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The accumulation of particulate wastes in an aquaponics system (which largely comprise faecal matter and uneaten feed) will negatively impact your fish in a variety of ways including:
  1. Solid wastes may clog bio-filters and reduce their operating effectiveness.
  2. Particulate matter consumes oxygen during decomposition which means that there is less oxygen for the fish.
  3. The presence of solid wastes encourages the growth of heterotrophic bacteria which (since they grow much faster than nitrifying bacteria) may compete with nitrifiers and inhibit their function.
  4. The breakdown of organic matter in the system will increase ammonia levels which can destabilise nitrification.
  5. Suspended solids may function as a refuge for pathogens while they look for a live host – your fish.
  6. Fish gills can be damaged by solids while breathing or feeding.
  7. Solid wastes will, over time, build up in pipework and fittings and limit water flow.

Not only should solids be removed, but the sooner they are removed in the process the better, because:

  • Sedimentary solids will be churned up and become suspended solids.
  • Suspended solids are more difficult to capture.
  • Small particles leach larger amounts (relatively speaking) of ammonia and other unhelpful substances than larger particles.
  • The longer that solids remain in the system, the more oxygen that will be consumed in their decomposition.
  • The removal of finer particles involves greater expense since the biological treatment of solids invariably  requires equipment and processes which are more expensive than mechanical filtration.

To summarise…….get the solids out of your aquaponics system – and the faster the better.

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