Many people have heard about or tinkered with hydroponic systems, as hydroponics has been very popular over the years. These systems can easily fit into most any space and are capable of being used both indoors and outdoors, while being able to produce food very fast and efficiently.
With the shift of societies consuming turning to more organic produce, the hydroponic industry is changing with this healthy movement. Hydroponic system manufacturers have started to develop organic fertilizers and additives while also revamping their systems to use organic nutrition easier.
Luckily, a revolutionary gardening method (aquaponics) is stepping into the gardening and agricultural industry and is replacing hydroponic growing systems that have been used in the past.
According to Wikipedia, ”aquaponics, is a sustainable food production system that combines conventional aquaculture, (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks), with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.”
Both hydroponics and aquaponics are able to produce a higher yield than any soil gardens ever could (on a per square foot basis), but from the viewpoint of the sustainability between these two systems (hydroponics versus aquaponics) there is a one major difference.
Hydroponic systems must constantly be supplied with water and nutrient, which will require growers to constantly flush the nutrient solution (the water and nutrients in the reservoir) out of hydroponic systems.
So a grower must regularly drain the water and nutrients out of the reservoir in exchange with fresh water and new nutrition in order to grow healthy produce.
Hydroponically grown food often has a more chemical or acidic taste. People, who are sensitive to taste, can often times taste the difference in hydroponically grown food, than food that is grown in soil or aquaponic systems. With an aquaponic system using 100% organic nutrition (no chemical or synthetic additives) the food that is produced is of the highest quality possible and comes out tasting better than ever.
Aquaponic Gardening Grows The Food That You Want!
Aquaponic systems combine the best of hydroponics (growing in a soilless medium), and aquaculture (the farming of fish), the two (2) components of hydroponic systems that are replaced in an aquaponic system are the:
1) Water Reservoir (Fish Tank)
2) Nutrition Used (Fish Poop)
Similar to hydroponics, the aquaponics system reservoir is the fish tank, with the fish being the supplier of the nutrients to the plants grown within the system.
Aquaponic gardening is the way of the future for both home gardening and larger scale commercial farming. Unlike traditional soil-based agricultural methods, aquaponic gardening systems utilize fish waste to fertilize the plants. How this works, is that fish excrete their waste, which is mostly ammonia, into the fish tank that is then pumped throughout growing system.
Naturally occurring bacteria build up within these systems and convert the ammonia (fish waste and decomposing food) into nitrites, and then another type of bacteria converts nitrites into nitrates (usable plant food). As these nitrates supply plants with the nutrition they need to grow within the aquaponics’ system, the plants metabolize the fish waste which purifies the water for the fish to be able to survive.
When you feed the fish and give them the environment that they need to live, the fish provide the bacteria food to feed on, which in turn feeds the plants within the system, and the plants purify the water for the fish to live. This essentially creates a natural recirculating ecosystem that symbiotically works together so the fish to be live and you are able to grow the best organic foods possible.
Some Advantages of Aquaponic Gardening
You can now enjoy watching fish swim while you tend your garden. What other gardening system can give you that?
From the start of an aquaponic system, the food your system is producing is completely organic. Not to mention it takes less time to run, manage, and maintain so you have more time for other activities to enjoy in life.
Aquaponic systems have numerous advantages over hydroponic systems. Taking less energy input (time, electricity, water, and nutrition) in aquaponics, it can produce a higher yield than any other gardening method which makes it a more sustainable growing system.
One major benefit is that it uses up to 90 percent LESS water than traditional soil cultivation methods.
The square-foot production is higher with aquaponics than other gardening methods being able to produce up to 10 times more per square foot. With aquaponics, you can not only grow fruits, vegetables, greens, and herbs, you can also raise fish to eat or ornamental fish to sell, as well as (in some cases) papaya trees and other miniature fruit trees.
Other great advantages of aquaponic gardening is that you will never have to till, fertilize, weed, turn soil over, or have to deal with soil-pests or diseases ever again.
Last Notes About Aquaponics
Aquaponic systems can be built to be aesthetically pleasing and a center discussion piece within your home or in your backyard. They can be built to any size, from small systems built to fit an apartment kitchen, to very large commercial scale farms.
Aquaponic systems can be built using relatively inexpensive components that most anyone can afford to purchase and easily assemble at home. When it comes time for you to move out of your apartment or home, you can pack up your system and take it with you.
Producing food at home with aquaponics can help you to achieve food-independence, save money on the food you are already purchasing, and give you better tasting, healthier, and fresher than store bought foods. The growing trend in aquaponic gardening on a roll and you can definitely see the advantages of aquaponics and why it is better other hydroponic growing systems.
Let us know what you think.
[Ed. Note. Aquaponic Gardening Guide (http://www.AquaponicGardeningGuide.com) is a leading provider of home-based learning in aquaponic gardening and are a leading expert with extensive experience designing and constructing aquaponic systems. Send your feedback here:[email protected] and don’t forget to follow them on Twitter: @AquaponicGuide]