In “Aquaponics’ Biggest Mistake” we spoke about how the basic flood and drain system came into being – how it started off as a mistake and then became the subject of wilful ignorance – and then how it became the dominant aquaponics model throughout the world.

Comparatively speaking, the basic flood and drain aquaponics system is a sow’s ear – and the iAVs is a silk purse.

The iAVs will grow more food, is a safer place for fish and uses less water than any basic flood and drain system of comparable size  It’s cheaper to build, easier to operate and requires none of the chemical supplementation required by other aquaponics systems.

To summarise, iAVs is more productive, more resilient and more versatile than the basic flood and drain system.

This is not a matter of opinion – rather a demonstrable fact.

While this is probably bad news for those who have invested their time and money in building a basic flood and drain system, there is some good news.

You can turn your current sow’s ear into an iAVs silk purse – and it can be achieved in 5 easy steps:

  1. Source enough sand to fill your existing grow beds – see the Sand Selection Guide.
  2. Remove the gravel from your grow beds and put it on your driveway or some other place where it will be of some use.
  3. Fit a permeable “sock” over the media barrier in your grow bed – so that the water can drain from the bed without allowing the sand to escape.  The sock should be something like you find on drainage pipe.*
  4. Purchase a digital timer* – and set it up so that your pump operates for 10 minutes ON and 110 minutes OFF.   The precise pumping regime will depend on your pumping capacity of your pump and the rate at which the water moves through the sand (hydraulic conductivity).  Your goal should be to flood the furrows while leaving the “islands” dry.
  5. Inoculate your system with beneficial bacteria,  Use the water from your existing system.  If you have access to some good compost, throw a handful of that into the system, too.  It will contain many of the soil micro-organisms that will eventually inhabit the sand bed.

* (the links are meant to be indicative rather than prescriptive)

That’s all you have to do – and here’s what you can expect for your effort:

  • Your fish will be much safer because of the enhanced mechanical and biological filtration.
  • You’ll be growing nutrient-dense foods like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans without having to dose the system with various chemical supplements.
  • So long as you have plants actively growing in the system, your pH will attain a more or less permanent state of equilibrium.
  • You’ll be saving on energy costs.
  • You’ll be using less water than ever before.
  • You’ll be able to feed your fish a bit more aggressively resulting in faster growth rates.

If you doubt the performance claims for iAVs, and you have two or more basic flood and drain systems, convert one first and undertake a comparison.  We’re confident that the conversion of the other system(s) will quickly follow.

When you’ve turned your sow’s ear into a silk purse, we’d love to hear from you.  Send us photos of your system and we’ll showcase them here.

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