In simple words, Aquaponics combines the practices of aquaculture and hydroponics. For the uninitiated, hydroponics is the system of growing plants without soil, while aquaculture is the practice of raising fish. In this post, we take a look at the basics of Aquaponics for those who want to try the option at home.
How does an Aquaponic system work?
When fishes excrete and respirate, ammonia is produced, which impacts the water and can be dangerous to the fishes. This is why aquaculture requires close monitoring of the tanks and systems, so that the water is clean enough for the fishes to grow healthy. In case of Aquaponic, plants are grown with the fishes in the system. The excrete and waste becomes food for the plants, and in return, plants filter the water for fishes. There’s also nitrifying bacteria that’s used in such systems, which helps in converting the ammonia into nitrites and eventually to nitrates, which can be a source for plants to grow. Of course, vegetables that can be grown with soilless environments can only be considered, and the same holds true for selected variants of fishes.
Why consider this an option?
Both hydroponic and aquaculture have some serious disadvantages, especially with regards to water usage, and Aquaponics does away with all of that. You can have a system in your backyard, and as long as you are doing it right, everything on your meal plate can be grown at home. Of course, Aquaponics isn’t easy, and the initial setup requires care, such as use of pumps, but this is an efficient system that has been in practice for hundreds of years. Aquaponics doesn’t involve use of chemicals and pesticides, which is a huge advantage, but at the same time, pest control, as experts agree, can be a bit of problem, given that the choices need to be healthy enough for the fishes.
Which fishes and plants can be grown in Aquaponics?
You will be rather surprised to know how big Aquaponic systems can be, and it is possible to grow a bunch of fishes and plants. The best fishes that do well in Aquaponics include koi, tilapia, goldfish, and sunfish. Carp, catfish and barramundi are other fishes that can be considered, and in recent years, perch has been a favorite. Coming to the plants, most of the leafy veggies can grow well in aquaponic systems, including bok choi, kale, spinach, basil, swiss chard, and common houseplants. Keep in mind that the setup of an aquaponic system largely determines the plants that can grow, and this list can include beans, tomatoes and peas among other options like peppers. Even bananas can be grown in an aquaponic system.
If you are interested in Aquaponics, do your homework and find more on how the entire setup works, because the nutrients are not enough, plants won’t grow, and if the water is not maintained, the fishes can die. It requires considerable balance to get Aquaponics right, but there are good blogs that can help.
Author Bio – Born in northern California, Jon Kay has 25 Years experience in the field of horticulture, gardening, building and servicing irrigation, landscape design and installation.