Aquaponics is steadily gaining popularity due of its sustainability and for being environment-friendly. This agricultural farming system merges two tested methods, aquaculture or fish farming, and hydroponics which utilizes soil less plant culture.
Aquaponics supports the symbiotic relationship between plants and aquatic animals, however, it also has its disadvantages such as the high consumption of electricity and the expensive cost for the system set-up.
Disadvantages of aquaponics
Despite being a popular farming method having many benefits, aquaponics has its share of disadvantages. Here are some of them:
1. It is costly to set up and maintain.
One obvious disadvantage of the method is that it entails financial costs to set up compared to traditional farming. The costs are largely dependent on the size of the aquaponic tank. Even a small counter top unit can cost cost hundreds of dollars and a larger back yard set up can easily cost thousands.
As an example, here is a list of the estimated costs for the setup of a backyard aquaponics system:
- $100 to $300 for wooden or concrete floor/ slabs
- $250 to $350 for insulated stem wall for the greenhouse
- $150 more or less for the fish tank or livestock watering trough
- $800 to $1,200 for the lumber to be used for the grow tray
- $100 for PVC pipe and fittings
- $250 for other miscellaneous expenses
- for the greenhouse (if used), the cost will be dependent on the design
2. Some crops as well as fish are not available for this method.
Certain plants like tuberous plants and root crops can’t be grown through the aquaponics system because they need soil to thrive. Large crops are also hard to cultivate using this method as it entails more nutrients and water. Examples of plants and crops that are not suitable for the method include potatoes, radish, parsnip, carrots, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and chrysanthemum. Also, some fish species are not recommended for aquaponics and these include salmon, trout, yellow perch, and large mouth bass.
3. It consumes a lot of electricity.
Aquaponics may help conserve land and water use but it compensated with its electricity use. To start with, water pumps need to operate 24/7 and fish tanks need to be kept at constant temperatures. This poses a big disadvantage especially if your location has a sparse electricity supply. Nevertheless, this dilemma can be fixed by harnessing other forms like solar energy and the use of wind turbines.
4. It needs to be installed professionally.
Setting up and installing the aquaponics system entails professional knowledge and experience. The construction and maintenance should be professionally done or there may be a risk of losses in sustaining the plants and aquatic animals and may result to great financial loss on your part.
Here are the basic equipment needed for the aquaponics system:
- fish tanks
- tank stands
- oxygen systems
5. There’s a risk of an unexpected failure.
Aquaponics is considered a complicated method because you have to closely monitor both the fish and the plants. If there are alterations in the living conditions of the fish they may not be able to survive and it could have detrimental effects on the plants as well. The plants may also run the risk of developing pathogens and diseases.
Aquaponics is consistently gaining worldwide fame as a sustainable means of farming. This method features a symbiotic relationship between plants and aquatic animals which makes it an attractive means of livelihood and food source. Nevertheless, it has disadvantages that need to be considered such as the high consumption of electricity and the financial burden of its setup before deciding to embark on this particular system.
For more information read our article on the pros and cons of aquaponics.