Sustainable Aquaponics

Concerned about the planet?



“Given the ecological and economic viability of aquaponics, food would be significantly more just if this unique form of aquaculture (aquaponics) became the future of floating protein”.  – Just Food,  by James E. McWilliams



Of all the current threats to the planet, there are three in particular that can be solved through the spread of sustainable aquaponics.

  1. We are overfishing our oceans
  • March 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that over 70% of fish species were currently endangered.
  •  A study was conducted at the National Centre of Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, at the University of California, over a four year period. The scientists projected that the oceans would, barring significant changes, become barren of fish by 2048.
  • According to some estimates 85-95% of the fish caught by commercial fishermen is bi-catch (aquatic life accidentally harvested by trawlers). We end up eating only about 10% of all marine life that is killed in order to feed us.


Solution – Aquaculture and Aquaponics. Farm raise fish instead of harvesting them from the ocean.

  1. But so far aquaculture hasn’t provided the answers
  • The average salmon farm produces as much waste as a town of 65,000.
  • In Scotland, an estimated 50,000 tones of untreated and contaminated waste generated from cage salmon farming goes directly into the sea, equivalent to the sewage waste of a population of up to three quarters of Scotland’s population. (Environmentalists issue challenge to Scottish salmon.
  • Growing a pound of salmon may require three to five pounds of wild fish. As a result, shrimp and salmon consume more protein than they produce.
    Catfish, tilapia, and freshwater carp can convert harmful organic wastes into edible fish meat. However, the farming of shrimp and salmon has been found to have a negative impact on the environment.


Solution -Recycle the fish waste through biologically active media beds and use it as food for plants, i.e. Sustainable Aquaponics.

  1. A worldwide crisis over water is brewing.
  • sustainable aquaponics - Impending water crisisAccording to the United Nations, 31 countries are now facing water scarcity and 1 billion people lack access clean drinking water.
  • Water consumption is doubling every 20 years and yet at the same time, water sources are rapidly being polluted, depleted, diverted and exploited by corporate interests ranging from industrial agriculture and manufacturing to electricity production and mining.
  • The World Bank predicts that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will suffer from lack of clean and safe drinking water.
  • Agriculture is a major user of ground and surface water in the United States, accounting for 80 percent of the Nation’s consumptive water use and over 90 percent in many Western States.
  • It takes 1,000 tons of water to produce just one ton of grain.


Solution – Grow plants using Sustainable Aquaponics, which uses 90% less water than soil-based growing.

Aquaponcs used 90% less waterAquaponics blends the best of hydroponics (using 90% less water than soil-based agriculture) and aquaculture (relieves the fish harvesting pressure from the oceans), while solving the significant inherent problems of each system (chemical fertilizers and fish waste disposal). Aquaponics is quite possibly the most sustainable growing technique ever created.

Aquaponics… gardening re-imagined




  1. John Prins March 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Me too, I found that “sustainable aquaponics” should mean that the open points in the loop – i.e. energy and fish feed, need to be closed.
    For the energy part, I made the huge expense of installing a 1kWc photovoltaic system with batteries and an inverter, and I plan to feed/sell the inevitable over-production of electricity to the grid (I am a solar installer, so that part is easy).

    Regarding the fish feed problem:
    I just started my system, and after some gold fish I added a number of Roach (rutilus rutilus), sturdy enough fish to deal with my unfinished cycling and beginner’s skills. Now I learn that these fishies also like to eat aquatic plants and sweetwater shrimps, not only dry food from a shop, of course.
    For the moment I feed small standard koi pellets, and soon will receive organic koi food, but ultimately I need a aquatic plant grow tank and maybe a mexican sweetwater shrimp breeding tank, otherwise the aquaponics system is just a technical system that depends on supplies I can’t create myself. This is not what I’d call sustainable.

    MARCH 11 2014

  2. Denis March 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

    1) energy : solar , wind, hydro-electric, geo-thermal, wood gasification ( also provides electricity and heat, maby the best option)
    2) Fish Feed: talipia are omnivores so they will eat the plant scraps and duckweed, also for protean black solder fly larva are good, they also eat veg scraps as well as waste (the other kind)

    the only caveat to this is the efficiency of this system long term, it may turnout that you need to keep adding one of the above to maintain the system on the decade scale.

    March 26 2014

  3. C ANDERSON March 30, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Mr. Prinson: What do the sweetwater shrimp eatr?

  4. WATERGREENS AQUAPONICS ST. LUCIA May 30, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Yes aquaponics in indeed a true system that can have a wide variety of produce to sustain a family over time. It also gives a family the option of growing some foods, eating healthier and reducing their expense. We can a system in a small island called St. Lucia with limited water source and plenty of wind and sunshine. We are looking to reduce energy cost with solar and wind energy in the near future. Aquaponics is a great way of growing crops an fish.

    MAY 7 2014

  5. KATY July 30, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I wonder if duckweed would be a good solution. It is literally a weed and must be controlled but if your fish will eat it, it might be a fast and no cost alternative to pellets. Does anyone have any experience or thoughts about this?

  6. PATRICK ABAYOMI OFARNON September 11, 2013 at 9:05 am

    We need to introduce aquaponics into Nigeria Agriculture chain of 170million nigerians that has poor feeding habit for some time now,
    organic and aquponics is just the only solution

  7. ENGSTROM September 30, 2013 at 12:00 am

    While in central India with Peace Corps 1960s, we had poultry over fish basins.
    wasted feed and dropping fed the fish.
    In Kashmir the floating gardens were towed by boat to your rented house boat for fresh produce.

    FEB 27 2014

  8. MITCHELL September 30, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I’m looking to try and create a substainable Aquaponic system for me and my family. I’ve always envisioned one that took up a whole inground swimming pool. I feel that we need to try and get to something to feed the population without screwing up our society for future generations. I feel that if people planing on building skyscrapers would put aquaponic systems in their buildings it would really make a better system

    August 23 2014

  9. GREG MATHERS November 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

    If you use a swimming pool, floating grow beds may be your best bet. The grow beds would tend to insulate the water and keep it at an even temperature.

  10. JAMBHALA November 24, 2013 at 9:30 am

    As far as sustainability is concerned with aquaponics systems, to be completely sustainable, one would need to grow food for the fish, and use an alternative and sustainable power source for the pumps and aerators.

    Is there such a commercial system out there? Or has anyone built such a system for personal use?

    I notice when shopping around, there is not usually any data given on the electrical requirements nor the fish food requirements for upkeep. As I’m seeking to live completely sustainable and off-grid, these are questions I’d like answered.

    I did see a guy in a remote location in Central America farming tilapia in a series of ponds, and feeding them scrap branches and leaves from yams and bananas. He wasn’t growing anything from the wastewater however, instead just running it back into the creek which he diverted water from to fill his ponds.

    NOV 24 2014

Comments are closed.