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Different Grow Methods of an Aquaponic System

Lettuce Plant in a deep water culture setup in an Aquaponics System

Different Grow Methods of an Aquaponic System

Different Grow Methods of an Aquaponic System

October 07, 2021

When it comes to designing your setup, there are a few options to choose from for the hydroponic component. Let’s talk about the different grow methods of an aquaponic system, so you know exactly what you’ll be getting yourself into.

Ebb & Flow (Flood & Drain)

In this grow bed, the plants are planted in grow media of your choice in a structure that is usually 2m2 in size and 20-30cm deep. This method aids in biofiltration as well as the degassing process of the cycle. (If this is gibberish to you then make sure you read our blog post “How Does Aquaponics Work?” before we continue.)

The grow media creates a porous environment which is then populated by nitrifying bacteria. These bacteria further assist and support the biofilter by contributing to the nitrification process.

Ebb & Flow systems are flooded and then drained using a bell syphon mechanism or a pump with a timer. The plants will absorb what they require for optimal growth while the beds are flooded. This method also agitates and exposes the water to air which assists in the degassing process.

Aquaponic Grow Bed will plants and a bell syphon.

Deep Water Culture

The most popular method is the raft systems used in tanks, ponds or waterways. These rafts, usually made of Styrofoam, have spaced out holes that hold growing pots where the plants are planted. The rafts float on top of the body of water while the plant roots are suspended in the water below to absorb what they require for optimal growth.

If you want to use a DWC as your growing method, the water needs to be aerated throughout. This is necessary to supply the plant roots with the oxygen required to develop a fully functional rooting system as well as aid in the degassing process.

Aquaponics Tunnel showing a deep water culture setup

Nutrient Film Technique

This technique recirculates the nutrient-rich water past the plant roots in a waterproof channel. This system provides a vast amount of dissolved nutrients, water and oxygen for optimal plant health. However, this method heavily relies on water constantly being pumped through the channels, therefore it’s important to have a reliable power backup should you chose to use this method for growing your plants.

Row of Lettuce in a Nutrient Film Technique Grow method in an Aquaponics System

Verticals

It’s all in the name with this method of growing, verticals are basically nutrient film technique systems that are set up well…vertically. With a requirement of only 1/2 a square meter, these systems are perfectly suitable for apartment and home living.

Deep Water Culture and Vertical Aquaponic System Design

Wicking Beds

A wicking system differs slightly from the other growing methods. This setup makes use of a water reservoir that contains nutrient-dense water. This water is then covered with gravel. The plants are planted in potting soil on top of the gravel. The water is then wicked up through capillary action, from the reservoir, providing the plants with what they need.

It is important to note that the water from a wicking bed cannot be returned back to the fish tank after use. Therefore, most aquaponic farmers prefer to use this method in conjunction with other growing methods

Image of plants in a Wicking Bed setup of Aquaponics

Your plants and their health should be one of your biggest concerns, therefore, it’s important to house them correctly. There are many different grow methods of an aquaponic system, giving you the freedom and flexibility to create a system that suits your wants and needs.

We understand that choice can sometimes be overwhelming so we’re always ready to lend a helping hand. Book a consultation with us and we can plan your dream system together.