There are many types of grow setups for your cannabis, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Besides outdoor growing, all of them have one common factor, removal of plant wastes and toxins means dumping your water or getting new soil for every new plant. There is an eco-friendly alternative, which can not only deliver big plants, but money in your pocket. Check out the video below to see it in action.
What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics is the combination of two concepts: aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is the creation and maintenance of an environment for aquatic creatures like fish, crayfish, snails, frogs, turtles, ect. Hydroponics is the growth of plants in a soilless medium, delivering nutrients to the roots directly through water.
Combining the two setups makes for a mini-environment where fish benefit from plants cleaning their water, and plants benefit from nutrients given off as waste from fish. When properly set up, the aquaponics system requires less attention than any other grow system, and you get lots of cute fish as pets. You could even breed the fish and sell them to an aquarium store for added revenue.
How does it work?
Half of fish waste is ammonia-based urine. The solid fecal matter and uneaten food are also converted into ammonia in the process of mineralization. This water is pulled from the bottom of the fish tank, and filtered through a bacteria that converts the ammonia into nitrites, then into nitrates. The resulting nitrates are pumped to the plant growing tray, where the plants happily absorb them.
Ph balance is important in this system, as you must select fish who enjoy a ph as close to what cannabis loves as possible. Hydroponic cannabis thrives in the 5.5 to 6.5 region, while most fish enjoy 6.5 to 7.5. You can gradually accustom hardier fish to this level by adjusting no more than .2 ph a day. Popular fish choices are goldfish, Catfish, Koi, and Black Moors (my favorite) among others. You can even use fish that could be harvested for food!
What are the downsides?
As I previously mentioned, ph balance is critical, but with automated adjustment systems becoming more affordable, this could become a no-brainer. In addition, you don’t have to worry about going to the gardening center and buying large amounts of hydroponic plant food, instead, you will be buying fish food.
Definitely not a system for beginners, you should have experience with hydro and with keeping fish alive. Ask anyone who has bought their child a fish; it isn’t as easy at it appears. Dead fish make for a pretty potent smell. It also can take up to several months to get the system tweaked perfectly for both the fish and the plants, so if you want fast results, go for something simpler.
How well used is this type of setup?
Growers of cannabis are only recently getting on this bandwagon, but those that have done so report great success. The same setup is rapidly growing in popularity with a more mainstream community, urban farmers. Edibles like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, kale, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, and more are being farmed in urban environments on near commercial scales with this technology, and it is being touted as a way for local markets to offer fresh produce without outsourcing to distant commercial farms for less than fresh food. Crunchies and Foodies are embracing the systems for healthier, more organic meat, vegetables, and herbs.
Want to watch a cannabis aquaponics grow in action? Watch this!
Do you use fish to feed you cannabis? Share your achievements with us on social media or in the comments section below.
His other positions include Co-founder and product design for Cool Vapes and Creative Director for Ergrow Systems.
He is also Founder / President / Creative Director for The Official Cannabis Book of World Records.
Unity through Compassion!