Thursday, June 6, 2013

Aquaponics: A Sustainable Food Production System

Aquaponics is a cyclical, sustainable, food production system that marries the raising of aquatic animals (aquaculture) with the cultivation of plants in water (hydroponics). The result is a symbiotic relationship that benefits all organisms involved and allows the “farmer" of these systems to cultivate their own, personal food supply. For individuals interested in self-sufficiency, aquaponics can be an excellent addition to your emergency preparedness strategy.

Your basic aquaponics system has three main components and a fourth, secondary component that helps move the process along. These components are a fish tank, a water tank, a grow bed, and a pump system, respectively.

  • A fish tank is where your fish or other aquatic life will live. Ammonia from the excrement of these marine animals will accumulate in their tank which increases the toxicity of the aquaculture. In order for the marine life to survive, this ammonia-rich water needs to be filtered. 
  • Using a pump system, this water can be sent out to a separate water tank. The tank’s purpose is to distribute your already-fertilized water to the plants in your grow beds, and just like watering any type of plant, you don’t want to overdo it. 
  • With the aid of the pump system, you can regulate flow of this nitrate-rich water into the grow beds where your various fruits or vegetables are planted in soil (or a soil-like substitute) or suspended above shallow pools of water in a frame. The plants will then use this water to feed themselves and, in turn, produce filtered, clean water. The water trickles through the grow beds and back into the water tank where the fish live. Your only added element is a bit of fish food.  
  • Picking the right pump for your system is important. Ultimately, you want to be as energy efficient as possible. Do your research beforehand to find pumps that can run on very little electricity or completely on renewable energy. Your last – and perhaps most important – ingredient is water. A steady pH level in your water is crucial. Too drastic of a change will result in loss of crops and fish.

Voila, a self-sustaining food system! Is your interest peaked? If so, then you might be asking yourself what can be grown in an aquaponics system.

The truth is some plants need soil to grow correctly. This is especially true of root vegetables like carrots as well as several fruits. Carrots and radishes can do well in containers depending on depth, and our heirloom Little Fingers carrot seeds or heirloom Champion radish seeds would be good places to start for your first system. Fruits are very nutrient rich and require more time and a well-stocked system, but a great option is some of our heritage Small Sugar pumpkin seeds as they stay on the smaller side when full grown. Using soil (or a soil substitute like gravel or clay), while not the standard practice of hydroponics, acts as a biofilter allowing your system to absorb additional chemicals from the water before it makes its way back to the fish. It’s also a better way to get the aforementioned, harder-to-grow fruits and vegetables to flourish.

If you’re a first time grower, give leafy vegetables, herbs, and peppers a try with some heirloom Champion collard seeds or heirloom California Wonder bell pepper seeds and use water-based grow beds. Using any of these methods in combination with a group of cod, trout, or tilapia can yield full-sized, healthy fish.

Aquaponics has become a very profitable industry with commercial-scale systems built all around the world, yet it’s still a viable means for someone looking to try a new hobby or increase their knowledge of food cultivation as a means of survival preparation. It’s an accessible practice as systems can be small, making portability and lower upkeep convenient factors. This may all sound like a new wave in agriculture, but the truth is ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Aztecs, and Chinese were practicing aquaponics by creating “floating gardens” that could be moved around or raising fish in rice paddies, respectively. Get growing and good luck!

 An example of water-based, framed grow beds.

My Patriot Supply is an online supplier of heirloom vegetable seeds, heritage fruit seeds, emergency survival food, and everything else you need for emergency preparedness and self-reliance. Visit My Patriot Supply today and take your first step towards food independence.


  1. Very informative topic you have discuss with us, I liked it, I will be come back to your next post, Good luck!!!!Gravel Supply

  2. I was wondering if the plants feed off & REMOVE the flouride,
    maybe you could put a catcher from plant drip off & test to see ???

  3. I also see a video that claims wheat grass spouts aborb the flouride in just 15 min. of stiring about 20 blades 7-9 iches long ??? if so, grow this in the aqua ponic system ...