Aquaponics is a circulating and sustainable system that combines aquaculture and hydroponics and forms a symbiotic relationship between fish, plants, and microorganisms. It was hypothesized that feed alone could support plant growth, but the symbiosis with fish adds some beneficial effects on plant growth in aquaponics. In this study, three closed culture systems were created, namely, aquaponics, hydroponics without nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and aquaculture, and added the same amount of feed containing N and P to all the treatments in order to test the hypothesis.
Accumulation of NO3− and PO43− was alleviated in aquaponics and hydroponics as a result of plant uptake. Lettuce plants grown in aquaponics grew vigorously until 2 weeks and contained a constant level of N in plants throughout the production period, whereas those in hydroponics grew slowly in the early stage and then vigorously after 2 weeks with a late increment of N concentration. These results suggest that catfish help with the faster decomposition of the feed, but, in hydroponics, feed can be slowly dissolved and decomposed owing to the absence of the fish. The bacterial community structures of the culture solution were investigated using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing.
At the class level, Actinobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria were the major microbial groups in the solutions. Aquaponics prevented the pollution of tank solution and maintained a higher water quality compared with hydroponics and aquaculture, suggesting that aquaponics is a more sustainable cultivation system even in a small-scale system.
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Yamane, Kenji & Kimura, Yuuki & Takahashi, Keita & Maeda, Isamu & Iigo, Masayuki & Ikeguchi, Atsuo & Kim, Hye-Ji. (2021). The Growth of Leaf Lettuce and Bacterial Communities in a Closed Aquaponics System with Catfish. Horticulturae. 7. 222. 10.3390/horticulturae7080222.