Aquaponics is a centuries-old growing technique that combines the plant growing power of hydroponics (cultivating crops without soil) with aquaculture (raising aquatic animals like fish and shellfish) to create an efficient, looped ecosystem. Simply explained, we have a tank with fish hooked up to a tank with plants. The fish produce waste, which can be used as nutrients for the plants, while a healthy microbial and bacterial population convert minerals to usable forms for fish and plants. Of course, the day-to-day operations of aquaponics are more complicated than that; we measure pH, dechlorinate and degas the water, feed the fish, and work out ratios that explain how many fish are supported by how many plants. However, this small system set up at EarthLab is already serving as a valuable teaching tool for children and educators all across San Diego. Children can learn about ecosystem interactions, math, statistics, chemistry and other STEM topics in a hands-on and engaging way.
We send a big thank you to Dr. Luke Duesbury of San Diego State University who generously donated and assembled this system.
– Farmer Adam Graves