How to Grow Mushrooms in Aquaponics (The Do’s & Don’ts)

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Many people living in urban areas want to grow their food but do not have space. Aquaponics can make it possible to grow vegetables and fish together without soil and in a water form of gardening.

How to grow mushrooms in aquaponics?

Mushrooms grow well in aquaponics. The process is easy. Create an aquaponics system, create the right growing environment, add in the fish, and maintain the right pH level in the tank.

Here are some basic do’s and don’ts on how to grow mushrooms in aquaponics – (a detailed description is provided further along in this article):

Do’s when growing mushrooms in aquaponics
• Have a small tank filled with the necessities.
• Keep the pH level at 7.5 to 8
• Maintain the temperature in your aquaponics garden between 63 to 68 degrees F with a humidity of 80 percent or higher.
• Keep the growing environment dark while allowing some light.
• Provide your media bed with standing logs.
• Purchase a growing kit and place it on the media bed.
• Brush off peat moss or dust on the mushrooms
• Place harvested mushrooms in a paper bag and store them in the refrigerator for one week.

 Don’ts when growing mushrooms in aquaponics
• Do not keep the temperature in your aquaponics garden over 74 degrees because this can result in undersized mushrooms.
• Do not expose the mushroom plant to light for more than five hours a day.
• Do not buy mushroom spores. Buy only the spawn of the mushroom.
• Avoid overwatering mushrooms as they quickly absorb water.

Reasons to Grow Food in an Aquaponics Garden

Other than allowing you to grow your own food even without soil, there are many reasons to grow vegetables in aquaponics:

• Aquaponics requires less time to maintain than a regular aquarium because fish waste serves as nutrients for the plants. So, the plants do the cleaning for you.

Aquaponics requires less water than traditional gardening. This system uses only about one-tenth of the water needed in soil-based gardening.

• Aquaponics gardening is completely organic. You cannot use harsh chemicals on the plants because they will kill the fish.

• Aquaponics reduces the strain on your back which you will often have while doing soil-based gardening. Aquaponics systems are waist high so you do not need to bend to tend for your plants.

You can place your aquaponics garden indoors, outdoors, or even in greenhouses. It can also be small or large, depending on your needs.

Interesting Facts about Mushrooms

Mushrooms are fungi and not plants. They do not have chlorophyll, so they do not need sunlight for photosynthesis. Mushrooms need other substances such as sawdust, wood chips, and grain for nourishment and growth.

Mushrooms are decomposers making them essential in the ecosystem. They break down organic matter and produce vital nutrients needed by the soil. Without fungi, nutrient cycling will not be possible, leading to the collapse of the food chain.

Mushrooms – A Superfood!
Mushrooms are considered superfoods because they are loaded with nutrients. Mushrooms contain the same nutrients as vegetables. Mushrooms also taste like meat making them popular with people who are into a meatless diet.

Mushrooms are tasty and extremely healthy. They are low in calories, fat-free, and loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients. Mushrooms are said to provide nutrients to your brain to keep it healthy.

The USDA says that 70 grams (about one cup) of sliced raw mushrooms contain:

• 2.3 g carbohydrates
• 4 mg sodium
• 0.2 g fats
• 2.2 g protein
• 15 calories

Different types of mushrooms have other nutritional profiles. While specialty mushrooms (oyster and shiitake) have higher levels of ergothioneine (antioxidant), button mushrooms are rich in potassium and selenium. Regardless of the type of mushroom you want to grow, you will surely enjoy a healthy meal with them.

Mushrooms in Aquaponics

Mushrooms come with unique appearances, so they are interesting to grow in aquaponics. Mushrooms are fungi and not plants, so you need to have a different approach to growing them. When growing mushrooms, you will experience the life cycle of fungi.

More importantly, mushroom aquaponics will provide you with meals that are not only flavorful but rich in nutrients, too.

Mushroom aquaponics combine aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil).

In mushroom aquaponics, the mushrooms fed on the waste or fish discharge. The mushrooms, in return, clean the water that reverts to the fish.

The waste of fish and microbes is essential for the nutrition of mushrooms. These beneficial bacteria converge in spaces between the mushrooms’ roots. The fish wastes are then converted into substances mushrooms can use to thrive and grow.

The primary keys to growing mushrooms in aquaponics are creating the right growing environment and having the right mushroom spawn (material needed to propagate mushrooms).

Types of Mushrooms to Grow in Aquaponics

There are millions of different types of mushrooms. Here are the types that can be grown in your aquaponics garden.

Button. This is the most common type of mushroom found in the supermarket.

Chanterelle. This is a type of gourmet mushroom with an intense flavor.

Oyster. This is the most popular mushroom that can be grown by first-time aquaponics gardeners. This mushroom is perfect for Asian cuisine.

Shiitake. This type of mushroom is delicious and comes with many health benefits.

Oyster mushrooms are not only the simplest type of mushroom to grow; they also consistently have a high rate of production.

Setting up your Aquaponics Garden

Here is how to assemble an aquaponics garden for growing mushrooms:

1. Bring out your fish tank. The size of your fish tank will depend on the species you will keep in them. You can also opt to use food-grade containers (opaque sides).

2. Assemble the tank in the same way you would in a regular fish tank. De-
chlorinate the water and allow it to cycle (4-6 weeks) before adding any fish. Be sure to have a pump.

3. Build your media bed inside the fish tank. The media bed is the container (plastic tray or wooden pallet crate) where your mushrooms will grow.

4. Fill the media bed with clay pebbles, inoculated logs, or any media that are pH neutral.

5. Add the fish after your tank has been properly cycled. Common fishes for aquaponics include:

• Goldfish
• Tilapia
• Pacu
• Koi
• Any ornamental fish

6. Add in the Mushroom spawn.

7. Maintain your aquaponics system.

• Feed your fish with a good-quality diet. You can feed them flake food and offer some occasional treats. Avoid feeding your fish with any live food as they may bring some diseases to the tank.

• Feed your fish two to three times a day with the food they can consume in about 5 minutes.

• Test the water in the tank every week to check on the ammonia, pH, nitrate, and nitrites levels. The pH level should be neutral (6.6 – 7.0), ideal for plants, fish, and bacteria.

• You will need to raise the pH level because it will drop below 7.0 after the first cycle. Add in potassium carbonate and calcium hydroxide in powder forms to the tank alternately.

How to grow mushrooms in aquaponics?

Mushrooms don’t grow from seeds but spores. Spores do not rely on soil for their growth. Instead, they rely on grain, wood chips, or sawdust for nourishment.

Spores and nutrient sources create mushroom spawns. Mushroom spawns support the growth of mushroom mycelium. Mycelium (white, tiny threadlike bodies) grow first before anything that looks like a mushroom grows.

You will get a better harvest of mushrooms when the spawn is applied to a growing medium such as straws, logs, wood chips, or cardboards.

Mushrooms also grow well in aquaponics. Here are some do’s and don’ts (in detail) on how to grow mushrooms in aquaponics:

• Do’s

• Have a small tank filled with clay aggregate pebbles, fishes, light, air pump, and humidity gauge.

• Keep the pH level at 7.5 to 8

• Maintain the temperature in your aquaponics garden between 63 to 68 degrees F with a humidity of 80 per cent or higher. This produces the best quality and best quantity of mushrooms because mushrooms thrive in a cold environment.

• Keep the growing environment dark while allowing some light.

• Provide your media bed with standing logs. If you are growing oyster mushrooms, inoculate (introduce microorganisms) the logs first.

• You can purchase a growing kit and place it on the media bed. There are growing kits that allow mushrooms to be harvested within a few weeks.

• Brush off peat moss or dust on the mushrooms with a damp towel or with your fingers.

• Place harvested mushrooms in a paper bag and store them in the refrigerator for one week. Mushrooms have short shelf lives, and they are best eaten fresh.

• Don’ts

• Do not keep the temperature in your aquaponics garden over 74 degrees because this can result in undersized mushrooms. Temperatures over 86 degrees can kill the mycelium (vegetative body of the fungi that produces the mushrooms) of the mushroom.

• Do not expose the mushroom plant to light for more than five hours a day. Too much light will not encourage the mycelium to fruit into mushrooms.

• Do not buy mushroom spores. Buy only the spawn of the mushroom. Growing mushrooms from spores take a long time.

• Avoid overwatering mushrooms as they quickly absorb water. Overwatering will reduce their growth.

How to Speed up the Growth of Mushrooms

Beginner growers of aquaponics mushrooms worry why their inoculated logs are not producing fruits. Some mushrooms are slow-growing and can take years before they start to fruit.

Here are some things you can do to speed up fruiting:

• Soak logs for 24 hours in cold water

• Mist inoculated logs

• Improve airflow in your aquaponics garden. Make sure it is well-ventilated.

If the mushrooms growing in your aquaponics garden have some deformities (cracked caps or long stems), reduce moisture and improve lighting and ventilation.

Final Thoughts

How to grow mushrooms in aquaponics?

Growing mushrooms in aquaponics allow you to have fresh and organic mushrooms whenever you feel like making pizza, beef with button mushrooms, or hot soup with shiitake mushrooms.

Wouldn’t it be great to be growing your mushrooms and at the same time enjoying the beauty of fish in an aquarium? Growing mushrooms in aquaponics will give you that pleasure. What an experience! What an accomplishment!

Jenny Marie
Tribal Writer

Edited By
Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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