You’re listening to Fish Grow Plants—A podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.
Hello, and welcome to Fish Grow Plants! In today’s episode we’ll be talking about the aquaponic process of water—specifically, sourcing, verifying, and more!
I have no idea what it’s like to have an abundance of water around me, aside from the few trips I spent in places where there is an abundance of water. No kidding. I’m a desert rat simply by habit and action. I guess there’s more to that than I think, but suffice to say that water is a precious and beautiful thing to me (and practically everyone I grew up with).
As a kid, I remember when it would rain and we would all stop and pay attention. And it was a magical time playing outside after the rain—the smell, the feeling, the cool and damp—that made you carve out beautiful memories of those rare occasions.
So fast forward several years. To the point where I’m getting ready to set up my first aquaponic system. For some unknown reason, I decided that a rain catchment system had to be on the greenhouse. I had access to municipal water in addition to a well, but for some reason I decided to add the gutter, downspout, and cistern. As an aside, that was a big hole to dig!
But you know what? I ended up being overjoyed at the fact that I put in that rain catchment. You see, both the municipal and well water were way too alkaline. Both sources were very hard water, and at the time, I didn’t have the money to process the hardness out on that level. So, what did I do?
That’s right! I started using the rainwater I had collected! Since the only hardness it had was from the dirt off my roof, it was way softer and easier to use in the aquaponics! That supply was limited, but the impact it had was huge!
The moral of this story? Your water matters! I had two sources at my disposal, and even cheap filtering had no effect, but getting the right water into my system made all the difference in the world.
So, what are some lessons to take a look at when it comes to water sources and quality?
Well, first is to know your source. Is it a well? A spring? Is it open surface, like a lake, river, or stream? Is it municipal? (And what is the source of that municipal water? i.e. well, surface, process, or a combination?) Or are you harvesting your own water, or doing a unique process to get your water?
Knowing where your water comes from is the first step.
The second step is knowing the condition of that water when it gets to you. Is it raw, unfiltered, unprocessed, and untested? Does it have a high mineral content? Is it loaded with chlorine, chloramine, bromine, or other chemicals? Is there any chance it comes into contact with radiation along the path to get to you?
Don’t be alarmed here. I rattled off a long list of possibilities to hopefully get you to see that water is not just water. You have to be aware of what’s in your water—regardless if you are told; as in the case of municipal sources. Or if you are not told; as in the case of a well.
Thankfully, the answer is quite simple. You just need to test!
Yes, it is pretty much as simple as that. Some tests you can do right on the spot yourself, such as total chlorine types of tests. But others, you’ll want to send in to a lab. If you want to be precise about it, have to lab test everything, and then you can spot check periodically and see if anything has been changing since the lab run.
Alright, so if you know you have a reliable source of water and you know everything that is questionable about it, what can you do?
Simple—filter and/or process. If you’re lucky, one filter may do a lot of “processing” for your water. For example, a carbon block filter can help with the removal of sediments (depending on the size), chlorine, and various organics that could have crept into your source water. So, if you are so lucky to be able to use such as system, then one filter does it all, and at a reasonable price and easy to use form factor.
In light of going through every possible contaminate/solution combination, suffice to say that there are a variety of methods to help you deliver the quality and quantity of water you need. For reference, some of these methods include reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light, and injector systems, in addition to the basic filters just referenced. Without knowing what is good and bad about your water, none of these systems are really worth having, so it really is key to have your water tested. Then you know exactly what to look for.
So, what is today’s take away action steps?
Easy, it just three simple steps:
First, identify the source, or sources, of water that are available to you. Learn all you can about where it comes from, what path it takes, etc.
Second, test! Yes, if you are serious about using your water for aquaponics then get it tested. So the main step here is to find a lab that does water testing. If you live in or near a fairly large city, this is probably not be too difficult. If you live in the middle of nowhere, you might have to do some scheduling and sampling to meet the testing company half-way.
And thirdly, you’ll want to figure out what water filtering or process is best to remove any contamination in your water. If you’re like me and want to “shop” around for possible solutions before you hear back from the testing company, I usually find myself perusing ideas from water filtration companies like US Water Systems, but a good search engine will help you get an idea of what’s available pretty quickly.
That’s all there is too it!
Take care and happy aquaponicing!
This has been another episode of Fish Grow Plants—the podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.