This is an aquaponics experiment that an Eckerd College student has set up in a dorm room. This system is a small scale version of what students and Bon Appetite Food Services hope to implement in the campus garden. Aquaponics is an idea of sustainably raising both food and plants in a closed system. The idea combines aquaculture with hydroponically growing food.
Fish produce large amounts of nitrogen as a by product of their waste. Nitrogen is the key fertilizer that certain green leafy plants such as spinach utilize. Water rich in nitrogen is pumped out of the fish tank and is then used to hydroponically grow food. One of the biggest advantages of this closed system agriculture comes from the health benefits found in the fish. Fish grown in a closed system are guaranteed not to bioaccumulate pollutants such as mercury. In addition, aquaponics is a form of recycling. Waste produced by the fish is utilized by the plants, and the plants clean the water so that the fish can survive.
Aquaponics systems are cheap and as easy as a fish tank to maintain. The fish, (a species of tilapia), building materials, and duck weed (used for fish food) were all obtained from Eckerd campus. Tilapia are a good species of fish to raise in Florida, due to their ability to live in high temperatures.
*This system has only been running for a week, and spinach takes 8-10 days to germinate. Check back next week to see what has sprouted!