UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant are advancing aquaponics to meet the growing demands of seafood in a sustainable way.
With Florida Sea Grant Funds, Kevan Main, director of Mote’s Aquaculture Research Program and her team have developed a prototype marine aquaponics system to expand production of marine fish and sea vegetables in Florida. Aquaponics is a type of fish farming that uses the waste produced by fish to supply nutrients to hydroponic plants, or plants grown without the use of soil.
“Just by introducing the plants, you’re not only producing fish to go to market, you’re also producing plants to go to market,” Main said. “I’m able to use the nutrients from the feed to feed the fish and then the nutrients that come from the fish tank system to feed the plants. You’ve produced two things for the price of one.”
There is growing interest in hobby-scale farming techniques. In response to this need, UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant funded the construction of a demonstration hobby-scale freshwater aquaponics system at the Walton County Extension Office.
The aquaponics demonstration system was constructed in 2017 using materials purchased at local stores, Tractor Supply Company and Lowes, or on Amazon.com.
The system was stocked with catfish and has produced multiple crops of red and romaine lettuce, Swiss chard and Napa cabbage. Lettuce is harvested out of the system every five to six weeks, while Swiss chard and Napa cabbage a take longer to reach harvest size.
- A Practical Guide for Aquaponics as an Alternative Enterprise — UF/IFAS EDIS
- Small-scale Aquaponic Food Production — Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
- Southern Regional Aquaculture Center fact sheets
- Three economic analyses of aquaponics operations of different scales
- Aquaponics Business Plan User Guide — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Everything you need to know about aquaponics — Iowa State University
- Understanding and maintaining Older Classroom Recirculating Aquaculture Systems
- Repairing and Upgrading Older Classroom Recirculating Aquaculture Systems
- Barrelponics — great introductory system
- Aquaponics training in Florida (does not imply endorsement)
- Florida Aquaponic Farm
- Hydroponics training in Florida: Starting a successful hydroponics business
Interested in aquaponics? Let us help you!
Aquaponic seminars or webinars are conducted upon request and provide introductory information on a variety of system designs and stocking options. More than 400 visitors have seen the aquaponics and other hobby-scale gardening demonstration plots at the UF/IFAS Walton County Extension Office over the past year, gaining knowledge and acquiring skills to use in their own gardens. If you are interested in a signing up for the aquaponics email listserv, participating in a tour, having a personal consultation or attending a workshop, please contact UF/IFAS Sea Grant Extension Agent, Laura Tiu, email@example.com.