If you love greenery but don’t have land or a big garden where you can plant vegetables or even flowers, don’t feel bad. Today, almost everything is possible, even growing plants in limited space with the help of aquaponic systems.
The so-called aquaponics system is a combination of fish, water and plants. All three co-exist perfectly and survive thanks to each other. You get the fish in the tank, feed them, and then as they release urine and feces, create water that is rich in nutrients ideal for the plants. No soil, no hard work all day, every day – the aquaponic kit is really the epitome of work smart, not hard.
Now it definitely sounds confusing, but this system is a very successful one and works miracles when it comes to producing natural, chemical and fertilizer-free grown vegetables and fruit.
What Exactly Is Aquaponics?
In the simplest words, aquaponics is the cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a recirculating environment. This is a cooperation between fish and plants and the terms are a combination of two words – the growing of fish in a closed environment (aquaculture) and growing of plants in the soil-less environment (hydroponics).
These systems come in different sizes such from small indoor units to huge commercial units. The aquaponics can be made as freshwater systems or with salt and brackish water. Aquaponics is an environmentally friendly and natural food-growing method that combines the best properties of both aquaculture and hydroponics without discarding any water or filtrating it or adding chemical fertilisers.
How Does Aquaponics Work?
Instead of soil, fertilisers or pesticides, a well-made aquaponic system only relies on the food that is given to the fish which works as the system’s input. The fish eat the food, process it and then transform it into urine and feces (both rich in ammonia). Afterwards, the water which is now rich in ammonia goes from the fish tank into the biofilter along with any uneaten food and decaying plant matter.
The bacteria in the biofilter break everything down into an organic nutrient solution that is excellent for growing vegetables. So there are basically three elements in the aquaponics freshwater system – the freshwater aquatic animals, the nitrifying bacteria and the plants. All three depend on each other to survive.
What Kind of Fish Can Thrive in Aquaponics?
The fish are the element that the success of the whole process depends on. You can use freshwater fish for this purpose. The most popular ones are tilapia and barramundi; these fish can tolerate more diverse water conditions and they grow fast. You can also use trout, especially if the water temperature is lower.
Besides fish, you can also use other aquatic animals such as snails and shrimps. Feed the fish with special food you can find in most animal stores or fresh food like duckweed or lettuce.
Vegetables You Can Grow With the Help of Aquaponics
Aquaponic kits are best for growing lettuce, kale, arugula, watercress, mint, herbs, okras, spring onions and leek, spinach and other small veggies. Flowers are also known to thrive quite well in such conditions.
If you opt for cauliflower, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, or beans, keep in mind that they will require more nutrition and a more advanced aquaponic system. Plants that need acidic or alkaline water aren’t a very good option, since those levels of pH will harm the fish.
Benefits of This Kind of State-of-the-Art Gardening
Aquaponics systems have many benefits over the traditional gardening process. Aquaponics is a water-efficient system; Compared to the traditional method, it only needs 1/6th of the water to grow 8 times more food per acre. So, it’s even more efficient than the space-savvy self-watering planters.
A great advantage is that system doesn’t need soil, so it’s not susceptible to any soil-borne diseases. As such, the system doesn’t require the use of fertilizers or chemical pesticides. This can be a real money-saver, but also a superb way to grow completely clean vegetables that won’t cause any health issues.
An aquaponic garden offers a higher level of biosecurity and a lower risk from outside contaminants. The system allows higher control (you can easily keep an eye on the water than soil) on the production. This will help you reduce potential losses. The aquaponic can be used on non-arable lands like degraded soil, salty, sandy islands and deserts.
When you choose this system, you produce less waste, since it mimics nature’s circular approach that happens in lakes, rivers, ponds and any body of water on the planet. It also doesn’t involve daily work and planting and harvesting are labour-saving activities that can easily be done by people of all ages and genders.
The system can integrate livelihood strategies to provide food and a small income for poor households that don’t own their own land.
Besides that, the system can also be used to keep fish for edible purposes. So, if you’re looking for fresh food in the form of proteins (fish) and vegetables, you can have it within arm’s reach.