An introduction to Aquaponics

Aquaponics represents a food production system that relies on the combination of aquaculture with hydroponics. In a basic aquaculture set-up the waste produced by animals can determine a higher level of water toxicity. On the other hand, an aquaponic system is based on a simple principle: the water from the aquaculture is redirected to a hydroponic system.

At this point it is used a nitrification bacteria which divides it into nitrates and nitrites. The goal here is to use this waste as nutrients for the plants. After the splitting, the purified water is sent back to the aquaculture system.

What are the elements of Aquaponics?

As said before, aquaponics is made out of two major elements. The aquaculture is responsible for augmenting aquatic animals. The hydroponics is strictly related with the process of growing plants. Furthermore, there are some other parts that help in preventing the harm produced by  waste  to both the plants and animals. Regular subsystems are:

  • The breading tank used for raising and feeding the animals
  • The waste container which is used for filtering the water from food and other type of waste
  • The biofilter which is responsible for the nitrification bacteria and offers a tremendous amount of nitrates
  • A subsystem for hydroponics which is set up for the plants responsible with accumulating the extra nutrients present in the water
  • The septic tank responsible with the circulation of water

The five golden elements

When it comes to aquaponics, there must be considered five crucial elements: water, oxygen, light, food and electricity. The most important part is the electricity because it is responsible with pumping, filtering and offering a balance of the oxygen. Also, it is recommended to not exaggerate with the food because it will only increase the toxicity levels. Furthermore, pH levels should be analyzed carefully along with the proper biofiltration.

How is the water used?

The main principle of an aquaponic system is the fact that it reuses water efficiently. Adding up, the animals and the plants are responsible for creating a proper aquatic environment and maintaining a balance between nutrient and oxygen levels. An aquaponic system requires a small amount of replacing water due to the fact that this happens only because of  the absorption or transpiration of plants. It is a great solution for those areas where water and fertile soil is hard to find.

Using energy in a smart way

Aquaponic systems usually require a certain amount of energy from the grid in order to provide proper temperatures and recirculation. Anyway, this system can be designed so it can be eco-friendly. Alternative energy can easily be applied to this type of system by taking into consideration the design. As an example, placing a small number of pumps can turn out helpful, if the water is redirected to flow downwards. This resembles pretty much what happens in wildlife. Also, keep in mind that if there are periods of blackouts in your area or it simply happens due to a malfunction, this event can seriously damage you system. Furthermore, you risk losing all your fish stock.