Aquaponics is now the latest trend hitting the cannabis growing community. There are numerous reasons for this, but higher yields, healthier plants, and less work are but some of them. However, you can go even another step further in achieving these goals: Increasing dissolved oxygen levels. At the molecular level, dissolved oxygen exists between water molecules.
What is Dissolved Oxygen?
Above baseline values, water does not hold oxygen very well. Oxygen levels quickly dissipate. Dissolved oxygen refers to the level of oxygen saturation in water. The more oxygen it has, the better. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the chemical formula for water is H20. For every oxygen molecule, there are two hydrogen molecules attached. Together, they become water, as we know it.
However, if there is only one oxygen atom per water compound, how can water hold more? You have to add it yourself by shaking up the water, either by creating movement over obstacles, such as pebbles, by adding mildly effective air pumps, by adding live fish, or by investing in other oxygenating technologies, such as Ophora Water, a high-oxygen water system now yielding the biggest growth in Las Vegas.
Why Add Dissolved Oxygen to Aquaponics Systems?
Plants and animals need oxygen, even aquatic critters, such as fish, and aerobic organisms too. Stagnant water quickly loses any oxygen that it holds, resulting in sick fish, sick plants, and an imbalance of aerobic organisms that potentially cause root rot. This lost oxygen requires continual replacement for a healthy aquaponics system. If dissolved oxygen levels are low, plants and fish eventually sicken and die.
Measuring Dissolved Oxygen Levels
A dissolved oxygen meter will provide accurate measurements of levels in the water. This device reads concentrations in parts per million, or ppm. For hydroponic systems, the ideal concentration is between six ppm and nine ppm, which you add to the nutrient solution. However, with aquaponics, these levels should be higher, around 50ppm, to accommodate the fish and its direct feeding from the water itself.
Water holds oxygen better when it is cool. Water temperature is the most important factor when maintaining high levels of dissolved oxygen. It controls oxygen solubility, so as it warms, it reduces oxygen content. When it cools, oxygen content rises. However, if too cold, fish begin to struggle and plants stop growing, reserving energy instead of just surviving.
Benefits of Dissolved Oxygen
The effect of adding dissolved oxygen to aquaponics systems is profound and immense. Plants benefit in numerous ways, as do the fish, anaerobic microbes, and even your pipes and pumps, which clog much faster in stagnant water accumulating algae. For cannabis plants, the results are visibly and undeniably evident, and this is why:
The more oxygen available in the water you feed your plants, the faster they will grow. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, increased levels of dissolved oxygen are not essential for growth, but it does promote a larger root system, which means bigger plants. If oxygen levels are too low, plants will substitute it with something else. This leads to the production of dangerous-to-humans ethylene.
Greater Nutrient Intake
Because increased oxygen encourages plants to grow a larger root system, they are able to absorb more nutrients. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, this can help prevent nutrient deficiencies and make for healthier plants that require little intervention. When oxygen levels are very low, root systems get smaller and plants are unable to get sufficient concentrations of the nutrients they require.
Stagnant water is a haven for anaerobic bacteria to thrive, and not the healthy, wanted kind. Still, water is unsafe for a plant, animal, or human consumption, since sick, dead, and decaying plants become food for unwanted microbes. According to NASA, dissolved oxygen is crucial for the survival of all aquatic life. Without it, cannabis plants are vulnerable to root rot and other diseases in aquaponics systems.
Fish are healthier too when there is increased levels of dissolved oxygen in their water. In fact, when levels are low, fish start suffocating and start gasping at the surface. According to ResearchGate, oxygen concentrations actually affect the nutrient intake of fish themselves. If too high or too low, fish are unable to process food correctly, and they become susceptible to a variety of fish diseases.
Cannabis farmers are trying everything possible to not only increase yields, but also the levels of cannabinoids in their plants, most notable tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD. According to the Cannabis Industry Journal, dissolved oxygen makes this possible more than any other method. Healthy plants put their energy into producing more cannabinoids, instead of just surviving.
There is no doubt that dissolved oxygen offers many and undeniably positive benefits for cannabis plants in aquaponics systems. Not only does it make for healthier, happy, more productive plants, but it also makes tank maintenance easier by controlling anaerobic microbial growth, and it ensures optimal health of your fish, as well. If you are growing weed, then increasing oxygen should be essential.