We’re putting a large Aquaponics system into the garden of the eco-house. Most people have never heard of these though – so here’s our basic guide to Aquaponics:
Aquaponics is the combination of Aquaculture (keeping fish in tanks) and Hydroponics (growing plants without soil). It aims to solve the problems of both of these methods, delivering a system requiring very little water or added fertilisers.
A working aquaponics system needs three things: fish, plants, and beneficial bacteria. Working together, in balance, these power a successful aquaponic system. In a typical setup, ammonia-rich water from the fish tank passes into gravel growbeds colonised by the bacteria; the bacteria convert the ammonia first to nitrites and then to nitrates, which are then the perfect fertiliser for plants to grow in the growbeds; the cleaned water then returns to happy fish in the fish tank.
Why bother? There are lots of reasons:
- Plants in an established aquaponics system tend to grow up to 3 times faster than in a traditional garden.
- Very little ongoing water is required – great in a drought.
- The plants require no extra fertilisers.
- You get delicious fish to accompany your fresh garden vegetables!
- You can have an aquaponics system in your own back garden.
In a world where our food is becoming increasingly expensive, and with the effects of Peak Oil due to make food availability even more critical, an Aquaponic system in your back garden could make a real difference to your diet and expenses!