Understanding Aquaponics

As global populations grow and natural resources are depleted, researchers are looking into alternative technologies to supply our foods. Aquaponics is quickly rising as the leading long-term answer to sustainable food production.

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An aquaponics system takes advantage of the symbiotic relationship between plants and aquatic animals. Aquatic species like fish or shrimp are grown in pools and raceways. Edible plants, like yummy veggies and rice, are then raised in conjunction with the marine habitat. Flora float on the surface of the water source or are grown nearby in a soil or gravel base.

Plants are irrigated with water from the pools, which is full of abundant nutrients. Rather than relying on artificial fertilizers, flora thrives on the natural byproducts of the aquaculture system. In turn, the plants provide a natural source of filtration by removing excess nutrients from the water.

The plants also expedite the naturally occurring nitrogen cycle vital to the health of any aquatic ecosystem. Flora boost conversion of harmful ammonia into harmless nitrates beneficial to the environment.temp-post-image

Although considered a fairly new widespread technology, aquaculture and aquaponics practices have been in use for centuries. Ancient Aztecs grew planted crops on rafts in lakes as far back as 1000 AD. Agrarian populations in Mesoamerica built chinampas, or floating gardens dispersed among man-made canals.

Perhaps the most complex example of early aquaculture came from the ancient Chinese. They utilized a series of ponds in which they raised ducks, finfish, and catfish. Ducks and finfish occupied a shallowest pool in the system. Nutrients from the shallow pond sank into the deeper ponds, where they were utilized by catfish. Water from the deep ponds was then used to irrigate crops, providing valuable nutrients not readily available in soil.

Aquaponics offers the best of both food worlds – naturally grown plants and organic fish and seafood. As aquaponics research continues we will learn about the increasing benefits of this fascinating system.

Florida Organic Aquaculture’s shrimp production is the beginning step of our aquaponics system. We are excited to play a role in helping lead the development of aquaponics practices and technologies in the years to come.

Sources:

“What Is Aquaponics.” Backyard Aquaponics. 2012. Web. February 2014.

“What Is Aquaponics.” Aquaponic Source. 2013. Web. February 2014.

Morrill, Melanie. (10/15/13). “History of Aquaponics.” [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.petcoscoop.com/2013/10/history-of-aquaponics/.