Fish and Aquaponics
We often meet people wondering if the fish in Aquaponics suffer and whether this fish farming method, associated with growing vegetables, is annoying for fish. In this article I will try to describe my experience with fish breeding. You can built your opinion based on this information yourself.
First, let me explain how the aquaponic system works.
The system consists of several parts. The first part are fish tanks that are adapted for particular species of fish. The size of the tank is determined the number and size of the fish. If the tanks were too small, the fish would not grow. If there were too many fish in the tank, they would also not grow up and they would start to die. When the carp is bred in the tank, for example, the bottom of the tank is adjusted to a so-called cone shape. This will ensure that the feed which the fish do not catch from the surface does not stay left at the bottom of the tank. When the feed falls to the bottom, it will quickly reach the drain tube and then the filter. In contrast, sturgeons take bottom feed. They live in flat bottom tanks. Otherwise the feed would get to the filter before the fish could consume it.
The second part consists of a filter, nitrification and mineralization, where impurities and harmful feaces of fish metabolism are captured. These are then transformed into plant nutrients. This produces a fertilizer that is not mixed from chemicals. However, several basic components occur naturally in the same way as in nature. The plants growing on this fertilizer have measurably higher levels of nutrients, vitamins, are more vital and resistant to pests and diseases and there are no agrochemicals at all.
The third and final part is the vegetable section itself, where plants take nutrients obtained thanks to the fish from the water. Most of these are some kind of hydroponic system, where artificial fertilizers are not used. Water flows around the roots of plants, and they take from it all the necessary substances, minerals and trace elements that are not found in conventional artificial fertilizers. This "cleaned" water then returns to the beginning and flows back to fish tanks.
So the system works by feeding fish in the first part, producing plant nutrients in the second part of the fishpot, and in the third part these nutrients are consumed by the plants and the pure fresh water returns to the fish. Therefore the fish in Aquaponics have very good quality water, which they would not know in the pond, for example.
One of the other parameters is the oxygen supply. Aquaponic water is constantly intensively oxygenated and this ensures that fish are generally in a very good condition. The fish are more active in the water with more oxygen, they have more movement and thus keep in good health.
Another and very important for the fish is the fact that they have clean and good water with sufficient circulation. In Aquaponics , unlike in nature, you will not find chemicals, sprays, fertilizers. Due to the plants and nitrification, you will neither find ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, which are occurring in nature much more and are highly toxic to fish.
That's why fish from Aquaponics are much tastier and have a greater proportion of muscle. With aquaponic fish you do not even find the classic pond smell. On the contrary, when growing crops with a distinctive aromatic root system, the scent of fish can be affected. The suggestion that the fish meat smells of fish will not work here because the meat will smell like citrus or herbs.
Why is it convenient to keep fish in Aquaponics when we are a pond super power? There are really a lot of benefits. Since we have been engaged in fish breeding for 20 years, we see the problems in the Czech Republic. Pond fish companies already have full capacity and can not sufficiently supply the European market. As ponders say, they would need 100% more ponds to meet the demand. Fish in nature are declining and the consumption is still growing.
The weather will be against the fishermen in the long run. Due to the warmth that prevails in Europe in the summer months, they will not be able to feed so much and they will have even fewer fish than now. Remember the last summer's report on the deaths of fish due to heat.
Aquaponics, on the other hand, does not depend on the season. Thanks to the closed recirculating system and the ideal living conditions, we can produce truly enormous quantities of quality fish in Aqauponics.
Another problem is the population of people on our beautiful planet. Scientists warn that the Earth will not be able to feed us in a long term, and in the future there will be famines with huge migration of people from Africa and the Middle East.
Thanks to Aquaponics, such a scenario would not have to happen at all. Africa has the perfect conditions for using Aquaponics. It has warmth and it has big rivers. Using water, for example, from the Nile, it would be possible to make such large aquaponic systems as to feed the whole world, even if the population were multiplied on the planet. When the right time comes, Africa will be self-sufficient, and thanks to Aquaponics, fish can also be returned to free waters, where they are almost extinct by conventional fishing. The populations of wild fish species are devastated by fishing to such an extent that even if conventional fishing was completely stopped, they would not recover. If fish to eat were only bred in aquaponic systems, nothing would have to be hunted and the environment would get a chance from us, the people. Likewise, there would be the end of conventional chemical agriculture, which, in its present form, devastates land, soil, and poisons water by fertilizers, pesticides, and the like. This will happen sooner or later, because both fisheries and agriculture are currently being exploited unsustainably. Our children will have to solve the problems we are making now.
Another big problem that can be solved by Aquaponics is a huge increase in fish diseases that begins to affect the whole world. People have long sought to expand their fish farms and increased fish stocks to such an extent that diseases and bacteria start spreadng in fish farms. Not only does this result in huge fish deaths, but it also transfers to breeds that can not deal with diseases at all. Nowadays when you order fish eggs and they arrive in two days from the other side of the planet, the spread of diseases is really enormous. In Aquaponics, the fish are born and live. They do not move anywhere and strict environmental hygiene is maintained. With our fish, we are certain that they will be healthy and will not be prone to illness. Putting fish in your own aqua system, for example, from a pond, is like inoculating a contagious disease into your own body.
As the alfa and omega of a functioning aquaponic farm are satisfied fish, their living conditions are the number one priority. The quality of life can also be assessed by observing 3 parameters. Food intake, wllingness to breed and stress levels. In aquaponic systems, fish are not stressed, they are very eager to feed and are constantly trying to reproduce. The stocking density of the tanks is exactly covenient for the fish, and the size of the tanks exactly responds the needs of the fish. In water tanks, the water usually rotates, simulating the "current" and allowing the fish to swim constantly. The Aquaponics is a 5-star hotel which provdes the fish with a happy life and secure reproduction. For example, in Serbia, thea strictly protected sturgeon is bred in aquaponic systems, then released back into the Danube so that it does not disappear completely. And there will be more similar projects.
Author: Bohuslav Škoda
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