Before we start talking about ammonia levels, nitrates and grow mediums, I think that it is safe to take it back to the roots and answer that basic question, what is aquaponics?
Simply put, Aquaponics is where the food cycle for fish ends and the food cycle for plants begin. It is a sustainable food production system that combines a traditional aquaculture with hydroponics in a symbiotic environment.
The truth is that Aquaponic farming is not a new technology at all. As a matter of fact it dates all the way back to the Egyptians, but recently it has been rediscovered by commercial and urban farmers alike. Aquaponics or Aquaponic Farming combines the techniques of Aquaculture (fish farming) and Hydroponics (plants grown in water) to create the most sustainable food production systems found on this planet. The system can be used in both salt and fresh water mediums, although it is more common to see the use of fresh water mediums in an urban setting. Most aquaponic fish farmers use a fresh water fish, usually a Tilapia or Trout that breed and multiply in the water tank (reservoir), then plants are grown either directly on the waters surface, or in a grow bed depending on your set up. The relationship between the plants and the fish water work perfectly together. The fish produce waste in the water, and through a natural bacterial process, fertilize the plants, which in turn clean the water for the fish. The process is completely organic and sustainable for both the plants and the fish. One of the greatest things about aquaponic farming is that it can be used on small scale in your backyard, or for commercial production on large farms.
Aquaponics gardens range from the small backyard garden, or even balcony garden to large upscale farms. This technology has also been used in underprivileged countries where agricultural resources are limited. Because of the nature of aquaponics systems small to large scales operations can be set up almost anywhere in the world.