Aquaponics is a method of growing vegetables and raising fish together in an integrated system. Nutrient-rich water from fish tanks or ponds is distributed to vegetable plants, and the plants clean and filter the water before it is cycled back to the fish. Some systems include growing food for the fish as well, to create a truly sustainable system.
Here are the top 4 reasons you need one:
1. Aquaponic systems can produce a lot of food in very little space.
By receiving a high concentration of nutrients directly to their root systems, plants flourish even when grown close together. Raising fish can provide an abundance of affordable, healthy protein. With thoughtful planning, a backyard aquaponic system can be a sustainable way to grow much of your own food.
2. Grow more food with less work.
Plants in aquaponic systems tend to be healthier, grow faster and require less physical energy to maintain. Since there is no soil, there are no soil-borne diseases so plants easily thrive. There is also no weeding, making for a less labor intensive method of growing.
3. You can fish... In your backyard!
A significant benefit of an aquaponics garden is the fish you can raise with it. Imagine not only do you produce fresh vegetables, but the fish to go with it!
4. Aquaponic systems use less water.
Aquaponic systems use up to 90% less water than traditional soil-based growing methods. Since the water is cycled through the system and reused again and again, only a fraction of the water that traditional methods use is needed. While aquaponics can be a sustainable and cost-effective way to produce food in any climate, the use of less water makes it especially well-suited for areas where water is scarce and droughts are frequent.
Aquaponics can be used to grow a variety of plants and fish. Green leafy vegetables and herbs are the plants that tend to work best for small scale aquaponic systems. Fruiting plants such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans have been successfully grown in larger well-stocked systems.
Tilapia is the most common fish raised in aquaponic systems because they reproduce at high rates and grow quickly. They are also a hardy fish that can withstand poor water quality. Other fish such as trout, carp, catfish and large-mouth bass can also be raised successfully. Some people are even having success raising prawns and shrimp in their aquaponic systems.
For the do-it-yourselfer, an aquaponic system can be fairly inexpensive to build. All of the necessary components are readily available at most home supply stores. Kits and pre-made systems are also available but will typically cost more than building one yourself. Whichever method you choose, installing an aquaponic system is a great way to produce your own healthy food!