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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Step 4 - Grow Medium

It is time to choose the stuff you are going to grow your plants in or your grow medium. In aquaponics like hydroponics you need a good grow medium which has the following characteristic:

  1. Is stable and does not break down over time.
  2. Is readily available in case it needs to be replaced.
  3. Provides good support for your plants.
  4. Does not leach anything into the water, this is important because you could poison your fish and yourself, or play havoc with you PH.
  5. Must be easy to work with.
  6. Is affordable, this was number one on my list but I figure not everybody has this requirement so I put it lower down.

I chose 13mm gravel or crushed stone and I have never been sorry except for the very first time I added it to my system. This stuff needs to be washed repeatedly to get all the dirt off it. If like me you are impatient to get going you will not wash enough and you will end up with sediment buildup in your system which could well damage your pump or worse kill your fish. 
I have no idea what this sediment is or what affect it has on your system but I do know it sticks to everything like this photo shows.

The greyish stuff stuck to the PVC pipe is the sediment I am referring to. It sticks to just about anything, you can just imagine what it is going to do to your fishes gills. 

Anyway Backyard Aquaponics has a great magazine which I can recommend to anybody. In Issue 3 (trial by media) they discuss the pros and cons of 4 different grow media. They also have great looking kits for sale if you find yourself in Australia for a day :) 

- Grant


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