•2 min read
The previous chapters focused on the importance of bacteria to ensure good growth of both plants and fish, on the key factors when building the different aquaponic units, and how to properly care for both fish and plants in a single aquaponic unit. This chapter summarizes the main principles and "rules of thumb" to provide a reference on the optimal fish-to-plant ratio, feeding regime and biofilter sizing.
The second section of this chapter lists all the important management phases from starting a unit to production management over an entire growing season. There is also an in-depth discussion regarding the management of fish and plants during the first three months of production. Finally, this chapter sets out practical daily, weekly and monthly checklists for managing a unit over a growing season, and what to do if problems arise.
The ten most important aspects of aquaponic unit management are:
Observe and monitor the system every day.
Ensure adequate aeration and water circulation with water pumps and air pumps.
Maintain good water quality: pH 6-7; DO > 5 mg/litre; TAN < 1 mg/litre; NO2-< 1 mg/litre; NO3- 5-150 mg/litre; temperature 18-30 °C.
Choose fish and plants according to seasonal climate.
Do not overcrowd the fish tanks (< 20 kg/1 000 litres).
Avoid overfeeding, and remove any uneaten food after 30 minutes.
Remove solid wastes, and keep tanks clean and shaded.
Balance the number of plants, fish and size of biofilter.
Stagger harvesting and restocking/replanting to maintain balance.
Do not let pathogens enter the system from people or animals, and do not contaminate produce with system water by letting system water wet the leaves.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2014, Christopher Somerville, Moti Cohen, Edoardo Pantanella, Austin Stankus and Alessandro Lovatelli, Small-scale aquaponic food production, http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4021e.pdf. Reproduced with permission.