To maintain an aquaponics system you need to make sure there’s consistent aeration and circulation of the water for the fish. Plus it’s vital to maintain good water chemistry by checking the water’s pH levels, the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels, plus maintaining the right temperature for your plants and fish. Never overcrowd your fish and plants, whilst striking a good balance between the two. Never overfeed your fish and cleaning your filter on a regular basis will help to keep the water flowing.
All new aquaponics systems need to cycle, ideally before you stock it with fish. Your aquaponics system is fully cycled once nitrates are being produced, but more importantly once your ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero. This process can take anytime between 2-6 weeks to fully cycle. However, in colder water temperatures below 21°C (70°F) the cycling can take as much as eight or ten weeks.
In an aquaponics system the most important processes of the nitrogen cycle include ureotelism, transdeamination, ammonification, nitrification and assimilation. The most important process of this nitrogen cycle, which links your nitrogen producing fish to your nitrogen consuming plants, is the beneficial bacteria in the middle. It is these beneficial bacteria that carry out the nitrification of nitrogen. These bacteria change its form from the fish excreted ammonia (NH3) to the form of nitrates (NO3-), which enables the plants so assimilate the nitrogen.
It is the plants in your aquaponics system that need at least 4-6 hours of good sunlight a day to grow well. But sunlight can be substituted with artificial light instead. However, whilst your fish do not need sunlight to grow as such, they do need both light and dark periods each day to thrive, without which they will stop eating and become lethargic.
To lower ammonia levels in fish tank naturally in aquaponics includes stopping or reducing the amount you feed your fish. It’s also good practice to feed little and often to control the amount fish excrete through their gills. But also to watch out for dead fish or other organic matter that can be rotting and producing excess ammonia in your aquaponics fish tank.
How often you check ammonia and pH levels in an aquaponic tank depends on whether it’s a new system or one that’s already cycled and has settled down. At the start when you’re just setting up your aquaponics system, you should perform daily tests on your water chemistry. This is to check ammonia, ammonium, nitrites, nitrates and pH levels. Once your aquaponics system is established, testing can be cut back to weekly, unless a problem arises like you have dead fish.