You may have heard about aquaponics and are excited to learn more about this soilless method of growing. This growing method has been around since the early civilizations but is just gaining popularity recently because of its many benefits. This article will discuss the essential benefits of aquaponics gardening and why it is gaining attention over other growing methods.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics combines aquaculture (raising of fish and other aquatic animals) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). In this growing method, plants are grown in the grow bed, and fish are placed in the fish tank. The water from the fish tank that contains fish waste is fed to the grow bed, where billions of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria break the ammonia down into nitrites and then into nitrates. Plants absorb these nitrates and other nutrients to help them grow. The plant's roots clean and filter the water in before it flows back into the fish tank for the fish to live. The fresh, clean, and oxygenated water recirculates back to the fish tank, where the cycle will begin again.
Benefits of Aquaponics
1. Year-Round Gardening: Through indoor aquaponics systems or the use of greenhouses, an aquaponics grower can grow food all year round.
2. Low Water Usage: One of the significant benefits of aquaponic growing is minimal water is wasted compared to the traditional growing method, like soil gardening. Although the name implies 'water,' aquaponics uses approximately 90% less water than conventional agriculture. The water is rarely changed or discarded since it’s recycled repeatedly through the entire system.
3. Minimal Weeding: There is no soil involved in aquaponics, so there are very few weeds that will pop up in your garden, giving you more time to enjoy your garden
4. Growth: Plants grow faster in an aquaponic system than plants grown in soil because they access 100% natural nutrients 24 hours a day.
5. Two Sources of Income: Aquaponics offers two streams of income, both fish and vegetables.
6. Small Footprint:Aquaponics farming does not require farmland with fertile soil. Aquaponics can be done successfully on any land, cement, gravel, rocky surfaces, or even drought lands, which are difficult to use in conventional farms.
7. Food Security: Food security and food independence are increasingly becoming important. Aquaponics is another means of living a more self-sufficient lifestyle.
1. Healthy Food: In an aquaponics system, fish and plants grow without fertilizers and chemicals. So your harvests are fresh and organic.
2. Fresh Produce: Having your own aquaponics garden at home allows growers to harvest fresh vegetables.
3. Protein and Vegetable Harvest: Aquaponics provides food harvest in the form of protein (from the fish) and vegetables.
4. Healthy Eating: One of the reasons most people resort to raising their own produce is that they want to eat healthier. With aquaponics, you can be confident that your plants are organic because you know what went into growing them.
5. Personal Satisfaction:Growing your food in an aquaponics system can be a rewarding and exciting experience because you know your way of growing food is also helping save the environment.
6. Self-Sufficient Way of Living:Growing your own food is the start of living a self-sufficient lifestyle.
FAQs on the Benefits of Aquaponics
How Does Aquaponics Save Water?
One of the significant benefits of aquaponic growing is the minimal water wasted compared to conventional farming. Although the name implies water, aquaponics uses approximately 90% less water than traditional farming.
In aquaponics, the water is recycled and used timely. The big reason for this is that there is no soil to absorb water, and aquaponics continuously uses the same recycled water. So there is no extra water involved unless the water becomes significantly stagnated. The only water lost in aquaponics is through evaporation, which is very little and will require you to replenish the water from time to time.
How is Aquaponics 100% Natural?
Aquaponics is a sustainable and natural method of growing plants and aquatic animals. It promotes a symbiotic relationship between plants and marine animals, allowing small backyard growers and commercial growers to cultivate nutritious and organic crops and raise edible fish.
It is sustainable because it saves water, does not need an ample space of land to operate, and has a minimal footprint that can affect the environment. It is also a natural way of growing because it mimics nature, where the plants reuse leftovers from the animals. And since it mimics nature, there is no waste. Any solid collected from the fish is absorbed by the plant's roots for their growth. Any excess solid waste can be added to the compost or applied to your soil garden as natural fertilizers.
How is Aquaponics Gardening Organic?
Your aquaponics system directly reflects what you put into your system. Since the system is a self-contained recirculating system, you do not need to add harmful pesticides and chemicals. Any chemical additions may harm or kill the fish in your system. Keeping your fish healthy and natural is essential to keeping your plants and the whole system healthy.
Aquaponics systems can be classified as an organic way of growing food because it enables growers to produce food sustainably. Here are some reasons why aquaponics gardening is considered organic:
Aquaponics Do Not Use Synthetic Fertilizers
One benefit of having an aquaponics system is that there is no need for synthetic fertilizers to grow vegetables. Aquaponics use fish waste as the primary source of nutrients for the plants.
Chemical-Free Pest Control
Aquaponics systems are not totally free from pests. A grower might have to deal with bugs that will feast on the crops from time to time. In dealing with these occasional pests, many aquaponics growers apply natural pest-control methods, like hand removal, companion planting, bug netting, and the use of beneficial insects. This is because the chemicals often used by many gardeners to remove the pests may harm or kill the fish in the system.
No Antibiotics or Growth Hormones
Many aquaponics growers are into aquaponics because they want to grow healthy organic crops. This includes making sure that the fish are not given growth hormones and feeding them with a natural fish meal and fish oil diet. Some growers also use alternative fish food like duckweeds, worms, insects, and leftover vegetables to feed their fish.
In treating fish diseases, administering antibiotics may also disrupt the system’s overall health. So most growers apply the common method of treating fish disease, which is isolating sick fish in a separate tank and using a salt bath solution.
The nutritional value of vegetables grown in aquaponics is higher than vegetables grown on the ground. The great thing about having your aquaponics farm/system is controlling what goes into your plants. You don't have to trust the farms telling you that the plants they grow are organic. You can be confident your plants are organic because you know what went into growing them.
Whatever your reason for starting your own aquaponics system, the benefits are real and tangible as more and more farmers and food growers resort to applying fertilizers, pesticides, and growth hormones to cope with food demand worldwide. Aquaponics can provide commercial food growers and home growers with great benefits and options to grow food naturally without using harmful chemicals and fertilizers.
Ensure the food you and your family are eating is safe, healthy, and organic by growing your food sustainably. Thank you for reading our article. If you want to learn more about aquaponics, read “The Ultimate Aquaponics Beginner's Guide.”