Aquaponic farming combines hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) with aquaculutre (raising aquatic species in controlled environments), to create a circular whole-year food production system, which doesn't require watering, weeding, or use of chemicals.
"The main idea is the following: fish eat; fish produce waste; bacteria turn waste into fertilizer; plants use that fertilizer to grow more efficiently; due to their growth, plants create a more safe and nutrient-filled water for the fish. It’s a natural cycle, mimicking the natural way of things we observe in Nature." Source: Beginner Guide for Aquaponics farming
This follows the Nitrogen cycle:
The basic components include the aquaculture section, where the fish live, and the hydroponic section, where the plants are grown, as well as a pump system to keep the circulation going.
Fish live in a water tank. Depending on a species, it's possible to create a fully circular system, where fish eat parts of the plants produced in the hydroponic section.
Note: Fish can survive for around a month without feeding.
Plants naturally adapt their roots to get nutrients from water. Depending on the weather conditions and climate, plants can be outdoors or indoors.
Note: The outdoor hydroponic sections can also be built to serve as a greenhouse in winter – by lowering the level of water and
The system requires constant circulation of water using a water pump, and therefore requires electricity, eg. from solar panels. It's also beneficial to add an air pump to keep water oxygenated. In case of power failure that will keep fish alive until power is restored.
Note: old car batteries that are no longer capable of powering a car can be reused to store energy from solar panels, as the power needs of the water pumps are minimal.
The system requires a water tank, containing 50% of the total water in the system. Water level can be regulated by draining the tank or adding rainwater.
Note: Sea water contains valuable nutrients. In small proportions it can work as a natural fertilizer, without negative impact from the salt.
Cost of equipment for a small aquaponic farm providing whole-year greens for one family is around €700.
Blue Eden Azores, a guesthouse and an aquaponic farm project Adrien & Thea in Pico
Plant Juice for Iron
Fish poo dispenser tank