What is Aquaponics
Aquaponics is a system for farming fish and plants together in a mutually beneficial cycle. In a nutshell, aquaponics is the combination of the culture of fish and plants that requires minimal land and water resources. The name Aquaponics is derived from the two words aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is the artificial production of fish under controlled conditions while hydroponics is the soilless culture of plants. Unlike aquaculture and agriculture, aquaponics is eco-friendly, maximizes the available resources, with end products that are considered 100% organic and chemical-free, provided that the fish feed are of natural origins.
Fish produce wastes during its pre-harvest cycle comprising mainly of nitrates and ammonia. These by-products are toxic to fish if the concentrations in the water are excessive, but they are great fertilizer for the plants. As the plants absorb these nutrients, they purify the water, resulting in clean, waste free water to improve the growth environment of the fish.
We aim to develop unique aquaponics systems that are also suitable in tropical countries. Since the resources in the internet are mostly in temperate setting, it is difficult for aquaponic enthusiast in the tropics to transfer the knowledge to tropical settings. Do-it-yourself (DIY) aquaponics videos, blogs, and websites do not always provide the complete solution and most tropical hobbyists fail in their first aquaponic attempt.
The first prototype comprise of 6 ft3 growbed filled with Klaytons, four 8 ft long Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) pipes and 1000L fish tank. The water is pumped by a 2400 L/H submersible pump to the 200 L filter tank. From there it flows to the growbed and NFT pipes until it goes back to the fish tank.
A newly designed bell siphon is installed in the grow bed to facilitate the flood and drain system. The system is planted with tomatoes, pechay and cucumbers. Red tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus x. Oreochromis niloticus) in the tank are growing in the absence of any aerators since there is adequate water turbulence from the flow to provide ample oxygenation. Overall, this new prototype provides optimum growth conditions for both the fish and the plants.
One of the important components of any aquaponics is the growing media. For this system, we have developed a new light weight media we call Klayton. For the large size, Klayton weighs an average of 5 grams with a diameter of 16mm. It is considered as an excellent media compared to the usual gravel and river stones because it is light and not hard for your hands. It is also pH neutral with high water storage capacity. Klayton has holes in it designed for efficient support and aeration of the roots. Its rough surface area provides better water filtration and more space for nitrifying bacteria to attach, enabling faster conversion of ammonia from fish waste into nitrates.
Most commercially available clay balls are known as hydrotons, LECA, and expanded clay. They are quarried and mass produced in China. Meanwhile, AquaOrganika’s Klayton came from the highlands of the Philippines. The source of clay is 50 kilometres away from the nearest city and any point source of pollution. Since the main source of livelihood in the villages is pottery, it is natural for them to manufacture manually, without the need for machineries or added chemicals.
The Klayton comes in three sizes—Klayton Max, Klayton Medium and Mini Klayton. The graph below shows the weight distribution of Klayton Large showing a fairly uniform distribution within the 5± 1.5 grams. While machine made products like LECA will have uniform dimensions, hand-made Klayton show a larger variation. But for the plants and fish, this variation does not matter.
We wish to help the villagers another opportunity to diversify their clay industry through the production of Klayton using traditional methods, resulting in more income and job opportunities to the hard to reach upland villages where the natural clays are found.
Klayton is available in three sizes:
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