Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (the controlled process of cultivating aquatic organisms) and hydroponics (plants which grow in water instead of in soil) in a recirculating system.
Aquaponics harnesses the symbiotic relationship between fish and plants to mimic a natural ecosystem. Microorganisms in the water convert ammonia from the fish waste to nitrates which are then absorbed by the plant roots. The plants use the nutrient-rich wastewater to grow. In turn, plants then purify the water which gets fed back into the fish tanks for reuse by the fish.
Aquaponics therefore merges the best properties from both Aquaculture and Hydroponics and produces a flourishing vegetable and fish crop from a small footprint, with no water wastage in an environmentally responsible way. Minimum effort and maintenance are required for this self-sustained way of farming.
Aquaponics technology is extremely suitable for new farmers for various reasons: It can be done on a small scale and can be expanded later. It is not labour-intensive and can be set up with relatively inexpensive materials. Medium-scale Aquaponics is suitable for the provision of fresh produce for a community, such as a school, retirement home, restaurant, or hotel.
There are many advantages of Aquaponics as compared to aquaculture, hydroponics or farming crops in the soil. These include faster growth, year-round growth, fewer disease issues, superb taste of the crops and shorter period to first harvest. With aquaponics, there is no toxic run-off, and the system requires no irrigation system, pesticides, or fertilizer. These advantages make Aquaponics a cost effective and sustainable farming method in the effort to end world hunger and produce wholesome and organic crops.
Why not try growing some of these Aquaponic vegetables:
- Herbs: basil, chamomile, parsley, lavender, echinacea
- Microgreens: watercress, sprouts, radish shoots, pea shoots
- Leafy greens: lettuce, kale, spinach
- Peppers: sweet bell peppers, chilis
- Tomatoes: all shapes and sizes
- Cruciferous veggies: cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli