The Fish Have Arrived! Completing the Aquaponics Cycle

Fish have arrived at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farm in Raleigh!   Foster Lake & Pond Management generously donated 20 channel catfish this past Wednesday. What are fish doing on the farm, you ask? They're completing our Aquaponics project! Over the past few months we have built a 300 gallon Aquaponics system. 

What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a symbiotic method of cultivating both fish and plants in a re-circulating system that utilizes fish waste as fertilizer for plants.  In turn, the plants and the associated root microbes detoxify and clarify the water for the fish. It's a closed-loop cycle! The model we’re using is inspired by MacArthur Genius Award winner Will Allen’s internationally recognized urban agriculture organization Growing Power.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle's aquaponics intern Doug Purvis explains:

How does Aquaponics work?

Water containing ammonia from fish waste is pumped from the fish tank up to the gravel grow beds, where we are currently growing cucumbers, tomatoes, watercress, pea shoots, and basil. There, beneficial bacteria turn the otherwise toxic ammonia in fish waste into nitrite and then into nitrate, which is an essential nutrient for plant growth.   Gravity takes over from there, as the filtered water then drains through the top grow bed down to the lower grow bed. After nourishing and hydrating the plants, the water then flows from the lower grow beds back into the fish tank to start the cycle all over again.

Why Aquaponics?

  • Produces fresh, local, organic, and nutritious vegetables and fish in a small space;
  • provides a working model for workshops, training, and education on more sustainable food production;
  • easily scalable from apartment-size to commercial-size, meaning that it is an easily replicable system;
  • conserves water;
  • IFFS is a Regional Outreach Training Center (ROTC)  Growing Power. We partner with youth, established farmers, and community members to teach intensive commercial urban agriculture skills – including Aquaponics and vermicomposting.

Putting the fish pond in back in November

Aquaponics intern Doug adjusting the plants on our Aquaponics system in the greenhouse

Aquaponics Fish Arrival 007

At long last, the wait is over - the fish have arrived!

After sitting in the bag, acclimating to the water temperature in our fish tank for about ten minutes, we released them into their new home! Hooray!