When do I need to add a particulate filter to my Aquaponics system?
The first question I would ask is,
Are you operating a Home media based system or a commercial system?
Home based Aquaponics systems are usually configured using media based grow beds. The grow beds are filled with ¾” / 19mm gravel or clay pebbles or similar.
Commercial style systems are operated with a different set of criteria which we can discuss in a later newsletter.
An external filter of some sort may be needed if you are intending to add or operate with,
Deep Water Troughs,
or, your Aquaponics system is
Overstocked with fish,
there is not enough media based grow beds.
Home based Aquaponics systems are almost always consist of a fish tank with media based grow beds as an integral part of the system.
If you run a domestic style AP system with enough grow beds attached, which, in my opinion is how a domestic system should be configured, then you do not need additional mechanical filtration.
More grow beds means more vegetables and a balanced system.
I have been running such systems now for close to five years, sold and installed hundreds of kits across Australia and now into the USA. My kits are highly successful. Clients enjoy a very high degree of satisfaction and enjoyment.
I am totally confident in what I say based on solid verifiable experience.
Aquaponics is very attractive because of the synergy between the fish and the plants. Aquaponics is a balanced ECO system. The relationship between the role that the fish play in the Aquaponics ECO system and role of the plants must therefore remain in balance and be complementary.
A well found Aquaponics system will be in balance, each element playing its part.
If you want to go outside that balance and push for more fish production and actually turn your AP system into a half baked Aquaculture system, then you need to start adding aquaculture like equipment such as moving bed filters, swirl filters and so on.
There are some that promote the addition of external filters. They are usually trying to push fish production way beyond what a home based AP system should attempt.
By going in the aquaculture direction, the beauty of the simplicity of a well balanced Aquaponics system is lost and it becomes ever more complicated to maintain and run.
This may be the deliberate choice of some operators of home systems.
If you want to have an aquaculture system, then go for it….have fun….knock yourself out, add a couple, or three filter systems.
There is an element amongst the Aquaponics Do-It-Yourself world that enjoy tinkering. For those people, build yourself at least one of every kind of filter you can think of and …enjoy. Tinker away till your heart is contented, but decide early what it is you are trying to achieve. If fish production is your main interest, then don’t kid yourself. Think of what you’re doing as an Aquaculture system and treat it as such.
Some home Aquaponics practitioners are heavily influenced by Aquaculture people and have a strong aquaculture bent. They have lost sight of the beautiful thing about home AP, and that is …it is an ECO system. It is NOT Aquaculture and it is NOT Hydroponics. It is Aquaponics.
The great majority of home system owners, especially those that have purchased a ready made premium kit are not interested in additional complications in running a system. They are very attracted to the beauty of the ECO system. It fits well into their idea/desire to move towards a greener more sustainable lifestyle.
Aquaponics systems operated using media based grow beds are a sheer delight. They require minimal effort to achieve amazing organic vegetable production and in time, wonderful, clean, chemical free fish.
Please take note….we are talking about HOME Aquaponics systems.
Please further take note, if we were to build a full blown Commercial system we would approach the design with a different set of parameters for a different set of reasons.