AquaPonics is the merging of fish farming (Aquaculture) and soil-less plant farming (Hydroponics).
To establish a successful AquaPonics System, the following primary components are usually necessary to create a habitat where animal livestock can thrive resulting in healthy fish for market while at the same time the metabolism of the fish produce nitrogen rich waters for the plants.
- Tanks / Water – Large enough to contain sufficient quantities of livestock to match the nitrogen requirements for the plants. As a general estimate, ½ pound of fish per gallon of water is a range to provide a sense of the quantity of water in a Recirculating Aquaculture Tank in conjunction with hydroponics tanks.
- Pumps –Large quantities of water must be moved into and thru the Recirculating Aquaculture tanks to sustain the environment for the fish culture during their food consumption and respiration while at the same time moving the nitrogen rich water thru the soil-less plant tanks.
- Oxygen – For the stocking densities of successful AquaPonics Systems, oxygen must be added by pumping atmospheric air into the water with an air blower thru “air stones” in the tanks or “oxygen cones” which saturate the water with pure oxygen prior to the water being pumped into the tanks, or by oxygen stones which bubble pure oxygen up thru the livestock tanks. Usually the pure oxygen is brought to the Aquaponics site in a liquid ultra-cold form but can be generated on site.
- Bio-Filtration – Because of the stocking densities of fish metabolizing food, an ecosystem must be established for the breaking down of ammonia into Hydrogen and a less toxic Nitrite by naturally occurring bacteria. The nitrites will ultimately be broken down into an even less toxic nitrate by yet another naturally occurring bacteria that will thrive in the bio-system. This now nitrogen rich water is pumped past the roots of the soil-less horticulture environment.
- Solid Waste Removal – Solid Wastes are removed by screen filters, swirl separators or sedimentation.
- Ultra Violet Filtration – To reduce the likelihood of disease, the pumped water of an AquaPonics System can be passed thru an ultra violet light filter to disinfect the circulating water.
- Lighting – Depending on the type of wildlife being raised in an AquaPonics System, light can be critical to animal and plant health and maximum growth rate. If natural light is not employed, wavelength and duration of artificial light must be considered. The spectrum distribution of various artificial light sources can be compared in the June-July 2013 Issue 155 of “Home Power” magazine.(homepower.com)
- Temperature Control – To maximize plant and animal growth, the water temperature must be maintained at the levels desired by the species being grown. Heating can be done by combustion of natural gas or propane, or the direct conversion of electric energy to heat by resistance coils. However, the most efficient means to heat the waters of an AquaPonics System is not by creating heat, but by the movement of free heat from either the air source or water source, using a heat pump.
A heat pump also allows the removal of heat from the AquaPonics System when temperatures exceed ideal levels for plant and animal growth, which is not possible with traditional gas fired combustion systems. Air source heat pumps can provide the needed heat and cooling year-round, dependent upon outdoor temperatures. When air temperatures drop below 50°F, the traditional heat pump has a reduced capacity and efficiency. When air temperatures are routinely below the 50°F mark, a gas heat back- up to the air source heat pump is recommended. However, the most efficient heat pump system is the geothermal/water source heat pump which harvests heat from the solar energy stored in the ground or bodies of water. Heat pumps routinely deliver heating at 1/4th the cost of burning fossil fuels or electric resistance heating while at the same time offering the capability to cool system waters.
- In an AquaPonics System, controlling the temperature of the water and allowing the air temperatures in the greenhouse to vary with the outdoor temperature is more natural and far more efficient than holding the air temperature of the greenhouse constant to achieve the desired water temperature.
- In general, heat pumps are energy efficient. A heat pump is able to move far more energy than it uses. A heat pump uses a refrigeration cycle exactly like your refrigerator or air conditioner uses. Heat pumps are a proven safe, economical and trouble-free system with very low operating costs, long lifespan, and small environmental footprint.
- There are two types of heat pumps: (1) air source and (2) water source/geothermal.
- Applied to an AquaPonics System, a heat pump simply moves heat from the air (or water) and transfers it to the culture water.
For AquaPonics, either air source heat pumps or water source/geothermal heat pumps can be used. Both are energy-saving units. In AquaPonics, water temperature control is essential for both the fish and the plants. Your geographical location of the AquaPonics System is a major factor in determining if an air source or a geothermal water source heat pump is the best choice.
- While an air source heat pump is an excellent choice, the air source unit is dependent upon the outside air temperature remaining 50°F or above to maintain the desired water temperature. Air source units must have an outdoor air source, therefore the units are usually installed outdoors exposing the unit to ambient environmental conditions (rain, snow, air borne contaminants). Air source heat pumps can also be used to chill the water. Typical life span of an air source heat pump is 10-12 years.
- Geothermal/water source units are not dependent on outside air temperatures, but on the geothermal water source. A geothermal/water source heat pump is more efficient than the air source with a consistently higher C.O.P. (Coefficient of Performance) due to a more constant energy source temperature. Geothermal heat pumps can also be used to cool the water. Additionally, water itself has inherently better heat transfer characteristics than air. Geothermal units are not dependent on air flow and can be located entirely indoors. Typical life span of a geothermal water source heat pump is 12-20 years.
AquaCal® Heat Pumps (air source or geothermal/water source) are ideally suited for Aquaculture, Aquariums and AquaPonics Applications.
- AquaCal® is the largest heat pump manufacturer for pools and spas in the world and are made in
St. Petersburg, Florida USA. We are excited to join our heat pump expertise with the professionals of the Aquaculture, Aquarium and AquaPonics industries.
- AquaCal® Heat Pump water flow rates ideally match the requirements of AquaPonics Systems. After all, culture tanks are little more than “Swimming Pools for Fish”!
- The Titanium ThermoLink® heat exchangers are rugged and perfectly suited for fresh water as well as full strength salt water (up to 35,000 ppm of salt) in the culture and as the source water in a Water Source (Geothermal) Unit.
- AquaCal® Heat Pumps offer ease of operation, tight temperature controls (±1°F), and high unit efficiency.