What Is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics comes from the combination of aquaculture, the process of fish farming, and hydroponic, soilless plant culture. This technique is sustainable and helps to minimize the effects of global warming in an efficient way.
When fish and plants are grown in the same system, it mimics the natural habitat of a water body. The fish produce waste which is used by the plants. In return, plants help to keep the system clean. Therefore, aquaponics is the perfect example of a symbiotic relationship in which both components benefit equally.
Here are all the things you need to know about how this system works, along with some of the most significant benefits.
How Does It Work?
When you combine aquaculture with hydroponics, you get a manageable and less expensive fish and plant cultivation system. Aquaponic farming is gaining more popularity nowadays since it is far more scalable than the rest and can be done outdoors as well as indoors.
Read along to know the components of this system and how each one of them works.
As discussed earlier, there are two main components of this efficient indoor farming method. The first one is where the plants (hydroponics) are grown, and the second one is where the fish are cultured (aquaculture). Since most of the time, the fish are reared in a closed system, it may induce the accumulation of waste items. While these waste items are relatively toxic to aquatic animals, they provide optimal nutrition to the plants.
The subcomponents of an aquaponic system include a hydroponic subsystem, the sump, a solid removal unit, and biofiltration. All in all, these subcomponents, when combined together, make way for an affordable and efficient plant/aquatic animal cultivation method.
Some of the most common aquatic animals include freshwater fish. It is mainly because freshwater fish can tolerate changing water conditions and also have a high tolerance for crowding. Apart from freshwater fish, you can also add prawns.
The plants that can be grown in aquaponics mainly depends on the fish population. However, the different species that can be included in the system include Chinese cabbage, herbs, and lettuces.
Microbes are an essential part of an aquaponic system since these convert ammonia into nitrites and then to nitrates. The most common bacteria are Nitrosomonas (converts ammonia into nitrites) and Nictrobacter (converts nitrites into nitrates).
The roots of the plants in an aquaponic system are generally submerged in the water. The water, however, has several toxic elements which can prove to be harmful to aquatic animals. Therefore, the water needs to be cleaned and oxygenated.
Post that, the water is released into the aquaculture vessel.
The Benefits of Aquaponics
Aquaponics is a relatively new word in indoor gardening. However, it has been practised under several other names throughout the world for decades. It is mainly because this food production system comes with a plethora of benefits. Mentioned below are some of them.
Plants Grow Three Times Faster
The plants that are grown in an aquaponic system have access to a nutrient-rich environment. This helps them grow around three times faster when you compare it to the plants grown in the soil. Additionally, the taste of the plants is also better.
Less Use of Chemicals
Since an aquaponic system has fish in it, using a pesticide or insecticide can be harmful. Therefore, to prevent the intervention of pests, you can cover the system with a mesh. Since there is less use of chemicals, the produce will be fresh, organic, and non-toxic.
In an aquaponic system, the fish you produce grows free from pollution. The same goes for vegetables and other herbs that are grown in the system. If you want to enjoy a healthy life, consuming such produce will help you make the required change.
Reduced Water Usage
Aquaponics uses 90% less water as compared to regular soil gardening. This is because the water keeps getting recycled. Other than that, there is zero to no water loss.
One of the major benefits of home aquaponics is that it gives people instant access to food. Additionally, the food is healthy and fresh. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about the quality of the food.
An aquaponic system provides all the vital nutrients to plants. While you may have to provide fish food, there is nothing else that needs to be added. Apart from that, you will be able to avoid water pollution and waste buildup in the system and provide a healthy environment for plants and aquatic animals. You can also add iron so that the plants absorb water better. Also, to break down organic matter and get rid of solid waste, you can add worms to the system.
It Doesn't Require a Lot of Space
You can build an aquaponic system even in a very small space. In fact, it also reduces the hassle of gardening chores as compared to conventional farming. You’ll only be required to feed the fish and see if the system is operating properly or not.
The process of plant and fish cultivation simultaneously is known as aquaponics. It is one of the most economical ways to grow fresh produce for you and your family. Not only that, but the produce is organic, and you won’t have to worry about soil-borne diseases. So, if you want a year-long and nutritious harvest, aquaponics is a great way to start.