A water pump is a very vital part of an aquaponics system. If you have the right water pump, it efficiently ensures that water is continuously pushed throughout the system so as to pass nutrients to the plants and fish. If your system’s water pump is not reliable to perform the job, then the maintenance of the aquaponics fails.
A water system’s effectiveness highly depends on the components that make up the overall system. The wrong size or a faulty pump can lead to a lack of enough or excess nutrients supply that can also cause the fish and plants to die. To help you build up an efficient and reliable aquaponics water pump, we give you details on what you need to know.
Why is a water pump important for aquaponics?
- It efficiently transports water that comes from the fish tank to the grow bed and back again to the tank. When plants absorb their food, the freshwater which is also favorable for the fish, comes out of the grow bed and is pumped to the fish tank.
- It provides nutrients for both the plants and the fish. Once the fish consume food, they excrete in the fish tank. This water that is now rich in ammonia is pumped to the grow bed and there, nitrifying bacteria convert the ammonia into food to be utilized by the plants.
- It oxygenates the water for the fish to be provided with enough oxygen.
Choosing the appropriate Aquaponics water pump
There are considerations that you have to make as you settle on your aquaponics water pump;
This refers to the electrical usage of the water pump you intend to use. Be aware of the watts that the pump uses to calculate the additional cost your electricity may bear. Even though aquaponics have proved that they are cost-efficient farming methods, one of the costs the systems incur is electricity.
It is important that the water pump you get can perform its job and use a minimal amount of energy. Remember that the pump will constantly be running. You can check the electricity specs on the pump’s packaging or from the pump’s instruction pamphlet. Low wattage pumps will consume less electricity.
The flow rate
This is the quantity of water that is to be pumped through the set system. The system needs to be circulated with water within two hours and therefore, the pump must be able to take care of this requirement. For example, a system that uses 200-gallons needs a pump that can supply 100 gallons per hour. Therefore, your pump must have at least 100GPH (Gallons Per Hour).
The GPH highlighted on the water pump shows the maximum rate of flow but it can always be reduced. You need to choose a water pump with a higher GPH than the required one and not one with a lesser GPH. Because of gravity, the flow rate will usually tend to decrease as the distance that exists between the pump and the fluid surface rises. Get a pump strong enough to yield the system’s required rate of flow.
Determining the right water pump size for the system
When you are determining the correct size to use, you will be required to take three vital steps; determining the GPH, establishing the head height, and combining the two measurements.
To determine the GPH
Most water pumps will usually have a GPH rating and this allows you to know how many gallons of water needs to be pumped within every hour. For those that use metric systems, the rating is provided in Liters Per Hour. As said earlier, you need to supply the whole system with water at least every two hours. Therefore, settle on a water pump that cycles half your system’s volume every hour.
Head Height determination
This height is the distance that exists between the fish tank’s water level and the grow bed’s desired water level. It can be measured using a tape measure or ruler. The greater the height, the more energy needed for pumping water. A height that is kept at a minimum level ensures an efficient system. For aquaponics that has the grow bed and fish tank on the same level, there will be no head height.
Combining the Head Height and GPH
You now need to combine these two variables to settle on the right water pump. Mostly, water pumps have a chart that has this combination.
Reading the pump curve
All water pumps have a pump curve in the manual or datasheet. First, look at the axis on the left and get the head height you had calculated for your system. Draw a line towards the right and find the required minimum flow rate. Now draw a vertical line. Where the lines cross is the work point of the pump. It is the perfect size of water pump for your system.
Types of water pumps
There exists a wide variety of water pumps that can be purchased. However, they all fall into two main classifications; The submersible pumps and the inline pumps.
Submersible water pump
This pump directly sits in the tank and is used to pump water via a hose that is connected to a particular fitting at its top. These pumps are sized in GPH and are usually defined by the number of water gallons that can be efficiently circulated. Submersible pumps are common for small Aquaponics systems-household and small commercial systems that do not go beyond 1200 GPH.
The pump helps in cooling the water as it functions while still submerged in the water.
Submersible pumps are not susceptible to cavitation issues. This is a problem that is associated with high elevation variance that exists between the fluid and the surface of the fluid to be pumped.
- Ease of use.
- Quick to set up.
- Less noisy than inline pumps.
- Efficient for small aquaponics.
- Repair can be difficult.
- Limited to small aquaponics systems.
- Their seals may be corroded with time.
These water pumps are also referred to as centrifugal pumps. Usually, they are placed outside the fish tank and are best suited for larger aquaponics. They have highly-powered motors that can pump large water volumes. These pumps are marked by horsepower (HP) and not by the water volume they can pump. Air cools off the heat generated by the pump and these pumps can also be used in aerated water through the pumping of low air volumes into the water with high pressure. This constantly supplies the plant roots with oxygen.
- They aerate plant roots.
- They are more powerful than submersible pumps.
- Inline pumps are more durable.
- They are more expensive and noisier than submersible pumps.
To run and maintain an aquaponics system, you need to be equipped with the right equipment for the investment to be a success. One of the equipments needed is an efficient and reliable aquaponics water pump. A water pump ensures that the plants and fish are supplied with the necessary nutrients to grow and ensures that the entire system is continuously supplied with water. You, therefore, must choose and settle on the right-sized water pump for your system.
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