is a combination of Aquaculture
& Hydroponics. This means
that fish and plants are grown in
an integrated system, creating a
symbiotic relationship between the two.
An Aquaponic system
uses the water from the fish tank to circulate
through a grow bed where the plants are grown.
convert fish wastes into plant-available nutrients.
The plants use these nutrients as
their main nutrient supply. The fish
also benefit from this process , as
the water is filtered by the plants, giving
the fish clean water to live in.
system of Aquaponics has benefits not
achievable when Aquaculture and Hydroponics are
done separately. Aquaculture has the
problem of buildup of wastes in the water, requiring
filtering systems to clean the water as well as
periodic releasing of waste water into the environment.
Hydroponics uses chemical nutrients that eventually
build up in the water and create toxic water.
This water can no longer be used in the irrigation
of the plants and is disposed of into the environment.
takes both of these problems and turns them into
solutions, as the waste in the water
is used to feed the plants, therefore not requiring
any chemical nutrients to be added to the system,
and can have no pollution of the environment
by either fish wastes or chemical pollutants.
is currently a great deal of interest
in Australia about sustainable farming practices
including water use,
and the degradation of our soils and waterways.
Aquaponics uses less water to produce
the same amount of food as conventional agriculture,
organic agriculture and hydroponics.
access to water is a critical factor for farming
in any country, the use of Aquaponic systems with its
low water requirement means that food
can be produced in places that it would not
normally be grown. Fish from the Aquaculture
component of the Aquaponic system can be also
harvested, providing fish in areas that do not
have natural access to fish in their waterways.
combined with a climate-controlled environment
such as a greenhouse, can produce food
year round. Another limiting factor for
farmers worldwide is access to fertile soils capable
of producing quality food. Aquaponics does not
need any soils, therefore being able to be utilised
almost anywhere in the world.
water use – with water being a scarce
resource in Australia, it makes sense to use
methods that reduce the amount of water used
to produce the same amount of food. As the water
from the fish tank is recirculated, the amount
of water lost in the system is minimal. In conventional
farming, the irrigation water is pumped out
onto the land, only to be lost through evaporation,
percolation or runoff.
chemical use – the need for chemicals is
reduced dramatically in an aquaponics system,
as the nutrient is made available to the plants
by the fish waste. The use of chemicals in an
aquaponics system can be harmful to the fish,
and can disrupt the natural interactions of the
fish and their environment.
erosion by eliminating the need to plough the
soil – the problem of erosion in Australia
is immense, with many acres of precious topsoil
being lost to water and wind erosion every year,
and our waterways experiencing silt build-up.
environment reduces the need for pesticides –
when an Aquaponics system is set up in a greenhouse,
the likelihood of infiltration by pests is reduced
Quality farm food production typically needs land
with high quality soil and access to large amounts
of water. Australia does not have much land that
is classed as fertile, and the small amount we
do have is expensive , therefore we need other
ways of growing food that does not rely on equity.
The beauty of Aquaponics is that any person can
do it, regardless of their location, provided
there is a supply of water. This water supply
can be as simple as rainwater stored in tanks.
running costs – the cost of running a conventional
horticultural farm is huge, with the cost of tractors
and all the implements needed reaching into the
$100's thousands. With Aquaponic systems, there is no ploughing
or spraying, reducing the need for large tractors
which use large amounts of diesel fuel, and also
reducing the need for the farmer to spend alot
of their money on synthetic chemicals.
exposed to chemicals is not good for us, yet we
continue to use them to help grow our food. The
farmer has more exposure to these chemicals as
they are physically handling them in preparation
of spraying. The farmer is also exposed while
spraying the liquid, especially if the wind blows
it back into the direction of the farmer.
reduced water use in an Aquaponics system compared
to plants grown in soil is also a benefit for
backyard growers, as many cities and coastal areas
around Australia now have restrictions on the
amount of water they are allowed to use.
the backbreaking work of digging up the soil in
the vegetable patch, Aquaponic systems are generally
constructed so that the plants and roots are above
ground level, giving you the opportunity to plant,
grow and harvest all without hardly bending your
Aquaponic system set up in the backyard can
help to teach kids about how plants and fish
grow, and to teach them about the ecological
interactions that are occurring between the
fish, the plants and their environment.
The great thing about Aquaponics as a learning
tool, is it also produces healthy, organic food
for the family, all year round.