Justin is a sophomore student in NRES who applied for SSC funding last year to set up an aquaponics system. He and his partners ordered the aquaponics kit and set up the system in the south quad greenhouses behind ACES library. He invited me to take a tour to learn more about aquaponics.

As he opened the greenhouse’s door for me, a warm breeze gushes out. The room is set to a temperature as a warm spring day to keep the plants and fish in a controlled setting. The aquaponics system was put in a few weeks ago, and the water is still being filtered to get a livable PH level for tilapia. Justin explained to me that the main input to an aquaponics system is fish food. The fish eat the food and excrete waste. The waste contains ammonia that is harmful to fish. In aquaponics, water from the fish tank is fed to a plant grow bed where ammonia is broken down into nitrate. The nitrate is absorbed by the plants to help them grow and further clean the water. The clean water is returned to the fish tank with the oxygen the fish need. This is a natural and sustainable process that mimics the ecosystem and provides a chemical free fish product.

When the water’s PH level is right, the tilapia can come as soon as next Friday! And Justin plans to give more tours of the aquaponics system. I enjoyed learning about this alternative sustainable way of fish farming, and I was able to compare and contrast this to our modern fish farm practices. I saw how simple the process is and it is very possible for me to set up a DIY aquaponics system at home that is chemical free and ultimately free fish in the long run. I encourage everyone to go check out the aquaponics system when Justin gives tours. Please keep an eye on the SSC blog or Facebook page for the aquaponics tour schedule.