The definition of aquaponics is in its name – it is a combination of AQUAculture (the growing of fish) and hydroPONICS (the growing of vegetables and herbs). Aquaponics is a perfect example of sustainable food production, and many people are turning to this system of home food growing. Using aquaponics to grow your food will save you lots of money and give you food that is organic and of higher quality than what you’d buy in shops.
In an aquaponics system, the water from the fish reaches the hydroponic beds. The plants will take up some of the water, and with it the nitrogen in the water. This nitrogen will have originated from fish manure and decomposing feed. If the nitrogen is allowed to build up in the fish tank, it will reach toxic levels. However, this nitrogen happens to be a perfect fertilizer for the vegetables! This saves you from having to add artificial fertilizer, which is expensive and contains synthetic chemicals that are potential harmful. After the plants have taken up the nitrogen, the water returns to the fish pond squeaky clean. Hence, you won’t need complicated filtering systems for the fish water, as the plants will do this work for you!
The aquaponic system is a mixture between the aquaculture, as it requires growing fish in a special fish tank and hydroponics, as it involves growing plants with water and nutrients. You will probably wonder what role the fish play in all this business. Well, things are quite easy: the fish excrements contain ammonia which is later decomposed in nitrites and nitrates. The latter substance is benefic for the plants, offering them enough nutrients to grow and develop normally. Thus, there will be no need to supply your plants with chemical substances as they will already have all the food they need.
This leads to the several advantages that the aquaponic system has over the hydroponic one. First, the vegetables will have a better taste as they will grow only with natural food and at their own peace. This will give them that delicious taste you love so much in veggies. Then, the system is simpler, as you will no longer need to feed your plants each and every day. Just make sure that your fish are in good shape and then let nature take its course.
The benefits of aquaponics are many. It is a sustainable system of food production, where nutrients are recycled and external inputs are minimal. It is the most efficient method of food production as it can produce large amounts of food in the least amount of space and with the least amount of expenses. It is a very flexible system, allowing you to grow a large variety of fish and plants. And it can be set-up practically anywhere! In addition, it is very easy to scale according to needs, as the equipment required can easily be built at home. In other words, make it as big as you want. Maybe you just want a small unit to produce food just for your family. Or maybe you want to dedicate a whole room to it so that you’ll have lots of vegetables and fish to sell for a profit! Remember that all the foods grown in an aquaponics system are organic, as no additives are used. And, as you know, organic foods are of better quality and fetch higher prices than non-organic food. In fact, many are turning this hobby into a source of income.
Once you understand the concepts of aquaponics, you’ll realize that the set-up required is actually very basic, and it can be easily constructed using materials from around your house or purchased cheaply at any local hardware store. All you need are some core instructions and a few diagrams to get you started.
Last, but not least, with the aquaponic system you do not only grow vegetables, but you also have fish which you can use for decorative purposes or you can very well cook delicious meals for you and your family.
Aquaponics is an improved version of the hydroponic system. The crops are better and the process is easier. In addition to that you get to eat organic food! What more can you wish for?