Just imagine having a self-sustained food source right in your own backyard. Wouldn’t it be amazing to grow organic vegetables and fish with no pesticide and little maintenance? It sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, but it’s something anyone can do. The technique I’m talking about is called Aquaponics, and the process has been around for centuries. So, what is aquaponics? Let’s talk about it!
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is the combination of two food production methods: Hydroponics and aquaculture, raising aquatic animals. In more basic terms, Aquaponics is growing fish and plants together. The fish produce the nutrients the plants need to grow and the plants clean the water for the fish. During this process, natural bacteria helps breakdown the fish waste and convert it into nutrients for the plants. This symbiotic process happens in every waterway on earth.
From tilapia to goldfish, you just need freshwater fish to complete an aquaponics system and almost any plant can be grown. Plants grown using aquaponics grow more quickly and produce higher yeilds than other gardening methods. One thing to keep in mind is that aquaponic systems stay at a neutral pH, so acidic-loving plants like blueberries and gardenias cannot be grown.
The History of Aquaponics
Long before the term “aquaponics” was coined, the Aztec Indians raised plants on rafts on the surface of a lake in approximately 1,000 AD. The Aztecs lived near a fresh water lake, surrounded by marshes and rising hills. They faced the problem of trying to find a place to grow food, but they came up with an amazing solution!
Here’s the solution the Aztecs came up with:
- They constructed large rafts out of reeds and rushes
- They floated these rafts in the water and covered them with soil
- They then planted their vegetable crops on these floating islands that they called chinampas
- When the plants matured, their roots grew through the soil and dangled in the water
Aquaponic systems can vary in size. Simple small systems can supplement a family’s nutrition and large, highly advanced systems can be used for mass production in commercial use. With aquaponics, it’s possible to grow large amounts of fresh and healthy food, including fish on urban rooftops, in classrooms, and even apartment buildings, just to name a few!
If you’re interested in trying your hand at Aquaponics, you can get started the easy way with an Aqualibrium Garden. This is a great system for beginners. It’s a powerful system that is big enough for a garden yet small enough for an apartment. Learn more about this new, innovative system here: http://aqualibrium.com/the-aqualibrium-garden/
The Benefits of Aquaponics
There are so many benefits to growing an aquaponic garden!
- It’s completely organic.
- There’s absolutely no need for pesticides or antibiotics when growing with an aquaponics system
- Uses 90% less water than soil-based gardening
- The water in the aquaponic system is constantly recirculating.
- Only require a small amount of energy to run a pump and circulate air for the fish
- Can be set up almost anywhere, any time of the year
- No need to worry about weeds or pathogens because there’s no soil
Urban farming is no longer just a hobby for people to grow organic food for themselves; it’s an innovative way for designers and engineers to create real solutions for growing large quantities of food for consumption. Aquaponics is, without a doubt, a key part of how we are going to grow and consume our food for the future.
*Image Credits: Images above from FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Golden Koi Fish Image courtesy of japanachai; Tree In Water Tank Image courtesy of digitalart; Hydroponics Vegetable Image courtesy of lobster20; Bass Fish Image courtesy of criminalatt
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