And then one winter day when he was cleaning his aquarium filters and noticing that he was spending a lot of money on lights and water for his fish, he had a bright idea: put the fish and the gardening together.
Welcome to the aquaponics revolution.
Like any successful innovator, Steve first looked for pioneers who had worked on the idea before him.
He found them. Whether it was information on backyard aquaponics or an aquaponics store that sells kits so you can get started on aquaponics, Steve realized that his bright idea had already bloomed in the mind of others who love fish and plants.
Steve and the thousands of others of people who are getting into aquaponics are finding out that putting fish and plants in the same system makes economic and biological sense.
Simply put, aquaponics means you have aquariums, ponds or other enclosures with fish in them. Fish generate poop that’s rich in nearly-ideal ratios of nutrients for food and herb plants.
The fish-poop water is circulated into the plants’ root zone. The plants intake the nutrients, cleansing the water.
Then the cleansed water is transferred back to the fish habitat in a reciprocal cycle that benefits plants and fish.
Of course, what I just described is only the tip of the aquaponics-berg. There are nuances to how you cleanse the water so it works for the fish and the plants, how you transfer the water, and what kinds of creatures you use for the “aquaculture” portion of your aquaponics endeavor.
For example, you can use crayfish or prawns instead of just using fish.
Or…as with hydroponics gardening, you have to carefully monitor water quality as relates to nutrients load, oxygenation and flow rates.
Nobody says aquaponics is easy. But it’s not rocket science either, and the ecological and economic benefits are easy to see: you grow water creatures you can use for food, and you grow vegetables and herbs you can use for food.
Steve advises common sense cautions if you’re considering aquaponics…
Because it’s a water culture system similar to deep water culture (DWC), recirculating hydroponics, or nutrient film technique (NFT), it’s labor and detail-intensive.
To take advantage of your potential to generate food and fish during cold months or anywhere/anytime that outdoor aquaculture and gardening are impractical, you need grow lights and appropriate lights for your fish.
In some cases, those lights might be the same units, and with advances in hydroponics lighting, you bring the sun indoors, which is a real treat in winter.
This can be electricity-intensive, so you carry on the green tradition by getting into solar, wind, and other energy alternatives.
Is it all worth it?
Steve says he’s getting interest from local restaurants that want him to raise aquatic creatures and edible plants aquaponically, especially during winter.
He’s run a cost-benefits analysis, and it looks like a win-win. He gets to have fun with aquaculture and hydroponics gardening, and make more than enough money to take both “hobbies” to a higher, more profitable level.
The way I see it, aquaponics is a logical extension of the “victory garden” idea most hydroponics growers are into. We grow valuable plants, feed our families, and have fun.
Doesn’t sound fishy to me at all!
© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2012
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Tuesday, 10 April 2012