Hydroponics and aquaponics are highly-efficient soil-free plant growth systems
that optimize the redistribution of nutrients and oxygen in the water they use. Below, we will take an in-depth look at both systems, their similarities, and how they differ.
What do aquaponics and hydroponics have in common?
These systems have a few similarities.
Properties Both Systems Share:
Soil-free agriculture systems
Oxygen saturated water
Expedited plant growth
Completely saturated root systems
Efficient and eco-friendly
Both aquaponics and hydroponics use nutrient-rich water to bathe the roots of plants continuously. This water is also highly oxygenated providing an environment that allows for expedient growth.
How do aquaponics and hydroponics differ? Aquaponics and hydroponic systems have a few key differences.
Integrates a hydroponic environment and adds agriculture
Cultivates fish/marine life and plants simultaneously
Allows for greater nutrient saturation
Balanced ecosystem for fish and plants
Integrates hydroponic gardening with farming
Does not integrate agricultural elements
Designed for plants only – no fish or marine life
* On occasion gardeners will use a backyard pond stocked with fish, as a holding tank for their hydroponic system that is piped into the vegetable growing grow beds.
The key difference between these two soil-free hydroponic gardening methods the use of marine animals. Hydroponic systems cultivate plants in an eco-friendly and highly efficient way. Aquaponics takes this gardening method and steps things up a notch adding small marine life. This creates an efficient symbiotic environment where both plants and animals are able to thrive.
Aquaponics is a method of aquaculture that creates an extremely efficient ecological environment for all of the plants and animals involved. Marine animal waste creates nutrients for plant life to consume. Oxygen from the plants saturates water and benefits all aquatic animals. In this way, ecological balance is masterfully achieved.
How does aquaponics work?
So how does aquaponics work exactly? Aquaponics aquaculture systems utilize two main components.
1. The first component is a hydroponic bed where crops can be grown using the nutrient enriched water system.
2. The second main component in an aquaponics system is the fish tank. This tank is usually built in scale to properly match the hydroponic plant bed. These two parts depend on each other for nutrients and oxygen.
3. The fish excrete waste material.
4. All secreted waste material is treated with natural bacteria allowing it to become beneficial for plants.
5. The plants consume these nutrients, allowing them to grow quickly and increase their vitality. As they consume the nutrient waste, they re-oxygenate and clean the water.
6. After the plants consume the nutrient waste from the water, it is cycled back into the fish tank, clean and highly oxygenated.
7. The cycle generally repeats.
Benefits of Aquaponics
There are many benefits of an aquaponics system. Benefits include:
Dual harvest – Aquaponics provides a harvest of both crops and fish.
No waste – Aquaponics systems reduce waste and utilize all nutrients.
Less water needed – Only evaporated water must be replaced.