Want to grow your own vegetables but don’t have much space? Aquaponics lets you do that and lets you raise fish too!
An integration of aquaculture (raising fish in artificial environment) and hydroponics (growing vegetables without using soil), aquaponics is a system wherein naturally occurring bacteria converts fish wastes into fertilizer for the plants while the plants filter water for the fish.
An aquaponic system is basically composed of growing bed, fish tank, a biofiltration tank where bacteria can grow and convert fish wastes into plant food, and a pump to circulate the water throughout the system.
Aquaponics is a sustainable way to produce food, explained Dr. Chito F. Sace, aquaponics expert and professor at Central Luzon State University, in a forum held during the National Science and Technology Week. It uses 90 percent less water compared with conventional farming since the water is just being recycled in the tank.
A complete small aquaponic system designed by Dr. Sace can be bought for as low as Php 9,000—a small investment, considering that one can have steady supply of fish and vegetables once the system is up and running.
Also, minimal space is required for an aquaponic system. Vegetables can be planted closer together since nutrient-rich water is delivered directly to the plants’ roots. Further, the system can also be designed to maximize vertical space. Thus, compared with conventional gardening, aquaponics will give more vegetables–and fish to boot– for the same space used.
Small aquaponic systems can be placed in backyards, terraces, rooftops, or practically anywhere there is sunlight and available electricity (for the pump), making this technology applicable even in urban settings. Off-grid or solar powered aquaponic systems can also be built when there is no nearby electricity source.
Moreover, aquaponics empowers households to have direct access to fresh, clean, and pesticide-free foods.
Dr. Sace recommends tilapia for aquaponics since it is easier to cultivate compared to other freshwater fishes. Green, leafy vegetables such as pechay, lettuce, kangkong among others, thrive well in the system. (S&T Media Service, DOST-STII)