How to cultivate food for 7.3 billion world population is always a perplexing question. Total agricultural land is getting depleted and majority of population is depending on food cultivated by less than 5% of total population. More over in-order to maximise the production, farmers from under developed and developing countries are using pesticides and fertilizers beyond recommended limits. Some developed countries have already given green signal for Genetically Modified (GM) crops. This is leading to dangerous and non curable health problems like cancer.
Do we have a solution for this problem? Can’t we produce our own herbs and vegetables? But in the absence of sufficient land space for cultivation, what can we do ?
Answer to all these questions is Aquaponics, which has many benefits. It is a symbiotic system which is very common in nature. It uses both aquaculture, which involves growing and breeding of fish and hydroponics (Here are 9 hydroponics systems to start an indoor garden.) which is cultivating plants in water without soil.
The following are the best indoor water gardens available at Amazon:
Lets take a look at the aquaponics cycle:
As I explained before, this is a symbiotic relationship between fish, plants and micro organisms. Fish droppings contain ammonia, which is toxic for fish as well, if concentration exceeds beyond a limit. Plants cannot utilize ammonia as a fertilizer directly. But there are some micro organisms which can convert this ammonia to nitrites and then to nitrates. Nitrates serve as a good nutrients for plant growth and fish can live in this clean and aerated water.
A typical Aquaponics system block diagram:
A grow bed is used to cultivate herbs and vegetables. This grow bed is used to culture micro organisms which then converts ammonia to nitrites and then to nitrates. You can choose the size of grow bed and aquarium depending on the quantity of herbs and vegetables you are planning to grow. If you choose a bigger fish tank ( mostly suitable for outdoors) you can grow different types of fish, that becomes a source of food as well.
What are the recommended herbs, vegetables and fishes for aquaponics?
The plants that can be grown in an aquaponics system are:
- Leafy lettuce, Cabbage, Cauliflower
- Herbs like Mint, Basil, Chives etc. Here is list a of 19 herbal plants which can be grown in your kitchen. You can also choose some herbs from this list for your aquaponics system after consulting an expert.
- Veggies like Tomatoes, Cucumber, Peas, Beans are also successful in this system.
Recommended fish varieties are:
- Tilapia, very commonly available and used in aquaponic system.
- Kio is best choice if you are looking for a colorful fish.
- Salmon, Crap and Catfish , if you have a bigger fish tank and if you plan to use fish also as a food source.
Tip: Choose fish which is locally available so that it can withstand climatic conditions such as temperature and pH.