|Aquaponics is an integrated aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponic (growing soilless plants) system that mutually benefits both environments. Aquaponics uses no chemicals, requires one tenth or 10% ofuaculturthe water needed for field plant production and only a fraction of the water that is used for fish culture (Aqe).The waste from fish tanks is treated with natural bacteria that converts the waste, largely ammonia, first to nitrite and then to nitrate. The fish waste absorbed by plants is pumped to a bio-filter system as a nutrient solution for the growing plants (Grow Bed). The only external input to the system is food for the fish. Both systems complement each other as a single unit, not as separate units.Once the system is initialized the water stays Ph balanced and remains crystal clear. The water is recycled with a small amount of water added weekly to compensate for what is lost by evaporation and transpiration by the vegetables. Aquaponics is the future of home gardening and commercial fresh food production.
Greenhouse growers and farmers are taking note of Aquaponics for several reasons:
* Hydroponic growers view fish-manured irrigation water as a source of organic fertilizer that enables plants to grow well.
* Fish farmers view hydroponics as a bio-filtration method to facilitate intensive re-circulating aquaculture.
* Greenhouse growers view Aquaponics as a way to introduce organic hydroponic produce into the marketplace, since the only fertility input is fish feed and all of the nutrients pass through a biological process.
* Food-producing greenhouses – yielding two products from one production unit – are naturally appealing for niche marketing and green labeling.
* Aquaponics can enable the production of fresh vegetables and fish protein in arid regions and on water-limited farms, since it is a “water re-use” system.
* Aquaponics is a working model of sustainable food production wherein plant and animal agriculture are integrated and recycling of nutrients and water filtration are linked.
* In addition to commercial application, Aquaponics has become a popular training aid on integrated bio-systems with vocational agriculture programs and high school biology classes.
The technology associated with Aquaponics is complex. It requires the ability to simultaneously manage the production and marketing of two different agricultural products. Until the 1980s, most attempts at integrated hydroponics and aquaculture had limited success. However, innovations since the 1980s have transformed Aquaponics technology into a viable system of food production. Modern Aquaponic systems can be highly successful, but they require intensive management and they have special considerations.