The Dangers of Absolutes

I’ve noticed it is tempting to oversimplify aquaponics by using absolute statements. However, strong absolute statements without any qualifiers tend to be inaccurate and misleading.

It’s like some one saying you HAVE to sink your fish tank into the ground to keep it warm enough for tilapia. While this might be accurate for a particular system in say Florida, it won’t be helpful to some one in a temperate climate where the ground temperature would actually be too cold for tilapia.

Aquaponics is simple but there are lots of details and they do say the devil is in the details.

For example, some people will tell you never to use salt because it will kill your plants and fish. Well I must say you can kill your plants and fish if you were to keep adding salt to your system on a regular basis, however, I have on rare occasion used salt and it hasn’t killed my system. In fact over time plants do slowly use up the salt and after several months the salt level will drop from 3 ppt down to way less than 1 ppt in my system. But here is an important detail, my source water doesn’t have much if any salinity to affect it. If you are in a location with saltier tap water or well water, you may be adding salt just by adding water. Now perhaps some of these people who will use the absolute that you should NEVER let Salt near your Aquaponics System, come from a place where the water could be saltier (like maybe an island.) In their situation perhaps the natural concentration of salt building up in their system could be high enough that adding any extra salt would be causing an overload so knowing a bit about your source water is important.

Salt is not the only detail where knowing more about your source water could be important.

For instance, Potassium or the use of potassium bicarbonate. On a tropical island in the sea, potassium may also be more abundant in the source water along with salt. So using potassium bicarbonate in that situation might not be appropriate. However, many people in more inland situations have experienced potassium deficiencies along with the need to regularly buffer the pH in their systems up.

So, before you go believing that there are all these absolute rules to aquaponics, do a bit more reading since for almost every absolute rule I’ve heard of, I’ve also seen instances of where that rule was broken without ill effects.

The most important rules I know of with aquaponics are that you need to support the bacteria. A bio-ponics system can function without the plants or fish for a time but the Bacteria are necessary for all of it. If the bio-filter isn’t there none of it works. Your stocking needs to be appropriate to your filtration. The bacteria and filtration are the most important part of the whole system. If that works, the plants and fish are usually happy.

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