Wallage 1Travis WallageMs. BennettBritish Literature9 September 2011 Self-sustaining system Last night my entire meal came from the fish tank in my backyard! My meal was grown using a process called Aquaponics. Aquaponics is a process ofcombining aquaculture and hydroponics. This process utilizes the waste products and water fromfish for plant nutrients. “The plants act as a filter for the water, which is purified and recycledback into the tanks. No chemical fertilizers, pesticides or medications are used in this system”.(Considine 34) Aquaponics combines two growth systems into a self sustaining system that doesnot require regular maintenance. Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is the use ofaquatic organisms harvested under controlled conditions. Such organisms include fish, shrimpand oysters. Aquaculture has been practiced worldwide in one form or another for centuries.(Johnson 47) For example, in countries such as China, where there are lowland fields and ricepaddies that are flooded by strong rains and monsoons every year this occurs naturally. Withthese floods, the fish enter lowland areas and flourish to numbers where there is an abundance offish. When the heavy rains stop all the water drains away the fish and their offspring were leftbehind and harvested by the people. Over time the people in these areas realized that by leavingthe offspring, and only harvesting the large fish that they would grow, spawn, and cycle. Overtime they had more than enough food to supply the people by a naturally occurring process.
Wallage 2 “Hydroponics is the process of using a medium such as sand, gravel or liquid with addednutrients to grow plants”(Johanson 21). In hydroponics the plants are given enough nutrients toallow it to grow to its full potential. If your plant is planted in dirt alone it will use more energytrying to expand its roots to find the necessary amount of nutrients it needs. With hydroponics aplant does not use as much energy to find the nutrients because the roots are held in the mediumand the nutrients are artificially added. An Aquaponics system combines the ability to grow fishand vegetables in one system that can be harvested as food sources. To set up an Aquaponics system the following items and materials will be needed. A fishtank will be needed to provide a safe environment for the fish to live. The fish tank will alsoallow waste to settle at the bottom of the tank, which will then act as nutrients for the plants.A tub is required to hold your medium, such as pea gravel. The plant roots are washed clean ofdirt and are placed in the medium. The medium stabilizes the roots and collects the waste fromthe water from the fish and provides nutrients to the roots. The medium also collects bacteriafrom the fish waste, which is also used by the roots. A submersible pump is required to move thewater from the fish tank into the tubs of medium. An important addition to the system is the useof an air pump or air stone to provide additional oxygen to the fish and plants, which aids in thegrowth of both. In addition, a pipe or hose system is used to evenly direct the water from the tankinto the tubs and then gravity will allow the water to flow back into the fish tank. The wastecreated by the fish in the water is pumped into the tubs and trapped by the medium to be used bythe plants roots to grow. “The roots therefore filter the water, which then goes back into the tankto supply healthy water for the fish” (Johanson 21). An important component of any Aquaponics operation is the bacteria-based bio-filtrationcompartment, which is held in the medium. The medium hosts two types of bacteria. The first
Wallage 3bacterial action that takes place is the conversion of ammonia into nitrites. Ammonia is toxic tofish so this conversion is critical to the health of the fish. The second process is the conversion ofnitrites into nitrates. Nitrates usable by the plants and are not toxic to fish. Each form ofbacterium breaks down the waste and converts it into food for the plants. (Johnson 47) “Goldfishhave a very high metabolism and, as a result, produce and abundance of ammonia. One goldfishin a twenty-gallon tank creates enough waste to grow ten or more plants at a time” (Johanson21). The addition of goldfish to the Aquaponics system increases waste production andcontributes to greater plant growth. In an Aquaponics system the plants and fish live in a state ofsymbiosis, they benefit each other. Traditional farming requires large areas of land, and this has depleted the naturallyoccurring nutrients in soil. Today, large farming requires that nutrients, chemicals and fertilizersbe added to the ground for greater crop production. Land development has reduced the landavailable for farming. Aquaponics offers an alternative way to produce food sources without theuse of chemical fertilizers. Aquaponics is environmentally friendly because it offers anopportunity to use less space and water. In suburban living there is not always enough room tohave a backyard garden to grow fresh vegetables. Today the use of organic foods is promoted asbeing healthier than commercial production but it is expensive to purchase these foods at thestore. There are several benefits to an Aquaponics system. Aquaponics is a healthy alternativeway to traditional farming, as the chemicals used in traditional farming are not required inAquaponics. Even hydroponics requires the addition of chemical nutrients to facilitate plantgrowth. But in an Aquaponics system the fish add the nutrients naturally. As chemicals are notuse in Aquaponics and it is a contained system this also prevents chemical runoff in water
Wallage 4sources. Aquaponics is an organic, self-sustaining system that allows the production vegetableand protein sources. “An Aquaponics system is self-sustainable. It allows you the chance to growfresh vegetables and fish in a small area” (Bird 26). For example, in an Aquaponics system allthat is needed is one square foot to grow ten heads of cabbage. “Aquaponics is a way for peopleto grow food locally,” he said, “A way for them to become more food-independent” (BiologistGreg Conin Works). Organic foods provide an abundance of vitamins that are needed in dailyliving. The food is healthier and actually tastes better. Aquaponics may be beneficial in other countries where weather conditions are harsh andwater and productive soil are limited. It is possible that Aquaponics may be helpful in thirdworld countries where food is limited. Aquaponics a waste free food production method could bea solution to help all the food shortages in other countries. Brett Roe, who investigatedecologically integrated production systems at the University of Queensland in Australia,cautioned that it might not be a cure-all. “Aquaponics offers decentralized food security on asmall scale, and reuse of resources,” he said. “Every little bit helps. But in developing countriesit may make better sense to culture fish in ponds and use the wastewater on land-based crops; asimple linkage of aquaculture and crop farming that has the same general effect of reusingresources and can be practiced in a larger scale of economy.” (Roberts) Aquaponics might be the wave of the future. “Johnson stated that Aquaponics iscurrently the fastest growing agricultural enterprise worldwide” (47). Many involved inAquaponics are confident that, in time, it will be the fastest growing agricultural enterprise. Theirconfidence is based on the fact that Aquaponics systems are very efficient; start-up andoperational costs are much less in relation to products produced, and they can be self-sustaining.Water requirements are the lowest of all systems; they are versatile and can be adapted to almost
Wallage 5any environment. In addition, the demand for wholesome organic food is increasing more eachyear. Aquaponics is important because it is a self-sustaining system. Aquaponics has thepotential to be used in other countries that do not have all the equipment or resources that areneeded for farming. Or in countries such as Africa where the temperatures reach so high thatthey do not have enough water for daily use. Additionally, Aquaponics can be very reliable insmall suburban places like New York where people want to have fresh produce but don’t haveenough land to support it. As water resources are becoming limited here in the United States itcould also prove beneficial. “With water restrictions enforced in almost every city around thecountry, people just can’t have their traditional vegetable garden” (Roberts). The Aquaponicssystem is an environmentally self-sustaining model for food production that can be used inbackyards as well as commercial production. In the world today there is so much attention given to living a healthy lifestyle. This ispart of the fitness minded and the general population. The daily news talks about the importanceof eating organic food free of chemicals. The chemicals in our meat and on our vegetables fromartificial sources have a poor effect on our health. With the hard economic times it is difficult toeat healthy due to the price of food. The Aquaponics system provides anyone with theopportunity to add some healthier food to his or her diet at a reasonable cost. Aquaponics is a new way of thinking about food production. It is an idea that is gainingnotice around the world. Aquaponics is a self-sustaining food production system that combinesthe processes of aquaculture and hydroponics. The system can be set up in a small area withlarge benefits. It requires little if any maintenance. It is an entirely organic and healthy and a wayto supplement your health and diet with fresh food at a reasonable price. It also benefits theenvironment by not using large amounts of land like traditional farming and prevents the run off
Wallage 6of chemicals into water sources. Aquaponics may provide alternative possibilities for foodproduction in countries with limited resources. There are several benefits to an Aquaponicssystem for individuals and globally.
Wallage 7 Works Cited.Johnson, Charles. "Aquaponics, the wave of the future." Countryside & Small Stock Journal 92.2(2008): 47. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 31 Aug. 2011.Considine, Mary-Lou. "Plant crops to clean up aquaculture waste." Ecos 138 (2007): 34.MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 31 Aug. 2011.Bird, J. Steven. "A Small Green Food Machine." Natural Life 134 (2010): 26. MasterFILEPremier. EBSCO. Web. 31 Aug. 2011."20-Minute University." Restaurant Business 109.3 (2010): 38. MasterFILE Premier.EBSCO. Web. 31 Aug. 2011.Johanson, Erik K. "Aquaponics and Hydroponics on a Budget." Tech Directions 69.2 (2009): 21.MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 31 Aug. 2011.Roberts, By Genevieve. “Fish farms, with a side of vegetables; interest rises in system that usesone product’s waste to grow another.” International Herald Tribune 28 Sept. 2010. Global IssuesIn Context. Web. 7 Sep. 2011.