Aquaponics – Hydroponics as Nature Intended It
It’s funny, any time I sit down to write about aquaponics here at CompostGuy.com I start feeling like I’m doing something wrong – as though the topic just doesn’t belong on a site where one of the main areas of focus is composting. But then I remind myself that the overall theme here is ‘turning wastes into resources’ – which is EXACTLY what aquaponics is all about! Aside from that justification, it just happens to be a topic I am incredibly fascinated with. It combines many of my passions and interests into one cool package – it involves aquatic biology/ecology, fish keeping, hydroponic gardening, and organic waste management. I’m still convinced that I can squeeze vermicomposting in there somehow as well, but we’ll have to wait and see.
For the time being this page will serve as a place where site visitors can get connected with aquaponics information – some of it on CompostGuy.com, but much of it on other fantastic aquaponics resource sites. Rest assured, this page will continue to grow and evolve over time.
So what exactly is aquaponics anyway?
In a nutshell, it is a combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in a soil-less system). What’s so awesome about it is the fact that you are taking what traditional fish farmers would consider a major waste product and using it to grow other marketable goods (edible plants or ornamentals). Why pump fish farm effluent into surrounding water bodies where it causes eutrophication (excess growth of algae and plants), when it can be used to grow crops?
The benefits don’t end there of course. Aside from potentially growing a bountiful crop of food plants, you are also effectively filtering the water from your fish holding tanks, thus helping to maintain their optimal health. It’s a win-win situation!
Water-use efficiency is yet another major benefit of aquaponics. According to an article in Backyard Aquaponics Magazine (Issue1 – pg 4), aquaponics requires 1/10th of the amount of water needed for traditional soil-based agriculture! With global concerns over dwindling water supplies mounting with each passing year this is certainly an important consideration.
Although I refer to aquaculture and fish farming above, I don’t mean to imply that aquaponics can only be conducted on a commercial scale! It can easily be scaled down for the casual hobbyist and can even be a fun project for children. I recently wrote about my idea for an ‘aquarium aquaponics‘ system (pictured below). I am hoping to get that system up and running sometime in the near future, and will certainly be writing about it here!
Online Aquaponics Resources
Backyard Aquaponics – This is definitely one of my favourite aquaponics websites, and one I’ve written about on a number of occasions here and elsewhere. If you have an interest in the topic of aquaponics, you really need to be familiar with this site. Aside from the fantastic information and stunning photos on the main site, they also have a very vibrant forum with over 1000 members (last I heard), and have even now started publishing their own online magazine (which I wrote about here)!
Aquaponics.com – Anyone serious about aquaponics will definitely want to have this one in their favourites folder. Put together by Nelson and Pade Inc., Aquaponics.com contains a wealth of valuable aquaponics information, but also offers wide range of products for sale, including complete aquaponics systems, and the Aquaponics Journal.
Attra Aquaponics Guide – This provides an excellent overview of aquaponics, and interesting information about a number of different commercial aquaponics systems. They even offer the information in PDF document if you would rather download it and read it later (or use it for reference purposes).
S & S Aquafarms – It was via the e-mail list provided by S & S aquafarms (more info in a minute) that I originally became fascinated with the topic of aquaponics. Back then it was an incredibly vibrant group of people exchanging information and ideas on the topic. These days the list isn’t nearly as active, but it is still worth signing up for if you are interested in the topic. Simply send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m pretty sure that will get you connected. Something that potentially offers even more value is the archives section, where you can find all of the great discussions from the past, and huge amounts of valuable information in general.
List Postings Prior to 2002 (search function makes it much easier to find specific info)
List Postings From 2002-Present (can be downloaded in weekly digest format)
Urban Aquaponics – This is a site I’m not really all that familiar with, but looks like it has some potential. For awhile they seemed to have an interesting blog going, but it looks as though they haven’t posted since November. Like Backyard Aquaponics, this is an Australian-based site and offers a ‘How-To’ manual for sale.
Garden Girl Pond and Aquaculture Page – As I wrote about not too long ago (see Garden Girl Aquaponics System), Patti ‘The Garden Girl’ Moreno has been testing out aquaponics for herself. Patti always seems to amaze me with her cool sustainable gardening projects, and this one certainly wasn’t an exception. The way she designed her aquarium aquaponics system is pure brilliance! I can’t wait for future updates.