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AquaponicsR.GobirajBSc in Fisheries Science,University Of Jaffna,Sri Lanka.


ContentsIntroductionHistoryEssential components of an Aquaponic unitWater quality in AquaponicsAquaponics Plants and requirements Aquaponics Fishes and requirements Functioning of AquaponicsAquaponics in Sri LankaAdvantages and disadvantagesOther Possibilities in AquaponicsConclusionReference

IntroductionAquaponic is a fast growing and more sustainable method of food production. Aquaponics is a system that combines hydroponics with intensive aquaculturebio-integrated food production system.

HistoryhydroponicsHydroponics is the production of plants in a soilless medium where by all of the nutrients, which are supplied in aqueous solutionIn China it was reported that "frame fields" for growing water spinach were widespread in ancient times The raft gardens were made with a frame of bamboo and a layer of soil and supplied leaf vegetables for home consumption In Mexico and Bangladesh organic matter from plants was used to create rafts for floating agriculture

ChinampasBuilt by Incas and Aztecs Between 14th -16th century A.D

intensive aquacultureintensive aquaculture in which fish are kept at high density in tanks or raceways and fed a high quality food US only since the mid-20th centuryAs production intensified it was realized that the effluent was high in nutrients and could cause eutrophication and other environmental impacts

Aquaponicsit has an ancient history, Plants have been grown using fish farm wastes either directly or indirectly in China and SE Asia for thousands of yearsaquaponics has been strong since the 1960s, in US at Woods Hole Oceanographic Instituteawareness of impact of nutrient wastes on the environment while at the same time increasing the requirement of food production developed the aquaponicsGlobally there are now hundreds of small scale aquaponic initiatives and several larger scale commercial or near commercial enterprises

Essential components of an aquaponic unit

fish tankmechanical filterbio filterhydroponic containers Water circulation unitaerators

fish tankessential component in every unitShapesroundSquareOvalmaterialplastic FiberglassCementground pondColourWhite or other light colours

round tanks with flat bottoms are recommended, The round shape allows water to circulate uniformlyPlastic, fiberglass = because their durability and long life spanMetal is not possible because of rust9

mechanical filterseparation and removal of solid and suspended fish waste from fish tanksIt is essential for the health of the systemType of filterScreen filter sedimentation tankssand or bead filters

Bio filterThe bio filter is installed between the mechanical filter and hydroponic containersliving bacteriaNitrosomonasNitrobactervolcanic gravel, plastic bottle caps, netting, PVC, shavings and nylon scrub pads are act as substrate for bacteriaNitrosomonas bacteria convert ammonia (NH) into nitrite (NO-)Nitrobacter bacteria then convert nitrite (NO-) into nitrate (NO-)

Hydroponic components the plant-growing sections in the unitThree designs are more familiar with aquaponicsmedia bed /particulate beds

nutrient film technique (NFT) deep water culture

Water circulation unitWater circulation is fundamental for keeping all organisms alive in aquaponicsThe water moves from the fish tanks, through the mechanical filter and the bio filter and then to the plants in their media beds and finally to the collecting tank

Water quality in aquaponicsOxygenpHTemperatureAmmoniaNitriteNitrate Water hardness

oxygenplants, fish and nitrifying bacteria all need oxygen to may die within hours when exposed to low DO within the fish tanks adequate DO levels is crucial to aquaponics pHThe pH of the water has a major impact on all aspects of aquaponics, especially the plants and bacteriathe pH controls the plants access to micro- and macronutrientsNitrifying bacteria difficult to survive below a pH of 6, and the bacterias capacity to convert ammonia into nitrate reduces in low pH conditions. This can lead to reduced bio filtration and fish mortality

Temperaturegeneral compromise range is 1830 C. Temperature has an effect on DO as well as on the toxicity of ammoniahigh temperatures have less DO andhigh temperatures more unionized (toxic) ammonia

AmmoniaMost of the fish waste is form of ammonia (NH3) ammonia is then nitrified by bacteria and converted into nitrite (NO2-)Ammonia is toxic to fish, Commonly in fishes can show symptoms of ammonia poisoning at levels 1.0 mg/ literhigh level of ammonia damage to the fishes central nervous system and gills

NitriteHigh levels of NO2- can immediately lead to rapid fish deaths. Again, even low levels over an extended period can result in increased fish stress, disease and deathNO2- prevent the transport of oxygen within the bloodstream of fish its called as brown blood diseaseNitrateNitrate is a far less toxic than the other forms of nitrogenIt is the most accessible form of nitrogen for plants, and the production of nitrate is the goal of the bio filterFish can tolerate levels of up to 300 mg/ liter.

Aquaponics Plants and requirements most popular vegetables are leafy vegetables and herbs-especially lettuce and basilless suitable for fruit vegetablessuitable vegetables Lettuce Basil Spring onion Fruit vegetables such as tomato, cucumber Beets Okra Blueberries

Plants require sunlight, air, water and nutrients to growEssential macronutrients include: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphurMicronutrients include iron, zinc, boron, copper, manganese and molybdenumDeficiencies need to be addressed by supplying the limiting nutrients with supplemental fertilizer or increasing mineralizationThe suitable temperature range for most vegetables is 1826 C, although many vegetables are seasonal.pest/disease management uses physical, mechanical and cultural practices to minimize pests/pathogensuses fish-safe chemical and biological treatment in targeted applications, when necessary

Aquaponics Fishes and requirements High tolerance and high marketable fishes are more suitableTilapia, carp, and catfish are highly suitable for aquaponicsCommon culture fishesTilapiaCatfishcommon carp (Cyprinus carpio)Mulletperchbester sturgeon grass carp

Tilapiapossibilitiespreferred species for tropical and sub-tropical situationseasy to breedtolerates low Dissolved Oxygen (DO) levels (0.2 ppm)high Total Ammonia Nitrogen levels (>90 ppm @ pH 6.0)low pH levels (< 5.0)ProblemsIt will breed very readily Breeding will reduce fish production rate/quality



the correct balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals needed for fishnever overfeed the fish, and remove uneaten food after 30 minutesPoor / changing water quality, overcrowding, and physical disturbance can cause stresswhich may lead to disease outbreaksTake the time to observe and monitor the fish in order to recognize symptoms early and provide treatment

Functioning of Aquaponics


Functioning of Aquaponics .

The Aquaponics cycle

Aquaponics in Sri LankaIn Sri Lanka aquaponics introduced as a Agriculture TourismE.g - Gadadessa is a Holiday Resort in Kandy

AdvantagesReduced labour Aquaponics uses 90% less water than traditional farmingNOT require farm land and soilFish feed is the only nutrient inputsAquacultural waste products are used Aquaponics protects our rivers & lakesHealth & Nutrition value highHigher production rate Provides income from two separate productsA lot of current research and improvements going on

DisadvantagesHigh initial costTo fill up water tanksTo build the system (Greenhouse, pumps etc.) Difficult to grow root cropsRequires skill and experienceConstant monitoring of water parametersPests and diseases can be devastatingLimitations concerned with fish species rearedCompetitive market prices Requires electric energy to maintain and recycle water within the system

Other Possibilities in AquaponicsOrganic Aquaponics Natural fertilizer Natural minerals (snail shells) Good marketing labelling

Use of TechnologySmart phone applicationsPipe blockage warningSystem automation

Other Possibilities in AquaponicsGrowing IndoorsCan be used underground and indoorsArtificial lighting

Other Possibilities in Aquaponics Growing UpwardsFuturistic Concepts Growing locallyDedicated Skyscraper FarmsMakes use of limitedspace availabilitySpace missions


Aquaponics is a more sustainable food production systemsIt involves the production of both fish and vegetables, using a single nutrient source (fish feed) however that aquaponic systems are primarily vegetable production systems, simply because of the biological nature of the relationship between fish nutrient production and plant nutrient uptakeThe primary advantage of aquaponics is water use efficiency. Other oft-cited advantages include nutrient utilization efficiency, product quality and food security

ReferenceBakhsh, H.K. (2008)Integrated culture, Hydroponics &Aquaponics systems. Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.Bernstein, S. (2011)Aquaponic gardening: A step-by-step guide to raising vegetables and fish together. New York, NY, United States: New Society Publishers.Long, B. (2012)The EZ guide to aeroponics, hydroponics and aquaponics: [how to create a sustainable food supply]. Texas: Bonjour Limited Holdings.Staff, P.S. (2007)Great source aim new jersey: Student edition Workbook 5pk grade 3 (level C) 2007. United States: Great Source Education Group.Somerville, C. (2014)Small-scale Aquaponic food production: Integrated fish and plant farming. Rome, Italy, Italy: Fo

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