Aquaponics is the integration of aquaculture and hydroponics. The circulation of water from fish tanks through hydroponics tanks and back provides nutrients for plant growth while improving water quality for fish growth.
The SENS aquaponics facility produces tilapia, catfish, pacu, basil and other herbs. Although the SENS system is housed in a greenhouse, winter water temperatures fall below those acceptable for tilapia. Each fall the tilapia are harvested while most of the catfish are left to overwinter.
November 20th, the 2000-gallon tank housing the tilapia was drained, and the fish netted, weighed, and immediately iced for distribution to local consumers. One hundred ninety pounds of tilapia and 60 pounds of catfish were harvested, along with four pacu.
Twenty-five tilapia will be overwintered in a solar-heated tank for potential use as brood stock. Student research during the winter will focus on maintenance of optimal system pH through base additions, feed conversion ratios, and testing the suitability of additional plants for hydroponic production. Also, an operations manual for the facility is being finalized.