Nature is it simple or complex? YES they are both. On the surface Aquaponics is very simple (and it can be fairly simple to operate too) but under the surface there can be some rather complex chemistry going on.
For Aquaponics lets start with some of the seemingly simple starter ingredients for building a system.
Is a tank of water simple? Initial response is likely YES, what is complex about a tank of water? But where did the water come from? What material is the tank made out of? What is the chemistry of the water in that tank? Suddenly the tank of water could keep a school kid with a test kit busy for hours. If the water was rain water off the roof there is suddenly a whole other list of questions and test that might be useful as well. If the water was from a public water supply then there are other questions and tests or if it’s well water yet another set of things to figure out.
How bout gravel, gravel is simple right? Sigh, I expect you get my drift here. Yea Gravel is simple but in aquaponics you want to make sure the gravel isn’t going to affect your pH and you need it to be in an appropriate size range to suite the situation, big enough not to get all clogged immediately yet small enough to still support and hold plants and filter the water.
Materials that will be in contact with the water? Well you want to make sure they won’t leach nasties into the water or metals that become toxic to fish yet they need to be sturdy enough to last out in the sun and weather while often holding heavy water or gravel. Metal tanks should be coated or lined to keep from rusting or keep the zinc from the galvanizing from affecting the fish. Concrete or other masonry may need to be coated or acid washed to keep it from affecting the system pH long term.
So we have only covered some materials and already some people are thinking their heads are spinning. Relax, take a deep breath. Take it one step at a time. Simple and complex work together to build grand things, don’t expect to have it all designed and planned out in one sitting. Aquaponics takes patience and this may be the hardest lesson of all.
So when starting your Aquaponics endeavor I suggest lots of reading of course and asking questions but one of the first steps will be to research your source water and look for local sources of media or gravel. Get your test kit so you can run pH and other tests on the water (then let it sit out for a few days and run the tests again.) Also run some pH tests on the washed gravel samples with some distilled water to see if it will affect your pH. Start researching what materials you want to use for your system