Aquaponics is an Ecosystem

We’ve had our Aquaponics system running continually now for over two years and the system has matured very well over that time. Wandering around the system this morning and taking a careful look at the details, the crevices between the hydroton -the clay ball pellets that make up the bulk of the media in the growbeds, it becomes apparent at the wealth of small animal life that become attracted to your aquaponics system. But its not on the the floor of the bed or in the fish tank that supports a wealth of life. Its on the vegetable plant leaves that you’ll immediately see a living constellation of organisms visiting your system.

You can’t see the organisation of bacteria and funghi with the naked eye, but larger invertebrate life-forms are all interacting in a web of activity. For most part – we become blind to that activity and only notice the negative impact on our plants when and if they are invaded by mites or aphids or when our plants and leaves suddenly get attacked by larger insects like grasshoppers.

And indication of a healthy system is the number of diverse insect and life that become attracted to your system. In our case, this morning, we noticed something leaping from one leaf to another.
A Green Tree Frog, native to the area had made his home in our grow bed.

Here he is in these photo montage below wedged in between the stalks of a zucchini plant.

Its only when I snapped off a few more photos with a macro lens that I noticed other elements appearing in the photo that I couldn’t normally see. A fine spidery web is next to the frogs arm. Its a great place to ambush small flying insects like the tiny drosophilia fly and get a quick bite. You realize that there is more life here jumping around, predators eating smaller bugs and getting chomped on in turn by something much bigger.

Over the last two years a wander around the aquaponics system with a camera and tripod can yield an amazing dynamic of tiny life – not all of it beneficial – but a balance between predators and prey at work using your system as a backdrop to their daily activity.

Aquaponics is an Ecosystem and one that mimics the natural world. Biologist Dr Wilson Lennard addressing an audience at a Murray Hallam Aquaponics Workshop explains the microscopic life that is in the growbed amongst the compost worms living in the fish tank and plant roots.