Aquaponics is a water-dependent, symbiotic relationship between aquatic animals and plants. It is an ingenious process that uses water, in which are the waste products of the aquatic creatures, to nourish the plants. Once the waste products, which turn into nitrates, have been filtered out by the plants the water is fresh enough to be delivered back to the aquatic animals. The cycle continues in this way with one system feeding the other continuously.
Aquaponic systems come in lots of sizes and are customizable, but the main components are the aquatic creatures on the one hand and the plants on the other. The waste products which are unhealthy in the water of animals are advantageous to plants and, as the plants grow healthy and strong, cuttings can be taken and mulched to turn into food for fish and other water creatures. In this way it can be seen that aquaponics is a self-sustaining, miniature ecosystem.
This system is remarkably efficient, and as the plants are getting a regular supply of essential nutrients they grow very quickly. By incorporating fruit and vegetables into the system people can grow their own food rapidly and with very little effort. This is therefore, an exceptionally advantageous system for families who want to eat healthy foodstuffs. A great advantage of the aquaponics system is that it does not need to take up much room and is easily built. This can save people a lot of money on food bills, and help them to become self-sufficient.
Aquaponics also make a fantastically enjoyable project for children to study at school. They will be able to clearly see how each part of the system sustains the other. It will show them about ecology, nature, and the importance of maintaining natural ecosystems. And of course they will have healthy and nutritious food at their disposal.
A wide range of fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be grown using aquaponics, including strawberries, tomatoes, watercress, lettuce, and mint. It is also possible, if desired, to include the fish used in the system as a food source, although often purely decorative fish are used instead. Instead of fish, it is possible to use crayfish or prawns. In this way it can be seen that an aquaponic system is an incredibly effective way of having regular fresh food.
An aquaponic system can be operated in many ways. A deep water circulation system entails plants being held in a styrofoam tray with their roots submerged in deep water to absorb all of the nitrates. A nutrient film approach will involve a thin film of nutrient rich water being trickled down a channel containing plants. One other very simple method is where plants are grown in grow beds containing gravel or clay balls. Each method is very effective and efficient, and the choice of which one to use will depend on factors such as budget and space availability.
There is no doubt that if you want self sufficiency in food production then aquaponics is a great method to employ. Large scale commercial operations have even been set up in addition to all of the individuals and families who are seeing the benefits of aquaponics. This system does not need a lot of room to grow fruit and vegetables, as a plot in a garden would, and it doesn’t use up much water as all of the water is recycled. In short, it is an ecologically friendly way of growing food which remains beneficial to plants and animals.