What is Aquaponics and How Does it Work?
Before you can understand how aquaponics can feed your family, for forever, you first need to understand how aquaponics functions.
In aquaponics, fish are kept in a tank and their waste becomes a natural fertilizer for plants. This waste is pumped out of the tank and used to fertilize the plants, which in turn purifies and clean the water. By recycling the water in this manner, aquaponic gardens are an efficient form of gardening.
Since there is no digging or tilling involved in an aquaponics system, the plants are free to grow in a mineral-rich soil.
The soil is kept "alive" with minerals.
So, there's no need to use any soil amendments, such as peat moss. Aquaponic gardens can be started with a simple tank and a water circulating pump. It's an ideal system for the beginner gardener and for the urbanite who is short on space.
The waste produced by one fish is enough to grow between 2000 and 3000 plants.
This organic way of growing food is ideal for our environment. It reduces pollution, water usage, and the amount of land used.
The harvest of an aquaponic garden is enough to feed a family of four.
And it takes up significantly less space than a traditional garden.
Other Advantages to Aquaponics
Although the nutritional advantages of aquapons vs. traditional farming are tremendous, aquaponics has other advantages. These include:
Water conservation: Because an aquaponics system uses only about 1% of the water used in a traditional farming system, it has tremendous water conservation results. Even in drought conditions, an aquaponics system will be able to produce a significant amount of healthy fish.
Free of chemicals: Fish and aquaponics systems are also free of pesticides and herbicides, which result in superior nutritional value for the fish and the plants.
Pest-free: Aquaponics systems use only organic fertilizers, so pests are a non-issue.
Flowering plants: Because aquaponics systems can be run in a greenhouse, flowering plants are possible.
Soil-free: Some aquaponics systems don’t use soil at all. While the aquaponics system above does use soil, its primary function is to act as a host for beneficial microbes. As the fish living in the system count as livestock, you can use it for storing nutrients, and these are transferred to the plants in the soil through beneficial microbes.
No winter interruptions: Although you can usually grow fish for food all year round, you cannot usually grow plants. Because an aquaponics system is completely indoors, it can grow in the winter as well as the summer.
Small-Scale Aquaponics for Beginners
Aquaponics is simply the act of raising both fish and plants together in a developing ecosystem.
This can be achieved using a large sized fish tank or a much much smaller-sized fish tank.
Commonly Regarded as Simple
The reason for wanting to use a small-sized aquaponic system would be for the advantages of the smaller system.
Using a smaller aquaponics system allows for experimentation. Instead of working with a large fish tank and an elaborate and big growing bed, aquaponics hobbyists and beginners can start small and build variety and sophistication into their home aquaponics system as they go.
The same is also true of home aquaponics systems for raising tilapia. In other words, if you start small, you can easily upgrade your home aquaponics system with more complex elements, such as a worm farm filtration system, as your skills and knowledge increase.
This means you can start small with your aquaponics system and slowly build up your system as you gain knowledge and experience. It also means that aquaponics systems aren’t just for people with big, green thumbs…home aquaponics systems are as easy as you want them to be.
Easy to Start, Easy to Expand.
What Types of Fish to Use in Small-Scale Aquaponics
Cold water fish vs. warm water fish—Aquaponics refers to a system that uses fish to recycle water and organic matter. This makes it a great choice for anyone that loves fresh fish, but most people aren’t keen on catching their own.
Cold water fish species (Trout, Bass, Mullet, Catfish) are much more common, usually cheaper, easier to catch, and easier to get to market. Warm water fish species are less common, usually more expensive, and usually involve some kind of travel to market.
Shellfish—Shrimp are an excellent fish to use in aquaponics systems but most shrimp need salt water to thrive, making their use very limited for most aquaponic systems.
The most common shrimp would be the White Pearl and the Black Tiger Shrimp, both are excellent feeders, produce nice sized shrimp and they will reproduce if the other beneficial bacteria and conditions in your tank are met.
Prior to the invention of the aerator, cold water fish were typically the only type of fish used in aquaponics; however, with recent advances in technology, warm water fish are now being used in aquaponics. Using warm water fish in aquaponics has advantages and disadvantages and a lot is dependent on market.
What Kinds of Produce Can You Grow?
When people first think about aquaponics, they assume that the yield will be small and that it will take a truly green thumb to grow anything. If you’ve ever asked yourself “can Aquaponics grow lettuce?” or “can you grow tomatoes in Aquaponics?” you’re not alone.
The truth of the matter is that the fish waste and the nutrients that it creates are the key ingredients for growing astounding amounts of food. It will take a bit of preparation, but you can easily grow delicious tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers, carrots, and potatoes. The fruits and vegetables also have a higher nutrient profile than what you would find at the store.
How to Get Started With Your First System
If you're planning to grow your own food including fruits, vegetables, and fish, Aquaponics is an easy and efficient way to do it. It combines the concept of Aquaculture … the rising of fish … and Hydroponics … the growing of plants … in a compact, relatively low maintenance system that can be set up in a basement, garage, garden shed, or patio. The result is a renewable food source that's produced right in your very own backyard, where it's warm and sunny most of the year.
An Aquaponic system is a combination of two different growing methods … Hydroponics and Aquaculture. Hydroponics is a popular agricultural technique of growing plants in media that is enriched by mineral solutions instead of soil. Hanging gardens, vertical gardens, and plant-growing tables and platforms are a few examples of Hydroponic gardening. Aquaculture is the cultivation of animals or plants using aquatic environments, in which the growth and development of a single organism is aided by the presence of a live organism (usually an aquatic animal or plant species) which provides nutrients and removes waste products.