Aquaponics is a combination of traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish and prawns in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.
This is an environmentally friendly and natural food growing method that is sustainable because of its natural recirculating ecosystem which is to convert fish waste to plant nutrients.
An aquaponics system can vary in size and complexity, from small home setups to large industrials systems.
The types of food you can grow can vary just as much as any other farming method.
What Are The Benefits Of Aquaponics?
In more recent times, more and more people are realizing the effectiveness and necessity to implement an aquaponics system.
The benefits of aquaponics include:
- Cheap To Operate: Buying an aquaponics system is expensive, but it’s cheap and simple to build your own. Once you have the system setup, operation costs are very low. All you need is stock fish, seeds and fish food.
- No Need For Fertilizers Or Soil: Your plants will get all of its nutrients from the wastes that your fishes produce.
- No Need For Weeding: Grow beds are placed high up from the ground so that the weeds cannot spread.
- No Need For Chemicals: Soil pesticides and other harmful chemicals are eliminated because there is no soil.
- Healthier & Tastier Fish & Vegetables: Everything is produced organically and as a result, your fish and vegetables will be much healthier and also taste much better.
- No Need For Water Change: The natural water recycling process of an aquaponics system means you don’t have to change the water for the fishes.
- Plants Grow Twice As Fast: Your plants will continually have all the rich and alive nutrients, minerals and vitamins they need to thrive, and as a result, you will get faster plant growth and high yields in between.
- Plant Crops All Year Round: Unlike traditional aquaculture and gardening, aquaponics allows you to plant crops at any time of the year.
- 95% Is Automated: This is one of the biggest advantages. Once your system is up and running, all you have to do is plant more seedlings at the end of the cycle.
A few examples of aquaponics being implemented for food causes around the world include:
- Caribbean Islands, Barbados: The government has created an initiative for people to develop a home aquaponics system to make money by selling produce to tourists, in order to reduce dependency on imported foods.
- Bangladesh: One of the world’s most densely populated countries. Bangladesh Agricultural University has devised plans for a cost-effective aquaponics system to provide chemical free produce (most farmers in Bangladesh uses harmful agrochemicals to prolong storage life) and fish for people who live in diverse climatic conditions.
- New Orleans & South Bronx, New York City: As a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Vietnamese fishermen community has relied on aquaponics for their livelihood.
Origins Of Aquaponics
In recent years, aquaponics has had a surge in popularity, particularly in Australia. Its originals can actually be traced all the way back into the times of the Aztec culture.
The Aztecs raised plants on stationary islands in lake shallows by using waste materials excavated from the Chinampas canals (cultivated agricultural islands) and surrounding cities, which helped to douse the plants.
Other early examples of aquaponics can be found in South China, Thailand and many other Far Eastern countries, where rice was cultivated and farmed in paddy fields alongside fish.
All over the world, there has been an increase in community integration of aquaponics, especially in many US states. Traditional farmers, gardeners and ordinary people worldwide has made the transition to aquaponics in response to the increasing amount of harmful substances put into our food supplies.
Our ocean’s fishes are constantly dwindling in numbers and if we want to even have the chance of saving the remaining species, then we must act now and think of the future.