It sounds strange and super scientific, but really, aquaponics is relatively simple. The first thing you have to do is break the word down. It’s the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics.
aquaculture + hydroponics = aquaponics
Aquaculture is essentially raising fish and hydoponics is essentially growing plants without soil. Aquaponics is both of these things brought together. Both aquaculture and hydroponics have their own negatives, but combing the two in aquaponics eliminates their negatives.
Aquaponics is a continuous cycle, and its main components are a fish tank and a grow bed filled with some kind of gravel and plants growing in it. There are many different ways to construct this system, but you just need to have a way for the water to circulate through the grow bed into the fish tank and then back into the grow bed. No matter what way you construct it, the cycle is the same though. The fish produce ammonia waste, which is converted into nitrates by bacteria in the water. The nitrates are then used as fertilizer for the plants. The plants extract the nitrates and other nutrients from the water, which cleans the water for the fish. The symbiotic relationship between the fish and the plants needs little to no intervention from you once it has been set up. And these systems can be as big or as small as you need or want them to be; there are large-scale commercial versions of this and also backyard versions. No matter what size or scale you’re working with, the process is the same.
Benefits of aquaponics
- 1/10 of the water used in soil systems
- plants grow up to five times faster
- can be done in any size or scale
- incredibly productive
- very little effort needed
- fish and plant crops produced
- environmentally friendly
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Written by: Sage Leehey