Aquaponics: The Basics
Aquaponics is a technology that is part of the broader integrated agri-aquaculture systems discipline which seeks to combine animal and plant culture technologies to confer advantages and conserve nutrients and other biological and economic resources. It emerged in the USA in the early 1970s and has recently seen a resurgence, especially in Europe. Whilst aquaponics broadly combines recirculating fish culture with hydroponic plant production, the application of the term aquaponic is broad and many technologies claim use of the name. Combining fish culture with aquatic-based, terrestrial plant culture via aquaponics may be better defined via its nutrient resource sharing credentials. Aquaponics applies several principles including, but not limited to, efficient water use, efficient nutrient use, lowered or negated environmental impact and the application of biological and ecological approaches to agricultural fish and plant production. Water sources are important so that the nutrients required for fish and plant production are available and balanced, and system water chemistry is paramount to optimised fish and plant production. Systems may be configured in several ways, including those that are fully recirculating and those that are decoupled. Aquaponics importantly seeks to apply methods that provide technical, biological, chemical, environmental and economic advantages.