Why you should use clay balls for aquaponics – even if you’re already using ¾ inch river gravel
If you read my article Why you should use river gravel in your aquaponics system even when you want to use expanded clay you will know that I’m a big fan of using river gravel because it’s easy to get, cheap and I can get it in bulk. On the other end, it’s heavy, hard to move around and you have to wash it just like anything else. Now we’re going to talk about why you should use clay balls for aquaponics.
What to use for aquaponic grow beds – Expanded clay balls
For people who are just starting to learn about Aquaponics and are wanting to start slow, I do suggest using the expanded clay balls, clay pebbles, hydroton, whatever name they go by and there are a lot of companies selling this product online.
I suggest buying as much as you in bulk to get a better price. For instance you can get a 40 liter bag of GROW!T Clay Pebbles on Amazon right now for about $26.00 USD. They have other sizes but stick with the 40 liter bag for a better deal. Remember it’s only a 40 liter bag and you will probably need to use a few bags depending on how many grow bed and their size.
Grow beds for aquaponics
If you’re getting a smaller system off the ground using the blue barrel method, which I think is great, a couple bags of expanded clay is just what you need to get started. Remember, you need to wash the clay somehow or your system is going to be contaminated with clay dust. You don’t have to worry so much about the weight of the pebbles, although your stands still need to be built to hold the weight of the water.
You will need to make sure you plant your crops deep in the clay pebbles. Since the media is very light, it’s going to very easy for your fruit producing crops to get heavy and the crops just might some loose in the media and fall over. Wind is another consideration when using the expanded clay pebbles. Be careful that your system and crops aren’t blow away in a heavy storm. Small systems like this might want to be kept inside a greenhouse to protect it.
Aquaponics grow bed media
If you’re already using ¾ inch river gravel, good. But if you’re looking to try the expanded clay pebbles, then just remove the top ⅓ from your grow beds and replace what’s missing with the clay. This might make it easier on your hands and easier to maintain the beds down the road.