In this article we are going to look at the history of aquaponics. There is a lot of debate when it comes to the history of aquaponics.
People argue whether the Chinese were the first people to really use aquaponics or if it was the Aztecs. These two camps will never agree.
However; will you allow me to give you a short history of aquaponics and let you decide for yourself who were the inventors of aquaponics?
With your permission then I will continue…
The Ancient Chinese And Aquaponics
The Chinese had a system in use in the 6th century. They reared ducks in cages. These cages had partial open floors. These opening were above ponds of finfish.
The “waste” from the ducks would feed the finfish. These cunning Chinese farmers also reared catfish in another pond which the water from the finfish drained. So any excess waste would be supplied to the catfish.
If there was any “leftover food” it went to the paddy fields to help the rice grow. This was a system in harmony where nothing went to waste.
Aquaponics And The Aztecs
The Aztec when it came to “aquaponics” called their system “chinampas”. In the Aztec system they grew a variety of crops including maize, squash and other plants on rafts in water which were used to rear fish too.
The Aztecs were using their systems from the 1400’s onwards.
So who do you favor? Myself I go for the Chinese for a truer “aquaponics system”. However as I say the debate is fierce.
How Did We Get From The Chinese and The Aztec To Modern Aquaponics Systems?
Let us start in 1969 shall we? Meet John and Nancy Todd who along with William McLarney founded the New Alchemy Institute.
They worked on building a “proto-ark” which was to be self-sufficient, powered by solar and would allow a family to survive year-round using holistic methods.
An Aquaponics History: The 1980’s
We move on to Mark McMurty and Professor Doug Sanders who created the first “closed loop” aquaponics system.
In their system “poop” from the fish tank was used to “trickle irrigate” cucumber and tomatoes which were grown in sand beds. These sand beds were also bio-filters used to clean the water for the fish.
An Aquaponics History: The 1990’s
Next we have to learn about Tom and Paula Sperano. These pioneers revised McMurty and Sanders methods to create their “bionic concept.”
The Sperano’s grew vegetables and herbs in a flow and ebb system using gravel grow beds irrigated by nutrient rich water supplied by a 2200 liter tank being used to raise Tilapia.
The Sperano’s were the first people to use gravel grow beds that worked properly in aquaponics. Their system was seen as so effective it’s now been replicated throughout the world.
Most people who have a backyard aquaponics garden will have probably based their system on the “bionic concept” the Sperano’s first introduced. So that’s how we get to modern aquaponics we know and love today.
From the ancient Chinese of the 6th century to being able to have a backyard aquaponics system right in your own backyard so you can grow fresh produce all year round.
Aquaponics History A Conclusions
As you can see aquaponics goes way back in history and been used by civilizations successfully.
I haven’t mentioned aquaculture in South East Asia or the Egyptian who used water and fish to grow plants.