Aquaponics combines aquaculture (raising fish in a contained environment) and hydroponics (growing in a soil-less, recirculating water system). A variety of crops from specialty salad greens to tomatoes can be grown. In an aquaponic system, crops are noted to grow 2-3 times faster than traditional soil environments. Aquaponics is a very low-maintenance method of growing that requires minimal resources (energy and water).
Using gravity, water is drained from the fish tank into a trough. Here, beneficial bacteria break down the toxic ammonia in fish waste, convert it to Nitrite and then to Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plant development. This naturally filtered water is pumped to the grow troughs. The water is wicked up to the crop roots with the help of coir, a by-product of coconut shells and a sustainable replacement for peat moss, since no soil is used. Finally, the water flows from the growing beds back into the tank of fish.
When using aquaponics in a controlled greenhouse environment, fish and organic produce can be grown year-round to provide a healthy food source to anyone, anywhere.
As a sustainable agriculture, aquaponics can grow fish and produce, faster and more efficiently, using 2% of the water, and 70-90% less energy than traditional farming, while producing eight times the vegetables.