What aquaponics is can be seen as food production, but the essential definition lies in combining hydroponics and aquaculture. The combination of both make aquaponics a system that is perfectly suitable for farming both plants and fish at the same time, in a cycle that is mutually beneficial.
The fish produce waste, and this waste becomes ammonia and nitrates. Neither of these are good for the fish, when they have been build up too much, but they are still great fertilizer for plants. The plant suction of these nutrients make them purify the water, which is very good for the fish.
In addition to answering what is aquaponics, the hydroponics needs nutrient that is expensive for feeding the plant, and flushing the system periodically, which potentially leads to disposal waste issues.
The re-circulation of aquaculture is in need of having excess nutrient being removed from the system, which normally means that a percentage of water is generally removed on a daily basis.This is a nutrient enriched water that need to be disposed, and replace with fresh and clean water.
There are many cultures that made use of the cycle to successfully grow better crops, and then nurture the fish as an optional food source. Both Thailand and China has been padding their rice with the aquaponic techniques for years.
Aztecs has developed a building floating island system for food-plants like squash and maize. There is fish propagated around islands, while leaving waste behind them at bottom of the lake, which is where they could be collected for fertilizing plants.
The modern aquaponics has more advanced technology than the classical ones. However, they are still both environmental friendly and efficient for production of food.
The fish is usually kept in large tanks, and plants are hydroponically grown without any soil. They are normally planted in beds, with a little clay or gravel, while their roots are hanging down, and inside the water.
In what aquaponics is, it is partly the water being cycled through the system, which make it possible to collect waste from the fishes, which are then pumped to plants bed, where the plants can naturally filter it, before they can be returned to fish tanks.
Unlike the farming methods that are traditional, the plants has no need for any chemical fertilizers, because they will all be coming from the fish-waste. This is also normally organic, as any use of pesticides would damage the fish.
This is aquaponics, because when the system has been set up, then it only need a little extra water to make up for evaporation, because there is consistency in the water-recycling.
This is a great improvement to the traditional way of growing plants, which has always need a lot water.
There are many types of plants that can be grown in the aquaponic farms, regardless if it is of commercial sized or home sized, these includes especially herbs and leafy plants.
The most popular fish in aquaponics is tilapia, even though there are many others that are suitable for the aquaponics environment.