In the Newtopia series we discussed the concept of a self-sufficient community. While this grand plan may take years to see the light of day, there are small ways that we can start becoming self-sufficient. An intriguing concept that is relatively easy to get started is Aquaponics on a small scale.
Aquaponics is a combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics. This means that fish and plants are grown in an integrated system, creating a symbiotic relationship between the two. A symbiotic relationship occurs when two organisms interact with each other in ways that are beneficial for both.
Aquaponics uses the water from the fish tank to circulate through a grow bed where the plants are grown. Nitrifying bacteria convert fish wastes into plant-available nutrients. The plants use these nutrients as their main nutrient supply. The fish benefit from this process also, as the water is filtered by the plants, giving the fish clean water to live in.
Add solar power for heating your system and to power an airlift pump and you have a completely self-sufficient system, providing fish and vegetables all year round.
This is really a backyard project and the space required is tiny. A small greenhouse will do with one or two small portapools, a pump, some piping and grow beds for your vegetables. In South Africa the Tilapia would be the ideal fish and any vegetables could be grown, lettuces, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers etc.
A brilliant Australian site with step by step instructions can be found here
A photograph from Backyard Aquaponics.
A plan from Backyard Aquaponics.
This is definitely a concept that I’f like to test. If I do, I’ll post regular reports of my progress with photographs.