The term Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture [fish farming] and hydroponics [growing plants in water]. The basic idea is to create a closed nutrient loop that breaks down fish wastes into nutrients for plants, which in turn clean the water and return it to the fish.
Aquaponics is possible due to several tech innovations, most importantly improvements in plumbing, clean water containment and high-efficiency water and air pumps.
Importantly, aquaponics systems are by their nature "organic", because you can't use toxic chemicals or pesticides without risking the health of the fish.
In the past, most aquaculture involved digging a shallow pond in clay soil, diverting a natural water source to fill the pond, and allowing the "effluent" (polluted water) to drain away - often right back into the same water source. Aquaponics does away with the need to continuously replace the pond water, and eliminates the pollution problem at the same time.
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project: aquaponics system design
start date: 6/15/2019
end date: unknown
skills employed: SketchUp, research
purpose: improving garden production
I launched this project in response to a simple question: Is there an organic version of hydroponics? I had always been attracted to the idea of hydroponics - growing food without a need for soil - but was repelled by the artificial chemical nutrients that are typically used.
As a lifelong organic gardener, I knew firsthand the importance of sustainable food production. After some quick research, I discovered the field of aquaponics, and its diverse enthusiasts around the world.
Here are a few sketches of my own aquaponic system designs, along with explanatory diagrams and photos I've collected in my research.