This is something kinda cool. A friend of mine, Liam (formerly from the nursery), has gone off on his own endeavors, and is starting a sustainable fishery in Santa Cruz County. It’s pretty nifty! His company, CSA Aquaponics, has combined Hydroponics with Aquaculture in one easy setup.
Hydroponics is the term for growing plants in nutrient-rich water instead of in soil. (Very very popular among certain crops, particularly in Northern California, wink wink.) Aquaculture is fish farming. Here we have a little of both in one setup! Thus, Aquaponics.
Here’s how it works, at least in this Mini Ecosystem format: You have two wine barrels (or you could build custom, for that matter). In one you have fish. In the other you have plants (vegetables are the concept, here.) The veggies are mounted with their roots suspended in the water. As the fish are fed, they create a lovely natural fertilizer. A pump sends that up a level to the veggie tank. The veggies are able to utilize the fertilizer produced by the fish, and in turn they filter the water before it’s gravity-fed back down to the critters. This vertical drop also aerates the water for the fish. With enough space, fish could easily be grown for food, as this concept intends. In a larger ecosystem-mimicking format you’d likely be able to build a completely self-sustaining setup. Currently the only ongoing maintenance for this is feeding the fish and keeping the water full as it evaporates…
It’s a fantastic idea, and I wish Liam the best in getting this rolling! They are building a demonstration fishery in Santa Cruz County and I’ll update when there is info about visiting and that sort of thing. Their endeavor is an initiative of the Environmental Cleanup Coalition and Nor Cal Aquaponics. They’re jointly working to educate communities and individuals about growing organically, locally, and sustainably. Good luck on the good work!