The Different Grow Bed Designs In Aquaponics

The different aquaponics models start by having the kind of process you decide on, and also you have 3 to pick: the ranch container, energy tank and the third kind that utilizes a fish tank, grow bed and a pump. Which includes the 3rd kind comes the plenty of mixtures of water outflow, and as we may review in this post, the expand bed. There are 3 standard kinds of grow beds:

Raft System – the raft system is where the plants are placed on rafts, usually made of Styrofoam to make it float, and the roots are dangling in the water while the leaves and the rest of the plant is on the upper part of the raft to receive sunlight. This kind of system is being used by most commercial growers because it allows for a larger harvest of plants and fish.

This layout has its personal assortments however essentially the water bears a filter process prior to it gets to the grow beds. From the expand beds, it depletes in to a sump tank and then it is pumped back in to the fish tank

Media-filled Bed – The media-filled bed design does not use a raft to float the plants, instead it uses a medium that the plants’ roots attach to. This design is the simplest design because it does not use a filtration system. The media is what is responsible for filtering the water for both the plants and fish. Unlike the other two designs, the media-filled bed does not have constant water flowing-instead the grow beds are constantly flooded with water.

The great debate here is in the media being used. It can be any kind of gravel, perlite and other kinds of media. Because every type of media has its own advantages and disadvantages, there is no perfect medium.

Gravel is widely used as media, although some kinds of gravel contain minerals that are not good for the aquaponics system like calcium that over time will build up and clog your system. The only absolute rule in choosing your medium is that it should have never been in contact with a toxic chemical. If you are not sure where it came from, be sure to wash it thoroughly or else you risk contaminating your whole system.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) – NFT is where water rich in nutrients is pumped in gutters where it comes in contact with the plants’ roots. This water rich in nutrients is only a very thin film, hence the name. The plants in this design sit in plastic cups and are arranged in a way that their roots are able to absorb the nutrients that pass through the gutters.

NFT is the least popular of the three designs because of its limitations. Not all plants are suited for this design and because of the nutrients that flow along through the system, minerals and nutrients will, in the long run, clog up the system which is why larger pipes are used in this design.

Author Adele Salina is an aquaponics expert. For more great tips on an aquaponics designs, visit