Aquaponics 101 – Comparing Apples with Apples.

I often use a saying on the various forums that I frequent on the Internet, “When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

This is so true for many of us, and one of my pet hates, is a person who is so set in his ways that he is blind to better and more efficient ways of doing things.

I am one of Aquaponics biggest fans, and use this blog and numerous other forums to sing it’s praises. Does this mean that Aquaponics (AP) is better than traditional soil-based gardening? Does it mean that the fish produced in AP systems are better than the same fish produced in a proper Aquaculture system? No, of course not, but what I do believe, is that AP has many applications in situations of poor soil, limited space and scarce resources (like water).

When it comes to vegetable crops, not all grow well in AP systems. Some don’t grow at all (like potatoes) and others grow slightly (or much) better in soil. I need to have this sort of practical experience on hand in order to advise clients. This is one of the reasons that I recently established an earth garden to trial various crops against those grown in an AP system.

Let me start by admitting that I do cheat somewhat. How, you may ask? Well the plants in my soil garden have the benefit of being watered with “fishy” water from my AP system, so they do have the benefits of both the nutrients in the soil and the Nitrates from the fish.

The results of my trials, although still only early in Spring, are quiet interesting. Here is an image of spinach grown in gravel in my AP system.


And here is the same spinach grown in ordinary soil, but irrigated with “fishy” water.


Not much difference, other than the fact that the soil-grown spinach looks darker.

Here are some early images of various crops grown in soil, much of which is reclaimed lawn. As far as I’m concerned a lawn is just a waste of water and the great thing about veggies is that they don’t need to be mowed.

Swiss Chard (spinach).


Butter Lettuce.


Lettuce, tomato seedlings, swiss chard, squash, watermelon.


This weekend we harvested about 3kg of fresh garden peas and they are delicious. Here they are in the bucket and what the peas look like in the pod. Yummy.



Makes me quiet hungry.



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