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Aquaponics

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Aquaponics
Aquaponics (pronounced: English pronunciation: /ˈækwəˈpɒnɨks/) is a sustainable food production system that combines a traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In the aquaculture, effluents accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity for the fish. This water is led to a hydroponic system where the by-products from the aquaculture are filtered out by the plants as vital nutrients, after which the cleansed water is recirculated back to the animals. The term aquaponics is a portmanteau of the terms aquaculture and hydroponic.

A small, portable aquaponics system

Aquaponic systems vary in size from small indoor or outdoor units to large commercial units, using the same technology. The systems usually contain fresh water, but salt water systems are plausible depending on the type of aquatic animal and which plants. Aquaponic science may still be considered to be at an early stage.

Function
Aquaponics consists of two main parts, with the aquaculture part for raising aquatic animals and the hydroponics part for growing plants.[1] [2] Aquatic effluents resulting from uneaten feed or raising animals like fish, accumulates in water due to the closed system recirculation of most aquaculture systems. The effluent-rich water becomes toxic to the aquatic animal in high concentrations but these effluents are nutrients essential for plant growth.[1] Although consisting primarily of these Silver Perch fingerlings in an aquaponic system two parts, aquaponics system are usually grouped into several components or subsystems responsible for the effective removal of solid wastes, for adding bases to neutralize acids, or for maintaining water oxygenation.[1] Typical components include: • Rearing tank: the tanks for raising and feeding the fish; • Solids removal: a unit for catching uneaten food and detached biofilms, and for settling out fine particulates; • Biofilter: a place where the nitrification bacteria can grow and convert ammonia into nitrates, which are usable by the plants;[1] • Hydroponics subsystem: the portion of the system where plants are grown by absorbing excess nutrients from the water; • Sump: the lowest point in the system where the water flows to and from which it is pumped back to the rearing tanks.

and • Nitrobacter: bacteria that convert nitrites into nitrates. After the water has passed through the hydroponic subsystem. This cycle is continuous. The submerged roots of the vegetables combined have a large surface area. Together with the saliency of ammonia and nitrites in the water.5 and 1 ppm) can kill fish. and allows the resulting nitrate [1] compounds to be removed by the plants for nourishment. and can return to the aquaculture vessels. Hydroponics subsystem Plants are grown as in hydroponics systems. non-sodium bases such as potassium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide can be added for neutralizing the water's pH[1] if insufficient quantities are naturally present in the water to provide a buffer against acidification. Common aquaponic applications of hydroponic systems include: • Deep-water raft aquaponics: styrofoam rafts floating in a relatively deep aquaculture basin in troughs. . Ammonia is steadily released into the water through the excreta and gills of fish as a product of their metabolism. nitrates are assimilated more easily. This type of aquaponics is also known as closed-loop aquaponics. is one of the most important functions in an aquaponics system as it reduces the The plant bed in an aquaponic systems toxicity of the water for fish. but must be filtered out of the water since higher concentrations of ammonia (commonly between 0. which liquefy the solid organic matter so that it can be utilized by the plants and/or animals.[1] A good way to deal with solids buildup in aquaponics is the use of worms. and nitrate levels range from 2 to 150 ppm.25 to 1 ppm. or its metabolites. it is cleaned and oxygenated. and/or the hydroponics subsystem may be combined into one unit or subsystem. This enables them to filter out the ammonia that is toxic to the aquatic animals. the bacteria responsible for this process form a biofilm on all solid surfaces throughout the system that are in constant contact with the water. Typically. held in a container that is flooded with water from the aquaculture.0 ppm) and nitrite (up to 15 ppm).Aquaponics 2 Depending on the sophistication and cost of the aquaponics system. which helps facilitate growth of these microorganisms. In addition. biofiltration. spikes may occur in the levels of ammonia (up to 6. so that many bacteria can accumulate there. the aerobic conversion of ammonia into nitrates.25 to 2. the surface area determines the speed with which nitrification takes place. Although plants can absorb ammonia from the water to some degree. Since the nitrification process acidifies the water. with nitrate levels peaking later in the startup phase. Nitrification Nitrification.[1] Ammonia can be converted into other nitrogenous compounds through healthy populations of: • Nitrosomonas: bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrites. • Reciprocating aquaponics: solid media in a container that is alternately flooded and drained utilizing different types of siphon drains. During system startup. In an aquaponics system. selected minerals or nutrients such as iron can be added in addition to the fish waste that serves as the main source of nutrients to plants. This is why most aquaponics systems include a biofiltering unit. • Recirculating aquaponics: solid media such as gravel or clay beads. the units for solids removal. Care for these bacterial colonies is important as to regulate the full assimilation of ammonia and nitrite. after a system has stabilized ammonia levels range from 0.0 ppm. This type of aquaponics is also known as flood-and-drain aquaponics or ebb-and-flow aquaponics. nitrite levels range from 0.[1] which prevents the water from flowing directly from the aquaculture part of the system to the hydroponics part.[2] thereby efficiently reducing the toxicity of the water for fish. with their roots immersed in the nutrient-rich effluent water.

These polycultural farming systems existed in many Far Eastern countries and raised fish such as the oriental loach (泥鳅. or it may be pumped back into the aquaponic system to top up the water level. onions. although there is some debate on its first occurrence: • Aztec cultivated agricultural islands known as chinampas and are considered by some as the first form of aquaponics for agricultural use. parsnips. lettuce. but instead recirculate and reuse water very effectively. an aquaponics system may continually yield plants such as vegetables grown in hydroponics. although most profitable are varieties of chinese cabbage. Common (鯉魚. and edible aquatic species raised in an aquaculture. and reused to accelerate growth of crops planted in soil.[2] Normal operations Aquaponic systems do not typically discharge or exchange water under normal operation. strawberries. plastic barrels cut in half with gravel or rafts in them. Spawn or fry may be added to replace grown fish that are taken out from the system to retain a stable system. Jade perch and Murray cod are also used.[2] Other species of vegetables that grow well in an aquaponic system include beans. plant harvesting is staggered with seedings growing at the same time as mature plants. This ensures stable nutrient content in the water because of continuous symbiotic cleansing of toxins from the water. Water is only added to replace water loss from absorption and transpiration by plants. taro. Aquaponic systems can also be used to replicate controlled wetland conditions that are useful for water treatment by reclaiming potable water from typical household sewage.. In practice. ドジョウ). melons. basil.[11] [12] . and removal of biomass such as settled solid wastes from the system. cantaloupe and bell peppers. コイ) and crucian carp (鯽魚)[10] as well as pond snails (田螺) in the paddies.[4] 3 Aquaculture subsystem Freshwater fish are the most common aquatic animal raised using aquaponics. okra. turnips. nutrient film technique channels. History Ancient Aquaponics has ancient roots. although barramundi. Each approach has its own benefits. aquaponics uses approximately 2% of the water that a conventionally irrigated farm requires for the same vegetable production. crayfish and prawns may also be used. The three main inputs to the system are water. evaporation into the air from surface water. Since plants at different growth stages require different amounts of minerals and nutrients. watercress. kohlrabi. and electricity to pump water between the aquaculture subsystem and the hydroponics subsystem. Silver Perch. overflow from the system from rainfall. sweet potato and herbs. 田鰻). The system relies on the relationship between the animals and the plants to maintain a stable aquatic environment that experience a minimum of fluctuation in ambient nutrient and oxygen levels. This allows for aquaponic production of both crops and fish in areas where water or fertile land is scarce. In terms of outputs. tilapia are the most popular fish for home and commercial projects that are intended to raise edible fish. tandanus catfish.[5] [6] where plants were raised on stationary (and sometime movable) islands in lake shallows and waste materials dredged from the Chinampa canals and surrounding cities are used to manuallly irrigate the plants[7] [8] • South China and Thailand who cultivated and farmed rice in paddy fields in combination with fish are cited as examples of early aquaponics.[9] swamp eel (黄鳝.Aquaponics • Other systems use towers that are trickle-fed from the top. As a result. roses. peas. horizontal PVC pipes with holes for the pots. The nutrient-filled overflow water can be accumulated in catchment tanks. tomatoes. radishes. although saltwater fish.[3] Most green leaf vegetables grow well in the hydroponic subsystem. feed given to the aquatic animals.

[16] In 40 years' time. The model has spawned several satellite projects in other cities.[16] . other institutes followed suit. Rakocy to bring the research on aquaponics into mainstream agriculture. at the New Alchemy Institute and North Carolina State University. They intend to further develop the closed solid waste loop. In 2008. Savidov's commercially sized system to a smaller scale prototype that can be operated by families. small groups.[17] Aquaponics would make Barbados and other Caribbean islands less dependent on the world food market and reduce stress on the dwindling fish supplies. An inter-organizational project that started in late 2009 sets out to encourage and enable Barbadians to start aquaponics at home. that for example combine trout with floating lettuce production. Nelson and John S. Nick Savidov and colleagues researched aquaponics from a background of plant science. In 1997 Rebecca L. James Rakocy and his colleagues at the University of the Virgin Islands researched and developed the "Deep Water" or "Raft Culture" aquaponics[13] The system combines tilapia with various vegetables. Mark McMurtry and Barrel-Ponics inventor Travis Hughey. supplies. Eels are also known to be raised. Canada saw a rise in aquaponics setups throughout the 90s. on closing the solid waste loop. they wrote and published the first comprehensive book on aquaponics. with revenue generated by selling produce to tourists. a quarterly scientific journal that brings together research and various applications of aquaponics from around the globe. predominantly as commercial installations. a partnership of experts in sustainable agriculture was formed under the name AquaPlanet to promote the technology through media and consulting. The team includes Dr. A set-up based on the deep water system developed at the University of Virgin Islands was built in a greenhouse at Brooks. Mark McMurtry et al. and that because of certain advantages in the system over traditional aquaculture. the system can run well at a low pH level. Besides the reciprocating aquaponics based on the techniques developed by Dr. Nelson and Pade work closely with Dr. or restaurants. training and consultancy professionally. South America Barbados Barbados is a densely populated island that deals with water scarcity. Alberta where Dr.[15] or to water fruiting vegetable crops that warm up the water too much to be recirculated back into the fish ponds. Canada The first aquaponics research in Canada was a small system added onto existing aquaculture research at a research station in Lethbridge. and offer systems.Aquaponics 4 Regions North America United States Inspired by the successes of the New Alchemy Institute and the North Carolina State University with aquaponics.[14] In 2010. which is favoured by plants but not fish. Pade began publishing the Aquaponics Journal. The team made findings on rapid root growth in aquaponics systems. such as the nonprofit foundation Growing Power that offers Milwaukee youth job opportunities and training while growing food for their community. Dr. focus has shifted from domestic fruit and vegetable production on small farms to importing 80% of all fruits and vegetables[16] for cost reasons. Aquaponic Food Production. Recent years have seen a shift towards community integration of aquaponics. The Edmonton Aquaponics Society in Northern Alberta is adapting Dr.

• Some aquaponic installations rely heavily on man-made energy. stock feed usually consists of fish meal derived from lower value species. • The infinite number of ways in which a system can be configured lends itself to equally varying results. Ongoing depletion of wild fish stocks makes this practice unsustainable. The reduction of needed cropland to produce crops. and environmental control to achieve recirculation and water/ambient temperatures. • Like all aquaculture based systems. Dispensation of water is government-controlled. and grow beds. tank. pumps.[2] along with non-native rainbow trout. as well as growing black soldier fly larvae to feed to the fish using composting grub growers. Other alternatives include growing duckweed with an aquaponics system that feeds the same fish grown on the system. jade perch. • • • • • The elimination of solid waste disposal from intensive aquaculture. native freshwater fish including silver perch. it can be highly energy efficient. • Organic fertilization of plants with natural fish emulsion. Pros and cons The unique advantages of aquaponic systems are: • Conservation through constant water reuse and recycling. The closed-loop system of aquaponics is used by agricultural farmers to save water by also rearing fish.Aquaponics 5 Asia Taiwan Taiwan is a densely populated island that is faced with freshwater scarcity. Reduction of pathogens that often plague aquaculture production systems. brown trout and crayfish such as common yabby and redclaw. The overall reduction of the environmental footprint of crop production. aquaponics systems can have multiple 'single points of failure' where problems such as an electrical failure or a pipe blockage can lead to a complete loss of fish stock.[18] excess worms grown from vermiculture composting. Organic fish feeds may prove to be a viable alternative that negates this concern. Some conceivable disadvantages with aquaponics are: • Initial expenses for housing. sleepy cod. and successes or failures. Australia Due to a ban on tilapia in all states except for Western Australia. technological solutions. using alternative energy and a reduced number of pumps by letting the water flow downwards as much as possible.[19] . Building small efficient commercial installations near markets reduces food miles. murray cod and barramundi are popular in aquaponics and aquaculture systems. However. conflicting research. plumbing. if a system is designed with energy conservation in mind. while fish farmers grow plants that filter the water from the fish tanks. • While careful design can minimize the risk.

Phil L. ncat. Thoman. com/ lifestyles/ home-and-garden/ columnists/ master-gardener/ article_b67bd13c-fd17-562f-a3a1-3862010ce144. D. (2007). 2007). K. Recent Advances in Space Technologies. Napa Valley Register [9] "Space agriculture for habitation on mars and sustainable civilization on earth". M. E. (2010). Thomas M.. 2010. html). Charlie. Retrieved December 24. Aquaponics: How does aquaponics work? (http:/ / www. Aquacult Int (14): 539–550 [4] Rakocy. Organic aquaponics (http:/ / www. Eric S. [18] Rogosa. & Sanders. [3] Lennard. Aquaculture . Alberta References [1] Rakocy.National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (National Center for Appropriate Technology). 10 systems around the world. Retrieved November 27. A. (2009). Aztecs' aquaponics revamped (http:/ / napavalleyregister.. & Dolly. [6] Rogosa. (2007. edu/ sites/ uvi/ Pages/ AES-Aquaculture-Aquaponic_Systems. edu/ fish/ international/ introrice. San Juan: Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE). [2] Diver. article 7. Donald S. (2004). Dominica. . L. growseed. Michael P. "Aquaponics — integration of hydroponics with aquaculture" (http:/ / www. "A comparison of three different hydroponic sub-systems (gravel bed. Shultz. Retrieved 8 March 2011. (2009). Nelson.. nytimes. [16] Bishop. M. "Street Farmer" (http:/ / www. [17] Závodská. . 2010.Aquaponic Systems (http:/ / www. December 16). html).. JUANITA (december 15. Bourke. ed. 2009 [10] (http:/ / www. Barbados: McGill University. growseed. (1988). Nichols. htm). "Aztecs’ aquaponics revamped".. Masser. S. (2010). (2006). [14] Growing Power (2010). ru/ rodale/ agsieve/ txt/ vol1/ 3/ art7. ag. [19] Royte. org/ attra-pub/ PDF/ aquaponic. "Aquaponic production of tilapia and basil: Comparing a batch and staggered cropping system". Holetown. M. fao. pdf). James E. Wilson A. Southern Region Aquaculture Center. Napa Valley Register. growingpower. R. msu. Elizabeth (July 5. J. E. T. Water harvesting and aquaculture for rural development (http:/ / www. org/ fishery/ culturedspecies/ Carassius_carassius/ en) [11] McMurtry.. P. [7] Crossley. [13] University of the Virgin Islands. International Ag-Sieve.. R. Agriculture and Human Values (21): 191–205 [8] BOUTWELL. D. & Trebic. R.C. aspx). RAST '09: 68–69. Aqua-vegeculture systems (http:/ / www.. auburn. floating and nutrient film technique) in an Aquaponic test system". org/ growingpower. html?sq=aquaponics& st=cse& adxnnl=1& scp=10& pagewanted=2& adxnnlx=1299564045-NgXx2LMa3/ ee2z6MNr9YdA). ATTRA .. Retrieved November 27. htm). Agricultural Experiment Station [AES] (2010). (2010). Retrieved November 27.Aquaponics 6 Gallery Flood and Drain aquaponic system Silver Perch in an aquaponic system The raft tank at the CDC South Aquaponics greenhouse in Brooks. com/ 2009/ 07/ 05/ magazine/ 05allen-t. [15] Nelson.. fadr. 2009. 2009)..V. edu/ dept/ fisheries/ aquaculture/ documents/ 309884-SRAC454.. "Sub-irrigation in wetland agriculture". Losordo. aces. Steve (2006). (2006). [12] Bocek. org/ our_history. Connolly. 2010. pdf). 2010. James E. The New York Times Company. (2004). html) Retrieved November 26. attra. 8. Our history (http:/ / www. A comparison of small scale farming in Barbados. Brian V. Acta Hort (ISHS) (648) [5] Boutwell. 46(3). Aquaponics Journal. and Trinidad and Tobago. Baird’s Village aquaponics project: AGRI 519/CIVE 519 Sustainable Development Plans. Leonard. 1(3). html). Recirculating aquaculture tank production systems: Aquaponics — integrating fish and plant culture (http:/ / www. A. uvi. Bailey..A. org/ aquaponics. 2010.

com) • Taiwan Aquaponics Association (http://twaquaponics.morningstarfishermen.com/ watch?v=FwMEulvJ2Ps) • Aquaponics Group on the University of Hawaii's AquacultureHub (http://www.org/group/ aquaponics) • Morning Star Fishermen (http://www.youtube.blogspot.aquaculturehub.com) .Aquaponics 7 External links • Video example of aquaponics system at Vancouver Island University (http://www.org) • A Suburban Aquaponics Journal (http://sminstudios.

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