A Brief Introduction to Aquaponics

Aquaponics, simply, is the symbiotic cooperation of aquaculture and hydroponics. Traditionally in aquaculture, fish raised in holding tanks will require a routine water change as ammonia slowly builds and becomes toxic. Disposal of this water becomes necessary and if not handled in a responsible manner, can pollute the local environment.

Hydroponics is the art of raising plants in water, sometimes using a grow media like expanded clay pebbles for the roots to grasp. By providing (usually) commercial fertilizers to the water reservoir, plant growth can, in the right environment, exceed growing expectations.

Combining both aquaculture and hydroponics creates a (loosely) closed loop system where as the fish provide the nourishment for the plants by the nitrogen cycle and in return, plants clean and filter out the ammonia sending clean water back to the fish.


In the wild…

In this photo you can see our fish tank plumbed up with 3/4” PVC piping and fittings. Water is first pumped from the fish tank to the grow beds via a small pond pump. The grow beds then fill with water until reaching the desired level dictated by your auto siphon or bell siphon. Water from the siphon is then drained from the grow beds and returned back to the fish.

Barrel aquaponics setup

This photo shows the water from the grow bed being returned to the fish tank, cleaned up for the fish.

returning water to the aquaponics fish tank

Growing plants

Some plants grow better than others in an aquaponics system. Some plants don’t like to have their root submerged in water for extended periods of time. Plants like lettuce don’t mind their roots submerged in water with high levels of oxygen.

Grow beds barrel aquaponics

Other plants like broccoli like to have have a little air supplied to the roots, so a flood and drain system works well with growing these plants.

Green broccoli grown with aquaponics

Growing broccoli in an aquaponics system

The pea-pod plant seem to have taken nicely and the fruit tastes great!

pea pods grown with aquaponics

Of course this is just a brief overview of aquaponics. If you’re interested in learning more about the subject watch our video webcast or check back for more articles.

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