What is aquaponics?
Have you heard about aquaponics and are you interested what is the purpose of this agriculture changing system? Which vegetables can be grown in aquaponics and which fish to breed in tanks? What is needed to run aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a combination of breeding fish and growing vegetables or fruits in a recirculating system. Fish excrements are turned into nutrients, which plants can absorb as a food, the clear water is then returned to a fish tanks. This way it is possible to breed many kinds of fish and grow large scale of vegetables, herbs and even fruit. Water consumption is minimal compared to growing in soil medium and nearby environment isn’t polluted by a water from fish breeding, that would have to be changed regularly. System like this is an ideal in locations where is not enough ground or bad conditions for the classical agriculture methods or hard access to clean soil and water.
An aquaponic system is made out of three parts, which can’t operate without each other. Fish food – commercial fish granule, ecological feed, but also processed kitchen waste serves as basic food for bred fish. They’ll use part of it to grow, however their imperfect digestive system excludes lots of nutrients back into the water. The substances are not available for the plants yet, but the substances are eaten by bacteria and other microorganisms and are changed into basic substances. Plants can absorb those basic substances through the roots and use them to grow or create fruits. This clears the water at the same time, so it goes back to the tanks. This cycle works naturally in every pond and is cleverly used in aquaponics to grow foodstuffs. In aquaponics it is also called Closed-loop System.
Breeding fish creates a lot of waste. But that can be used to grow plants. The Cycle begins with feeding fish and is very similar to nutrient flow in the nature. Fish can be decorative for example Koi Carp. Tilapia is the most common consuming type but also many kinds of carps, salmonidae or percidae fish. Fish are bred in big tanks, which should meet requirements for good water circulation. More about tanks in part Systems Types.
Fish waste is decomposed by helpful bacteria and other microorganisms to simple nutrients suitable for plant growing. In aquaponics there are two the most important processes that are handled by helpful bacteria. It is nitrification and mineralization. More about them can be found in part Biology and chemistry. The process of changing nutrients couldn’t work without the bacteria. You can’t use antibiotics or other drugs in an aquaponic system, because you would lose the most important part of the system.
Roots of plants are bathing in the water, which contains many nutrients that are available for plants. Roots work as a delicate filter, which catches only what plant needs to keep growing. Plants can grow in some of suitable substrates, or on so called rafts, which flows on the water; however they can also be bathed by dispersed water in an aeroponic system. There are many ways how to grow plants in aquaponics. More about them is written in part Systems Types. Cleaned water returns back to tanks and whole cycle begins a new.