Aquaponics 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.
*** Wake Up World Viewer Special – Easy Step by Step instructions on how you can do this in your own home http://aquaponics.wakeup-world.com ***
UPDATE 26th July 2011 -The response we received from this short story is amazing, but created many questions. We have since looked into this further and we are happy to share with you all detailed information on this amazing organisation. Part 2 includes new HD videos, detailed information on training centres, outreach & community centres, useful links, volunteering, farm tours & contact details.
Read and watch the new article here – http://wakeup-world.com/2011/07/26/part-2-how-1-million-pounds-of-organic-foo…
I came across this video of a man who has figured out a system to grow 1 million pounds of food on 3 acres each and every year. How are they doing this?
* By producing 10,000 fish
* Using 300 to 500 yards of worm compost
* By utilizing vertical space
* Having 3 acres of land in green houses
* Using 1 simple aquaponic pump
* Food is grown all year by using heat from the compost piles
A packed greenhouse produces a crop value of $5 Square Foot! ($200,000/acre). That is if the whole acre was under greenhouse.
Continue Reading The Article here – http://wakeup-world.com/2011/07/14/how-1-million-pounds-of-organic-food-can-b…
Backyard Aquaponics Intall video Parts 1, 2, and 3
These are instructional video’s showing how to install one of their aquaponics kit systems.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aquaponics (pronounced: /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.
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.
Silver Perch fingerlings in an aquaponic system
Aquaponics consists of two main parts, with the aquaculture part for raising aquatic animals and the hydroponics part for growing plants. 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. Although consisting primarily of these 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. 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;
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.
The plant bed in an aquaponic systems
Depending on the sophistication and cost of the aquaponics system, the units for solids removal, biofiltration, and/or the hydroponics subsystem may be combined into one unit or subsystem, which prevents the water from flowing directly from the aquaculture part of the system to the hydroponics part.
Nitrification, the aerobic conversion of ammonia into nitrates, is one of the most important functions in an aquaponics system as it reduces the toxicity of the water for fish, and allows the resulting nitrate compounds to be removed by the plants for nourishment. Ammonia is steadily released into the water through the excreta and gills of fish as a product of their metabolism, but must be filtered out of the water since higher concentrations of ammonia (commonly between 0.5 and 1 ppm) can kill fish. Although plants can absorb ammonia from the water to some degree, nitrates are assimilated more easily, thereby efficiently reducing the toxicity of the water for fish. Ammonia can be converted into other nitrogenous compounds through healthy populations of:
Nitrosomonas: bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrites, and
Nitrobacter: bacteria that convert nitrites into nitrates.
In an aquaponics system, the bacteria responsible for this process form a biofilm on all solid surfaces throughout the system that are in constant contact with the water. The submerged roots of the vegetables combined have a large surface area, so that many bacteria can accumulate there. Together with the saliency of ammonia and nitrites in the water, the surface area determines the speed with which nitrification takes place. Care for these bacterial colonies is important as to regulate the full assimilation of ammonia and nitrite. This is why most aquaponics systems include a biofiltering unit, which helps facilitate growth of these microorganisms. Typically, after a system has stabilized ammonia levels range from 0.25 to 2.0 ppm; nitrite levels range from 0.25 to 1 ppm, and nitrate levels range from 2 to 150 ppm. During system startup, spikes may occur in the levels of ammonia (up to 6.0 ppm) and nitrite (up to 15 ppm), with nitrate levels peaking later in the startup phase. Since the nitrification process acidifies the water, non-sodium bases such as potassium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide can be added for neutralizing the water’s pH if insufficient quantities are naturally present in the water to provide a buffer against acidification. In addition, 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.
A good way to deal with solids buildup in aquaponics is the use of worms, which liquefy the solid organic matter so that it can be utilized by the plants and/or animals.
Plants are grown as in hydroponics systems, with their roots immersed in the nutrient-rich effluent water. This enables them to filter out the ammonia that is toxic to the aquatic animals, or its metabolites. After the water has passed through the hydroponic subsystem, it is cleaned and oxygenated, and can return to the aquaculture vessels. This cycle is continuous. Common aquaponic applications of hydroponic systems include:
Deep-water raft aquaponics: styrofoam rafts floating in a relatively deep aquaculture basin in troughs.
Recirculating aquaponics: solid media such as gravel or clay beads, held in a container that is flooded with water from the aquaculture. This type of aquaponics is also known as closed-loop aquaponics.
Reciprocating aquaponics: solid media in a container that is alternately flooded and drained utilizing different types of siphon drains. This type of aquaponics is also known as flood-and-drain aquaponics or ebb-and-flow aquaponics.
Other systems use towers that are trickle-fed from the top, nutrient film technique channels, horizontal PVC pipes with holes for the pots, plastic barrels cut in half with gravel or rafts in them. Each approach has its own benefits.
Most green leaf vegetables grow well in the hydroponic subsystem, although most profitable are varieties of chinese cabbage, lettuce, basil, roses, tomatoes, okra, cantaloupe and bell peppers. Other species of vegetables that grow well in an aquaponic system include beans, peas, kohlrabi, watercress, taro, radishes, strawberries, melons, onions, turnips, parsnips, sweet potato and herbs. Since plants at different growth stages require different amounts of minerals and nutrients, 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.
Freshwater fish are the most common aquatic animal raised using aquaponics, although freshwater crayfish and prawns may also be used. In practice, tilapia are the most popular fish for home and commercial projects that are intended to raise edible fish, although barramundi, Silver Perch, Eel-tailed catfish or tandanus catfish, Jade perch and Murray cod are also used. For temperate climates when there isn’t ability or desire to maintain water temperature, bluegill and catfish are suitable fish species for home systems. Koi and goldfish may also be used, if the fish in the system need not be edible.
Aquaponic systems do not typically discharge or exchange water under normal operation, but instead recirculate and reuse water very effectively. 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. Water is only added to replace water loss from absorption and transpiration by plants, evaporation into the air from surface water, overflow from the system from rainfall, and removal of biomass such as settled solid wastes from the system. As a result, aquaponics uses approximately 2% of the water that a conventionally irrigated farm requires for the same vegetable production. This allows for aquaponic production of both crops and fish in areas where water or fertile land is scarce. 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. The nutrient-filled overflow water can be accumulated in catchment tanks, and reused to accelerate growth of crops planted in soil, or it may be pumped back into the aquaponic system to top up the water level..
The three main inputs to the system are water, feed given to the aquatic animals, and electricity to pump water between the aquaculture subsystem and the hydroponics subsystem. Spawn or fry may be added to replace grown fish that are taken out from the system to retain a stable system. In terms of outputs, an aquaponics system may continually yield plants such as vegetables grown in hydroponics, and edible aquatic species raised in an aquaculture.
Aquaponics has ancient roots, 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  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 manually irrigate the plants.
South China and Thailand who cultivated and farmed rice in paddy fields in combination with fish are cited as examples of early aquaponics. These polycultural farming systems existed in many Far Eastern countries and raised fish such as the oriental loach (泥鳅, ドジョウ), swamp eel (黄鳝, 田鰻), Common (鯉魚, コイ) and crucian carp (鯽魚) as well as pond snails (田螺) in the paddies.
While the development of aquaponics is often attributed to the various works of the New Alchemy Institute and the works of Dr. Mark McMurtry et al. at the North Carolina State University, many papers of initial development of aquaponics concepts pre-date both institutions by nearly a decade.
Tom and Paula Speraneo, owners of a small greenhouse operation near West Plains, Missouri, modified the North Carolina State method and raised tilapia in above-ground tanks inside a solar greenhouse. The effluent from the tanks was used to fertigate gravel-cultured vegetables in raised benches.
In addition, the Speraneos manipulated the watering cycle, and this methodology of the Speranos forms the basis for the style of “flood & drain” media grow bed aquaponics systems that have been widely adopted in Australia based on models promoted by Joel Malcolm and Murray Hullam, and are now gaining increasing popularity in the United States.
Inspired by the successes of the New Alchemy Institute and the North Carolina State University with aquaponics, other institutes followed suit. Besides the reciprocating aquaponics based on the techniques developed by Dr. Mark McMurtry et al. at the North Carolina State University, Dr. James Rakocy and his colleagues at the University of the Virgin Islands researched and developed the “Deep Water” or “Raft Culture” aquaponics The system combines tilapia with various vegetables.
In 1997 Rebecca L. Nelson and John S. Pade began publishing the Aquaponics Journal, a quarterly scientific journal that brings together research and various applications of aquaponics from around the globe. In 2008, they wrote and published the first book on aquaponics, Aquaponic Food Production. Since then there have been numerous books, and “e-books” appear concerning aquaponics.
In 2010 the Aquaponic Gardening Community was started, which has now become the largest on-line gathering place for aquaponics enthusiasts in North America. Members of that community launched the Aquaponics Association in 2011 after the first Aquaponics Conference was held in Orlando, Florida in September of that year.
Recent years have seen a shift towards community integration of aquaponics, such as the nonprofit foundation Growing Power that offers Milwaukee youth job opportunities and training while growing food for their community. The model has spawned several satellite projects in other cities. In addition, aquaponic gardeners from all around the world have gathered in online community sites and forums to openly share their experiences and move the development of this fantastic form of gardening forward.