What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (the study and raising of fish and other aquatic life) and hydroponics (growing plants in water versus soil). While plants can be grown in water alone, it is necessary to add the nutrients a plant needs to the water. An amazing fact of life is that fish emulsion (all the nasty little things like ammonia that pollute your aquarium or fish tank) provides exactly what plants need to thrive. And to complete the great circle of nature, the process of the plant taking what it needs from the polluted water filters the water for the fish.
What types of fish are used in aquaponics?
The type of fish (or other aquatic life) you use is dependent upon three things: your climate, your personal tastes, and whether or not you plan to eat the fish you raise. Fresh water fish is most commonly used, with tilapia being the most popular choice–at least for edible fish. For areas where water temperature control could be problematic, catfish or bluegill could be used. If you don’t necessarily want to raise the fish to eat, you can even use goldfish or koi. With goldfish though, you need to make sure that the fish can’t get to the plant’s roots, as they are known to nibble on them.
How does aquaponics compare with hydroponics?
Basically, aquaponics is an advanced form of hydroponics. The study of hydroponics is simply the process of growing plants without the use of soil. Soil-less gardening, in other words. As water has no real nutrients for the plant, these nutrients must be artificially added. Aquaponics takes it one more step by adding fish. In this way the plants get what they need in a totally natural and organic way.
Can aquaponics be done indoors?
Absolutely! In fact, many aquaponic gardeners have found that basements make a terrific space for their gardens. With the climate controlled temperatures of an indoor garden, you can raise vegetables all year long. Want a salad? Just go the basement and pick some lettuce.
One thing you do have to make sure of though, is that your garden gets enough light. In an indoor space, that means adding grow lights to your system. Luckily, this is not a difficult addition.
What types of plants can you raise?
You can raise just about any plants in an aquaponic garden. Of course, it will depend on where you place your garden and how much time you wish to spend on it. Some plants are simply easier to raise than others. Most of the green, leafy types of vegetables will do well in this type of garden. Other popular choices include herbs, tomatoes, bell peppers, cantaloupe, watercress, radishes, onions, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, melons, and even strawberries.You could quite literally have a fresh produce section in your basement…free for the picking!
Aquaponics can be a fun way to raise a sustainable garden and even some fresh fish to boot. The best part is that all this can be done inside your own home. Have you started your aquaponic garden yet? What are you waiting for?