Why is my Aquaponics Water Going Amber?



The Amber Gold Water Colour of a healthy system



Many newcomers to aquaponics get worried when they begin to notice their water colour changing from that clear transparent look of fresh water to a more aged and darker shade of amber-gold.
Some people worry that some odd tanin or colour agent has leached into their tank and altered the pristine colour of the fish water. What caused their water to change colour? Was it the compost worms they added to their growbeds? Or some other sinister force?

Relax – this is nature telling you that your system is in good condition.

The amber-gold shade is normal in all good aquaponics systems. There are two types of bacteria. Autotrophic and Heterotrophic bacteria.



Clear Water in a New Aquaponics System



Most autotrophic bacteria can synthesize their energy needs or food nutrients from substances like hydrogen sulphide. This process is called chemosynthesis and involves the use of chemical substances for the production of energy. In an aquaponics system a different group of bacteria are responsible for the amber colour of the water.

Heterotrophic bacteria cannot synthesize their own energy and must consume organic matter for energy. These bacteria convert the fish waste into Nitrates that the plants enjoy. A side benefit is that as your system matures – the water turns a deeper darker richer amber colour.

See it as Nature giving you a big tick for maintaining a quality mini eco-system.