Aquaponics vs Hydroponics
5 Ways Aquaponics is an Improvement over Hydroponics
1) Expensive nutrients are replaced by less expensive fish feed.
You know how much you spend on nutrient solution every year. Now consider this scenario. In our AquaUrban Sleek aquaponics system you use a 60 gallon tank to grow in 7.5 sq ft of space. For this example, in that space you can grow 6 – 7 indeterminate tomato plants and about 10 tilapia. The only inputs to the system are about 15 watts of power for the pump (let’s say that is equivalent to hydroponics), water to top off the tank (less than in hydroponics because you never discharge and replace the nutrient solution) and fish food.
- Tilapia grow from fingerling stage to plate sized (1.5 lbs) within a year
- Tilapia convert feed to body weight at an efficient 1.2 – 1.5 lb of fillets for every 1 lb of feed.
- The means that you will need (10 * 1.5 * 1.5) 22.5 lbs of fish feed per year to raise your 10 tilapia
- Fish feed costs about $1/lb depending on feed quality, shipping costs, bulk pricing, etc.
So this means you’re running a 7.5 square foot grow bed for about $22.50 a year…AND YOU GET 10 FRESH, DELICIOUS FISH AT THE END OF THAT YEAR!
2) You never dump out your nutrient solution!
Water in hydroponic systems needs to be discharged periodically, as the salts and chemicals build up in the water which becomes toxic to the plants. This is both inconvenient and problematic as the disposal location of this waste water needs to be carefully considered. Rather than having these problems with chemical imbalance, in an aquaponic system you are achieving a natural nitrogen balance that is the hallmark of an established eco-system. The water in your system as a critical component that you nurture as part of that balance.
In aquaponics you NEVER replace your water; you only top it off as it evaporates.
3) Aquaponics (vs Hydroponics) is more productive!
A university study has now shown that after the aquaponic bio-filter is fully established a grower will see faster and better growing results with aquaponics vs hydroponics. (Click here for a study by Dr. Nick Savidov, of the Crop Diversification Center South, Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development at Brooks, Alberta, Canada report in the Aquaponics Journal, 2nd Quarter, 2005.)
Aquaponics is actually more productive than hydroponics!
4) Aquaponics is completely organic
Hydroponics is all about growing in a sterile, man-made environment. Traditional hydroponic systems rely on the careful application of expensive nutrients made from mixing together a concoction of chemicals, salts and trace elements. In aquaponics you are creating a natural ecosystem where you rely on bacteria and composting red worms to convert the ammonia and solid waste from the fish into a complete plant food. It is a necessarily organic process. If pesticides are applied to the plants, the fish will suffer. If growth hormones or antibiotics are given to the fish, the plants will suffer.
Aquaponics relies on nature, and is rewarded through better growth, less maintenance, and lower disease rates. If you can’t beat Mother Nature, you might want to join forces with her.
5) Best of all, you can say goodbye to pythium (“root rot”) forever. It is almost non-existent in aquaponics.
Pythim is everywhere – in the water, in the air – and in a sterile hydroponic environment it can run wild. Despite the fact that aquaponic systems tend to run with warmer water and more frequently timed irrigations the occurence of the scourge of hydroponics (pythim) is rare.
Hydroponics creates a sterile “boy in the bubble” environment where disease can run rampant because nothing is fighting it. A natural aquaponics eco-system provides an immune system against disease.
Want to go deeper? Check out this blog post on Hydroponics vs Aquaponics for 12 more ways they differ…