Aquaponics is a revolutionary approach to agriculture that combines aquaculture (growing aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish, or prawns) with hydroponics (the cultivation of plants in water) to create a sophisticated and symbiotic system. In this type of agricultural setup, water from the aquaculture system efficiently supplies nutrients for the growing of various varieties of plants, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and others. This type of production is increasingly popular due to its commitment to sustainability values and its potential for efficient ecosystems.
However, although aquaponic systems make it possible to grow many types of crops in different climates and climates zones, some plants are not suitable for growth in this environment. Different plant species may not tolerate high levels of certain substances that are naturally present in aquaponic systems or face unfavorable conditions in those systems.
Below is an overview of what cannot be grown in an aquaponic system:
Fish are an important part of aquaponics, as they provide the nutrients for the plants to grow. However, there are certain types of fish that cannot be grown in an aquaponics system. Depending on the setup, some fish will be better suited to an aquaponics system than others.
Here, we’ll look at the types of fish that cannot be grown in an aquaponics system and the possible reasons why:
Fish Species Not Suitable for Aquaponics
Not all fish species are suitable for aquaponics. These fish either don’t thrive in closed-systems or the water conditions required to keep them healthy can be difficult to maintain. Some of these species may start to show signs of stress after prolonged periods in an aquaponic system while others may never do well in the system’s conditions at all. Species that should be avoided include:
- Goldfish: Goldfish may seem like a tried-and-true tank staple, but due to their sensitive nature, they are best kept away from aquaponics systems. These fish have a high waste output per body size and therefore require frequent water changes; this often leads to significant fluctuations in water parameters, which can harm other heartier tankmates. Over time, goldfish become more and more sensitive and cannot survive in any kind of overstocked environment – so it’s best to just avoid them altogether.
- Koi: Like goldfish, koi also don’t do well in an aquaponic system as they are very susceptible to fluctuations in water parameters and are often too large for the confined space of most tanks. As with goldfish, large koi can produce a great deal of waste matter that can quickly lead to increases ammonia levels and result in extreme stress on other fish or plants growing in the tank.
- Turtles: Turtles usually require higher temperatures than those seen with most aquaponics systems making them unsuitable for long-term residence (though it is possible with some supplemental heating). In addition, some turtles can be very aggressive eaters that will consume much of your crop before feeding lessened or ceasing completely! Additionally, some may grow large enough that they actually become a hazard for other aquatic lifeforms within your system – so it’s best to steer clear of turtles as potential inhabitants altogether.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing Fish
When selecting fish for your aquaponics system, you should also take into account other factors like the fish’s natural diet and the conditions of the environment. Some species may not be the best choice for your system because they’re not able to be grown in aquaponics.
The most common of these are:
- Cold water fish – Cold water species require more energy to survive in an aquaponics system as temperatures are not right for optimal growth.
- Herbivorous & omnivorous types – Fish that feed mainly on plants or a combination of plants and animals will require a large number of inputs to maintain their diet. This may disrupt the balance of nutrients provided by the other organisms in your system, leading to poor overall health.
- Oxygen-loving fish – Tropical species need higher levels of oxygen than most populations can provide by themselves, so they cannot be kept in an aquaponics system.
- Aggressive or territorial types – Territorial fish species may become hostile towards other fish as they compete for space and food, which could lead to problems with respect to overcrowding or disease.
- Sturgeon and paddlefish should not be kept in aquaponic tanks because they must be maintained at cooler temperatures than other warm water species typically used in aquaponics systems.
As aquaponics is a controlled system in which plants and fish live symbiotically, not all plants are suitable for your aquaponic system. Certain plants cannot be grown in aquaponics because of their root systems, their nutritional requirements or the pH of the water in the system.
In this article we will discuss which plants can and cannot be grown in an aquaponic system:
Plant Species Not Suitable for Aquaponics
Aquaponics is a form of agriculture that uses the combination of aquaculture, or fish farming, and hydroponics, or soil-less plant culture, to create a self-sustaining system where plants benefit from the waste fertilizer produced by the farmed fish. While many kinds of plants can be grown using this method, it’s important to first understand which plants do not thrive in an aquaponic environment.
The majority of most vegetables and herbs grow well in an aquaponic system. However there are some notable exceptions:
- Root vegetables like potatoes and carrots can present a challenge due to their deeply rooted nature. They tend to require a lot more maintenance than other crops and may require additional sand or media for support.
- Fruiting trees like apples, cherries, peaches and plums cannot be maintained without extensive pruning and extensive pest control efforts.
- Similarly certain acidic fruits like oranges and limes are also more difficult to grow together with fish due to their intolerance for pH fluctuations.
- It is also worth noting that many flowering plants such as camellias are better grown outdoors rather than in an enclosed system as they do not usually produce beneficial effects on fish tanks directly.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing Plants
When selecting plants for your aquaponics system, it is important to keep in mind several factors that can impact how successful a particular plant will be in your system. These factors include:
- Sunlight requirements – Most plants need some amount of sunlight to produce, so make sure that the specific plants you choose can tolerate the amount of natural light that they will receive in their location.
- Temperature requirements – Different species have different temperature tolerances, so consider what temperatures the plants may experience during the winter and summer months.
- Nutrient needs – Aquaponics systems are generally lacking certain nutrients like phosphorous, so find crops that can thrive based on the nutrients provided by your aquaponics system.
- Growth rate – If you want fast-growing crops, look for species that have a short growth period and a high yield potential.
- Fruiting habits and times – Certain plants take longer to produce fruit or flowers than others. Select plants with fruiting times suited to your growing schedule and climate conditions.
- Pest and disease resistance – Many aquatic systems are prone to pest pressures and diseases, so select varieties of crops that are suitable for your locale and which have good resistance or tolerance to potential diseases or pests in your area.
In summary, aquaponics provides a great opportunity to grow a variety of plants and fish at home, while also reducing environmental impact. However, it’s important to consider the type of environment your plants and fish require before investing in aquaponics as not all plants and fish can recommend this system. Opting for species with similar growth requirements will ensure maximum success in any aquaponic system.
While some vegetables such as corn and potatoes cannot be grown in aquaponics due to their high nutrient needs, other options such as leafy greens are well suited for growing in the specialized way that aquaponics allows for. Lastly, there are many species of fishes that make great additions to any aquaculture system as long as specific growth requirements of each species are met. Aquaculturists must research the respective growth needs and special requirements of each fish species before adding them to their own systems.
With careful consideration given towards the type of veggies and fishes used, those interested in starting their own aquaculture projects can achieve success through creating well-functioning systems with a variety of plants and animals thriving together.