Aquaponics is a new way of growing your own healthy vegetables. It is a little bit like hydroponics, but it has the added advantage of growing live fish for you to eat as well as fruit or veggies.
Ancient farming principles that work
People such as the Chinese and the Vietnamese have known for thousands of years about this beneficial interaction between fish and plants, just as there are also great benefits to be had by placing animals together with the plants or together with the fish.
And in Mexico, the ancient Aztecs did to their farming on a small artificial islands called Chinampas. These fertile planting beds were surrounded on four sides by water or canals that were full of fish. Waterbirds would nest on the land among the plants and vegetables, and they too would be harvested by the ancient farmers, just like the plants and the fish were picked for food.
Good principles stand the test of time, and there is no doubt that fish-farming and hydroponics are a fantastic idea as well. But in this day and age we don't have to live on an island or make our own Chinampas, or go out in canoes to catch fish and trap birds.
Modern technology allows us to create our own simple Aquaponics systems where fish and plants are grown side by side in a controlled environment, where they each nourish the other and everybody benefits from the synergy.
The benefits of fish poop
When you think about it, it is pretty obvious. Fish poop (or excrete) directly into the water they swim in. And this fish poo contains ammonia. Now if the water isn't changed or freshened, such as when fish are placed in a fish tank, the ammonia makes the water poisonous and eventually kills the fishes.
So a fish tank like a home aquarium has a pump to circulate the water, and provide oxygen. Water plants living in the water then make use of the nutrients from the fish, but they cannot use the ammonia directly. It has first to be broken down by bacteria that live naturally in the water. Remember, not all bacteria are dangerous, and these types (there are two main ones) are beneficial to both the fish and to the plants. What's more, it doesn't harm us humans either.
In an Aquaponic setup, the fish and the plants are in separate containers. The dirtied water from the fish talk gets pumped several times a day into the growing beds where your happy vegetable or fruit plants suck in all those lovely natural nutrients through their roots and they thrive. Then the now-aeriated and filtered water flows back into the fish tank and the whole cycle repeats itself, several times each day.
It is no wonder that the vegetables and fruits grow so big and taste so good. They are extra yummy and nutritious -- just like the fishes in the fish tank are. And if they are your fish grown in your tanks, you know there are no added hormones of nasty chemicals in them as well!
That's why I believe that having a home Aquaponics system to grow fish and veggies in is a really great idea for the house or backyard... especially in these uncertain economic times.