Around here, aquaponics is the million-dollar word. We throw it around all the time, but forget that many people outside of our little world have no idea what aquaponics is. So, what is it even? And furthermore, how can it contribute to your life?
What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics is an agricultural method where fish and plants are raised in a shared environment, each species contributes to the thriving of the other, and food is produced as a result. In more detail, the fish in the aquaponic environment create waste that is then processed by bacteria and turned into nutrients. These nutrients allow the plants to grow, and the plants filter the water making it clean for the fish. In this way it is a fully self-sustaining ecosystem. Aquaponics is said to have been around since 1000AD and has been used all over the world.
Why does aquaponics matter today?
So, we get that this was a big deal 1000 years ago, but what does this very old technology have to do with us today? Well, it turns out that aquaponics is a very efficient system for growing food. Plants grown aquaponically use up to 95% less water than those grown conventionally. Furthermore, they are grown without soil, avoiding the issue of soil erosion which is frequently blamed as a large factor in climate change. Lastly, growing plants aquaponically largely removes the need for chemical pesticides and fertilizers, making it easier to grow organic food.
So that’s great news for the world, but how can regular people living in cities benefit from aquaponics?
Benefits of owning a home aquaponics system
In the past, aquaponics has always been a larger-scale solution, available solely to those in the business of growing food. But recently, as an interest in home gardening has increased, we have started to see more consumer-oriented aquaponics solutions hit the market. For example, there is Back to the Roots in the US, Aquaponicals in Australia, and Ecobloom (us!) in Sweden.
The main benefit with a home aquaponics system is that you get to grow your own food at home, pesticide-free, in a system that works year-round. This is revolutionary for those of us living in northern climates where food usually only grows May-Octoberish and we are used to the mourning of the balcony basil plant happening each October (October if we’re lucky).
And even if you do live in a place where you can grow plants year round, many of us have gotten out of touch with the way food is grown in nature. We see food at the grocery store and don’t think much about what had to happen to get it there. By owning and growing using an aquaponics system, we are reconnecting and educating ourselves about the plant life cycle. Even better if you have kids and can start teaching them from a young age!
Lastly, by using an aquaponics system, not only are you growing your own food in an environmentally-conscious way (no excess water usage, no soil erosion, no pesticides, no transport across continents), you’re also opting-out of the agricultural methods that are contributing to climate change. Win win!
Aquaponics as stress relief
So for those that don’t need to be world climate-change heros, what else is in it for you to have an aquaponics system in your home? Well, aquaponics products combine a few different elements which have all been found to have positive effects on mood and stress relief. Three of these elements are:
- Pets. Interacting with pets, fish included, has been shown to improve mood and even heart rate. And for the families out there, what kid hasn’t dreamt of a pet fish in his/her life? An added benefit is that aquaponics systems tend to be much lower-maintenance compared to regular aquariums.
- Gardening. Studies have shown that gardening can lead to a decrease of stress chemicals and improved mood. Plus, did we mention that with an aquaponics system you are able to enjoy the fruits of your labor (herbs and vegetables) all year round, and everything is organic?!
- Nature. Aquaponics products like the EcoGarden bring a mini ecosystem into your home, allowing you to reap the stress-relieving benefits that time spent in nature provides. Which isn’t so easy when it’s Sweden in January.
Okay, so we’re starting to see the benefits here… on to the next question!
How does a household aquaponics system work?
Since aquaponics is a complicated word, it might seem like aquaponics products are very difficult to use. But it doesn’t have to be that way! The EcoGarden was designed with the average, busy city person in mind, and therefore we have chosen to automate a large majority of its functions with a smartphone app. Basically, the app walks you through the setup and allows you to choose the schedule that you will feed your fish on. It also keeps track of the water temperature and will alert you if the temperature is too hot or cold. The plants keep the water cleaner than in a regular aquarium, so the only maintenance required is occasional water changes and monthly rinses.
The planting is also very simple as it basically involves removing the dirt from whatever herbs or plant you would like to use. You then set the plant in a growth medium such as clay pellets or gravel and you’re off to the races!
So there you have it, your bite-sized primer on aquaponics. Let’s sum up a little of what we’ve learned…
Aquaponics systems are miniature ecosystems where fish and plants live in symbiosis. Growing food aquaponically is generally much easier on the environment than conventional methods, by conserving soil, water, and reducing the need for pesticides. Home aquaponics systems can contribute to the environment by enabling its user to grow food indoors year-round with minimal resources used, and also providing the stress-relieving benefits of having a pet, gardening, and connecting with nature. With the EcoGarden, we’ve made aquaponics into an easy and low-maintenance activity that anyone can learn and enjoy. We hope you’ll give it a try!
Sounds great! How do I learn more?
If you’d like to learn more about aquaponics in general, here are some good resources:
Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave thoughts and comments here or on our social media pages!