Aquaculture, simply defined, is the farming of various types of fish and other aquatic animals. Fish show great promise as a "crop" that respond well to the benefits of being raised in a controlled environment. In a typical aquaculture system, a bio-filter utilizes beneficial bacteria to clean the water for the fish. The bacteria grows on support media in a tank. The bacteria is aerobic, so it requires oxygen in the form of an air pump. When growing fish in an aquaculture system, it is crucial to not only consider the requirements of the fish, but also the bacteria. Healthy bio-filters result in healthy, fast growing fish!
Aquaponics is the combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics. In these semi-closed systems, water flows between an aqua culture fish tank and a plant growing bed. The fish waste in the water is used to supply nutrients to the plants. The plants and micro-organisms clean the water that is returned to the fish tank. This provides a mutual beneficial environment for both the fish and the plants, and results in two crops (the fish and the plants).
The plants grow in a plant bed. These aquaponic hydroponic systems do best growing crops like lettuce, basil and other herbs.
The greenhouse aquaponics system is popular in the educational market since it can be used to show the cycle of life and mutual beneficial relationships. In the course of a school year, the fish growth rates can be calculated by your students. There are ample opportunities for classes to do scientific testing of the water quality and qualitative fish data analysis of the system.
If you are thinking about trying to commercially grow fish, our small aquaculture and greenhouse aquaponics system could be a great first step. These systems are small scale models of full size systems. The knowledge you gain in running a small system can be directly transferred to full sized aquaculture systems.