Amazing Possibilities to Grow Healthy Food Anywhere
One of the great strengths of aquaponics is versatility. A system can be set up outdoors or indoors, and either agriculture, aquaculture, or decorative purposes – or any combination of the three. Aquaponics is at its best and most versatile when set up indoors, growing healthy food anywhere. Systems can easily find comfortable and productive spaces within homes, offices, schools, restaurants, and warehouses. Each of these environments can host different types of systems that have advantages and benefits unique to their location. This is our Ultimate Guide to Indoor Aquaponics – and you’re going to find out why indoors aquaponics is ideal, the benefits of an indoor system as opposed to an outdoor system, and the amazing diversity of places you can set one up.
Indoors: An Ideal Environment
With an indoor aquaponics system, you’re able to maintain a high degree of control over diverse environmental factors that impact the plants, fish, and microbes in your system. These include lighting, water, large pests, and growing season.
- Indoor systems are not at the mercy of the sun and clouds. With high-efficiency LED lighting units and timers, you can make the day as long or as short as you like – and set up an array so all the plants receive perfect lighting.
- An indoor unit gives you control over the water quality circulating to your plants and fish. No time is spent adjusting pH due to rain. Since you are not subject to excessive evaporation or rain-induced overflows, it’s easier to keep stable water levels in the system.
- Growing indoors limits access to large pests like birds or animals that may feed on your system. Unfortunately, insects, mites, fungi, and similar small pests will be found in any growing environment. Careful daily attention to your crop will limit the impact of these tiny yet hungry pests.
- With a controlled indoor environment, you can easily grow all year without being subject to seasonal temperature variations, the changing position of the sun, and random extreme weather events.
With increased control over the environment comes increased security – the security of knowing that barring a major catastrophe, your indoor aquaponics system will continue to provide food and beauty for you, day in and day out.
Indoor Aquaponics Benefits
There are a number of great benefits from placing an aquaponics system indoors:
- Scalability is key indoors. No matter the size of the space or the purpose of the system, a custom installation can be created or purchased to exactly fit the specifications required.
- Indoor aquaponics and interior design go hand-in-hand. An eye-catching display that fits seamlessly into your home or building’s interior design creates added value, educational opportunity, and conversation.
- Saving money in grocery costs, gardening and maintenance time required, and versus the long-term costs of traditional soil gardening is always appealing. You might even be able to sell produce, fish, or flowers and make a profit.
- Fresh herbs can be expensive and can lose their flavor quickly in your fridge or on your counter. What better solution than having a small extension of your aquaponics system specifically designed for herbs right on your kitchen counter?
- Indoor aquaponics systems will naturally purify your air through plant respiration, lowering your ambient CO2 and increasing oxygen in your home. This has many proven benefits for health!
- Plus, you get all the standard benefits of aquaponics: healthy, organic food; larger, healthier crops; sustainability; efficiency; and less land usage than traditional farming.
Now that we know many good reasons to have an indoor aquaponics system, let’s look at where you can set one up.
The variety of home interior aquaponics systems are only limited by your available space. There are micro-systems as small as a mason jar with one fish and one plant, which are fun for kids and an educational goldfish bowl replacement. Be advised that these tiny systems do not have a long shelf life for either their plants or fish, but it is an example of just how small a system can be. The next size up is tabletop or aquarium systems. These are standard aquariums with a growing tray on top for plants, ideal for herb gardens and small, colorful fish like bettas.
If you have a larger home or spacious garage, you can take advantage of a custom designed system with a visually stunning display. Much better than the standard fish tank, an integrated home setup like Aquaponics Design Co.’s Vertical Tower System provides food security for the whole family in a lovely package designed to complement the home’s interior. Year-round access to fresh, organic, and cost-effective produce and protein keeps families healthy and happy.
Aquaponics are going to work. Many companies are showing their commitment to environmental awareness by installing a custom aquaponics system. Benefits for employees include better employee health and productivity, education, a conversation starter that replaces the proverbial ‘water cooler’, and in many cases the fresh produce or herbs are used in company or building cafes.
Recent studies have shown that “green space” offices, with good ventilation and plenty of plants, have healthier and more productive workers. This is largely due to the increased oxygen and decreased CO² provided by the natural filtration of plants. Businesses are also converting outdated fountains and koi ponds or pools into aquaponics systems, adding all the benefits of aquaponics to the company and getting rid of wasteful water usage in the bargain.
In downtown Los Angeles, Aquaponics Design Co. is installing a beautiful custom system in the high-rise offices of The Confluence Group that will serve as a model for Southern California. The stylish and sustainable design features a unique waterfall element, ornamental fish, and 6 growing beds that will provide the ingredients for healthy green drinks. This is but one of many systems worldwide bringing organic farming to the urban office space.
When farm to table organic food is grown, prepared, and served in the same establishment, you have really created an environmentally sustainable restaurant. Restaurant aquaponics systems are allowing restaurateurs to control their food supply on-site at reduced costs. Healthier fish and produce at lower prices benefits both owners and patrons, and makes for a “must see” dining experience that creates buzz in the community.
In San Francisco, The Perennial restaurant hosts an aquaponics system producing sturgeon, catfish, clams, and greens in the main dining room. It is probably the most environmentally friendly restaurant in America, and a living vision of a more sustainable food service future. They have also devised a closed-loop system where restaurant food waste is fed to worms, which are then fed to the fish. Overall, restaurant aquaponics systems will likely lead to a reduction in food waste from spoilage, because proteins and plants grown in the system will be freshly available and have a much longer shelf life than purchased produce.
Aquaponics in Schools
An aquaponics system is an excellent STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) teaching tool for students, who get hands-on learning experience in designing and building systems, farming fish and crops, and learning biology and chemistry – all while having fun working together. In Philadelphia, Temple University has partnered with nearby Saul Hill High School on a project studying food shortages in the city and creating an aquaponics system as a potential solution. This program has additional goals of emphasizing STEM education, building more systems throughout the city, and putting more systems in schools.
The Koya Project is bringing food security via aquaponics to developing countries worldwide. One of the most successful programs has been in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where Koya founded the Prek Pra Training Center at a local primary school. Prek Pa has become an ongoing learning center where students become educated in aquaponics, then go on to inspire their communities towards a more self-sustainable future by spreading the knowledge among those in need. It’s a shining example of the multifaceted value of teaching aquaponics to the younger generations, and the positive impact that aquaponics systems for schools can have in the community.
It’s the best of both worlds – the feeling and sunlight of outdoor gardening, combined with an indoor system in its own energy efficient building. A greenhouse system is scalable, allowing for everything from private systems small enough to feed one family, to enormous commercial greenhouse systems built to feed a city. Greenhouse systems are versatile in other ways. They enjoy all the benefits and electricity savings of natural sunlight, yet can have interior lighting systems to manufacture artificial sunlight in the event of foul weather or seasonal changes. Greenhouses can be built in a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate different growing systems like vertical farms, deep water culture, and much larger fish tanks. Climate and environmental control means year-round growing and healthy crops. As a bonus, greenhouse systems can also be placed on rooftops, large balconies, or in the atrium of large buildings.
Warehouse & Empty Building Aquaponics
On the fringes of dense urban areas around the world, warehouses and abandoned building are being converted into aquaponics farms. These indoor, all-season food production centers are helping reduce carbon emissions by localizing food sources for cites, thus eliminating long-haul trucking and shipping of goods. Indoor aquaponics farms also reduce urban blight by occupying empty factories and buildings that otherwise would go to waste.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, Urban Organics occupies a former Hamm’s brewery. A 4700-acre field of greens and tanks of fish now grows where beer used to be brewed and bottled. Urban Organics has the stated goal of fixing a broken food system, one delicious meal at a time. Utilizing the control of indoor aquaponics to grow all year long in a cold climate, Urban Aquaponics is the epitome of what growing in warehouses can be.
Hotels are a burgeoning growth area for indoor aquaponics systems. With the rise of eco-tourism, hotels around the world are embracing sustainability and organic products. There are many benefits for hotels with in-house aquaponics systems, including access to inexpensive organic greens and fish, lower operating costs, and the great impression that tours of hotel aquaponics systems make on guests.
Aquaponics systems can be found in high-end resort hotels, such as Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa, where a beautiful indoor aquaponics system is the centerpiece of the hotel’s 40 story atrium. At the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, an aquaponics system is providing fresh tilapia, along with a variety of herbs and vegetables, to the resort’s seven restaurants.
Eco hotels are becoming both more common and popular among travelers. Many are now using indoor aquaponics systems as way to provide organic food for guests. Cape Town’s Hotel Verde, which offers eco-friendly, carbon-neutral accommodations as “Africa’s Greenest Hotel”, uses a large vertical aquaponics garden to grow a variety of herbs and greens. For hotels, aquaponics become not only a cheap, nutritious, and delicious food source for guests; but a tourist attraction in itself generating curiosity, positive attention, and social media buzz.
Developers and Aquaponics
Green developers are moving to the forefront of environmentally-friendly design. Certifications such as LEED are pushing both new construction and renovation into sustainability. As going green becomes mainstream, the time is now for developers to embrace aquaponics as a featured design element. Architectural integration of residential aquaponics systems, or integrated systems in a commercial structure, has been proven to have benefits in five areas: universal appropriateness and accessibility, air quality, water consumption, waste management, and psychological impact. Integration of this eco-technology is not only beneficial to the well-being of occupants, but a striking use of open spaces both inside and out.
ReGen Villages is a cutting-edge green development firm in Holland. They are building a complete eco-village pilot community in Almere, Netherlands. This mini-city is designed to be completely self-sustainable and off-grid. Aquaponic and aeroponics farming installations, as well as other high-yield organic growing methods, will be the hub of the village’s food production. As this city becomes a model for the future, we must also look to re-develop our dense urban cores with indoor, rooftop, and warehouse aquaponics systems in light of increasing populations. For developers, indoor aquaponics represents an incredible opportunity both now and in the future.
Urban Farming: Singapore & Hong Kong
Cities like Singapore and Hong Kong are ground zero in the aquaponics urban farming revolution. Among the four most populated areas in Asia, these cities are demonstrating the innovation and integration that is essential to the long-term prospects of urban indoor aquaponics.
Representing the cutting edge of modernity in Southeast Asia, Singapore has a very forward-looking green philosophy. It even has its own environmental certification, the BCA Green Mark Scheme. 30% of Singapore’s buildings are certified green. There are now seven licensed vertical farms producing vegetables, fish and crab in the city limits. The aquaponics adoption in Singapore is using high-tech, high-yield methods that overcome traditional farming limitations; while simultaneously optimizing land-usage in a dense city with limited space. Smaller, stylish rooftop and indoor systems are becoming more common every day.
In Hong Kong, rooftop and indoor systems are booming. Over the past decade, approximately 1,400 farmers have emerged tending at least 60 rooftop farms. Atop commercial and residential buildings, cherry tomatoes, radishes, bok choy, and tilapia grow while overcoming space restrictions and brightening the skyline. Large warehouse aquaponics farms like Evergreen Republic are providing locally produced organic vegetables, fruits, and fish to markets, and via direct home delivery, to the fourth most densely populated region in the world. Custom indoor units are also flourishing, as people are beginning to realize the savings and benefits of having their own organic food supply.
Join the Indoor Aquaponics Revolution
As we’ve seen in The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Aquaponics, the versatility, customization possibilities, and environmental control available in indoor aquaponics systems truly displays the growing methodology at its best. You really can grow healthy food anywhere – from one plant in a mason jar on a desk, to 10,000 plants in a commercial warehouse. An indoor aquaponics system is the best solution for growing plants and fish together sustainably, efficiently, and organically.
If you’re ready to get started with an indoor aquaponics system in your home, office, or restaurant; or you’d like to set one up in a school or warehouse, you’re becoming a participant in the future of food. You’ll be promoting environmentally friendly practices while enjoying the benefits of healthy, organics food. You’ll be eating greens while being green, and possibly even earning some green. Indoor aquaponics systems have lots of great benefits, are space-flexible, scalable, and are the best way to ensure our future.
Won’t you join us and become part of the Indoor Aquaponics revolution?