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Categorized | Hydroponics Growing Tips

5 Easy Ways to Make Indoor Hydroponic Garden for Fish Tanks

Image credit: Dennis Brown

Image credit: Dennis Brown

Making an indoor hydroponic garden for fish tanks has a lot of eco-friendly advantages. In a time where global warming becomes such a coherence issue of the human and the nature’s coexistence, the urban people started to think of lots of ways to live in an earth-friendly lifestyle. This earth-friendly lifestyle introduces the people to live as an environmentally conscious pilgrim. One of the most common eco-friendly acts that the people like to do, especially the metropolis people are making the hydroponic garden. Despite the name “garden”, hydroponic garden is selected by the urban society to apply their gardening hobby without the need of the soil. You can make a hydroponic garden both indoors and outdoors.

Introduction To Growing a Hydroponic Garden

 
Hydroponic plants are the kind of way to planting the plants without the soil, The plants only needs water, the seed, and the amount of sunlight so that the plant can be grown. In this way, hydroponic garden is the best way for the people to garden when they don’t even have a land to plant it.

Not to mention, by this way, they can also preserve more energy to the earth, such as because of the “no soil” policy, they can limit their fertilizer use in the garden, or by planting more crop, they also make more oxygen to the environment as the crops produced it. Not only that, by having your own personal garden, you can keep your food safety personally without any kinds of chemical interference that usually found in the market nowadays.

Now, there’s another unique way to elevate your gardening hobby, by connecting your hydroponic garden to your fish tanks. Modern terms of this action is usually called Aquaponics. Aquaponics is a new term when aquaculture is mixed with hydroponics.

By making a hydroponic garden for your fish tanks, you’re not only getting to preserve more energy, but you’re also getting most of the protein that’s produced by those two elements; fishes and the plants. So, having them in your home, is just like killing two birds with one stone.

The principle of having hydroponic garden for a fish tank is that the full sustainable cycle system. It goes by having feed the fish, then the fish will excrete ammonia from the decomposing food that it ate. The ammonia is toxic to the fish, but thanks to the resident bacteria in the tanks, Nitrosomonas sp. it can eat the ammonia and turn it into the nitrites. Another resident bacteria Nitrobacter sp. eats the nitrites and turn it into the nitrate.

Finally nitrate can be used as the nutrients for the plants and for the fish itself. By this cycle, we ought to know that it provided a no waste policy, since the cycle of the system conserving more energy without any substance, especially the chemical ones, and considered as polyculture by producing the proteins (the fish) and the plants.

The no waste policy contains on how the cycle produce is not going to waste. From the fish excretion, the bacteria converting the fish’s waste, the water that keeps on re-circulating the system, and the plants that can filter good water for the fish’s life in the tanks. In the big run, the food safety can be guaranteed since this method requires nothing chemical.

Not only that, it is a good way to conserving energy since everything in the cycle can use one another and also it can be a solution in a poor soil quality land to grossing independently their own crop and fish. It also can be food empowered for the people since they can “feed themselves” without any kinds of land boundaries from the society and the government.

5 Basic Ways to Make Indoor Hydroponic Garden for Fish Tanks

 
A hydroponic garden that is connected by the fish tanks. A hydroponic garden can be used either outdoors or indoors, depending on your land and your needs. Usually, a hydroponic garden that is used outdoor needs a bigger land and more cohesive system to be working systematically. For those of you, who are dying to try it, I suggest you to try having them indoor first.

This is especially helpful for new beginners. Once you get around how to manage one, there is a way to expand your hydroponic-fish tanks and garden plans to a bigger scale doing it outdoors. Here are 5 easy ways to make an indoor hydroponic garden for your fish tanks that you can done at your own home.

First Step – Knowing Your System

 
The first rule of making the garden is knowing what kind of system your hydroponic garden for fish tanks can be used for. That can be achieved by knowing how big is your fish tanks, whether it’s a small, medium, or large fish tank. Then, you should determine what kind of system you will use on making it, whether it’s media-based grow beds, growing power system, raft system, nutrient film technique, towers, or vertiGro. Usually, most homemade hydroponic garden newbies will choose the media-based grow beds, whilst some others think bigger, and decide on a large scale hydroponic garden.

The media-based grow beds that you can choose are gravel, hydroton, lava rock, packing foam, sponges, perilite or vermiculite. Media grow beds is the most common way to making the garden for their easy to find component and they’re easy to build. You can also grow more than one plant in your system. However, the media grow beds need to be clean occasionally, and it’s recommended to use worms, since grow beds stand the chance of build-up anaerobic zones. You can use worms in the media beds to breakdown the solids and reduce the anaerobic zones.

Step 2 – The Fish Thing

 
Fishes are one of the basic ingredients for the hydroponic garden for fish tanks other than the bacteria and the plants. Hereby, you need to know what kind of fishes that you can choose to have on your aquarium, and also what kind of plants you can chose to grow in your garden. The fishes that you can have in your garden are aquarium fish, tilapia, yellow perch, trout, catfish, bass, bluegill, carp, koi, goldfish, and freshwater prawns.

Having fishes in your tanks mean that you need to create their friendly environment, such as keeping the pH of the fish tank, which is between the pH of 6-8. Ammonia and nitrites are extremely toxic to fish, but the nitrates are safe for fish and great for plants. Fish also needs oxygen, that’s why you need to have the oxygen tank near the fish tank, since they literally can die in 30 minutes without any oxygen in the environment.

You also need to look out for the temperature, since the fish can’t regulate their body temperature, they are dependent on the water temperature for their body temperature. In the end, a correct temperature will maximize the growth rate for the fishes. Feed the fish 2-3 times a day but try not to overfeed them so they will not deteriorate the tanks.

Fish feeds can be commercial fish feeds or plant based protein such as corn meal, soy meal, and wheat meal. Commercial fish feeds usually contain protein, carbohydrates and vitamins. As much as the plants need sunlight, you need to give some shades in the fish tanks so that it will not hurt the fishes.

Step 3 – Something About the Bacteria

 
As mentioned in the beginning, bacteria played a significant role on managing the system to keep going. There are two types of bacteria once the hydroponic garden for fish tank is establish, they are Nitrosomonas sp. and Nitrobacter sp. Nitrosomonas sp. bacteria eats ammonia that produces from the decomposed food and waste product of the fish.

Nitrosomonas sp. produces nitrites from the ammonia. Similar to ammonia, nitrites are also toxic to the fish and plants. Fortunately, there’s another bacteria lives in the cycle, and that is Nitrobacter sp., which can eat the nitrites and convert them into the nitrates. Nitrates are extremely useful for the plants and the fish. Bacteria usually lives in a proper pH of 7-8.

Before connecting the tanks to the hydroponic garden, you need to start the nitrification process. The nitrification process starts when the ammonia occurres on the tanks, thanks to the waste from the fish. Ammonia usually occurs in the tanks for approximately 10 days. After that, the nitrite levels rise and ammonia levels fall.

In another 10 days, nitrate levels rise whilst the nitrite levels fall. It took about 20-30 days total to stabilize the system. The nitrification process can be done with or without the fish. When you run the fish cycle in the nitrification process, you need to use the chlorine and chloramines-free water in the tank for a few days. You need to add fish at 20% of stocking density.

Then, you need to keep the fish food to a minimum for the first 10 days. All the time, the water quality and the fish behavior need to be monitored. Finally you can add 20% more fish every 4-6 weeks. Meanwhile, when you use a fishless cycle in the nitrification process, you can use a commercial ammonia tablets and bacterial supplement. You can also use a worm tea from worm casting, use stream water, a filter pad, and a feeder goldfish.

Step – 4 – The Greenery Act of Plants

 
You can plant many kinds of plants from the vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers. The vegetables you can plant are lettuce, beans, squash, zucchini, broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, peas, and spinach. The herbs you can plant are basil, thyme, cilantro, sage, lemongrass, wheatgrass, oregano, and parsley. The fruits you can plant are strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, and tomatoes, whilst you can plant any kinds of flowers in your hydroponic garden.

By connecting the fish tank to the hydroponic garden, the plants will receive the proper amount of nutrients for them to grow. Not only that, the warm water from the tanks are used to bathe the roots so the water intake for the plant is always provided in the system.

Since the garden in not in need of soil, the plants are free from the soil-borne disease. The nutrients for the plants are influenced by the density population of the fish in the tanks, the size of the fish, the water temperature, the amount of uneaten fish feed in the water, the bacteria availability, and the water flow rate.

Step 5 – Maintaining the System

 
Once the system is going, you need to maintain the system by monitoring the water quality, the fish health, and ultimately the plant’s growth. You also need to clean the tools, such as the filter screens, the water pump, tubing, and grow bed media. Once in a while, check the plant’s health, give a good trim if needed, and harvest it. Don’t forget to always look out for the parasites in the system, such as the bugs in the plants.

If you use gravel as your media, you need to clean them nicely, so they will not deteriorate your water. Use vitamin C and an air pump to bubble out the chlorine and chloramines from the tap water. Don’t change more than 1/3 of water at a time, because it will destroy good bacteria in the system.

Never use cleaning products, pesticides, algaecides, and fertilizers in fish tanks or grow beds. Finally, always provide a backup power available for pumps and aerators.

Thus, a new way to conserving more energy for the urban and hip people can be done. It is efficiently rewarding since you’re not only saving yourself and your family by growing your food indoors in your home, but you’re also saving the world as the earth itself, by conserving more energy.

Lastly for those of you with kids, you need to know that, by planting more crops, you’re also planting good social conduct in your children as everything that you teach is your own heritage to your very own dearly heir.

In the end, you finally can grasp what you plant. By this time, you will harvest the plants and ultimately get a good fresh of fish on your plate. So, who says you need an acres of yard to start graveling those soils to plant a crop? Now, you can build your own homemade indoor hydroponic garden for your fish tanks, and vice versa.

Voila, happy gardening and spread the info, earthlings!

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