Disadvantages of aquaponics
is such an elegant, created ecosystem, why am I down on it?
Simple --- electricity use.
First, there's the pump (or
pumps) used to push water out of the fish tank and into the grow
beds. Next comes the energy used to heat the water --- to ensure
the bacteria and worms stay active enough to convert fish waste into
nitrates, most people keep their aquaponics systems running at or above
room temperature summer and winter. And then there are the grow
lights since many people run aquaponics systems inside to get more
control over the environment. To be honest, once you pour all
that electricity into the system, I'm not so sure aquaponics is any
better for the earth than mainstream agriculture.
Next, there's the fish
food to consider. Although aquaponics looks like a closed loop,
it really isn't --- nearly everyone just buys large quantities of
commercial fish food to nourish their tilapia or goldfish.
Granted, fish are more efficient at converting feed to meat than other
forms of livestock, but you're still basically running a fish CAFO (and
contributing to overfishing since most fish feed contains wild-caught
Aquaponics arose in
Australia, and there it makes much more sense. Throughout most of
their continent, Australians experience moderate-enough winter
temperatures that they don't need to bring their aquaponics systems
indoors. And rain is scarce enough that minimizing water use may
trump minimizing electricity consumption. Aquaponics also has
potential in other subtropical and tropical climates, especially in
cities where good soil is scarce.
The other place where
aquaponics shines is if you consider it a way of growing high-density
fish with the plants just being a side note. Wild-caught fish and
factory-farmed fish both have environmental problems attached, so it
makes sense to try to come up with a more sustainable solution.
That assumes, of course, that you actually eat the fish in your
aquaponics setup, unlike the author of Aquaponic
Gardening who came
to regard her tilapia as pets.
to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the
RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.