Aquaponic cannabis: find out if this is the best option for you and clear all your doubts
May 29, 2020 Hydroponic Growing
Aquaponic cannabis is one of the most efficiently produced marijuana out there. Although challenging, growing weed with aquaponics is a rewarding experience. The only problem is that it’s not ideal for novices, so experience growing cannabis in soil and using hydroponics is vital.
Aquaponics farming can feel daunting but don’t worry. We’ll be taking you through, step-by-step, how you can approach aquaponics. We’ll be covering what it is exactly, how it works, the benefits and disadvantages, challenges, and clarifying a few aspects of a basic setup.
Getting started with aquaponic cannabis cultivation
Like anything, getting started involves first understanding how it works. In these following sections, we’ll be taking you through just that, as well as what you need to do for your aquaponics setup.
Be prepared to make a small investment, though, as much of what we suggest will require you to stop at the shops for an item or two.
Aquaponics: what is it, and how does it work?
An aquaponics cannabis system is complex, involving two separate life cycles. As with other methods, when growing using aquaponics, you still have to measure the humidity for growing weed and the temperature. The below table explains both what it is and how it works:
|What it is
|How it works
|A combination of hydroponics and aquaculture.
|The fish support the plants, and the plants help the fish.
|A closed-loop system.
|The plants absorb nutrients from fish waste. This is predominately nitrogen but also includes some other minerals.
Optimizing this system can lead to you not even having to add extra nutrients or marijuana fertilizer. It can become almost entirely self-sustaining.
|Both the fish and plants are raised together.
|Water is purified and oxygenated by plant roots. Thus, the water circulates between where the fish are raised and where the plants are grown.
How to grow cannabis with aquaponics?
Just follow these few easy steps to get an aquaponics setup up and running. We’re going to be making use of the ebb and flow aquaponics method.
Step 1: what to buy
You’re going to need several items, namely:
- An aquaponics aquarium, pump, and tubing
- A large plastic tray
- Clay pebbles & soil
Step 2: setting up the tank
First, you need to make sure that the water in your tank is suitable. Ensure that it’s dechlorinated. You can use tap water but let it sit for a day or two.
Then, you’ll have to run the tank as usual for a few weeks without the fish so that beneficial bacteria begins to grow. Bacteria is needed to feed on the fish waste so that the plants can benefit from the nitrates.
You should also install the pump at this point: it’ll run marijuana water to the growing bed and back to the tank using piping.
Step 3: preparing the grow bed
First, layer the plastic tray with clay pebbles, and then add a layer of burlap. Next, add a layer of your best soil for cannabis and your plants. The grow bed must be placed above the tank, ideally on a table.
Step 4: choosing the right fish for aquaponics
You can’t just use any old fish for aquaponics cannabis setup. As long as you’re careful in your selection, this should simply be a matter of introducing them to their new home. Ideally, your choice of fish must be able to deal with crowds of other fish.
The benefits of aquaponic cannabis cultivation
There are many benefits to using aquaponics aside from it being a really fascinating way to grow cannabis. These include:
- Self-sustainability: Waste from one organism is used to feed another. You could even add duckweed for the fish to eat so that you don’t even have to worry about overfeeding them. Add in some worms to break down solids that aren’t processed by bacteria. These little critters will liquefy the solids and add in the extra needed nutrients. This’ll help deal with cannabis deficiencies.
- Excellent growth rates: The cannabis roots absorb much more nutrients and take on high levels of oxygen. This drastically improves the growth rate.
- Effective water use: This system uses less water than other systems as the water is recirculated.
Disadvantages of growing marijuana with aquaponics
Regrettably, there are a few challenges associated with aquaponics cannabis, these are:
- High initial costs: unfortunately, the cost of starting up an aquaponics system will be much higher than that of soil or hydroponic marijuana setups.
- The difficulty: Aquaponics is complicated, and for someone with little experience, it can be costly should it not be successful. Don’t be discouraged, though, as you can always try again.
- Lots of maintenance: Maintenance can be a challenge as you’ll have to put in a lot of work to keep it running smoothly. Different fish require alternate temperatures, and these can only be maintained using specific equipment.
- Deep cleaning: Algae buildup must be dealt with swiftly as it can harm your cannabis: regular cleaning is a must.
Common challenges when growing cannabis with aquaponics
There are a few challenges commonly experienced by those who opt to grow aquaponics cannabis in this way. Read on to study our suggestions for how to overcome these obstacles.
- Maintain the proper nutrient level
Cannabis plants rapidly use up nutrients, especially while they’re flowering. You’ll need a high fish density as well as an excellent bacterial colony for converting fish waste into nutrients.
- May need to separate different stages of growth
You may have to use two different tanks owing to the distinct nutritional requirements of the flowering and vegetative stages.
- What to do with extra fish
You can opt to eat the fish if you’re growing the right type, you can sell them, or you may even wish to keep the fish separately.
The reason for separating them is that should you end up with a shortage of fish owing to the older ones dying, you can quickly and easily replace them and keep your hydroponics system running.
How to set up a basic aquaponic weed system
To set up your aquaponics system, you’re going to have to consider a few variables. In this section, we’ll be taking you through these and how to approach them.
- Choosing fish
When choosing the right fish for your setup, you need to consider a few key things:
- The size of your tank (a good rule of thumb is to select hardy fish that can tolerate crowds).
- The water temperature as some fish fares better in warmer, while others do better in colder temperatures.
- The maintenance difficulty associated with the fish.
With these variables in mind, we’d suggest either: goldfish, catfish, koi, trout, or tilapia.
2. The Bacterial Biofilter
The bacterial biofilter is the system that lets you operate this relationship between the plants and fish. It can either be:
- A separate component, or
- You can cultivate bacteria inside of the fish tank or the hydroponic reservoir. The bacteria colony lets plants use the nutrients in the water from the fish.
3. A Dual Tank Setup
For aquaponics cannabis, a dual tank setup isn’t necessary. However, certain cannabis growers have found that dual tank setups help because of the different nutrient requirements of the vegetative and flowering stages.
Growers will cater the nutrients of a specific tank through what they feed to their fish to suit the vegetative stage, for instance.
4. Purchasing an aquaponics system
Although you can purchase premade systems, the materials needed are not too complicated either. The benefit of building your own is that you have free reign over all the variables.
For those who want a quick, generic system, purchasing a ready-made one is the better option.
5. Achieving a high crop yield with aquaponics
Aquaponics is believed to achieve higher yields than other methods of growing. That said, you can only do this if you measure the nutrients regularly. Indoor aquaponics systems may be convenient but require a lot of work.
FAQ related to aquaponics cannabis
Do you have more questions about aquaponics? Read our frequently asked questions to see if you can find your answer.
Does aquaponics work for cannabis?
Yes, aquaponics is an excellent way to grow cannabis. It’s a way to get high yields, but it also requires a high level of expertise. Extensive research is a must. As a rule of thumb, it’s a must that you first understand the topic well before attempting, as mistakes can be costly.
What fish to use for aquaponics cannabis?
Several fish are pretty suitable for aquaponics setups, but we’d suggest one of the following: goldfish, catfish, koi, trout, or tilapia. If you opt for anything else, bear in mind that you’ll want fish that fare well in crowded environments and don’t require a lot of attention to survive.
Can you grow hemp in aquaponics?
Most of the nutrients hemp needs are found in the water of aquaponic systems. Ensuring that your fish have a good diet is vital to the success of this type of growing system. This method produces very high-quality hemp at efficient rates.
Do plants grow faster in aquaponics?
How much weed does a plant produce in this system? Plenty—the roots of the plants have a constant supply of nutrients, and as a result, grow much quicker. Plants don’t have to make an effort to get the nutrients they need to grow, and as a result, the focus is shifted to growth.
A worthwhile challenge
Now that we’ve taken you through what it is and how it works, with a bit of patience, knowledge, and perseverance, you’ll be able to get your fancy new aquaponics cannabis setup up and running in no time.
These setups will require a small initial investment, a bit of effort getting your tank running correctly, and perhaps a trip, or two, to the store, but they’re well worth it. If you’re looking for seeds for your new setup, get them from our seed bank. We’ve got something to suit all needs and tastes.