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Food - Fiber - Knowledge: Harnessing the Power of Aquaponics to do GREAT things!


What is Aquaponics?

Since our founding in 1994, we have dreamed of bringing aquaculture (fish and shrimp farming) into urban areas where food and jobs are so desperately needed. But to be cost effective, traditional recirculating aquaculture required too much land and too much water. To grow a lot of fish, you have to filter a lot of water. The resulting capital and operational costs of were prohibitive and you still had to change at least 10% of the water per day to bring down the levels of a waste product called nitrate. Aquaponics however has changed all of this.

An ancient process rediscovered in its most popular form by Dr. James Rakocy at the University of the Virgin Islands, aquaponics is an advanced method of aquaculture where useful plants take over much of the water filtration duties. An engineered ecology, to filter water for fish, a device called a clarifier removes the solid fish wastes. The water that remains containing mostly ammonia (NH4) is then passed through a media bed where one set of bacteria literally eat the ammonia and in the process change it into a chemical called nitrite (NO2). A second set of bacteria then transforms the nitrite into nitrate (NO3). The water is then returned to the fish. Normally this is where the process would stop. Eventually the nitrate would build up to toxic levels and the water would have to be changed. However, though a waste, nitrate is also fertilizer. By growing edible plants in the filter bed or as the filter itself, (a combination of hydroponics and wetland filtration), the plants use the nitrate as food removing it from the system so the water is cleaned for the fish to use again and again while the plants grow many times faster than in traditional land farming. Concurrently, because no water is discarded to maintain low nitrate levels and no water is lost to weeds or infiltration, aquaponics uses 90% LESS water than traditional agriculture per pound of food produced. The result is that when managed properly, aquaponics can make money in urban areas allowing for smaller facility sizes, flexible urban uses, water conservation and sustainability. 

Aquaponics is Aquaculture.

What Can Be Grown?

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