What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a technology that combines the best methods and benefits of two other growing practices: aquaculture – raising fish in an intensely controlled environment and hydroponics – raising plants in a controlled soil-less system.
These two growing practices are effective on their own but have disadvantages. Aquaculture produces an abundance of fish waste, which left untreated, would poison the fish, while hydroponics which lacks a natural source of nutrients since it’s not grown in soil, relies heavily upon adding artificial fertilizer in order for the plants to grow and bear fruit.
A Hybrid of Aquaculture and Hydroponics
Quite simply, aquaponics converts the disadvantages of the separate systems into advantages by using fish waste to feed the plants, which, in turn, remove the waste from the water so it could be recycled back into the system.
Therefore, an aquaponic system is an ideal hybrid of aquaculture and hydroponic systems that results in a single, closed, recirculating water ecosystem, which greatly conserves water usage and reduces waste. Water is only lost through evaporation and uptake and transpiration by the plants.
We’ve overly simplified what’s happening regarding how fish waste is converted into beneficial nutrients but if you’re interested in the remarkable science of this process, check out this link.
Aquaponics Must Be Organic
The most important benefit of an aquaponic system is that it must be organic by default. Any artificial inputs such as pesticides to the plants would likely kill the fish. The fish also are fed with certified organic feed, since they are harvested as a livestock for consumption.
On our small farming systems, pests are removed by hand or we introduce natural pest predators such as lady bugs.
Fish Power Aquaponics
Zen Aquaponics uses two types of fish as livestock in the aquaponic systems, blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus) and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus). We’ve chosen these fish as they are tolerant to colder temperatures while bluegill is a native fish along the eastern coast and can be easily sourced.
We do not sell the fish to consumers (we eat them). Our current stock is 1000 fish.