AEI 7:179-192 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00146

A new concept for aquaponic systems to improve sustainability, increase productivity, and reduce environmental impacts

Werner Kloas1,3,4,*, Roman Groß1, Daniela Baganz2, Johannes Graupner1, Henrik Monsees1, Uwe Schmidt4, Georg Staaks2, Johanna Suhl2,4, Martin Tschirner1,4, Bernd Wittstock1, Sven Wuertz1, Andrea Zikova1, Bernhard Rennert

1Department of Ecophysiology and Aquaculture, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin, Germany
2Department of Biology and Ecology of Fishes, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin, Germany
3Present address: Department of Endocrinology, Institute of Biology, Humboldt University, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany
4Present address: Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Department of Crop and Animal Science, Division of Biosystem Engineering, Humboldt University, Invalidenstraße 42, 10115 Berlin, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Aquaculture is globally the fastest growing sector of agriculture that needs to be sustainable and must also meet bioeconomic demands. In principle, aquaponics, the combination of aquaculture and horticulture within a single recirculating aquaponic system (SRAPS), provides a sustainable approach; however, it has lower productivity of both fish and plants in comparison to separate recirculating systems. The aim of our new concept for aquaponics is to improve sustainability and productivity concomitant with lowering environmental emissions. The aquaponic system for (nearly) emission free tomato and fish production in greenhouses (ASTAF-PRO) is a new combination of systemic parts, consisting of 2 independent recirculating units: an aquaculture system (RAS) for fish and a hydroponic unit for plants. Both systems are connected by a 1-way valve to deliver fish water containing nutrients into the hydroponic reservoir, where the fish water can be  optimized as fertilizer in order to meet specific demands of the plant species. Thus, our double recirculation aquaponic system (DRAPS) can provide optimum conditions for both parts to increase productivity and to prevent any adverse interactions between plant and fish units. Water use is minimized by condensing the plant evapo-transpired water via air conditioning and returning it into the RAS. Testing of the ASTAF-PRO prototype successfully demonstrated the principle using a combination of tilapia and tomato production. Tilapia productivity was similar to single RAS, while tomato production at least indicated the potential for similar efficiency to conventional hydroponics. Thus, ASTAF-PRO improves sustainability and productivity while lowering environmental emissions, and might promote future application of aquaponics for food security.


KEY WORDS: Aquaponics concept · Tilapia · Tomato · Sustainability · Productivity · Minimization of emissions · Food security


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Cite this article as: Kloas W, Groß R, Baganz D, Graupner J and others (2015) A new concept for aquaponic systems to improve sustainability, increase productivity, and reduce environmental impacts. Aquacult Environ Interact 7:179-192. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00146

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