Aquaponics is a method of growing plants and raising fish together in a closed-loop system. This innovative gardening technique has been gaining popularity in recent years as an efficient and sustainable way to produce fresh and healthy food in urban environments. The technology used in aquaponics can range from simple systems that use basic equipment to highly advanced systems that employ cutting-edge technology.
Flood and Drain (Ebb and Flow) system
One of the most basic types of technology used in aquaponics is the Flood and Drain (Ebb and Flow) system. This system uses a simple setup where a container of fish is connected to a container of plants. The water from the fish container is periodically flooded into the plant container, providing the plants with the necessary nutrients, and then drained back into the fish container. This method is known for its simplicity and low cost, making it a popular choice for those just starting out with aquaponics. An example of this type of system is a DIY system using IKEA’s Kritter plastic container and a few PVC pipes.
Another popular type of aquaponics technology is the Media-based system. This system uses a growing medium, such as gravel or clay pebbles, for the plants to root in. The water from the fish tank is pumped into the growing bed, providing the plants with the necessary nutrients, and the water is then filtered and returned to the fish tank. This method is known for its ability to support a wide variety of plants, and is often used in commercial and larger scale aquaponic systems. An example of this type of system is the Nelson and Pade commercial aquaponic system that uses a combination of expanded clay and gravel as a growing medium.
Deep Water Culture (DWC) system
A third type of aquaponic technology is the Deep Water Culture (DWC) system, also known as raft-based system. This system uses a raft or float that holds the plants and they are suspended in the fish tank. The roots of the plants are submerged in the water, allowing them to absorb the necessary nutrients directly from the water. This method is known for its high efficiency and fast growth rates, and is often used in commercial and indoor aquaponic systems. An example of this type of system is the Green Spirit Farms commercial aquaponic farm in Michigan, which uses DWC rafts to grow lettuce and other leafy greens.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
Finally, there is the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) system which consist in a continuous flow of water through a channel where the plants roots grow. The water is recirculated and the plants are fed by the nutrients in the water. This is a very efficient and space-saving system and it is often used in commercial settings. An example of this type of system is the NFT system used in the Vertical Farm in Singapore, which is the world’s largest commercial vertical farm, to grow leafy greens and herbs.
In conclusion, there are many different types of technology used in aquaponics, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced aquaponic gardener, there is a system that will meet your needs and help you to successfully grow fresh and healthy food in an urban environment.