Applied ecology: Aquaponics

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Aquaponics is a system in which fish, microbes, and plants (often edible plants – herbs and vegetables) are grown in such a way that they provide mutualistic relationships to one another. The plants are grown without soil and have roots exposed to freshwater containing fish waste. The fish waste is filtered by and provides nutrients to the plants, with the help of nitrogen fixing bacteria. Composting red worms may also be present. Aquaponics can be raft based, media based, or a hybrid of the two. In a raft-based system, plants are placed in the hole of a foam raft that sits on top of the water and fish waste that has already been filtered for solid waste. Media-based aquaponics involves a filtering medium such as gravel and clay pellets in order to filter solid waste and sometimes biological waste as well. This system can be utilized indoors, in environments free of colonization by weeds, insects, and often other pathogens – often eliminating the need for pesticides. In addition, such a system also requires much less water than traditional gardening and can be used either commercially or in the home, as has been demonstrated by this Kickstarter.gr1

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