WILBERFORCE, Ohio — In just six to nine months, 200 tilapia fingerlings that recently arrived at the Central State University Extension (CSUE) demonstration green house will grow into more than 200 pounds of fresh, locally produced protein utilizing an aquaponics system.
“Aquaponics is a closed loop system that combines conventional aquaculture (the raising of aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a mutually symbiotic environment,” said CSUE Program Leader for Agricultural and Natural Resources Dr. Cindy Folck.
“The aquaponics system utilizes the waste of one element for the benefit of another other,” Folck added. “In this case, the waste produced by the fish benefits the growing plants. Aquaponics helps to grow plants faster and more efficiently than more traditional methods, with the added bonus of breeding fish for consumption.”
Three tanks, housed within the 30-by-90-foot green house, will be used for the demonstration project, said CSUE Vegetable and Small Fruit Technician Marc Amante. The tilapia will be raised within a 1,000-gallon tank with lettuce, basil and other small greens grown in two 700-gallon tanks.
A Dutch Bucket aquaponics system will produce tomatoes, peppers and other small vegetables, according to Amante. The Dutch Bucket aquaponics system utilizes buckets connected to your fish tank via a central line. The water is pumped through this, into each bucket, and then allowed to drain back into the fish tank to be cycled through again.
“Central State has two aquaponics systems, one for research and one for community engagement and workshops,” said Dr. Krishna Kumar Nedunuri, CSUE researcher for aquaponics, professor of Environmental Engineering, and director of the International Center for Water Resources Management.
The Dutch Bucket aquaponics project is made possible through funding from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Capacity Building Grant. The project is a collaboration between CSU research and CSU extension, as well as OSU extension at Piketon.
— Central State University Extension
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