydroton could be an excellent option.
There is so much freedom in designing an aquaponics system that works best for your needs. Be sure to consider all factors before making your purchases. When you are ready, you can purchase hydroton or growstones from your local plant shop or online.
Have fun, and feel free to experiment with growstones vs. hydroton! They are both excellent choices and have their unique benefits. Let us know about your experience here in the comment section.
As always, feel free to ask questions below, and good luck!