Aquaponics is a combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics. Aquaculture simply put is the raising of fish and Hydroponics is raising plants in a soil-less media. Aquaponics is taking the two and merging them together, growing the plants, usually vegetables in a soil-less media and raising the fish in a separate tank that is connected with plumbing and recirculating the water thru which nutrients from the fish waste are taken up by the plants, thereby cleaning the water and making it safe for the fish. So the fish are dependent on the plants and the plants are dependent on the fish. It is called a Symbiotic relationship meaning they benefit each other. Another player in the system is the beneficial bacteria. They take the ammonia from the fish waste that is harmful to the fish which if allowed to build up would kill the fish. They turn the ammonia into nitrites which in turn are turned into nitrates which the plants can take up and use as fertilizer.
Tilapia are the most popular fish that is used. They tend to grow fast and as they get bigger you can harvest the fish as well as the vegetables that you are growing. Other fish that are used are catfish, bluegill, koi, trout, and goldfish. These are the more popular ones, others may be used also. The plants that do well in Aquaponics are lettuce, swiss chard, kale, basil, mint and most leafy vegetables. Others that may require a heavier stocking of fish because of more demand of nutrients that do well are tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, egg plant, beans, peas to name a few. Plants in aquaponic systems use up to 90% less water and grow twice as fast as traditional farming. And definitely less weeds. No more worries if you watered the garden today! So that’s it in a nut shell.