Aquaponics can either be simple or complex depending on how you want it to be. There are several methods that you can use. Any hydroponic process can also be used in Aquaponics.
If you try to ask around ten people how they were able to start an Aquaponic system it would be highly likely that you will end up with around nine or maybe even ten unique answers, all different from each other. And quite possibly, every person that you ask would insist that the method they used is the best one. The idea here is that you need to come up with a system that is “cycled” this means that you establish your beneficial bacteria populations in your system so that they can convert ammonia wastes and turn them into nitrates so that the plants can benefit from them (See Nitrogen Cycle).
Nonetheless, there are several different ways that can help you get your system started. I always say that it would be better if you can “seed” your system from an established system or from someone who has a pond or an aquarium. Aquarium filters are packed with beneficial bacteria and this is what you want to have in your Aquaponics system. Pond filter also does the same. If you can collect these then this will really help establish your system much quicker. However, if you cannot find any or if you do not know anyone whom you can source bacteria from then don’t worry because they will establish themselves eventually and naturally but it will take some time.
I also suggest that you get a test kit yourself so you can be able to follow through with the cycling of your system most especially when you are using fishless techniques that require the addition of various ammonia sources.
A test kit that can test nitrite, nitrate, pH and ammonia are the best. Always remember that the most important thing is to get your system running. It’s also a good idea if you let your system run for at least one day or two days before you introduce your fish or before you begin with any long term plans. This is because you want to make sure that your system is working and functioning well and that there aren’t any leaks or any possible problems. If you detect problems, sort them out right away and have your system corrected before you put your fish in because once they are there you don’t want to stop your system from running just to do repairs. (Click here to learn about Aquaponics)