First, what is aquaponics?
If you aren’t sure what aquaponics is, visit this post. Simply put, it uses fish, water and NO soil to grow all of your fruits, vegetables and herbs. Is this a new technique or just a fad? Neither! In fact,the History of Aquaponics goes back over 1,500 years.
Aquaponics has ancient roots, although there is some debate on its first use in history. Most believe that the notion of using fish waste to fertilize plants has its roots in early Asian and South American civilizations.
In early Asia, cultivated rice in fields in combination with fish are examples of early aquaponics. These farming systems employed a system of integrated aquaculture in which finfish, catfish, ducks and plants co-existed.
The ducks were housed in cages over the finfish ponds, then the finfish processed the uneaten food and waste from the ducks. In a lower pond, the catfish live on the wastes that have flowed from the finfish pond. The water from the catfish ponds was used to irrigate rice and vegetable crops.
The Inca’s of Peru also practiced a form of aquaponics. They dug oval ponds near their mountain dwellings, leaving an island in the center. After the ponds filled, they added fish. Migratory geese flew in and ate from the water while roosting on the island. Fish were readily at hand, natural fertilizer was left behind by the geese and their system supplied food to more people in the Peruvian highlands than any other method of farming.
It is believed that the early Aztec cultivated agricultural islands known as chinampa for agricultural use. In this system, plants were raised on stationary islands in lake shallows and waste materials dredged from the chinampa canals and surrounding cities were used to manually irrigate the plants.
In recent years, aquaponics has gained in popularity due to ecological benefits and easy methods for establishing a system. The purpose is to preserve water and to reduce pollution in waterways that receive chemicals and fertilizers from traditional methods. Current methods help reduce water pollution by recycling water and wastes, and making recycled water available for other uses.