Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (the raising of fish) and hydroponics (the growing of plants without soil). Because of increase in population, people are moving to urban areas in large quantities, leadind to huge increase in the demand for healthy and organic products and fishes. Therefore, new and sustainable farming techniques must be found to produce food and other eatables while protecting our natural resources and environment, and aquaponics promises to be a game-changer in more ways than one.
Working Mechanism of Aquaponics
Aquaponics relies on the food introduced for fishes. As fish eat this food, they excrete urine and fecal matter which are rich in ammonia which is toxic in high concentrations to both plants and fishes.
The water (which has ammonia) now flows into a biofilter. The bacteria in this biofilter convert urine, uneaten food and ammonia into organic solutions which are nitrogen rich. This water (now with converted nitrogen) helps in acting as a fertilizer for plants being grown by hydroponics.
Benefits of Aquaponics
Aquaponics doesn’t rely on chemical fertilizers and pesticides because it has a nitrogen rich source(fish food) which acts like a natural fertilizer for the plants being grown by hydroponics. A farmer using aquaponics has mutiple revenue streams in the form of fish and plants both.
Aquaponics protects our water bodies as no harmful fertilizer flows in the water bodies. In modern farming techniques farmers have to use fertilizers to maintain nutrient rich soil which eventually flows into rivers and ponds which pollutes them and makes the water unfit for use.
Last but not the least, plants have a faster growth in aquaponic farming because of their access to natural nutrients throughout the whole day.
Disadvantages of Aquaponics
Aquaponics can be expensive to setup because the system requires tubing, pumps, fish tanks/beds. Another disadvantage of using the aquaponic system is that the electricity usage is very high. This is because the fish tank is kept at a certain temperature throughout the whole day. This can be a major problem for countries who don’t have sufficient electricity for their villages and towns.
A few crops can be grown only by aquaponics because some plants perform most of their growth within their soil and aquaponics uses water as a substitute for soil which can be a problem for growing big crops as they require a lot of water and water is a natural resource which is depleting at a very fast rate.
Aquaponics systems have several units where dysfunction could lead to the failure of the whole aquaponics system which would lead to the loss of fishes.