aquaponic
Tilapia are a commonly-used fish species in aquaponic systems.
October 21, 2012 Aquaponics No Comments
If you’re learning about aquaponics for the first time, chances are you’ve come across a few terms that are new to you. Not to worry! You can consult this post each time you encounter those aquaponics terms that have you scratching your head.
  • Acidification:The process of making something more acidic. In the case of aquaponics systems, this can occur following nitrification, and occasionally non-sodium, basic compounds such as potassium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide must be added to neutralize pH.
  • Aerobic: The process of converting ammonia into nitrates is called nitrification. This is called an aerobic process because it requires oxygen. In an aquaponics system, nitrification makes waste matter from fish usable to plants and helps reduce water toxicity for the fish.
  • Alternative energy: Energy derived from sources that do not use up natural resources or harm the environment. For instance, solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy are all examples of alternative sources of energy that might be used to fulfill the energy requirements of an aquaponics system.
  • Aquaculture: Aquaculture is the process of raising fish or other aquatic animals in tanks, usually for the purpose of harvesting them as a source of food.
  • Aquaponics: Aquaponics is the symbiotic cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a recirculating environment.
  • Ammonia: Ammonia is a chemical compound that is continuously excreted by fish as a product of their metabolism. If fish are kept in a contained area, such as a tank or an aquarium, the increasing concentration of ammonia becomes toxic for the fish.
  • Bacteria: Nitrification bacteria are a vital part of an aquaponics system. They convert the ammonia excreted by the fish into nitrates that can be used by plants as a source of nutrients.
  • Biofilter: The biofilter is the place where nitrification takes place. Nitrification bacteria are used to convert ammonia into nitrates.
  • By-product: A by-product is usually a compound that is released as the result of a chemical process. For instance, as fish metabolize their food they produce ammonia. Ammonia is a by-product of fish metabolism.
  • Closed-loop aquaponics: See recirculating aquaponics.
  • Deep-water raft aquaponics: In this type of aquaponics, Styrofoam beds float atop the aquaculture tank. The tank must be fairly deep in order to accommodate the varying needs of both the plants and the fish. Water doesn’t have to circulate from the hydroponic bed to the aquaculture tank.
  • Ebb and flow aquaponics: See reciprocating aquaponics.
  • Effluents: An effluent is a waste product.
  • Evaporation: The process of liquid becoming a vapour. In an aquaponics system, water loss, although minimal, occurs mainly due to evaporation.
  • Environmental footprint: The environmental (or ecological) footprint is a measure of our demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. It is a measure of the demand for natural capital compared to the planet’s capacity for regeneration. For instance, aquaponics has a lower environmental footprint compared to traditional farming because it requires fewer resources while increasing crop yields.
  • Fertilizer: In traditional farming, fertilizer is used to provide plants with nutrients that might be missing from the soil. Aquaponics eliminates the need for fertilizer as nutrients are provided by the fish.
  • Flood and drain aquaponics: See reciprocating aquaponics.
  • Fry: See spawn.
  • Genetically modified organisms: Plants or animals produced by the process of directly transferring or modifying genetic material, using recombinant DNA techniques.
  • Grow bed: Plants are grown in a grow bed, with their roots immersed in nutrient rich effluent water. The plants may be grown with their roots in the solution only, or the grow bed can be filled with different inactive mediums, such as expanded clay, gravel, or perlite.
  • Growing media: As listed above, the material that you use to grow your plants in can be expanded clay, rock, perlite, or gravel.
  • Hydroponics: Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil.
  • Hydroponics subsystem: See grow bed.
  • Insecticides: A chemical substance used for killing insects. When insecticide residue remains on plants, it can be potentially harmful for humans to consume. Some insecticides are also harmful to the environment, and can damage ecosystems by removing a species which is a necessary link in the food chain.
  • Karif: Karif refers to Indian monsoon crops, which are grown from June/July until October/November. These include: rice, moong, maize, millet, cotton, and others.
  • Nitrification: Nitrification is the chemical process of converting ammonia into nitrates. Nitrification bacteria help to facilitate this process, which is required in an aquaponics system so that fish waste may be converted into usable nutrients for the plants.
  • Nitrates: Plants need nitrogen to grow. They obtain nitrogen through their roots in the form of nitrates.
  • Nitrites: Ammonia is converted into nitrites by nitrosomonas. Nitrites can be converted into nitrates, which are then used by plants.
  • Nitrosomonas: Nitrosomonas are bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrites, which cannot be absorbed by plants.
  • Nitrobacteria: Nitrobacteria are bacteria that convert nitrites into nitrates, which are absorbed by plants through their roots.
  • Organic: The term “organic” refers to food produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents. Aquaponics is (most of the time) an organic food production method, as the only additive to the system is fish food.
  • Pathogens: A pathogen is a bacteria, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease. In an aquaponic system, pathogens in the aquaculture are greatly reduced.
  • Permaculture: Permaculture is an ideology, the goal of which is to develop sustainable human settlements and self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from nature. Aquaponics is an element of a permaculture.
  • Pesticides: A substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals. Aquaponics systems do not require pesticides.
  • pH: A figure used to express the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The pH level in an aquaponics system must be maintained in order to ensure the water does not become too acidic.
  • Rabi: Rabi refers to Indian winter crops, grown from October/November until March/April. These include: wheat, barley, oat, gram, and oilseeds.
  • Rearing tank: A rearing tank is used to raise and feed fish.
  • Reciprocating aquaponics: In this style of aquaponics, a solid medium such as gravel, sand, or clay is alternatively flooded and drained.
  • Recirculating aquaponics: Solid media is held in a container that is flooded with water from the aquaculture.
  • Runoff: In traditional farming, irrigation or rain water is drained freely off the ground and subsequently wasted. This is avoided in an aquaponics system, which uses recycled water.
  • Spawn: Fish offspring.
  • Stock: A supply of fish raised in the rearing tank.
  • Subsistence farming: A form of farming that provides the basic needs of the farmer without surpluses to be sold.
  • Sump: The lowest point in an aquaponics system where the water flows to and from which it is pumped back to the rearing tanks.
  • Sustainable: Conserving an ecological balance through the conscious avoidance of depleting natural resources.
  • Symbiotic: An interdependent relation between two different species of organisms. Each organism must gain benefits from the other – as in an aquaponics system.
  • Tilapilia: An African freshwater cichlid fish that has been widely introduced to many areas of the world as a source of food. Aquaponics systems frequently use tilapia as the species of fish raised in aquaculture.
  • Transpiration: Transpiration is a process similar to evaporation. It is a part of the water cycle, and it is the loss of water vapor from parts of plants.
  • Toxin: A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms.
  • Vermiculture:Vermiculture is a way of composting using earthworms to speed up the process. Some aquaponics systems use vermiculture to help keep water clean for the fish.
  • Zaid: Zaid refers to Indian short summer crops, grown from March/April until June/July. These include: cucumber and watermelon.

There you have it! You’re an aquaponic-expert now!

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Written by Aquaponics Team