Aquaponics Basics

By Deanne Converse                                          This article may not be copied or transferred in whole or part without permission from the author.

This page is still under construction…

Aquaponics is a simple concept.
Here’s the quick and very unscientific “What is aquaponics” answer: It is a system where fish are raised in water and the resulting poopy water is moved through gravel (or other media beds) where the water gets cleaned. Plants grow in these media beds like crazy, taking up the nutrients from the poopy water. The water then returns to the fish all cleaned.

If you want the more specific and scientific answer here it is: Aquaponics: In a recirculating system, fish are raised and the resulting water containing effluent is moved through media beds. In these media beds nitrifying bacteria convert ammonia to plant available nutrients. The plants take these nutrients up, and the water returns to the fish all cleaned.

And for those of us science geeks here is what goes on in aquaponics:    beaker 2

2 mole NH4 + 4 mole O2 =>

2 mole NO3 + 4 mole H + 2 mole H2O + energy..

But here is what it looks like to the rest of the world…..iPod pics 056

Hungry tilapia in the 4500 gallon raceway.

The kiddos haing fun planitng seedsWendy and Ilcy feed the fish




iPod pics 050

Yes, as the name implies, it is the “marriage” of aquaculture (raising of fish) and hydroponics (raising of plants in water only). The beauty of Aquaponics is that it takes the ‘negatives’ of hydroponics and aquaculture and eliminates them. The perfect blend. And yet, aquaponics has its own parameters it runs by. It is very simple!

Why aquaponics?
+Because it is an easy way to grow a lot of food with little input very quickly.
+Because it is truly organic!
+Because crops grown in aquaponics use 1/10th the water it takes to grow the same crops in traditional gardening, and even less water than those same crops grown hydroponically.
+Because crops grow in about 1/3 less time that the same crops grown in traditional gardening.
+Because it takes less space to grow food aquaponically that it does to grow them traditionally, since there is no competition for water or nutrients, planting can be done very tightly.
+Because fish can be raised on the farm to eat, and are fed  (the tilapia and trout) on food produced here on the farm. No more cost inputs.


To see more about aquaponics take a look at our aquaponics title page.  Here is the link:

To learn more about aquaponics  as a component of sustainable farming, go to our “Sustainable Natural Agriculture” section… the title article then go through the drop-down menu articles.  Here is the link:



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