Aquaponics: Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle
Setting up an Aquaponics system in the garden is the best way to construct an optimally functioning nitrogen cycle that not only benefits the garden, but also supplements the pond fish. In basic terms, the practice of Aquaponics involves merging the practices of hydroponics and aquaculture, such that the pond and the garden can be connected together in a manner that allows them to function in a form of symbiotic coexistence. By practicing Aquaponics you will link the fish pond with the garden such that bacteria in the pond will convert the nitrites from the fish into nitrates, which will then be passed onto the plants. The plants, in turn, will use the same for purifying the water in the pond and sending back clean and nutrient-rich water to the fish. The plants too benefit from this process, as it based on the principle of hydroponics, which involves cultivating vegetation without using any soil.
One of the primary concerns fueling the need for an Aquaponics system is the buildup of toxins and other harmful materials and substances that occurs in the water when one uses only a hydroponics system or an aquaculture system. In a hydroponics system, the fertilizer that is used for the plants leaves traces in the water that build up over time and make the water harmful. They have a detrimental effect both on the plants and the surroundings. In an aquaculture system, the fish waste collects and pollutes the water. As the impurities pile up they make the water unclean and unhealthy, and this begins to affect the life-sustaining quality of the water, thus beginning to harm the fish. Since the water from both kinds of systems becomes polluted and one cannot throw it away anywhere for fear of harming other environmental elements, it becomes hard to keep such systems running for the long haul.
As a result, the solution to these problems is found by combining the hydroponics and aquaculture systems such that the two can come together to sustain and supplement one another and cancel out the negative effects of the individual systems. The merged form is known as an Aquaponics system. It is widely hailed as an environmentally friendly and ecologically sound system.
The workings of the Aquaponics system are fairly easy to understand, as they are based on the naturally occurring nitrogen cycle. The emulsions from the fish in the fish tank contain nitrites that are harmful in nature. When this water is passed onto the garden system the nitrites are converted by some naturally occurring bacteria into a more useful form, known as nitrates.
Once the water has been utilized by the plants and the plant bacteria have cleansed the remaining water and converted the nitrites into nitrates, this water is sent back into the fish pond. The water that surges back into the fish pond is cleansed, the nutrients are replenished and it is healthy enough to sustain the fish. Hence, while the plants get watered, the fish in turn receive clean water. Since the two units function together as one, the cycle continues in an unhindered loop.