Aquaponics is similar to vermicomposting in that they are both systems used to fertilize and grow plants, only aquaponics uses fish and vermicomposting uses worms!
Aquaponics is a relatively new method that cultivates fish and plants by allowing them to work together, not against each other. It’s a brilliant approach to food production, one that deserves a little attention.
We’d like to dive into aquaponics and explain to you vermicomposters the ins and outs of this interesting approach. We’d also like to talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of using aquaponics for gardening.
As was mentioned earlier, aquaponics uses fish in its system to create nutrient-rich waste water that is pumped from a fish tank or IBC to a planter containing plants! Basically, you feed the fish, the fish feed the plants and the plants clean up the water for the fish! It’s one continuous cycle of greatness!
Equipment You’ll Need
There are some special types of equipment you’ll need if you’re interested in getting into aquaponics. You’ll need a planting bed that will hold 8-10″ of water with enough room for plants to be planted on the surface. As the roots grow, they’ll dangle freely in the water, having access to all the water they could possibly want. Of course, some plants do better without soil than others.
You’ll also need a tank for fish! Most people use goldfish or talapia. This tank is where you will feed the fish. When the fish excrete waste, it collects near the bottom where a pump carries the waste water out of the tank and into your planting beds. This helps keep your fish tanks free of waste. The planting beds use up the nutrients in the waste water and clean it up, so to speak. Water is then pumped from your planting beds back to your fish tanks where the process starts over.
Lastly, you’ll need fish food. If you take care of the fish, they’ll take care of your plants. If you take care of the plants, then they’ll take care of your fish. Keeping your aquaponics system in balance is crucial.
What About The Waste?
One merit of the aquaponics system is that it transforms all of that raw fish waste into useable fertilizer for food production instead of letting it go out into the environment. Did you know that the average salmon farm today puts enough raw manure into the environment to equal a town of 65,000 people? They do nothing to clean it up. Aquaponics is a way to take that raw fish sewage and do something extremely useful with it!
What About The Fish?
Not only is aquaponics about plant production, it’s also a way to raise fish – very healthy fish! Aquaponics doesn’t involve any genetic or hormonal manipulation that is used in talapia fish farms today, nor are the fish exposed to any harmful metals. The fish are raised organically and they turn out delicious. Ever wanted to incorporate fish production into your organic garden at home? This could be the way to go.
- Great for folks in the city who do not have land or accessible soil for organic gardening.
- No weed pulling
- You can set yours up in a sheltered, controlled environment
- Customizable to your needs
- Many DIY prototypes you can copy
- Take your garden with you when moving from one house to another
- Uncomplicated setup with little maintenance
One problem many people seem to have is the cost. Fish food will be your greatest expense. When you consider the pumps and other equipment needed for a successful aquaponic system, it all adds up.
For those who want to stick to traditional crop raising in the soil and have access to the most nutritious compost the world has to offer (black gold!!), a worm composting kit
is more manageable and economical. It’s the best way to produce nutrient rich fertilizer that will help your plants grow bigger and produce more!