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Aquaponics: visit the SuperHome where fish feed the plants

Posted by Jacob Morris-Davies on 26 August 2015 at 11:05 am

Nothing beats a home cooked meal, especially when it’s made with homegrown ingredients. Growing your own food saves money, is eco-friendly, and creates produce that’s as fresh as it comes. For the green-fingered it can be an ideal eco hobby, and it’s one that more and more people are taking up. One such pair of home-growers are Phillip and Jane Sylvester, who live in the village of Abertridwr, just a half hour drive north of Cardiff. They grow tomatoes and cabbages, amongst other things, but there are no garden plots at their home.

Phill and Jane have created their own aquaponics system, a sustainable farming method using fish and plants in symbiotic harmony.  It’s clean, consumes little energy and can be set up in a garden shed or greenhouse. It is farming for the future.

You can grow onions, strawberries, parsnips and bell peppers; in fact you can grow a whole variety of things! Phill grows melons, beans, cucumbers and herbs to name but a few. The fish are also edible; Phill has been using tilapia and says they are delicious!

So how does this work? It’s actually pretty simple.

The fish are fed and live in a tank, heated like any other. Next, the waste they produce, as well as any uneaten food, is pumped up to a plant trough. Along the way bacteria break down this waste-polluted water, producing nitrates perfect for growing plants. Once in the trough, which usually sits above the fish tank, the water filters downwards. Moving between the rocks and feeding the plants as it goes, water reaches the bottom nitrate-free. Finally this water runs back into the fish tank, fresh and clean. Because of this the water never needs changing, and only fish food is required to keep the cycle running. 

Phill and Jane have managed to take this sustainable farming system a step further by incorporating solar thermal energy. This provides clean energy to keep the fish warm, making the system still more sustainable.

Aquaponic farming is relatively new, and it’s certainly not a perfect science, but anybody can get involved. This futuristic method has DIY at its heart, and doesn’t require any advanced skills to get started- just some dedication, creativity and knowhow. Seeing it in action is fascinating, even for those not DIY-mad.

If you’re interested, go see it for yourself! You can join a free tour of Phill and Jane’s house this September as part of a series of SuperHome Open Days. 

Photo credit: SuperHomes 

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