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347 Pido Rd. Unit #15
Ptbo, ON K9J 6X7


705-745-GROW or

Fish-powered hydroponics!

In order to evaluate what system might be best for you, it’s helpful to learn the differences between these two systems of plant growth. Aquaponics is a complex system combining aquaculture with the element of hydroponics. Aquaculture involves growing fish in an enclosure. Fish farming is basically an example of large scale aqusculture. Adding the aquaculture element to hydroponics involves pumping the water through a closed circuit water course from the fish tanks to the hydroponic system where the plants are being grown. Essentially, the fish waste products are pumped into the hydroponics plant beds and this is what feeds the plants. Fish waste (also called emulsion) contains nitrogen and other essential nutrients that promote plant growth. Fish waste therefore is a great nutrient source for the plants, and after this water circulates through the hydoponic environment, the water is thoroughly filtered and the fresh water is returned via pump to the aquaculture tanks. This continuous recycling of water and waste creates an elegant symbiotic relationship between the two systems. Fish receive fresh water, plants receive nutrients. Both thrive.

Think of aquaponics as an extension of hydroponics, rather than a choice that is opposing in nature.

Hydroponics is a system of growing plants without soil. In traditional gardening, plants absorb dissolved nutrients from soil, but plants don’t actually need soil to grow. If nutrients are dissolved in water, and the plant’s roots have access to that enhanced water, they can simply soak up all the nutrients required for growth. Thus, the need for soil is eliminated. Although hydroponic systems need to be flushed every so often because they usually use synthetic nutrients to prevent nutrient build-up, this process is easy to complete making hydroponics overall a relatively self-sufficient system.

What works best for you

Therefore, when it comes to plant growth and health, and aquaponics versus hydroponics, neither system is superior. However, what it may all come down to is which way is more efficient and feasible for you? If you have a fish tank that’s large enough to support aquaponic, then you should try it as it’s a great way to sustain fish and plant life in unison. Aquaponics is a more complex undertaking compared to a hydroponic system alone because now you are trying to balance growing plants and keeping fish alive, two living systems rather than just one.

An elegant symbiosis

If you decide you like the symbiotic, self-sustaining elements of choosing an aquaponics set-up, you will want to think about the fish part of the equation first. This means researching and finding plants that grow alongside the fish while maintaining the pH range preferred by the fish. Consideration must also be given when choosing the approriate fish to grow, how large they will become, and what they will need to eat. Additionally, due to the fact that fish emulsion does not have the whole range of nutrients that plants require for healthy development, other nutrients will have to additionally be supplemented in. Fish-friendly plant supplements should be used in order to help prevent any toxic reactions for the fish. However, if this level of attention isn’t feasible for you, or this whole idea, although interesting, seems like too much work, then hydroponics alone may be the way for you to go. Both systems will grow abundant plant life, and aquaponic will grow fish life and plant life, so if that’s your goal, that will help you to determine the right choice for you.

The cost

Ultimately, when it comes to aquaponics vs. hydroponics, the overall determining factor may come down to which one is more suited to your budget. Aquaponics set-ups can cost quite a bit more money than a hydroponics set-up alone. It all comes down to how much you’d like to spend when choosing to add an aquaponics element to your hydroponic system.

If you’d like to know more about aquaponics and how it could integrate with a hydroponics system, come on into the store where we’ll be happy to help advise you on the system that can best help you grow all the plants (and fish!) you want.