An Introduction to Aquaponics


While the bitter cold may deter some from leaving their homes, members of Spring Creek Senior Partners’ (SCSP) Gardening Club were adamant about attending lessons with Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman. This week’s di-scussion topic was an introduction into Aquaponics and going over proper plant observation.

After several weeks of growing seeds in hydroponic units, Roytman asked the seniors to take notes on the plants. “What are the characteristics of a healthy plant?,” she inquired while handing out notebooks. She explained to the seniors that they should take note of whether the plant is growing, if the leaves are too dry or too moist, the color of the plant (is it brown or green) and if it appears to be drooping or if it is shiny. Many of the seniors noticed that the plants grew better from seeds using the medium Rockwool because it retains more oxygen and there is less of a chance of over watering them.

Roytman decided that they will start all of their seeds with the Rockwool medium, and then once they start to grow durable roots, the seniors will then transplant the vegetation into Hydroton clay balls.

The second half of their lesson focused on the basics of Aquaponics, and the introduction of a small indoor water garden. Aquaponics is the process of growing plants hydroponically with fish in an integrated system. This method becomes a cycle in which the fish produce waste, creating microbes and worms converting it into a fertilizer for the plants. The plant absorbs these nutrients and filters the water back to the fish.
Roytman brought in a small water garden (a fish tank with three rectangular planter pots on top) and a Female Siamese Fighting Fish (also known as a Beta fish) for the seniors to observe and use to grow microgreens. Once the seniors helped Roytman set up the tank, and added Zym-Bac (nitrifying bacteria) over the planter Grow-stones (a similar hydroponic medium like the clay balls), they then planted radish and wheatgrass (which takes about 10 days to grow).

For their next lesson, the seniors will harvest their microgreens, and try to plant herbs within their new water garden.

Photos by Amanda Moses