Aquaponics is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture (fish farming). This is a symbiotic relationship, where fish wastes become the food source for plants, and the plants in turn provide a natural filter for the fish. This managed ecosystem is becoming increasingly popular as food sources and groundwater have become increasingly tainted.
Aquaponics is an ideal answer to recycle nutrient rich “fishy” water and the hydroponic enthusiasts’ need for nutrient rich solution. The best part in this environmental and friendly system is that everything is organic with no chemicals added.
Still in its infancy, aquaponics is following a steady upward growth curve. The obvious hydroponic benefits include: elimination of fertilizer costs and associated labor. The dramatic reduction of the filtration of fish waste is the main benefit afforded in aquaculture.
A homebased aquarium which has either food fish or ornamental fish, is simple to integrate with not so large hydroponic system to cultivate garden-fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers. A number of backyard farmers are in the process of developing aquaponics frameworks that supply enough fish and produce for their family.
Aquaponics is about to become an important new part of urban food production in major world cities- especially on roofs, on walls and within buildings. It is becoming a new form of urban organic farming, with a touch of magic in the provision of more health promoting omega-3 oil, an essential oil that most human diets sorely need.
In modern aquaponics fish, molluscs and crustaceans are fed recycled food nutrients. Micro-organisms then covert fish wastes to plant food. Fish, crustaceans, molluscs, herbs, vegetables and fruit become superior fresh foods with little or no transport or energy costs. The water cleaned by the plants is used again in the tanks, and costs are reduced considerably. Fresh food transport costs are virtually eliminated. It is ingenious human mimicry of Mother Nature.
Aquaponics is a word adopted in the United States, about 35 years ago to describe the combination of farming aquatic animals and animals (fish, crustaceans and molluscs) with the growing of vegetables and fruits in organic-hydroponic. In Australia for example, it is about to become a modern, organic form of sensible urban agriculture using LED-lit technology driven by solar power, and incorporating the recycling of clean urban organic matter with the provision of omega-3 oils in fresh foods.
The technology has its roots in China and Central America more than 1000 years ago. Chinese rice growers grew fish in their flooded paddies. Until Spanish conquistadores ruined their simple systems, the Aztecs and Incas had ‘chinampas’ where channelled city sewage pondings grew fish in water, fruit and vegetables on rafts.
It is now a most sensible food system integrating that has been largely overlooked in human kind’s blind adoption of unsustainable, industrial exploitation of soil and water. The major inputs in aquaponics are in fish feed and expert labour to tend and harvest the double-cropping system. At its best, the aquaponics fish are herbivores and omnivores that can use locally produced feed containing omega-3 oils.
Fresh produce from aquaponics is healthier local food for humans. It has less harmful fats, sugars and carbohydrates and more omega-3 oils, for sounder human diets. Aquaponics with added technology is also promising cheaper fresh food in “protected agriculture” systems next to home kitchens, restaurants and food services facilities.
Some companies’ plan is to develop a modular system for aquaponic, enclosed in a protected, climate controlled environment to minimize pests and diseases. New technologies in water, food nutrient recycling and power supply will minimize developments costs and minimize speed to local markets only very short distances away. This new technology is aimed at world markets for efficient urban agriculture that costs less for city supplies of healthy, fresh food.
Modules of aquaponics are being merged into more efficient local food production units, with the plan to put these systems together in a new way, offering them within a portable, low-cost building that can be re-packaged and transported to another site, if necessary. Such buildings and equipment will be offered as urban and rural franchises or for sale as second step aid packages when disasters adversely affect local food supplies.
However, the biggest short-term opportunity for aquaponics lies in the city’s retrofit rooftop gardeners and green roofs and green walls. Aquaponics is an environmental friendly practice and should be embraced because of the above mentioned benefits.