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Aquaponics for Beginners

With the increasing population, excessive consumption is putting great pressure on the world's ecological system. On the other hand, due to the increased population in urban areas, the load of the soil is increasing every year. Different production routes are now being sought for the future, and these plans are being tested specifically for other planets. In order to meet the increasing demand, a sustainable food production with the least possible load on the ecological system is only possible with a change in the existing agriculture.

What is Aquaponics?

The word aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture, which means fish farming, and hydroponics, which is the general name of soilless farming systems. These two systems harmoniously form an ecologically perfect cycle. This method, like all other hydroponic farming systems, consumes 90% less water than conventional farming. Aquaponic systems are a method applied by home users as personal curiosity and hobby, but mostly preferred in commercial scale.

Aquaponic System
Aquaponic water tank

Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that recirculates water containing fish waste, ammonia and other nutrients to plants. It combines the principles of aquaponics, hydroponics and aquaculture. It is a closed-loop system that recirculates water in fish tanks to grow plants.

Aquaponic system has started to be implemented in universities in our country and in greenhouses with the support fund. Akdeniz University is a good example of this. It is known that it is applied in greenhouses in cities such as Istanbul and Hatay.

Aquaponic Systems

Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, shrimp, crayfish or other aquatic invertebrates in tanks) with hydroponics (aquatic plant growing) in a symbiotic environment.

The two main types of aquaponic systems are:

  1. Media-based systems: These systems use gravel, rock wool, coconut or other inert media to grow plants in water enriched with fish waste. Media-based systems are most common in commercial operations because they are cheaper and easier to manage than other types of aquaponic systems.

  2. Nutrient film technique (NFT): NFT is the most popular type of aquaponic system for home use because it is simple and easy to install and maintain while producing excellent results. In this type of system, a shallow stream or "film" of water containing dissolved nutrients flows through a channel in which plants grow on a fine layer of gravel or other substrate material.

How Do These Systems Work?

This section will provide an overview of the two types of systems and how they work.

A hydroponic system is a type of system that uses water to nourish plants. It is a more efficient system that does not require soil to grow plants. The aquaponic system is a type of hydroponic system that also uses fish waste to fertilize plants and create an ecosystem where both plants and fish can thrive.

In production, it is necessary to sprout seeds as if planting them in the ground. Afterwards, the seedlings are placed in a hole-drilled arrangement with their roots in the water. The water at the bottom is fertilized water with important nutritional values for plants thanks to fish excrement. Plants take nutrients from the water, filter the water and make it clean, and the clean water returns to the fish pond. It should be very sheltered, natural insect repellent methods should be used as the spraying process will harm the fish and the system when infestation occurs. Therefore, pesticides that harm the human body cannot be used.

Benefits of Aquaponic System and Hydroponics Compared to Traditional Farming

Traditional agriculture uses 70% of the world's fresh water. Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides cause biodiversity to deteriorate and soil and water quality to decline. When mistakes made in agriculture damage the soil, it causes the soil to become unable to produce healthy food and causes the loss of fertile soil to be planted. Thanks to the aquaponic system, a more harmless agriculture can be done in more limited areas without the need for fertilizers and pesticides by circulating less water and making use of fish.

Aquaponics is a type of farming that combines fish and plant breeding. Fish are raised in tanks and their waste provides nutrients for plants. Hydroponics is an agricultural system in which plants are grown using water instead of soil.

In an aquaponic system, water from fish tanks is filtered through gravel beds before reaching the plants. This provides a natural way to filter waste before it reaches the plant roots. In hydroponics, there is no need for a filter as the water flows directly to the plant roots.

Aquaponics systems use less water than hydroponic systems because there is no need to water or replenish the soil with fresh water every time you want to grow a new vegetable or salad plant.

Pros and Cons of Aquaponic Farming

Aquaponic farming is a sustainable form of agriculture that combines fish farming and plant farming. It has many advantages such as producing organic food, producing soilless food, being energy efficient. However, it also has disadvantages such as requiring an initial investment, not being able to be done indoors, not being able to be made in a small area.

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