Aquaponics

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Aquaponics

You may have heard the term “aquaponics” floating around (no pun intended) or even seen recent headlines in the news discussing the food production system. But what exactly is aquaponics and how can we as a society benefit from it? Aquaponics is essentially the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture refers to raising aquatic animals in tanks and hydroponics refers to growing plants in water (with the absence of soil). When you combine these two methods, you get fish waste supplying nutrients for plant growth. The plants absorb these nutrients which in turn cleans the water. Though aquaponics has only recently become a trend, the concept dates all the way back to Ancient Egyptians and Aztecs who used a similar system of floating islands.

How it works: Aquaponics essentially is a cycle that uses a fish tank and grow bed with a small pump circulating water between the two. The plants’ roots hang down into a tub of water where the fish waste builds. This toxic waste serves as a nutrient for the plants. It is funneled to the tubs where the plants reside. In turn, the plants absorb these nutrients and essentially filter the water for the fish. What’s great is that aquaponics can be used to cultivate a large variety of plants and fish.

Why Use Aquaponics? Everyone from individual gardeners to scientists and commercial growers are utilizing aquaponic practices for different reasons. Not only is it a space-efficient method of producing food, but it produces fresh food for healthier diets. Improved health coupled with environmentally sustainable practices has definitely peaked the attention of many. The benefits of aquaponics are endless:

  • There are no fertilizers or chemicals used since the fish waste acts as a natural fertilizer. Thus, it eliminates the threat of soil borne diseases.
  • It saves water – the water is recycled within the tanks. Aquaponic systems use about 1/10th the amount of water that plants grown in the ground do.
  • It is space-efficient – it can be set up just about anywhere reducing the need for communities to import food from other countries.
  • Minimal to no waste.
  • Healthy source of protein and nutrients.
Aquaponics in the news: A recent headline grabbed our attention: Denver jail sustainably growing food through aquaponics. The lean towards sustainable food growth is prevalent and extremely important. The jail raises all its fish and plants on site which could save them up to $20,000 in food costs a year and about 70% of the water used. Another benefit? The inmates are being trained to tend to the system which is a therapeutic practice that could have a positive impact on them. Schools are another place adopting aquaponic practices. The lessons learned are endless and the benefits are beyond words. We recommend setting up a small aquaponic system in your living area and reaping the benefits that these systems produce.

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  • Rogue Staff
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