• Tamanna Mohapatra

Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics vs. Ecoponics

This is a short and mostly educative blog piece. The idea for the piece started based on a discussion I had at a sustainable networking event about the growth of aquaponics and hydroponics in our food system today. I realized I wasn’t clear about the difference between the two. Further, it’s such a growing area; it would be nice to learn what’s been happening in it recently. So here goes:


Before there was just a body of water, fish swimming in it and men fishing them manually. Life was good- for all parties involved.

Then came population growth around the world, sushi restaurants (again sprouting up everywhere), fish being recognized as a good source of protein…and before we knew it our fish sources were getting depleted and the days of large conglomerate industrial fishing had arrived and was slowly draining the fish stock in all the various water bodies.

Here’s a short animated video that explains overfishing much better than I could in this limited space and time.


After watching this video or even without watching it we all have a good sense of the importance of fish in our diet and are also somewhat aware of the harmful course this love of eating fish has caused to our oceans.


Human creativeness to the rescue and the solution was various ways of bringing fish and other food into our diet without completely damaging the environment by using different resources without taxing the existing soil and water resources.  The result was Aquaponics and Hydroponics; both ways of growing food without any soil involved.

Aquaponics may sound similar to Aquaculture but it’s not. They are somewhat related.


Aquaculture- as the video describes is farm fishing, which means fish instead of being caught in the wild are grown in a built environment


Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.


Hydroponics therefore is the means of growing food without soil where the nutrients are provided directly in the water.


This wonderful article from Sierra Club describes a happy marriage of the two at a Minnesota based company called Urban Organics

The other cool company to learn about and watch is a NYC based large scale hydroponics company called Gotham Greens. This is the sort of company that will lead the future and where I would love to see myself working in a few years!

If interested, you can learn more on this topic and about the latest such as Ecoponics from this very useful and comprehensive blog.


#aquacultures, #aquaponics, #ecoponics, #grovelabs, #hydroponics, #modern fishing, #urban organics, #sustainability, #urbansustainability, #foodsustainability, #overfishing, #sustainablefishing

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