It has always been a challenge to develop sustainable food sources in order to meet the needs of a growing population. Fresh water is not readily available in urban areas and so is land and other resources needed to produce food. One solution to this problem is aquaponics and especially in its scaled down form, which can be practiced in one’s backyard.
Aquaponics is a technology that combines the cultivation of fish, which is known as aquaculture with the water-based cultivation of plants, which is referred to as hydroponics. It allows the efficient production of fish and vegetables since its basis is the symbiotic, a relationship between plants and fish. Aquaponics allows people to raise plants and fish together in natural balance. When the two are combined, they equal out their negative aspects.
How aquaponics works?
In an aquaponic system, the fish live in a pond and their waste provides nutrients for plants. The plants, on the other hand filter the water in the pond. The plants and the fish can be harvested regularly to provide vegetables and meat for humans. Fish water that is rich in nutrients gets pumped from the pond into gravel beds with growing plants. The plants extract nutrients from the water. The water is then oxygenated and cleaned of excess nutrients before it drains back into the pond.
Plant cuttings can also be compost in order to create food for earthworms, which provide food for the fish in turn. Aquaponics, can therefore turn into a permanent supply of vegetables and fish growing right in your backyard. It does not involve the use of chemicals and does not have any waste products. It also uses only about 1/10 of the water needed to grow vegetables normally.
Charlie Price, who is the founder of Aquaponics UK, states that this system is remarkable when it comes to food production. He states that 2.2 lbs of fish food, produce at least 2 lbs of fish and 110 lbs of vegetables.
Benefits of aquaponics
Even though aquaponics is in its developmental stage, it has an enormous potential. The following are the main benefits of this system. It uses less than two percent of the water used in conventional farming methods. It is power-economical since it uses 1/10 of the power used in traditional farming. It produces 8 to 10 times more vegetables than those produced in the same area and time using traditional farming methods. Aquaponics systems can also eradicate mosquitoes in a huge area. It is fully scalable from backyard domestic structure or interior systems to full business structures. It is free from dirt, unadulterated and natural. Anyone can learn how to create an aquaponic system. Plants in aquaponics systems achieve accelerated growth rates.
Getting started with aquaponics
In order to succeed with aquaponics, there are certain things that you should know about it. The first thing is that water quality is important for the growth of fish. You should ensure that the water in which your fish live is always clean. Failure to do so is similar to not watering your plants in the dry season.
Another important thing to do as you start out with aquaponics is to think about the species of fish to breed. This depends on your geographic location and the regulations or laws in the state in which you live. The common fish breeds grown in aquaponics are channel cat fish and Tilapia.
The other important thing to consider is the plants to grow. Aquaponics do well with leafy crops like spinach, lettuce and herbs even though they are not limited to this. The reason why leafy plants do well in aquaponic systems is that the water usually contains high amounts of nitrogen. It is also essential to know how to care for the fish efficiently. Ideally, you should use fish meal as the main source of food because it will keep the fish healthy and growing fast.
Good quality fish food will also allow your plants to get all the nutrients they need to grow healthily. You should also set up a schedule for feeding the fish. A feeding schedule of two to six times a day is ideal because they will grow fast. You can also use an automatic feeder. Another important thing to do when practicing aquaponics is keeping the water at a pH of about 6.5 to 7.0. A pH that is higher than 7.0 is acidic to plants.