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.