Updated: Feb 17
About the Author:
Hi, I'm Anne Thynne. Not the famous marine biologist but I love the fact that we both share a common interest. I have been keeping fish in aquariums since my childhood. Back in 2007, I was introduced with the amazing world of aquascaping and reef keeping. It still fascinates me.
Having a pond in your backyard is cool, but you know what is cooler? Making something out of it! What if I told you that you can grow food in that beautiful pond of yours?
Through the smart application of aquaponics, you can use your pond's natural environment to grow vegetables without any external application of water or fertilizers. Additionally, the fish in an aquaponic pond ensure a stable nutrient supply cycle.
This way, your beautiful pond, which you invested a fair amount of time and money into, can provide something in return, not only economically but also for the welfare of the environment.
What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a sustainable farming activity that enables one to grow fishes and plants together in one system. The fundamental principle here is, the fish and the plants will live symbiotically with the help of beneficial bacteria if needed. Fish feces become fertilizer for plants, and plants keep the water clean for the fish.
Growing provisions on a body of water is not an innovation per se, but a tactic that has been employed far back even in the Aztec era. They used to have peninsulas where they grew beans, corn, tomatoes, etc. A modern example would be Iraq, where the Arabs grow food on rafts.
The Benefits of Aquaponics
Aquaponics allows an ecosystem to be ruled by the aquatic environment. An environment like that has no lacking of moisture and nutrients. Ultimately, the cooperative relationship of the fish and plants is an ideal one where both cover each other’s needs.
Below we will discuss more what you can benefit from an aquaponic pond:
Get Healthier fish
Compared to a fish in outer waters, homegrown fish in a backyard pond will be healthier. Because it gets food on time and you control what the fish consumes.
Similar could be said for the plants there. As they don’t need to depend on their root system for water extensively, they can save that energy, enabling healthier growth and a better harvest.
Richer nutrients for plants
Since the plants are surrounded by water, there is a rich supply of oxygen and nutrients 24/7 that helps them grow 3 times faster than in soil.
Imagine being surrounded by pizza all around you, that’s how it feels for plants in an aquaponic pond.
Fish feces get decomposed and broken down into nitrogen by bacteria. First, the decompression makes ammonia, a highly toxic substance for fish.
The bacteria will again break down that ammonia into nitrite, and finally, that nitrite will be turned into the less toxic nitrate, which remains in the water until plants use it.
This whole process is called the nitrogen cycle, a natural balance of nitrogen in a planted water body.
Low chemical use
Chemicals used in pesticides could be toxic to fish. But in an aquaponic setup, there’s no need for a pesticide in the beginning as the fish take care of any bugs that could harm the plants.
So, they act like a natural pesticide saving you from the extra trouble of finding and applying chemicals.
An aquaponic pond is no lesser than a replenishable source of food. You have an opportunity of growing food throughout the year if you decide to go through this route.
Just think about it, you get to save a lot of your time and money because you don’t have to go to the market to buy a thing you can have in your backyard; how empowering that would feel.
By incorporating an aquaponic pond, you get to save almost 90% of the water from growing plants compared to conventional gardening. The reason behind this is simple, reuse of water.
The only way water is lost in an aquaponic pond is through evaporation due to warm weather or the transpiration process of plants, even that is a meagre amount.
Smart gardening all year
The difference between an aquaponic system and other normal farming means is that you can grow food throughout the year. There is a matter of regulating temperature, but that can be managed easily with a greenhouse or other various means.
Like conventional farming, you also don’t have to get back pain from pulling all that weed or enforcing other horticultural practices. There are not too many weeds that grow inside submerged soil.
So, you get to farm for half the hassle, isn’t that smart?
Algae is a pain in the neck for pond owners. Thankfully, aquatic plants also take care of this. Algae require a high level of nitrate to bloom. In common ponds, people use decorative plants to absorb nitrate, so there is not much left for algae to consume and grow.
But on an aquaponic pond, you could use a vegetable plant to get rid of that pesky nitrate as well as get to grow some lovely veggies. That’s an excellent improvisation in my eyes.
The soil absorbs the uneaten fish food, decomposed material, and fish feces inside a pond. These work as a fertilizer that improves the health of the earth. Alongside that, most pond owners practice mulching, which is beneficial for soil health as well.
Additionally, aquaponics ponds use bacteria to end up breaking down several compounds into nitrate. Some nitrate gets seeped into the soil, and that acidic nitrate and the basic soil come to form a stable pH balance, which is healthy for all.
Since nutrients don’t need to be added externally and submerged plants take care of the oxygen supply.
A source of income
For those who want some extra cash on the sides, aquaponic pond systems provide a great option of income by selling the fish and vegetables growing in your pond.
Setting an aquaponic pond is very easy and doesn’t demand much investment. A low capital gets you a refilling supply of provisions that you can sell for money.
As the aquaponic system is built around the theory that the important nutrients will be generated naturally, fertilizers aren’t needed. The only main thing you need to add is fish food. They are non-toxic.
So, keeping all of these natural components achieve a crucial goal, it reduces pollution. How? Since most of the components are reused repeatedly like a natural cycle, the number of leftovers is trivial.
And that trivial amount of waste isn’t enough to pollute your pond. So, your pond and the surroundings are safe. Just like a responsible citizen, you took care of the environment.
I’m more than confident after reading the benefits of aquaponics in a backyard pond. You also get the reason why they are so popular. For a little investment, you can get so much stuff in return. Also, it’s outrageous to even think about it, and most importantly, you keep the environment clean while doing so.
I hope you are inspired to start up an aquaponic after reading this article; that’d be awesome to see.