Many home hobbyists, gardeners, and commercial food producers are starting to discover the advantages of aquaponics. This revolutionary system is a way of producing both fish and vegetables, using a fraction of the water, and eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers, and virtually eliminates harmful wastes.
What is aquaponics? It is the combination of hydroponics and aquaculture. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants with their roots directly in water without soil. Aquaculture is the process of growing fish. Both of these types of systems can be very efficient, but there are disadvantages associated with both.
Problem with Aquaponics
With aquaculture, a big problem is the accumulation of fish wastes. These wastes can become toxic to fish when they reach certain levels. The typical way of solving this is to constantly flush water out of the system and replace it with clean fresh water. This works well for the fish but it requires a lot of water and then there is a problem of disposing of the water with the fish wastes.
With hydroponics, production can be excellent, but it requires a lot of fertilizer. This usually comes from adding chemical fertilizers. This can be costly, a constant chore, and not desirable for organic gardeners. These systems can sometimes need to be flushed too in order to maintain proper chemical and fertilizer balance.
With aquaponics, the water that the fish are in is circulated through the hydroponic system. The fish wastes that can be toxic to the fish are just what the plants need for nutrients. The fish feed the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish. This can eliminate the need for fertilizer and the need for artificial filtering or replacing of the water.
This can result in plants that grow much faster and produce more food than plants grown in soil. Plants can be grown in much less space, require little if any supplemental fertilizer. It consumes less than one tenth the amount of water, and the problem of disposing of fish wastes is eliminated. Plus it will produce fish.
This is a process that very closely mimics nature. This is how many natural ecosystems work, with multiple organisms benefiting each other. With many of these systems it is close to a closed cycle.
Aquaponic systems come in many forms and can be simple or complex. Some are as simple as a tank of water with fish and plant on top with their roots in the water. Others can be complex with circulating pumps, reservoirs, valves and many other components.
Depending on what your desires are needs are, there are aquaponics systems that can be very practical for any hobbyist, gardener or commercial grower.