Blog

News, press releases and questions

Home/Blog
Blog 2017-10-25T09:22:34+00:00

News

SYSTEMS TYPES

Look at existing types of aquaponics systems

There are many kinds of aquaponics systems. They mostly differ by the arrangement of their elements, type of tanks, used technologies and size. Here you’ll find their overview.

The most common kinds of fish in aquaponics

The most bred kind of fish in aquaponics is the Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis Niloticus). The Tilapia requires warmer water, but offers good meat, endurance and fast growth. In the USA it belongs into the most favorite freshwater fish and therefore it’s breeding and selling there is relatively easy. Others, mostly in Australia bred fish are various percinae fish (breeding of Nile Tilapia is banned in Australia). Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is the other possible choice for aquaponics breeding. This kind is also perspective for Europe conditions because it is popular consuming fish there, but it requires high quality water. Another fish that can be bred in aquaponic systems is grass carp or pangasius, eventually even carp. Koi and decorative Crucians are the most common bred fish that aren’t used to consumption. They are mostly used in demonstrative systems or in decorative aquaponic ponds.

The most commonly grown plants in aquaponics

The oldest and still grown plant is Watercress, Nasturtium officinale. It is an undemanding water plan with little spicy taste, which is used in salads and is popular in France. Nowadays the most grown plants are mostly various kinds of salads and leaf vegetable, which grows very well on floating rafts. Other vegetables are tomatoes, paprika or chili peppers. Some growers are experimenting with root vegetable. Many kinds of herbs are also very favored, for example basil. From fruits, which is also very popular in aquaponics, strawberries are the most popular. These are usually grown in NFT systems or vertical towers (read below).

Biology and chemistry

Biology and chemistry: Key basics of aquaponics

Aquaponics couldn’t work without natural processes. Problematic of biology and chemistry in aquaponics systems is very extensive and complicated. Look at basic mechanisms of the most important processes, whose right adjustment and control is indispensable for good working aquaponics system.

Good knowledge of biological and chemical processes is the key of successful aquaponics growing. However that requires large volume of knowledge from the grower or serving staff of the farm that can be compared to professional personnel of large fish or hydroponics farm. Operating an aquaponics farm means putting those two professions together. This fact is the biggest peril of the whole aquaponics and its development.

 

Pros and cons

What are pros and cons of an aquaponics system?

Aquaponics growing of plants and breeding fish has many advantages but also some disadvantages. Are you interested what positives an aquaponics farm brings and which negatives to look out for? We have made detailed comparison for you.

Advantages of aquaponics systems

Advantages of an aquaponics system against ordinary growing in soil medium are (according to external sources):

  • More than 90 % less water consumption during plants growing than growing in a soil medium.
  • 4-10x larger production of plants on area unit (different growers show different results).
  • It is possible to reach total absence of artificial fertilizers (in many cases it is required to supply the system with some microelements).
  • Operation is environment friendly (aquaponics doesn’t burden nearby surface waters with waste from aquaculture).
  • American growers say that they need about half time to harvest vegetables (primarily thanks to larger plants production to area and time unit).
  • Less pest occurrence, especially of those that are bound to soil.
  • Usable in every climate zone. The system is very adaptable.
  • Highly modular system that allows many different configuration and „turnkey“ building.
  • System is suited for whole year growing of plants and breeding fish, even in areas where there is a lack of water or appropriate soil.
  • System works the best in environment of controlled greenhouses, where growing is possible during whole year without regard for climate zones.
  • The big heat capacity of water can partly heat a greenhouse during winter months, where is it possible to grow other than only aquaponics plants.
  • Growing and selling products from aquaponics sounds like interesting investment and can bring the grower into spotlight with his customers and even attract new ones.

Disadvantages of aquaponics systems

  • The need of electric energy and having a backup generator for water pump and airing (if present).
  • Building and successfully running an aquaponics requires certain „know-how“ and relatively big initial investment.
  • In some cases it is needed to supply some nutrients for a healthy plants growth (mostly iron – Fe and calcium – Ca, eventually potassium – K). Quality of plants nutrition is based on quality of fish feed.
  • The need for additional heating of the greenhouse in winter in colder climate zones.

The future of aquaponics

What is the future of aquaponics?

For many years was the aquaponics only domain of enthusiasts in some English speaking countries. Nowadays there are appearing many new half commercial or commercial projects that move the aquaponics growing to higher level. Number of farms and organizations that have aquaponics as one of many activities is rising.

Some of the obstacles of extension of aquaponics growing between farmers are high initial costs, big volume of required knowledge and know-how. Even though aquaponics firstly started gaining popularity in north American environment, which is very different from the European one (market, agriculture conditions, land costs), the number of subjects dealing in aquaponics is also rising in Europe.
An issue is relative difficulty of operating an aquaponic system and large requirement of knowledge about its functionality. This could be solved in the future by developing intelligent sensors and applications that would give full and understandable information to the user and helped with controlling and running the whole system.

One possible application of aquaponics is a city vertical farm that could use many linked production systems and renewable power sources.
If the issues of an aquaponics are able to be solved in near future, we can expect its expansion as a new source of producing certain foodstuffs. But for that there will be one required the most important thing, stable demand for ecological, local and fresh foodstuffs. Exactly what an aquaponics can offer.

Aquaponics on Mars

The aquaponics is talked about as a technology that will be used in conquering the space, because it is highly effective in space, water and material requirement. Aquaponics could be the first technology that would produce animal proteins as fish meat to future colonists; however, it will not happen in the first phases of Red planet’s colonization. First settler will have to be strictly vegetarian and mostly use highly effective hydroponics growing.

FAQ about aquaponics

Frequently asked questions about aquaponics

What conditions do you need to successfully run an aquaponics? What kinds of vegetables can you grow on an aquaponics farm? Does fish suffer in a tank? Read answers to the most asked question about aquaponics.

 

Does aquaponics work as a closed system that produces vegetables and fish for free?

Aquaponics isn’t a Perpetuum mobile, but is called a Close-loop System. From technological look it is a recirculating system of intense fish breeding in artificial tanks and with pumping water into hydroponics part, where plants take nutrients for their growth, water is biologically and mechanically cleaned and goes back to fish tank. Unlike in normal fish breeding the polluted water isn’t released into environment, but circulates in the system forever and is used as a nutrient solution for the plants. Fish excrements then serve as a fertilizer for grown vegetables. So, we have to add fish feed into the system at least. And in some cases, even trace element, which aren’t present in enough volume to allow plans to grow properly. Another assumption is enough of lighting and heat for growing plants. Even then it is almost closed (eco)system that works on the same principle as ponds, but is artificially controlled. More about that here.

 

Is it possible to run successful aquaponic system in European conditions?

The biggest problems for commercial aquaponics in European conditions would be climate and sales on the market. Cold climate raises costs for heating, lighting, used materials and technologies. However, the rule is bigger the farm, lesser the costs for produced kilogram.

 

Does any big commercial aquaponics growing projects exist in foreign countries?

They do, countries like the USA or Australia have commercial aquaponics farms. This way farmers supply fresh fish meat and vegetables to local farmers markets or to system of Community supported agriculture. Most of these farms were created only recently. An aquaponics growing for commercial purposes is the question of the last few years.

 

Can anyone run an aquaponics?

For long-term and successful running of an aquaponics you have to have much knowledge about breeding fish, chemical processes and needs of plants. But even inexperienced growers can have partial success in the beginning, however if the system gets „of the rails“ they are often helpless and may not find cause of the problem. In that case loss of fish and plants can get very big.

 

What kind of fish and plants are the best for an aquaponics?

Nile Perch (Oreochromis Niloticus) is the most commonly bred fish. Other common kinds are perch and decorative fish for example Koi and Crucian. The most commonly grown are many kinds of leaf vegetables, tomatoes and paprika. Older aquaponics systems used to grow for instance water loving and undemanding Watercress (Nasturtium Officinale). Various kinds of herbs are also favored, mostly Ocimum. From fruit strawberries surely win. Curiosities might be for example pineapple or banana tree. Some growers are trying root vegetables, although it doesn’t prosper very much in periodically flooded substrates.

 

Does fish suffer in an artificial tank?

The most bred fish in an aquaponics are naturally forming flocks, so higher number in a tank is ideal for them. Circular or oval tanks aren’t stressful to fish; on the contrary they allow good water flow, which helps with healthy activity and supply of oxygen and fresh water. It is responsibility of every breeder to provide good conditions for his fish, including right temperature and pH of water and enough oxygen and food.

 

Is it possible to build and operate an aquaponics based on the informations available online? (youtube, internet forums etc.)

You can find many videos, advices and guides about aquaponics on the internet. But certain care has to be taken with their acceptance, because not everything that looks very effectively on the internet, works on reality. Many aquaponics enthusiasts are publishing their advices, although they have none long-term experience. Therefore it is good to take information from people, who spent some time in aquaponics and have made several successful projects.

 

Is there interest for this type of agriculture in the Europe?

There is a small one, but it is slowly rising. The biggest obstacle of aquaponics is unknowingness and novelty of this agricultural type.

 

It is possible to support yours family with an aquaponics in case of society breakdown?

That would be very hard. An aquaponics can produce fish meat, vegetables and some kinds of fruit. That of course doesn’t cover every nutrition and culinary needs of a human. Garden aquaponics systems mostly serve as an interesting element, which can complement family’s consumption off fresh foodstuffs. If you want to live independent of the society and have so called food self-sufficiency, then the best strategy would be to have a family farm in countryside, where an aquaponics farm could produce large volumes of vegetables and fish food for whole year. In case of any crisis it would be faster and less difficult to grow vegetables classically in soil than to design and build and aquaponics systems. These situations really happened during the First and Second World Wars, when city parks in the USA and Europe were plowed and created so called Victory or War Gardens. aquaponics could be used within some strategy towards higher diverse of food supplies in regions and local production of fresh foodstuffs in cities.

We are expanding

Yes, you are reading that right, in 2017 the decision was made and THORILEX is expanding.

We have noticed a demand from abroad in past and we weren’t targeting on other markets.

Interest from other markets hasn’t left us calm, so in 2017 we made the decision. Our vision doesn’t end in the Czechia so this was essential step to support our growth.