When dealing with a simple, and maybe even pump-free system, like my Mason Jar Aquaponics, a problem with solid waste and murky water may be prevalent. Here are some tips on how to keep your small system cleaner:
1. Don’t get too many fish
Perhaps your water quality is not up to standard because you simply have too much fish waste, which means either you do not have enough plants removing these nitrites and nitrates, or you simply have too many fish. Finding the right balance is probably the most difficult part because fish grow and produce more waste as they grow. Try to keep logs on how many fish occupy a given set of area so you have future reference.
2. Use fish pellets instead of flakes
If you are using fish flakes, you may notice that your water is constantly dirty. Sometimes fish flakes will float to an area that is hidden by roots, decor, vegetation, or whatever else it may be. These flakes can go unnoticed and uneaten, simply dissolving into the water. I also notice that when fish eat from flakes, they tend to disperse the flakes everywhere, which also contribute to the previous thought. Switching to fish pellets will minimize the food waste as well as keep the water cleaner.
3. Engage in Water Changes
I have a pump-free system, which means that my aquaponics system is basically an aquarium (without pump) with plant roots submerged in it. Although the plant helps a great deal in eliminating fish waste, sometimes a fish that produces waste may be too much for a young plant without a developed root system. Sometimes algae will also grow in the fish tank, so it may be necessary to clean out this algae once in a while.
A major drawback to having a small-scale aquaponics systems, especially ones without pumps, is that they do not have the brute power of commercial or full-sized aquaponic systems. However, these desktop aquaponic systems are convenient for many users and can also be used indoors. The pros definitely outweigh the cons as long as you are willing to make a few accommodations.