Just what is aquaponics, anyway?

Aquaponics is a system for farming fish and plants together in a symbiotic, regenerative cycle.

In its simplest form it works like this:

  • Fish produce wastes that include ammonia. Bacteria convert the ammonia into nitrates, and then into nitrites. These nutrients make great fertilizer for plants.
  • As the plants absorb the nutrients, they purify the water. This is great for the fish!


Aquaponics process

Aquaponic systems aren’t new. In fact, many cultures have used this beneficial cycle to grow crops and nurture fish as a food source. For example, the Nahua peoples (often called Aztecs) developed a system of building floating islands for food plants, called chinampas. Fish propagated around the islands, leaving their waste on the lake bottom, where it could be collected to fertilize the plants.


Modern aquaponics is slightly more high-tech—even using robotically driven systems to manage planting and conditions—but it’s still an efficient and environmentally friendly way to produce food.


Excited about the science of aquaponics? Want to know more about how to grow clean, organic, healthy food? Come take a tour and share ideas as part of the East Texas Aquaponics Meetup.