Updated: Oct 4, 2020
Aquaponics is the symbiosis of aquaculture- raising animals like fish, snails, crayfish or prawns with hydroponics- cultivating plants in water. Occasionally, that system may require rebalancing or a boost for the best growth. This can be done with the addition of supplements- typically kelp and iron. There’s a new additive available that solves several imbalances and elevates plant and fish growth in an aquaponics system- fulvic acid.
One of the most common supplements and general tonic for aquaponics has been kelp. It is a type of seaweed and is a source of calcium and micronutrients. The problem is finding a quality source that stays suspended in the tank. It can easily become anaerobic breeding bad bacteria for fish and plant roots. Kelp can also spike the tank sodium content, which is good for neither plants or fish.
If your plants are showing yellowing between green plant veins, it’s likely interveinal chlorosis. This is caused by a lack of available iron to the plants and fish. The typical solution is to dump iron into the tank and hope it clears up. Some people have even put rusty items in the tank, which only provides iron that is insoluble and ultimately unavailable to be utilized.
There’s a product that has been adapted from hydroponics that’s safe in aquaponics systems called fulvic acid. It’s millions of years of organic matter that make nutrients available to plants and helps the gut health of fish. It is a good source of chelated (available) iron, calcium and trace minerals. It helps minimize harm from pH swings and is safe for beneficial bacteria. It can be used as a preventative with common issues to affect aquaponics systems.
There are some considerations when choosing a superior fulvic acid product for your system. Leonardite-sourced fulvic products are chemically processed with potassium hydroxide. Water extracted fulvic acid doesn’t use harsh chemicals and also has the benefit of containing several amino and organic acids. Market research has shown that Mr. Fulvic for small to medium systems and AGT-50 from Agtonik for commercial operations, are excellent choices. With the addition of a high-quality fulvic acid, you can replace traditional supplements and make your aquaponics system thrive!