The perfect combination of hydroponics and aquaculture in a single recirculating environment is termed aquaponics. While aquaculture refers to the breeding of aquatic animals like fish, hydroponics is the growing of plants without using soil. Aquaponics makes use of the waste produced by fish and the nitrifying bacteria will convert this waste to nutrients needed for the growth of the plants. These nutrients will be absorbed by the plant roots to flourish. In return, the roots of the plant clean the water and filter it for the fish to live.
How Does Aquaponics Work?
Aquaponics offer grow beds for the plants to grow and the fishes will be in the fish tank. The fish tank will have water that is nutrient-rich with fish waste will be given to the grow bed where there are hundreds of natural bacteria to break down the ammonia into nitrates and later to nitrates.
The nutrients and these nitrates help the plants to grow. The roots of the plants clean the water and filter it before it goes to the fish tank where the fishes live. The oxygenated, clean, and freshwater recirculates to the fish tank and this cycle will continue.
What are the benefits of aquaponics?
Aquaponics has different benefits. Some of the major benefits include
- It is an intensive and sustainable production system.
- The breeder gets income from both plant and fish production.
- It is a water-efficient process.
- Aquaponics does not need any soil or large land spaces.
- No use of pesticides, chemicals, or fertilizers to protect fish.
- As no soil is involved, digging and weeding can be avoided.
- Food can be grown all year round by adjusting the temperature according to the crop grown and also by using a greenhouse.
- The aquaponics products are chemical-free and organic.
History of aquaponics
The history of aquaponics dates back to 1000 AD to the Aztec Indians, who used to grow plants on their racks on Lake Texcoco’s surface. The chinampas of Aztecs in Mexico are regarded as modern aquaponics basics. The eastern Asian people, including Thailand, Indonesia, and China, also practiced aquaponics during those days. In Asia, early aquaponics was growing rice in the paddy fields using fishes like catfish. The catfish tanks will have wastes that fertilize rice and other crops in the field.
The evolution of modern aquaponics is believed to have taken place in the 1970s. Dr. Mark McMurtry’s works at the North Carolina State University and the New Alchemy Institute played a major role in developing modern aquaponics.
The New Alchemy Institute concentrates on the study of creating human support systems that are derived ecologically for aquaculture agriculture, renewable energy, housing, and landscapes. A portion of this research was based on aquaculture and the experiment was done by breeding edible fishes in tanks above the grounds. The wastewater from these tanks was fertile and was used to grow crops in the greenhouse. The works and research of the New Alchemy Institute inspired Dr. McMurtry who began his research on aquaponics. Prof. Doug Sanderson created the first closed-loop aquaponics system in the 1980s.