There’s not much difference between Aquaponics and Aquaculture since the former is inspired by the latter with few improvisations. However, it is vital to address their differences to expand the understanding of growers within the field of farming.
In a nutshell, aquaculture is the process of domesticating fishes, seaweeds, shellfish, and other aquatic animals. Aquaponics, on the other hand, is putting together the idea of hydroponics and aquaculture into one. This creates a circular system of aquatic resources and plants in terms of nourishment where both resources contribute to the development of one another.
To know more about these two different farming strategies, we will carefully elaborate on their processes and their ways of production. This way, you as a grower will feel confident about yourself when working with aquaponics and aquaculture.
First, we need to break down the term “aquaponics.” The term “aqua” comes from the term aquaculture, which means raising fish in a controlled system hence the aqua+culture. The term “phonics” is a Latin word that means “to work,” growing in a soilless media.
This combination resulted in the idea of aquaponics, which means putting aquatic resources and plants in one system. However, the process of combining the two requires significant effort and mastery to perfect the aquaponics system.
Aquaponics mimics the natural ecosystem because it represents the connection between water, aquatic life, bacteria, nutrient dynamics, and plants. The scenario is pretty simple: fish waste becomes food for the bacteria and gets converted as a fertilizer for the plants and then cleanse the water for the fish to grow. In short, aquaponics has the power to integrate these individual components just like nature does in the natural aquatic ecosystem.
Some key features of aquaponics including:
• Eliminates weeds and back strain.
• It recycles nutrient-rich water over time.
• Uses less water than hydroponics and aquaculture.
• All-natural. No need for fertilizers like petrochemicals, pesticides, or herbicides.
• Decrease labor demands.
• It can be placed anywhere, whether indoor or outdoor.
• It is scalable, which means you can have it based on our financial capacity.
• You get to harvest two wonderful resources: fishes and vegetables.
Types of Aquaponics:
• Deep Water Culture
• Media-based Aquaponics
• Nutrient Film Technique
• Vertical Aquaponics
How does it work?
The idea behind aquaponics is quite simple, although the science behind it is slightly complicated. Nevertheless, it is vital to know all these details, especially if you plan to work with aquaponics.
In aquaponics, the fish are fed regularly. It is important not to overfeed them as the excess food in the water may lead to the population of harmful bacteria poisoning the water affecting the plants’ growth. The correct way of feeding them is to remove excess food in the water and observe the amount of food they can take to know how much food to decrease when feeding them the next day.
Afterward, the fishes produce ammonia that becomes the food for good bacteria. They will convert the ammonia into nutrients in the water, and the plants will then absorb all the natural fertilizers present in the water. The water keeps purified under this process, making it a safe environment for the fish to grow.
The aquaponics function under the interplay of fishes and plants resulting in a higher production rate than hydroponics. In hydroponics, you only get to harvest vegetables while in aquaponics, there is an addition of fishes in your production. This is the remarkable advantage of aquaponics, and you might want to experience this, especially if you love to eat fish and vegetables.
As mentioned earlier, Aquaculture is the process of domesticating and cultivating aquatic animals under a controlled environment. This method maximizes the production of aquatic resources for human consumption. It is more efficient and productive compared to fishing in the open sea using a line with hooks.
Moreover, aquaculture is not different from other types of agriculture like livestock since they are also domesticated and cultivated in vast grasslands. In aquaculture, the domain is in the water mainly because this is where fishes naturally grow. It can be in coastal ocean waters, freshwater ponds and rivers, and customized massive tanks on land.
Aquaculture is responsible for the majority of fish we see in our local market and groceries. However, not all fishes are produced in an aquaculture setting because there are still fishes available in the market that came from the oceans.
On a more serious note, aquaculture is an answer to sustain our ever-growing human population’s human consumption. Relying totally on natural fishing resulted in the decrease of fish populations that might eventually lead to extinction if left untreated. Overfishing only delivers the human population in a somewhat unfavorable situation when most edible aquatic resources go extinct.
There are specific movements to protect the wild fish from getting exploited. One example of this is the Bluefin Tuna, wherein its population has decreased over the last few decades. Fishermen are taught to catch a limited number of Bluefin Tuna per year to increase their population.
Therefore, aquaculture fills the aquatic resource production gap by sustaining human consumption and protecting wild fishes simultaneously. This responsible and sustainable aquaculture has to be preserved from generation to generation to prevent food scarcity.
How does it work?
There are four fundamental stages of aquaculture: hatchery, feed mills, farm, and processor. Let’s discuss all the stages briefly:
1. The first stage is the hatchery. This is where the breeding of fish and hatching of eggs occurs. The fish are nurses during their early stages in life until they mature.
2. The second is feed mills. This one is self-explanatory because you need to feed them to grow.
3. The third stage is the farm. This is where the matured fish are transferred to a growing medium and fed with mills until they reach the maximum harvesting size.
4. The fourth stage is the processor. After harvesting, the fishes are sent to a processing facility, where they are dressed and packed. They will be transported to food retailers and grocery stores where local buyers gather.