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Development of a recirculating aquaponics system for warm- and cool-water aquaculture and greenhouse crops



Aquaponics facilities contain plant and fish components together in one recirculation system. Water leaving the fish tanks, rich in nutrients, is used for plant growth, while the plants are used as biofilters to reduce the build-up of nitrogenous and mineral wastes in water returned to the fish tanks. An initial aquaponics module was constructed at the Crop Diversification Centre South, Brooks, Alberta, in 2002. An extensive study during first year of operation demonstrated the technical feasibility of aquaponics technology under Alberta growing conditions. More than 60 different crops and varieties were tested in the greenhouse. Production trials for 24 crops (5 greenhouse vegetables and 19 herbs) were conducted to evaluate which crops would grow well under this system. These trials produced the highest plant yields reported in the literature for aquaponics technology. The yields of two major greenhouse crops, cucumber and tomato, calculated on annual basis exceeded average values for commercial greenhouse production based on conventional hydroponic technology in Alberta. Trials are continuing with a variety of plant species in warm water (tilapia) and cold water (rainbow trout) environments. Additional mini-systems have been and are being constructed to increase the experimental aquaponics capacity in Alberta. Investigators are also experimenting with different non-chemical pest control strategies to maintain high crop yields without introducing contaminants into the fish produced.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2005 - 2008


Central Canada: Mackenzie River, Delta

Principal Investigator(s)

Doug Geiling

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