Aquaponics is an innovative and growing industry in which plants and aquatic animals are grown by providing them the symbiotic environment in a recirculating system. It stimulates our real life Eco system. The basic instruction and proper guideline must be followed to run the system. The plants and fish species should be selected according to the area climate. The existence of this unique food production system comes into being by the existence of two sub system. To understand Aquaponics’ real meaning, we need to understand the following sub systems: Aquaculture and Hydroponics
Aquaculture: Aquatic animals like fish, prawns, crayfish, crustaceans and molluscs are grown in symbiotic environment by the hydroponics combination. Imagine! You can grow fish in your own home with few dollars and you can also produce vegetables without clay that is absolutely free with it. You think to cultivate fish in food production system and vegetables are also produced with it? It looks like a dream but with a little passion it is possible anywhere around the world. If un-experienced farmers decide to run this system, it is not a hard task for such farmers if they follow the instructions provided by experts of food production systems. But, if they do not do so, the whole system is at a risk.
Particular types of aquacultures are:
Ornamental fish cultivation
Algaculture like seaweed farming
Hydroponics: This is a unique method of growing plants with out clay or soil, by using different minerals solutions. Terrestrial plants are usually grown by putting their roots in the solution or in inert medium like gravel, perlite, coconut husk or mineral wool.
There are some reasons of adopting hydroponics in food production system,
It is very easy to harvest.
No clay or soil is required for plant cultivation.
Due to controlled system, the nutrition pollution is not released.
The water always remains in the system and it can be re-used at any time.
High and stable yields.
Less nutrition cost because the level of nutrition is easy to control.
How an aquaponics system works?
Water uses the gravity as its transport and is drained in the gravel bed from the fish tank. Bacteria break down the ammonia which is present in fish waste and change it into nitrate and nitrate which is necessary or key nutrients for plants growth. Watercress is use often as a secondary way of water filtration. Water after filtration is pumped to growing beds from the gravel beds. The roots of Vegetables like tomato and other salad green receive this water. When plants absorb all essential nutrients (nitrate and nitrogen) from water, the water is cleansed and finally re-circulated back to fish tank. This cycle is repeated with small intervals.
For a success full aquatic system, monitoring for fish and plants health is necessary because both are the soul of the system and survival of both elements depends on each other. For example, the nitrate produced by fish waste is used by plants and fish uses the oxygenated water which is cleansed by plants within the system.