Simply Scientific: Cultivating plants by farming fish

Imagine cultivating plants with endless sources of natural fertilizer. Considering Earth’s current state, such a process would answer many of our problems regarding food production and the viability of the soil.

Yet, such a sustainable system broke from the imaginary and is now known as aquaponics.

Historically practiced by Aztec and Chinese populations, aquaponics is a combination of fish farming (aquaculture) and soilless farming (hydroponics). Yielding as much as 12 times the amount of crops produced in soil per square foot, aquaponics successfully addresses farming in resource-scarce areas.

But how does it work?

The three main components of aquaponics are plants, fish, and bacteria.

Fish excrete high amounts of ammonia, increasing the toxicity of their environment. That water is then transferred to another tank, where bacteria (Nitrosomonas) break down the ammonia into nitrate. Pumped to the last tank, the nitrate-concentrated water will be utilized as nutrients for the plants. The water, now purified by the plants, is redirected to the fish tank for the process to be repeated.

Some companies in Canada have started using this farming technique. AquaGrow Farms is an aquaponics company and one of its operations runs at The Mississauga Food Bank to provide fresh food to people in need. Around 900,000 Canadians make use of food banks every month, on average.

Aquaponics has incredible potential because of its low need for resources. This helps lower any environmental impact while producing quality goods that are in high demand.

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