Introduction to Aquaponics
If you are a keen gardener or an aquatic enthusiast then ‘aquaponics’ could be your ideal pastime! Aquaponics harmonises aquaculture, the process of raising fish, and hydroponics, the act of growing plants without soil, by rearing both of these organisms together within an integrated system.
Within the aquaponics process the waste produced by the fish that you raise will provide essential nutrients for the plants you grow. Simultaneously, your plants will filter this waste from the water within your aquaponics system to create a clean environment within which your fish can live. Furthermore, the worms and microbes that live on the surface of your grow-bed media will convert the ammonia within the fish waste into nitrites, nitrates and ultimately vermi-compost that your plants will absorb. Consequently, aquaponics harmonises all of the negative aspects of both aquaculture and hydroponics in order to create a cyclical system that is mutually beneficial for both fish and plants.
As well as creating a sustainable environment within which you can farm both fish and food, hydroponics is also one of the most ecologically responsible forms of agriculture available. By combining the two pastimes of aquaculture and hydroponics, you are significantly reducing your energy usage. For instance, aquaponics utilises up to 90% less water than conventional agricultural methods and, given that the process of aquaponics controls the conditions of your growing environment by itself, there is no need for artificial fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides.
What’s more, aquaponics enables you to grow a broad spectrum of fish and plants throughout the year. Within this controlled environment you can optimise the level of water and nutrients in order to yield maximum fish and plant growth regardless of the season.
Given the growing popularity of backyard aquaponics systems there are now a variety of stores and online forums that provide advice, tools and equipment for both aspiring and seasoned aquaponics farmers. All you have to do is find the aquaponics system that suits your growing space and you can begin to raise all manner of fish and plants to your heart’s content! Whether you want to purchase a complete aquaponics kit or feel inspired to build your own, Garden Gadget Zone has more information in the Aquaponics section.