The questionable ingredients and additives involved in the manufacturing of processed foods –– the GMOs, the pesticides etc. –– are a good enough reason to scratch them from your grocery list altogether. Naturally, you’d love an equally large basket of organic produce instead, but the price tag is pretty jaw-dropping . Organic produce is kind of like the rolls royce of grocery buys – best in quality, but highest in cost. So, while your financially established aunt can easily afford Whole Foods‘ $70 all-natural manuka honey, you’ll be sticking to Trader Joe’s good ol’ private-labeled nectar or trying out aquaponics — the perfect solution to organic yet low cost food. (And, honestly, your aunt might ask you all about it, too.)
What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a gardening method which combines raising fish (aquaculture) and cultivating soil-less crops (hydroponics) in a shared water tank. Aquaponics is an extremely attractive growing method thanks to its self-sustaining ecosystem – the fish fertilize the plants and the plants clean the water. Pretty cool right? This means no weeding, no mulching, no fertilizing, and no soil building – a labor-minimizing dream! Compared to traditional gardening methods, small-scale aquaponics is the easiest way to grow healthy foods at home. Not to mention, it’s super fun too!
What are the benefits of aquaponics?
It’s organic and sustainable.
Aquaponics sustainably produces organic products for a healthy diet. That’s right! The plants you grow require little to no pesticides thanks to their prime location: the kitchen (which is a major upgrade from rodent infested farmland). Moreover, crops never require synthesized fertilizer as fish waste already does the job! Needless to say, aquaponics demands significantly less chemical usage than any other farming technique — which means healthier food and fewer expenses! Not only that, but aquaponics is the most sustainable form of growing all year round. The veggies you grow won’t suffer from winter’s cold, or summer’s heat – they’ll sprout year after year after year, making aquaponics the ideal solution to organic and sustainable food production.
It acts as a source of low-cost, high-quality food.
Both plants and fish thrive in their common environment, producing high-quality meats and veggies at a lower price point than commercially-sold proteins and greens. Your local farmer’s market will charge you hundreds of dollars monthly, but aquaponics will only demand one initial investment (i.e. the purchase of the system and itws ecosystem), and infrequent maintenance costs (i.e. fish food, cleaning supplies, and gardening supplies). From a financial perspective, aquaponics will benefit you in the long run, and keep your diet clean!
It gives you a new hobby to get behind.
Maintaining your aquaponic system takes time and effort, there’s no denying it. You’ll be spending an hour a day (minimum) checking on your fish, feeding them, cleaning the tank, and picking ripe veggies. But instead of perceiving these tasks as daily chores, embrace them as a hobby! Start crafting your own DIY cleaning gadgets, or join your local gardening club. Whatever it may be, make your aquaponic experience one that feels fun and engaging, and not just like another daily task to tackle.
What can I grow in my aquaponic system?
The plants that can be grown in an aquaponics system include:
- Leafy lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower
- Herbs of any kind (i.e. Mint, Basil, Chives etc.)
- Juicy veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers, or peas and beans.
The fish varieties that can be cultivated include:
- Tilapia – an affordable, vegetarian, and tasty fish.
- Opt for the colorful koi fish (for deco only!)
- If you own a big fish tank, salmon and catfish are perfect for flavor-packed proteins.
This list represents one subset of plants and fish you can cultivate in your aquaponics system. But the options are endless! If you’re curious about this process, give it a go! Hop on the organic train, with the cheapest but most valuable ticket: aquaponics!