• PH 101 for Aquaponics

    PH of an aquaponics system can be a blessing or a pain for the aquaponics enthusiast. The reason for such a drastic statement is for the fact that in Aquaponics you are dealing with at least living elements that will have an effect on the water i.e. fish, plants and bacteria. Other guest participants like the insects, worms, algae etc. thrive only when the conditions are right or else they pack up and leave! Due to these dynamics, the aquaponics system may adjust itself to the optimal form with no or minimal intervention or alternatively it requires a few tricks and tweaks from the farmer
    There are thousands of articles online on the PH aspects but in our opinion there needs to be a simple straight forward document to get the user started and hence we try to get the user jumpstarted towards the right ways of approaching PH issues in the system

    1. The complete PH spectrum and survival and optimal ranges

    As you can see above, it is important to play the balancing act of maintaining the system where the fishes and the plants can both thrive (Microorganisms is relatively simple as it survives in a broader range). But the point to note is the optimal range in the above chart is only the range at which the fishes and plants do not get affected and for achieving the yield maximization in plants it is necessary to achieve the PH specific to the plant and also the climatic conditions.

    2. Plant Nutrient absorption range

    The growth of the plants in a healthy manner is the PH balance at which the nutrient absorption is maximum and it is important to focus on the same. If the pH hovers near or gets above 7.2, generally all plants shutdown their nutrients intake and get into a state of suspended animation and head towards a slow process of wilting out. The signs for the same would be your plants will begin to wither, curling or yellowing of leaves, stunted growth and no signs of blossoming (lack of blossoming can also be due to high nitrogen or lack of phosphorus or potassium. We have a separate blog for the same)

    3. Naturally adjusting PH

    Though there are multiple products available for correcting PH which are sold at high prices, we want to focus on how you can adjust the PH naturally and get a hands on experience.

    Lowering PH

    Adding certain natural elements with lower the PH and make it stay there at least for a while you make any corrective measures to the system. We recommend the following

    1. Add drift wood to the tanks
    2. Add peat moss to the filters
    3. Have a partial water change with RO water which ideally will be at 7
    4. Small amounts of vinegar

    Raising PH

    1. Add small amounts of Baking soda
    2. Add limestone to the tanks
    3. Add Sea shells to the tanks
    4. Corals or crushed coral available in aquariums

    When you are venturing in any of the above in your systems make sure you have a tester for PH readings and do not spend a fortune on the same as simple paper testers or even plain litmus paper does the trick

  • Aquaponics 101

    What is aquaponics? The simplest answer would be that it is the blended science of aquaculture (fish keeping/farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in a soilless & with minimal water consumption) to create a closed ended ecosystem where the fishes provide an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. The important link in the ecosystem are the microbes (nitrifying bacteria) that thrive in the system which converts ammonia to nitrates and nitrites. While integrating the two practises, aquaponics capitalizes on the benefits and eliminates the drawbacks of each.

    History of Aquaponics

    Though the term “aquaponics” was coined in the 70s, the practice can be dated way back t0 1000 AD. Recycling fish waste to fertilize plants is an ancient technique with roots in early South American and Asian civilizations. The Aztecs who settled near the marshy shores of Lake Tenochtitlan, constructed large rafts out of reeds and rushes they found near the lake. They floated these rafts in the water and covered them with soil which they dredged up from the bottom of the shallow lake. They then planted their vegetable crops on these floating islands that they called “chinampas”. When the plants matured, their roots grew through the soil and dangled in the water.

    The ancient Chinese utilized a system of aquaculture in which finfish, catfish, ducks and plants co-existed in a symbiotic relationship. The ducks were housed in cages over the finfish ponds with catfish living in a lower pond. The finfish processed the wastes from the ducks while in the lower pond, the catfish live on the wastes that have flowed from the finfish pond. The water from the catfish ponds were used to irrigate rice fields and vegetable crops.

    In modern times aquaponics emerged from the aquaculture industry as fish farmers were exploring methods of raising fish while trying to decrease their dependence on the land, water and other resources.

    Traditionally fish were raised in large ponds, or in netted pens off ocean coastlines, but in the past 35 years much progress has been made in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS).

    The advantage of RAS is that fish can be stocked much more densely: up to of a pound of fish per gallon of water, thus using only a fraction of the water and space to grow the same amount of fish as pond or netting based systems. The disadvantage is the large amount of waste water that quickly accumulates.

    In the 70s research on using plants as a natural filter began which led to multiple experiments and subsequently the first large scale commercial aquaponics facility, Bioshelters in Amherst, MA, was established in the mid-1980s, and it is still in operation today.

    Home based aquaponics owes its origin in the early 1990s to Tom and Paula Speraneo of S&S Aquafarms in West Plains, MO. The Speraneo’s diligently refined a media bed growing technique that was more appropriate for smaller systems, and wrote a how-to manual that became a spring board for many home based systems build through-out the world.

    Home based or smaller systems are not easy to integrate generally and thus Urbanfarmer, after years of study is aiming to provide experimental systems to kids and smaller functional systems which can go into apartments and smaller homes in the urban environment

  • Plant Ideas

    Ideas that you can play around with in our systems!

    1. What can you grow- Generally all herbs and greens (Microgreens do spectacularly well). We recommend you use quality seeds which you can buy from us or any good gardening shop. Though not a restricted list but we recommend growing Basil, Spinach, Mustard, Lettuce, Cilantro, Amaranth, Arugula etc. in our smaller systems and add tomato, okra, chilli etc. in our bigger systems. For faster fun and to enjoy a lovely juice…try wheatgrass in all our systems!
    2. Do you always need seeds- Not really! You can buy or grow a sapling or transplant directly into the system. You can always grow from cuttings too!
    3. What can be grown from cuttings? Try Mint for starters…they are the easiest to propagate from cuttings

    Quick insight on how to grow mint from cuttings

    • Select healthy plants or stems from an existing plant or even store bought fresh mint and cut roughly3 inches from the top or the stem. Remove all the lower leaves. Pinch out the growing tip of the cutting to encourage it to put all its efforts into growing new roots and put the cutting in to a glass of clean drinking water

    • Mint does not require a rooting solution at all and all you need is patience. After a few days, you will notice that the cutting is developing small hair like roots

    • You can transplant the mint into any of the Urban Farmer Aquaponics system and let it grow before cutting leaves for teas, chutneys or lemonades!

  • Why you should not use seeds from store bought vegetables, fruits or grains!

    As beginner gardeners, we often are either frustrated to see high priced seeds or tempted to use seeds from the vegetables or fruits we have bought for consumption from the store. Though, the argument is that the seeds found in them can sprout and growing into a new plant just like it happens in nature, let us warn you and save you from a lot of frustration. Store bought vegetables and fruits are grown from various varieties and are often harvested differently (early) from the ones harvested for seeds and often sprayed.

    1. Seeds taken from hybrid varieties of fruits and veggies may not geminate and even if it germinates will not yield produce at times
    2. Certain seeds need special treatment for sprouting which will disqualify store bought variety
    3. Viability concerns
    4. Post-harvest processing which can make seeds useless. For e.g. cilantro or coriander seeds which are store bought are roasted at times to fast track the dehydration which will make the seeds non sproutable!

    Having said that, at UrbanFarmer, we understand the importance of high quality seeds and that too at reasonable prices and hence we offer seeds which we source from reliable sources across the globe and sell retail packs for our UrbanFarmers at a reasonable price.

    Apart from that we are in the process of devising a seed bank for heirloom variety as a social cause

    To buy our seeds please visit

    Summer Collection

    Italian Basil Cucumber Chillies Indian Spinach (Palak)