Understand how to do Aquaponics
Course Code: SGH15
Course Duration: 20 hours (minimum, self paced study, commonly 2 to 8 weeks, less or longer as you need)
What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics combines plant cultivation with aquaculture to produce edible plants (eg. vegetables, herbs, fruits) and animals (eg. fish, crayfish), from the same system. It can be a highly productive, environmentally friendly way of food production; whether for personal use or commercial farming. You can manage aquaponics on a tiny scale in as little as 1 square metre; through to a very large scale over any number of acres.
AQUAPONICS A MORE SUSTAINABLE SYSTEM FOR KEEPING FISH
In a normal fish pond or aquarium, the waste from fish is lost.
Waste which is excreted from fish will if untreated, pollute the water in the pond or fish tank. Normally that waste needs to be filtered out and the tank or pond periodically cleaned to dispose of any build up of toxins.
Aquaponics is a system that can partially or largely use animal wastes to grow useful plants - thus offsetting and using water impurities. In very simple terms, fish excrement can provide the nutrients to grow vegetables or other plants to grow from. After plants remove these chemicals from water, the water can be recycled back into the pond or tank for the fish to live in.
Aquaponics can be a great hobby, providing food for a family to harvest and eat, and bring fish into the home or backyard as either pets,. or a source of food.
There are lots of different ways of doing aquaponics, on a small or larger scale. This course helps you to understand the principles and practices and make good decisions about setting up a viable aquaponic system in at home.
This course has five lessons. Each lesson has a corresponding online self-assessment test.
Lesson 1 SCOPE AND NATURE OF AQUAPONICS
Lesson 2 THE AQUAPONICS SYSTEM
Lesson 3 GROWING FISH IN AQUAPONICS
Lesson 4 FISH SUITED TO AQUAPONICS
Lesson 5 GROWING PLANTS IN AQUAPONICS
More than Just Reading
Studying a course like this is more than just reading and answering questions.
You are guided through a variety of tasks that involve revisiting, reconsidering and applying different aspects of what you study in real world contexts. By doing that, you will be prompted to discover different applications for aquaponics, deepening and broadening your awareness and understanding of what is possible. Many of these tasks are not compulsory. They do build on the provided reading, and provide practical ways of enhancing your learning though. If you need advice with any of these tasks, we provide a help desk to assist you.
Examples of Suggested Tasks:
- How suitable is your tap water for keeping fish? Ideally, you should test the water for alkalinity each week. Hardness and chlorine levels can also be tested. If you don’t have a test kit you may need to purchase one to find out. Alternatively, you could contact a fish shop to see what they say about your water’s suitability.
- Besides feeding on plant wastes, fish will often need supplementary food in an aquaponics system. Consider what you would use to feed fish in an aquaponics system. Contact some fish shops or aquaria and see what products they have available and what they recommend.
- Let’s say you want to build your own aquaponics system. Think about what components you would need. Contact some local suppliers (e.g. landscape materials suppliers, builder’s suppliers, hydronics stores) to find out what types of containers or materials they have for fish tanks, grow beds and media. Try to work out how much such a system might cost. Use our help desk for advice from our experts if you need to.
- Assume you are going to have an aquaponics system which is protected from the local climate e.g. indoors, inside a shed, garage or greenhouse. Consider - Which fish species would you choose to grow? Would you choose more than one species? Find out if some species are incompatible with others. You may need to contact aquaria, fish shops, or search online.
- The descriptions presented here are a good means of identifying plant nutrient deficiencies, but actually seeing what they look like is also very helpful. Go online and take a look at some images of plants with nutrient deficiencies, and familiarise yourself with their appearance.
This course was developed by a team of experts - people who have a wealth of experience in aquaculture, hydroponics and aquaponics.
Our principal, John Mason, started teaching hydroponics for the Council of Adult Education, Melbourne, in 1975. He is author of Commercial Hydroponics (Kangaroo Press), and has had many articles published on both hydroponics and aquaponics.
Other key experts include Dr Lyn Morgan (PhD-in Hydroponics) an international aquaponics consultant based in New Zealand, along with many other animal, agriculture, aquaculture and horticulture experts noted on our staff information page.