US (OH): University Extension combines aquaponics system and harvests tilapia

Central State University Extension hosted a field day last weekend showcasing its demonstration aquaponics facility. Aquaponics combines the raising of aquatic animals with the cultivation of hydroponic plants—plants raised without soil. In a traditional hydroponic system, nutrients are injected into the plants. 

However, aquaponics is considered a closed-loop system. The idea is that, as long as you keep adding fish food, the waste from the fish goes to feed the plants. The water supply is also constantly filtered and then recycled through the system.

The demonstration facility has a 1,000-gallon fish tank that holds about 200 tilapia. The tank stays at around 70 degrees and has air stones that keep the water oxygenated. Water from the fish tank rotates into a waste settling tank. The fish waste settles to the bottom and the nutrient water continues through pipes to feed the plants.

Some of the water goes into eight-inch deep "beds" where it feeds the roots of leafy plants floating on its surface. This technique is called a deep water culture system. The demonstration facility also has fruiting plants growing from something called a dutch bucket system. One of Central State's natural resource educators, Marc Amante, explained: 

"Water flows from a pipe into a bucket. The bucket contains the medium and the plant." He said, "there are holes in the bottom. The water drains through into a reservoir that then goes out into the rest of the system." 

Read more at WYSO News (Chris Welter)

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