Most of you will probably have a fair idea of what aquaponics is but just to make sure, let’s recap some definitions of this concept of aquaculture:
Aquaponics – Definitions and Concepts
Aquaponics…, is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrogen-fixing bacteria into nitrates and nitrites, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.
Wikipedia – Aquaponics
There are a lot more links in Wikipedia’s Aquaponics article which we will not repeat here, so have a look for yourself.
The Aquaponics Source has this to say on the question what is Aquaponics?
The most simple definition is that it is the marriage of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. The third participants are the microbes (nitrifying bacteria) and composting red worms that thrive in the growing media. They do the job of converting the ammonia from the fish waste first into nitrites, then into nitrates and the solids into vermicompost that that are food for the plants. Man with bad back In combining both systems aquaponics capitalizes on the benefits and eliminates the drawbacks of each.
See about some controversies also in their article The Definition of Aquaponics.
And last but not least Farmer Brown’s Aquaponics has this to say about What is Aquaponics? A Primer for Newcomers
Aquaponics is a food production system based upon mother-nature’s own method of recycling fish waste by feeding it to plants. In a nutshell, that’s the bare-bones definition. It is highly adaptable to home-based use, is low maintenance, produces very high amount of food/area (food density), and requires very little external inputs.
He also has a blogroll with more resources we won’t replicate here, so hop over to his blog and take a look.
Of course, like with all things Internet, there are innumerable resources on aquaponics, aquaculture or hydroculture and fish farming “out there”. No need to list them all (or any for that matter) as you can simply perform a search on aquaponics and get them (garbage and all).
This Part I of our resource pages on aquaponics and aquaculture has been put together to get you access to the more pertinent links faster.
Online Aquaponics Resources (including Aquaculture/Hydroculture) in general
The Aquaculture Journal from Science Direct is a worthy read if you need to keep up with the latest developments in aquaponics and related fields.
The essence of aquaponics is also a good place to start (Swedish site with English section).
The US NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a subsection dedicated to aquaponics and aquaculture (NOAA) , most notably the Aquaculture Library .
The Aquaponics Journal is another magazine, established 1997, probably the first on the market.
Another is Aquaculture Research by John Wiley & Sons, a publisher that also has other resources on Aquaculture, Fisheries & Fish Science .
The Australian government have their own Department of Agriculture’s section on Aquaculture who also supply the following definition of aquaculture:
There are various stages of aquaculture operations including: – a hatchery operation which produces fertilized eggs, larvae or fingerlings, – a nursery operation which nurses small larvae to fingerlings or juveniles, – a grow-out operation which farms fingerlings or juveniles to marketable sizes. Depending on the species being farmed, aquaculture can be carried out in freshwater, brackish water or marine water.
And the European Union’s Fisheries cum Aquaculture department has this to say about the importance of aquaculture:
Farming finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants is one of the world’s fastest growing food sectors, it already provides the planet with about half of all the fish we eat.
And the WWF – Worldwide Fund for Nature has this to say about Sustainable Seafood – Farmed Seafood :
Eighty-five percent of the world’s marine stocks are either fully exploited or overfished, driving accelerated growth in the farmed seafood industry. … The rapid expansion of the aquaculture industry has not come without impacts. As a conservation organization, WWF is concerned about the negative effects the industry has had— and could continue to have—on the environment and society. We know that when done responsibly, aquaculture’s impact on wild fish populations, marine habitats, water quality and society can be significantly and measurably reduced.
Aquaponics and Aquaculture Organizations worldwide
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) (co-founded by the above-mentioned WWF)
aims to be the world’s leading certification and labelling programme for responsibly farmed seafood.
You can search for ASC certified suppliers or browse their aquaculture/aquaponics download center .
The Aquaponics Association wants to “promote the benefits of aquaponic growing”.
Their definition of aquaponics:
Aquaponics is a synergistic growing technique in which fish and plants are grown together in the same systems. The fish waste feeds the growing plants using organic hydroponic techniques. The plants, in turn, clean and filter the water that returns to the fish environment.
Then there’s the World Aquaculture Society with many regional or national chapters and affiliated member societies.
There are many regional and national aquaponics-related associations, so let’s finish off with the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA).
And for Europe, visit the European Aquaculture Society.
The US Congress resp. the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) have established several Regional Aquaculture Centers like e.g. the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center (SRAC).
The University of Hawaii has an online outreach college (costs USD100 to register) that you can visit through the Aquaculture Hub .
The FDA – US Food and Drug Administration also has its own department dealing with Aquaculture and is e.g. concerned with drugs used in the fish industry.
Let’s wrap up for today with the Global Aquaculture Alliance which (in its own words)
… is an international, non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture. GAA recognizes that aquaculture is the only sustainable means of increasing seafood supply to meet the food needs of the world’s growing population.
This article will be followed up with a Part II soon, as well as a tabular aquaponics resources list. Stay tuned, or better still, subscribe to our blog resp. RSS feed.