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Aquaponics with fish: The basics

by Brenda House 05/24/2022

If you’re interested in sustainability, aquatic life and gardening, you might consider aquaponics with fish. Aquaponics combines methods from hydroponic gardening and aquaculture to create a symbiotic environment in your home fish tank.

To learn more about aquaponics, here is a basic guide to help:

How it works

Aquaponic systems are used to cultivate fish and plants in a mutually beneficial environment. Using aquaponics, you can grow plants without soil, while also providing a healthy living environment for aquatic animals.

The aquaponic system process consists of these five steps:

  • Fish eat fish food.
  • Fish waste is eaten by special microorganisms called nitrifying bacteria.
  • The bacteria convert the fish waste and create nutrient rich water.
  • The plants soak up the nutrients like a natural fertilizer, purifying the tank water.
  • Fresh water returns to the environment for the process to begin anew.

The main components of an aquaponics system are:

  • Fish tank or aquarium.
  • Water pump and filter.
  • Grow lights.
  • Your choice of plants.

There are beginner kits available with all the parts necessary to set up your own aquaponics system at home. You can grow fruits, veggies and tropical plants among a wide variety of fish and water-dwelling creatures.

Benefits

From a gardening perspective, there are many advantages to aquaponics. Growing plants in water is a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to conventional soil gardening, and comes without the risk of weeds or most plant pests. The combination of fish waste and helpful bacteria removes the need to add fertilizer, and the water gives plant roots plenty of room to grow.

Aquaponics systems are versatile, and can be set up almost anywhere. You can have an outdoor aquaponic pond, or a desktop garden over a small aquarium. Not only is there very little waste in the process, it’s an excellent way to combine two interests - cultivate plants and fish at the same time!

Aquaponics systems might seem complex at first, but once you have all the pieces of the puzzle, you can create your very own mutually beneficial natural environment for plants and fish.

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