Does Aquaponics Need Fertilizer or Nutrients to Be Added?


One of the queries I hear most often is whether or not supplemental fertilizer is required when practicing Aquaponics. The answer is simple and one of the things that attract many people to this alternative agricultural method.

Aquaponics doesn’t require fertilizer or added nutrients to be sustainable. Aquaponics is a closed system by nature whereby the fish and vegetation rely on each other for the necessary nutrients to thrive. The only addition to the environment is quality food for the fish.

Please read on to learn a few more details about the process as I answer a few common questions.

Adding Fertilizer or Nutrients in Aquaponics

Although some farmers supplement the natural ecosystem with nutritional enhancements, only natural elements are necessary with proper planning and dedication. Aquaponics can be beneficial in a variety of scenarios, which we will discuss in further detail below.

What Type of Fertilizer or Nutrients Are Necessary?

Ideally, the fish will supply the necessary nutrients through the food they eat. Generally, only large scale Aquaponic deployments need supplemental nutrients. Specifically, Miracle Grow will spike the ammonia in the tank, which is dangerous for the fish.

What Type of Plants Will Grow in Aquaponics?

Although leafy vegetables like lettuce, kale, and chards do the best in an Aquaponic environment, many other vegetables can do well. Peppers, beans, cruciferous vegetables, and even some fruits will also yield crops for a motivated grower.

What Is the Difference Between Hydroponics and Aquaponics?

The main difference between Aquaponics and Hydroponics is Hydroponics uses formulated solutions to grow vegetables. While there are many of the same benefits from both practices, Aquaponics is more sustainable and environmentally friendly because it emulates ecosystems occurring in nature.

Is Hydroponics Better Than Aquaponics?

One of the areas Hydroponics excels in is a quick start up time. Aquaponic tanks need to filtrate fish free for at least six weeks and then take several months to build up the necessary microbes to support fish and vegetation. Because Hydroponics uses a growth solution, farming can begin immediately, providing a faster time to yield.

Hydroponics could potentially offer a more predictable business environment if farming is a financial endeavor. Some argue Aquaponics has the potential to generate more revenue because of the additional commodity of fish.

However, competition in the commercial fish market is fierce, and yields can be small based on tank size and quantity. Both methodologies offer promising business opportunities, but Aquaponics is better suited for community and home projects because of sustainability and varied food sources.

Aquaponics vs. Traditional Farming – How Do They Compare?

Aquaponics offers several compelling reasons to consider this method of farming versus traditional methods.

  1. Less Water Required- Because of the closed system model, Aquaponics uses ninety percent less water than conventional agriculture.
  2. Environmentally Friendly- Since fertilizer and other potentially harmful chemicals are unnecessary, using this eco-friendly system can protect our rivers and lakes from contamination.
  3. Less Land Needed- Aquaponics also conserves valuable land while providing a nutritious food source.

What Exactly is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a sustainable method of indoor farming using fish to grow vegetation. Fish live in large tanks of water referred to as recirculating aquaculture. They eat nutrient-dense food, modeling natural ecosystems found in rivers and ponds. Waste created by the fish fertilizes the vegetation, and in return, the plants purify the water for the fish.

Aquaponics is a very efficient form of farming, especially in arid climates where water and other resources are scarce. Once the tanks are complete, Aquaponic agriculture can provide fish and vegetables for a single household or a whole village. Because this method of farming is so reliable and sustainable, it can provide nutritious food year-round. It also has the potential to generate revenue, which is particularly helpful in low-income areas.

What Are the Benefits of Aquaponics?

There are many benefits to Aquaponics, starting with the nutritious food produced. No harmful fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides are necessary, which is better for the environment and safer for the consumer. Farming indoors makes it possible to grow crops and introduce variety between yields continuously.

Another benefit that is particularly useful for remote villages or off-grid living is providing a single source protein and vegetable solution. After the initial investment in the necessary equipment, Aquaponics is a highly productive, sustainable way to grow and harvest two food sources all year round.

How to Start Farming With Aquaponics

The best way to start is to create a defined goal for producing food. A self-sustaining single home model is a great place to start.

  • Research the proper tank size needed to feed a household and dedicate space for the tank and supplies.
  • Investigate the appropriate fish available in your area and a nutritious food source.
  • And, when the tanks are ready to support the growing cycle, plan out crop rotation and fish yields.

Here is a really good guide to get you started.

Final Thoughts

Questions about differences between Aquaponics and other methods of agriculture are common. I hope this article has been succeeded in giving you a good answer. If you enjoyed reading it, please browse a few more of my articles as we cover a broad range of interesting topics. There are a couple below that you might be interested in.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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