What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is the intersection of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water without soil). Fish eat fish food, their waste provides an organic food source for the plants, and plants filter the water.
Nitrites and Nitrates
The invisible component of this ecosystem are microbes, or nitrifying bacteria. These bacteria convert ammonia from the fish waste first into nitrites, and then into nitrates that provide the nitrogen needed by plants. By combining aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponics eliminates the drawbacks, and takes advantage of the benefits, of each system.
Aquaponics at the Science Mill
Our 1,000-square-foot Aquaponics Greenhouse opened in 2019. In this unique experience, found only at the Science Mill, visitors get an up-close look at tilapia, prawns, koi and snapping turtles that provide the food to grow fruit, vegetables and tropical plants in vertical growing tubes, floating rafts and a giant living wall. All of these elements combine to showcase the technology, beauty, practicality and science for sustainable agriculture and healthy eating.
Play a round of Greenhouse Bingo, too! Can you find everything for a total blackout? (Hint: Our friendly Explainers can help if you get stuck!)
The Science Mill’s mission is to use cutting-edge technology to expand understanding and appreciation of science in everyday living. Inspired visitors can create their own aquaponics system at home with the simple, affordable how-to information on our blog.
Funding for the Aquaponics Conservatory is generously provided by the Elizabeth & Floyd McGown Charitable Fund.
Support for educational programming generously provided by HEB Tournament of Champions