Is it possible to set up a saltwater aquaponics system to grow vegetables? I’ve never seen or heard of such an installation but the topic is occasionally raised among those new to aquaponics. An honest query really considering saltwater shrimp, shellfish and/or fish such as red drum are valuable and sought-after livestock.
Taking this a step further, saltwater aquaponic installations would look a lot cooler when you have damsels, tangs, butterfly, rays and sharks swimming around vs freshwater species which look rather dull in comparison.
Aquaponics can only use freshwater, right?
I’m guessing most aquaponic farmers believe as I, salt water would kill most vegetables. Given this accepted tenet, we’d therefore use only fresh water and freshwater fish such as tilapia, bluegill, trout, perch or catfish. However, let’s consider the potential of using saltwater given more than 70 percent of the world is covered in it! This would definitely boost overall food production on the coasts where most of the population lives.
Vegetables tolerant of saltwater
To my surprise, there are plenty of vegetables tolerant of salt water. Following is a post about salt-resistant crops: http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/pinellasco/2014/03/28/salt-tolerant-vegetable-gardening/ Here is another article exploring the same:
This article is about a Dutch farmer looking to grow potatoes using saltwater: http://www.micronesiaforum.org/index.php?p=/discussion/13710/fruits-and-vegetables-grown-in-saltwater-could-help-solve-world-food-shortage
Saltwater aquaponics for purely saltwater crops
So let’s take this even a step further. Rather than building and experimenting with growing traditional vegetable crops in saltwater, why not grow saltwater aquatic plants with commercial value in these systems. Seaweed is a great example and here’s an article about growing this crop using aquaponic methods: http://aquaponicsjournal.com/docs/articles/Seaweed-is-Common-Denominator.pdf
More on saltwater aquaponics at this wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltwater_aquaponics