The aquaponics system is a combination of aquaculture, which is the farming of fish, and Hydroponics, which is a technique used in growing plants in a soilless medium. By combining the two, an easier and more productive way of harvesting plants and aquatic organisms is made. Its benefits surpass the cost of having two separate setups in growing plants and fishes. It has low energy consumption and produces little amount of waste.
The system works by circulating the water from the fish tank to the vegetable bed. First, the fish produces waste products in the form of ammonia. This is toxic for the fish especially if it accumulates in high amounts. It also decreases the quality of water. In order to purify the water, it must pass through the plant grow bed where there are naturally occurring nitrifying bacteria. These nitrifying bacteria are capable of converting ammonia into usable forms like nitrite and nitrate in a process called nitrification.
The plants are now able to use the nitrite and nitrate as nutrients and support their growth and development. At the same time, it also cleanses the water from waste products. After this, the water is now pumped back to the fish tank in order to provide a clean environment for the fish.
The aquaponics system is considered a small ecosystem and acts in a symbiotic relationship. Symbiosis is a long-term interaction between two species where they both benefit from each other. In this case, the fish provides ammonia that can act as fertilizer for the plants when converted to its usable form. On the other hand, the plants filter the water of any harmful substances and provide the fish with clean water to live in.
Aquaponics is a natural way of growing both plants and animals. No fertilizer is needed and no chemical is added to grow the plants. The plants use a natural form of fertilizer. There is also an assurance that there is no harmful chemical added to the plants.
The water circulates in the system via a pump. Pipes connect the fish tank and the vegetable bed so the water can move in a circulating manner. Some use a solar powered engine to provide power for the pump. In this case, the aquaponics system is being used in the most energy efficient way possible.
In order for the aquaponics system to work in the most productive and convenient way, there should also be a balance in the four major components. A balance between the water, fish, plant and bacteria must be attained. The amount of water to be used should be enough for the fish to swim in. Overcrowding must be avoided to prevent a massive fish kill.
It is important to place the plants a few inches apart to avoid competing for nutrients. Provide foods for the fish in just the right amount. The fish food should not be too much in order to prevent the excess amount from contaminating the water. Too much food could settle at the bottom of the tank and lead to eutrophication.
In summary, the aquaponics system works through the interaction between the four major components. It is a natural way of growing both plant and fish without exerting too much effort. It also saves up a considerable amount of money and time for those who are planning to start up this innovative farming and fishing system.