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Integration of Hydroponics with Aquaculture

Aquaponics is a bio-integrated system that links re-circulating aquaculture with hydroponic vegetable, flower, and/or herb production. Recent advances by researchers and growers alike have turned aquaponics into a working model of sustainable food production.

Aquaponics, also known as the integration of hydroponics with aquaculture, is gaining increased attention as a bio-integrated food production system. Aquaponics serves as a model of sustainable food production by following certain principles:

  • The waste products of one biological system serve as nutrients for a second biological system.
  • The integration of fish and plants results in a poly-culture that increases diversity and yields multiple products.
  • Water is re-used through biological filtration and recirculation.
  • Local food production provides access to healthy foods and enhances the local economy.

In aquaponics, nutrient-rich effluent from fish tanks is used to fertigate hydroponic production beds. This is good for the fish because plant roots and rhizo-bacteria remove nutrients from the water. These nutrients (generated from fish manure, algae, and decomposing fish feed) are contaminants that would otherwise build up to toxic levels in the fish tanks, but instead serve as liquid fertilizer to hydroponically grown plants. In turn, the hydroponic beds function as a bio-filter (stripping off ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and phosphorus) so the freshly cleansed water can then be re-circulated back into the fish tanks. The nitrifying bacteria living in the gravel and in association with the plant roots play a critical role in nutrient cycling; without these microorganisms the whole system would stop functioning.

Contact Andrew Carpenter For more information.

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