Dirty Jobs: Aquaponics in Autumn

Yesterday I cleaned out the aquaponics setup at Better Farm to ready the grow bed for autumn, winter, and spring growing of salad greens and herbs. It's important to clean out your aquaponics setup regularly to keep it operating at top efficiency, and to ensure the health and well-being of your fish.

We have two corner filters running 24/7 to keep the tank fresh, which work in tandem with the pea gravel in our aquaponic grow bed to filter water. I find it easiest to clean out the grow bed and filters every six months (normal fish tanks require monthly cleanings; but our bottom feeder fish, living plants, and pea gravel do such an amazing job keeping everything clean, we have to do a deep cleanse very infrequently). The simplest way to do this is to rinse the pea gravel in colanders on the driveway or in one of the bathtubs in the house. The latter makes it easy to hang onto the dirty water and reuse it on your houseplants. It's like steroids for plants, which absolutely love fish poop.

Aquaponics maintenance is definitely one of the dirtier, least unpleasant farm jobs we have here. But, as they say, someone's got to do it...
The work is worth it to have a great fish tank setup and yummy greens year-round:

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.