Using Live Fish To Grow Weed: Introducing Aquaponics

Aquaponics refers to a system that combines hydroponics and fish farming — and creating a self-sustaining environment in which resources are efficiently managed.

The process uses waste produced by fish that's broken down by nitrifying bacteria into nitrates that supply the nutrients for hydroponically grown plants, which purify the water and return it to the aquaculture system — helping to reduce toxicity in water and prevent diseases.

The Origins Of Aquaponics

The first use of Aquaponics systems can be traced back to the Aztec empire. Evidence of this kind of agriculture can also be found in southern Asia.

According to the Aquaponic Source, modern aquaponics was developed by Dr. James Rakocy at the University of the Virgin Islands in the 1970s, where he researched using plants as a natural filter.

"The idea of using plants to treat water and remove nutrients had been around for a while," Rakocy said in a previous interview." I first learned of the concept from Leonard Pampel, who used plants to treat wastewater in the aviary building at the Milwaukee County Zoo."

The first industrial aquaponics facility was established in the mid-1980s and continues to run today in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Using Aquaponics For Cannabis

An aquaponic system for growing cannabis might seem a bit tricky, but it has the right properties for developing a big and tasty yield.

In order for an aquaponic system to work properly in a perfectly balanced symbiotic relationship between fish and plants, nitrifying bacteria must be present, and that takes time.

According to Royal Queen Seed, that's why cannabis growers tend to use a two-root system where the plant grows on a pot and the tai of the roots lay on the aquaponic system. In this way, growers can fertilize plants without affecting the fish, as the system becomes more and more self-sustainable and nutrients become less necessary.

An aquaponic system can be created indoors or outdoors. The main goal is to achieve an almost fully automated system where minimum maintenance is needed.

In terms of lighting, an aquaponics system is often complemented with full-spectrum LED lights, providing an energy-efficient lighting source with almost no complications.

The Benefits Of Aquaponics

An aquaponics system provides several benefits in terms of profit and maintenance.

Aquaponics helps farmers by creating two sources of profit. Once it's fully functioning, the water and nutrient demands are low.

As almost no soil is needed and water is naturally filtered by an organic root filter, this system can be employed in locations with poor soil or contaminated water, and the appearance of pests, weeds or diseases is rare.

Organic farmers can take advantage of this type of cultivation, as this symbiotic system requires no chemical fertilizer.

No other agricultural process can provide as much yield with as few resources.

The Drawbacks Of Aquaponics

This process requires a lot of knowledge about both hydroponic cultivation and fish farming, making it a poor choice for beginners. Cultivation will require a second system if you expect to take cuttings and employ crop rotation. One system will need to be tuned to the vegetative growth stage's lighting and nutrient requirements, while the other must be acclimated specifically to the flowering cycle.

Another con of aquaponic cultivation: the rising vegan community is closely associated with the cannabis community, and using this type of symbiotic system where animals are required in the farming process could create a product that some choose not to consume.

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