As I mentioned in my first post, the word Aquaponics is derived from a combination of two different terms – Hydroponics which is the process of growing plants without soil – usually in a solution of nutrient rich water and Aquaculture which is , basically fish farming. Aquaponics brings the best of these two processes together and the end result is nothing short of spectacular. Let me explain exactly how it works.
First Of All – Hydroponics
In Hydroponics plants are grown by supplying them with a nutrient rich solution which is added to water and then fed directly to the plant’s roots. In some cases the plants roots are not even placed into the water directly – they may be suspended without any growing medium and then the nutrified water sprayed on at pre-determined time intervals. In some hydroponics systems the plants are suspended in a growing medium which helps support them and keeps them moist and aerated. Which ever method is used, however, its important that the system is well balanced with the nutrient, water and external conditions such as exposure to sunlight, temperature and protection from the harsh elements such as cold and frost carefully controlled.
Lets Bring In Aquaculture
In Aquaculture, nutrient rich water is used to cultivate fish. A wide variety of fish, crustaceans and molluscs can be farmed using aquaculture and with careful management , yields can be significantly higher than in the wild. Its not without its problems though because the waste water has to be filtered and/or disposed of in some manner in order to keep the tank water free of toxic buildups. Aquaculture has received some negative press in recent years, particularly in regions where fish farming is carried out on an industrial scale since it has been shown to cause damage to the surrounding eco systems.
So, Lets Bring Them Together – Aquaponics
Whereas Hydroponics and Aquaponics have their pros and cons, when you combine them together you end up with a system that gains all of the benefits but doesn’t suffer from any of the down-sides. In aquaponics, hydroponics and aquaculture are combined to grow plants and fish together in one completely integrated system. This enables 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 completely self-contained micro-ecosystem where both plants and fish thrive with no waste being thrown off to pollute the surrounding environment.