Aquaponic gardening is a revolutionary technology that allows you to grow fish and vegetables in your own garden in an organic way. It is a system that combines aquaculture, which involves raising fish and other aquatic animals in tanks, and hydroponics, the soil-less growing of plants in water.
This system is said to originate way back during the time of the Aztecs who cultivated their agricultural system using this technology in its early form where plants were grown in lakes. Early aquaponics system were also observed in China, Indonesia and Thailand where they farmed rice in combination with fish in paddy fields.
The unique feature of aquaponics is that when compared to the traditional aquaculture where fish wastes are left to accumulate and cause water toxicity, this system instead utilizes a hydroponic system where the waste materials are acted upon by nitrifying bacteria and converted into nitrates and nitrites used by plants as food. Water is then recirculated into the system and the cycle goes on. There is no need to discard water since a natural purification system is underway.
The key elements of aquaponic systems are: fish, plants, bacteria and worm. Putting all of these elements together creates the system. However, setting it up requires careful understanding of this relatively simple science of aquaculture and gardening.
Aquaponics in reality solves the major problem encountered in the hydroponics system, which is the disposal of nutrient-rich water that can be costly. The main reason for the cost is that water disposal needs to undergo a strict process in countries such as Europe and North America that have tight regulations. The presence of plant-growing in aquaponics provides the natural purifying system of water and allows it to be reused in the fish tanks. This cuts the water consumption since there is essentially no disposal of water required at all.
What is amazing about this technology is the ability of the aquaponic system to balance the nutrients in the solution and its capacity for self-regulation. Aside from its economic and organic advantage, aquaponic gardening has been proven by studies to be quite productive in terms of cropping compared to other systems such as hydroponics. This may be mainly due to the natural nutrients that allow the plants to mature fast and produce optimal crop production in 6 months.
In addition, fish production using the aquaponic system is comparable to other methods of aquaculture, which shows that this type of technology is very competitive. Another benefit of using aquaponics system for gardening is it eliminates the problem of weeds, pests and insects that can harm your plants. There is also no need for adding toxic chemical solution to grow your plants and vegetables because of the natural fish effluent that provides nutrients to your crops.
No weeds and no pests also mean less time for gardening, back breaking tasks and more time to harvest and feed your fish. The main goal of an aquaponic garden is to reach a state of balance within the constructed organic ecosystem. All elements that are placed in the system must work towards a common goal of thriving without harming other key players in the system. This is a perfect example of symbiosis in nature.