AQUAPONICS OVERVIEW

Aquaponics isn’t rocket science, however, there are some hard fast rules that must be followed.  Let’s start with an explanation of what Aquaponics is and how it works with an AQUAPONICS OVERVIEW.

Hydroponics is the art of growing plants in a solution of nutrient rich water without soil. The solution is created by adding the nutrients to the water which is fed directly to the plant’s roots. In some hydroponic systems, the roots are suspended without any growing medium with the water sprayed on them in a time interval manner and in others they are in a growing medium which keeps them moist, aerated and helps to support the plant. A well-balanced hydroponics system provides the plants with the proper water, nutrient ratios and optimum conditions for expedited growth.

In aquaculture, the fish are the delivering vehicle for nutrient rich water as a result of the fish digesting their food and excreting waste. In aquaculture systems, the wastewater has to be filtered and/or disposed of in some manner to keep the tank water free of toxic buildups.

In Aquaponics, the systems of hydroponics and aquaculture are combined to grow plants and fish together in one integrated system allowing the nutrient-rich water from the fish to be pumped to a hydroponic system to provide a food source for the growing plants and the plants, in turn, provide a natural filter that removes harmful properties from the water which is then returned to the fish in the aquaculture system. Aquaponics is actually a complete ecosystem unto itself where both plants and fish thrive with no waste being thrown off to pollute the earth’s ecosystem.

Aquaponics is the ideal answer to aquaculturist’s problem of disposing of nutrient rich water and the hydroponic growers’ whose need for nutrient-rich water to raise their plants is made available.

“Aquaponics Magazine”  recommends a simple, efficient, flood and drain systems that use medium filled grow beds for backyard growers. Although this is not the only systems available it is by far the simplest to set up for beginners, especially for home users.

Aquaponics uses no chemicals, requires one tenth of the water needed for field plant production and only a fraction of the water that is used for fish culture. (Aquaculture)

This style is simple in its operation; water from the fish tanks complete with waste, rich in nutrients is pumped into the grow beds filled with the hydroponic medium of your choice. Plant roots growing in that medium extract the nutrients from the water; the water is then pumped back to the fish cleaned where it is freshly oxygenated with air pumped through aeration systems in place to the tanks.

The fish water rich in its nutrients is pumped to the grow beds where it is evenly distributed by a simple system of pipes. The nutrients in the water feeds the plants being produced such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and other green leafy vegetables and herbs as it filters through the grow bed medium which can consist of such mediums as professionally manufactured clay pellets or gravel, round river stones etc.  It is then returned to the fish tank via a gravity fed system or it can be pumped back to the fish tanks. The water returned is cleaned and ready for use by the fish.  In a properly set up Aquaponics system, the water will stay Ph balanced and remain crystal clear.

The recycled water remains in continuous circulation except for a small amount added weekly or as needed to compensate for evaporation and transpiration by the vegetables. Because of this process, Aquaponics uses only about 1/10 of the water required for traditional gardening or fish farming.

There is no doubt in this writer’s opinion, Aquaponics is the future of home gardening and commercially produced fresh food for a dry land use in the US especially in arid states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and parts of Texas.  Aquaponics can produce a literal garden of Eden in the deserts of America and other parts of the world.  It is a balanced, self-contained eco-system that can help third world countries produce food for the multitudes.

Absolutely no chemicals are needed whatsoever, the system is totally organic in its operation.  In fact, chemicals cannot be sprayed or added to the vegetable part of the system because it would leech into the water which is returned to the fish causing a complete fish kill. Plant pests are kept to a minimum by housing the system in greenhouses stocked with nature’s own insecticide; Lacewings, Lady Bugs, Praying Mantis and others where eventually a natural balance is achieved.

Earthworms can be raised using the heavy waste from the fish which will accumulate in the lowest part of the fish tanks for food along with cast off leaves from certain vegetables being raised such as lettuce etc.  The worms can then be feed to the fish and the earthworm compost can be sold to the public for use in their garden or perhaps planter box gardens or flower beds.

Americans and others around the world are now beginning to understand and embrace the simple technology of Aquaponics and it is beginning to receive the well-deserved renaissance it deserves.

As a commercial venture, aquaponics, though still in its infancy and taking into consideration the technology developments happening worldwide at this time, has the potential to be a more efficient and space-saving method of producing fish, vegetables and herbs for human consumption than any other system currently available.  By incorporating aquaculture and hydroponic, growers can eliminate the cost and labor involved in mixing a fertilizer solution while drastically reducing the amount of filtration needed in re-circulating fish nutrient water. Recently, a strong interest in commercial aquaponic operations is being expressed more and more as an intensive method of food production.

On a hobby scale, aquaponics has the potential to catch on quickly. A home aquarium with ornamental or food fish can be combined with a mini garden growing herbs, vegetables or flowers. A hobby system can serve as a beautiful showpiece as well as a food production system, depending on its size. Many backyard gardeners are setting up systems to grow hundreds of pounds of fish and all the fresh vegetables their family needs.

  • All systems recycle the water and use only approximately 10% of the water required to grow crops in the ground.

  • Year round increased planting density producing more products in less space with a much faster maturing period.

  • Completely chemical and pesticide free due to the use of natural predatory insects.

  • No leaching of nutrients or waste to be pumped into the environment.

  • Minimal Maintenance, time governed by the size of the operation.

  • Ability to produce a large quantity of food in a small space compared to conventional in-ground systems.

  • Grow beds can be set at a comfortable working height allowing disabled and wheelchair-bound persons to be hired for part-time help as needed.

  • Preparation of grow bed medium is much simpler and less expensive than conventional soil preparation

  • When set up correctly, aquaponic systems are very clean and neat requiring very little maintenance.

  • Complete elimination of all soil borne diseases.

  •  A great educational tool to teach children how to grow food and care for living things.

  • Compared to conventional methods, aquaponic systems are very inexpensive to run.

  • No ongoing tilling or fertilizing of the soil to produce a medium sufficient to produce a profitable crop.

  • A year-round sustainable food production at the back door for the backyard hobbyist.

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