Fish and plants; like peas and carrots - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fish and plants; like peas and carrots

MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) - When you think of growing vegetables you probably picture a field or garden or greenhouse. But there's a different way to grow clean vegetables while also raising fish.

The growing field, both literally and figuratively, is called 'aquaponics.' It focuses is on a symbiotic relationship between fish and plants.

Fish and green peppers may seem like an odd relationship, but for aquaponics, it's one that works well.

"So basically when you feed the fish, their waste feeds the plants," said Dr. Patricia Duncan, the director of Aquaponics at Fort Valley State University.

The waste cycles through separate tanks on a pump system. It allows growers to save money that would be spend on fertilizer, it also saves something else.

"The vegetables that you grow, grow in two thirds the time of growing in the earth," said Mike Donahue, an aquaponics grower.

These large tanks work best in greenhouses, but they must be in some type of shelter. It's a way to keep the vegetables that much cleaner.

"When you have it in some type of shelter, then you dont have the bug pests. You dont have bugs or the little animals eating so you don't have to use pesticides," said Duncan.

Aquaponics is a great way to grow vegetables for personal consumption, but as one grower now realizes, there is a market for more.

"We can sell these pure vegetables to restaurants. There's opportunity there. You can get to where you can make a little money with this," said Donahue.

Experts agree because of the opportunity to grow in urban settings where large areas of land aren't available.

"This is going to continue to grow because you don't need extra large space to start out, and if you're successful at it making it in a small building then you can do a lot," said Duncan.

There would be between 300 and 600 fish in that tank in an actual aquaponics garden.

And supporters point out that there is an opportunity to sell the fish as well.

Copyright 2014 WALB. All rights reserved.

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