The combination of hydroponics and aquaculture, or aquaponics, normally requires adding fertilizer to recirculated water to ensure optimal plant growth, but the effect of that fertilizer on fish welfare has not been studied in detail, especially for small urban and coupled aquaponic systems.
In this study, commercial fertilizer was placed in two small aquaponic systems (less than 250 liters each) to test its effect on the stress levels of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) compared to controls without any fertilizer. Fish production parameters were not significantly different between treatments, nor were physiological indicators of fish stress (plasma cortisol, glucose, and triglycerides).
On the other hand, lettuce growth (leaf and root weight and length) was up to three times higher in the treatment that received fertilizer.
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Villarroel, Morris & Miranda-de la Lama, Genaro & Escobar-Álvarez, Rafael & Moratiel, Ruben. (2022). Fish Welfare in Urban Aquaponics: Effects of Fertilizer for Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) on Some Physiological Stress Indicators in Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.). Water. 14. 935. 10.3390/w14060935.