If raising fish has been your hobby, perhaps you would love doing it while you are growing fruits and vegetables at the same time. Aquaponics is a farming technique where you turn fish waste into organic fertilizers for your plants to thrive. Unlike with traditional farming, aquaponics allows growers to enjoy an attractive, productive, and self-sustaining farming system that can be done on either small or huge areas while raising your favorite fish.
Aquaponics is a farming system that involves the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Instead of using chemical fertilizers though, growers rely on the waste of aquatic animals such as fish, snails, and prawns. In aquaponics, aquatic animal waste is broken down and turned into organic fertilizers to support the life and growth of plants. So, instead of increasing water toxicity, the waste that passes through the aquaponics system is broken down by nitrogen-fixing bacteria into good stuff. As a result, they become nitrates and nitrites. Both are essential nutrients needed for plants to grow healthy. It is a cycle that starts on how well you take care of your aquatic creatures. In return, they provide the fertilizer that your plants need in order to grow rapidly while yielding more produce in the process.
How Does It Work
Aquaponics follows a basic principle that can easily be understood by any average individual who desires to raise fish while growing crops at the same time. An aquaponics system basically consists of two main parts.
- Aquaculture Part – this is where a grower raises his aquatic animals. Any aquatic creature can be raised and used as long as they are voracious eaters. Keep in mind that you need aquatic animals that provide lots of wastes, so that you can supply the nutritional needs of your crops. One way to make sure that you can provide such type of organic fertilizer is by raising a voracious type of fish in your tank.
- Hydroponics Part – a system where you install growing medium for your plants. Any type of container can be used as long as they can house your plants without decomposing in the long run. A grower can design his or her own hydroponics part as long as it follows the standards of the system.
Although an aquaponics system consists of two main parts, it actually has some subparts that are essential to the efficacy and success of the agricultural method. Here are some of the important subsystems or smaller components of an aquaponics system.
- Rearing Tank – the area where you raise your aquatic animals such as catfish, tilapia, prawns, and snails.
- Biofilter – nitrification bacteria are cultured on this part of the aquaponics system. This is the area where ammonia is broken down into nitrates.
- Settling Basin – the main purpose of this unit is to catch all uneaten food and other stuff from the fish tank.
- Sump – this is the lowest part of the system where water falls back to the rearing tank.
- Hydroponics Subsystem – this is where the plants are grown while being immersed in nutrients-filled water from the rearing tank.
The hydroponics system can be installed anywhere near the tank as long as water can be pumped into it. Some growers prefer to place their system beside the tank for convenience. Others put theirs on the top of the tank to save space.
A water pump provides water from the rearing tank which goes through a series of aquaponics components before it goes back to the tank. While running through the system, the ammonia in water is broken down and turned into useful fertilizers known as nitrates. Water carries the nitrates to the hydroponic system which gets caught on the roots of the plants. In doing so, the plants are regularly provided with nutrients which help them grow into luscious and healthy plants.
According to studies conducted on aquaponics, this type of agricultural method offers more harvest as compared to the traditional farming or gardening techniques. In short, you can expect more yields from either your fruits or vegetables when you grow them under this system. This is one of the main reasons why more and more growers are shifting from the traditional method to aquaponics. Commercial growers can greatly benefit from a significant yield, especially when there is a big demand for it.
One good justification for its better yield is because of the steady nutrition it provides to the plants. Unlike with traditional farming, you need to consistently check the soil to see if it still has enough nutrients to support the growth of your plants. Aside from being stressful, you need more men to do the laborious job for you. With aquaponics, labor is minimal. All you need to do is check the condition of water while making sure that the aquatic creatures are well fed and cared for. Once these are achieved, you can expect a regular, steady cycle of nutrients flowing around your system for as long as you want.
Easy Growing Process
Aquaponics is fast rising as one of the favorites of many growers because of its stress-free process. As mentioned above, it can provide you with a steady stream of nutrients for as long as you need it on your hydroponic system. Such easy process can be attained as long as you make sure that the aquatic creatures are properly raised on the rearing tank. A well-maintained system will allow you to have a smooth-sailing growing process with minimal problems. In most cases, first-timers will usually have a hard time getting the results they expect. Doing some research will actually help you to learn the do’s and don’ts of aquaponics in no time. Once you know the right process, you will be surprised how easy and simple it is to grow fruits and vegetables on your system.
Save Serious Money
Growers spend millions a year on chemical fertilizers alone. Imagine how much money you need to burn if you grow crops on a vast land area. Just think how much you can save if you use aquatic creatures’ waste as fertilizer. In a year, you can save serious amount of money which can be used on other important matters in your farm. Aside from the money you save, you also avoid using chemical fertilizers which has negative effects on the human body.
Two Birds in One Stone
How about making money out of two businesses at once? You can raise and sell fish while you harvest your fruits or vegetables when you are doing aquaponics. An aquaponics system allows growers to make money out of aquatic animals while earning more from the crops they grow on the hydroponic system. It’s another reason why aquaponics is significantly becoming a favorite among the various types of agricultural system.
Aquaponics is a great alternative to the traditional methods of farming. Although quite expensive at first, you can actually save more money if you use it in growing your crops. In addition, it doesn’t require more manpower, as it actually needs lesser attention aside from taking good care of the fish on the rearing tanks. If you are planning on going to the agricultural route, perhaps you might want to check out the rising star of growing plants organically and by aquaponics.