The Science Behind the Work
Sustainable, Innovative, Local
Aquaponics is the symbiotic growth of both fish and plants in a recirculating system. Fish are fed a high protein, minerally rich feed and the animal waste is primarily excreted through the gills in the form of ammonia and other useable micronutrients. The ammonia-rich waste is converted by naturally occurring, beneficial bacteria in a two-step process into useable plant metabolites.
Nitrosomonas spp. convert ammonia into nitrite.
Nitrobacter spp. and Nitrospira spp. convert nitrate into nitrate. Nitrate is a useable form of nitrogen that can be taken up by plant roots.
The farm will use large above-ground fish tanks to culture tilapia and channel catfish in highly oxygenated water. The high-protein feed allows fish to grow quickly, much like an athlete in training. Protein is also made of about 16% nitrogen, which is the major part of the ammonia waste released by fish. The nutrient and oxygen-rich water from the fish tank flows into a biological filter that houses the bacteria.
After the magic happens in the biofilter, the water flows into the plant grow beds. Plants are grown year-round under LED lighting and outside in greenhouses during warmer months allowing produce to be more readily available. Ultimately, the plants use the nutrients and the purified water flows back to the fish tank.