Aquaponics is easy, because it’s a combination of raising fish and growing plants with hydroponic systems. The plants feed on the hydroponic nutrients, which come from the fish waste. The plants purify the fish water as they consume the nutrients through a natural process called, “Aquaponic Nitrogen Cycle.” This allows for an ecosystem where both fish and plants can grow naturally in optimum conditions. One of the aquaponic secrets is that this cycle allows fish farmers to dispose of fish waste, while feeding their plants with the nutrient rich water.
Hydroponic farming is a way to grow plants without soil. The plants are fed with hydroponic fertilizer, which are elements added to water and applied directly to the root system by several different methods. Some hydroponic systems contain a medium such as hydroton to secure the plants, provide moisture and oxygen to the root system. Aeroponic systems are the same concept, however, the plants are grown without any growing medium.
The other half of aquaponics is in aquaculture, the water is advanced nutrient rich, due to the digestion of the fish eating their food and leaving waste. Without plants this aquaculture setup needs to be filtered to prevent any toxic levels of waste, which can kill your fish. Fish farmers can sell or eat their fish up to a certain point. There needs to be a balance because without the fish, the aquaponic cycle will be disrupted, killing all the organically grown vegetables.
There is huge potential for the commercial aquaponics market, because of the efficiency and spacing saving methods of farming fish, growing vegetables and herbs. Aquaponics allows hydroponic growers to minimize their costs and labor involved in mixing a fertilizer solution and commercial aquaculturists are able to reduce the amount of filtration needed in the recirculation of fish culture. Commercial aquaponics system operators are limited, however, there is a strong level of interest in this organic method of food production. With little maintenance of less than 20 minutes a day, you can have fresh fish and vegetables year-round.
Can I have an aquaponic system at my home?
Home aquaponics has the potential to catch on quickly. An aquarium, with ornamental or food fish, can be combined with a mini garden, growing herbs, vegetables or flowers. A home system can serve as a beautiful show piece or a food production system, depending on the size. Many backyard aquaponics gardeners are setting up systems to grow hundreds of pounds of fish and an endless supply of herbs and vegetables a family needs.