Symbiosis is a very critical concept in aquaponics since it is the fundamental principle under which the system operates and produces the results that are desired. it can be viewed as the circle of life that supports the entire ecosystem and it is the foundation to the understanding of how all the processes in aquaponics function. Symbiosis a close and long term interaction between member of 2 or more species through which all species mutually benefit each other.
In aquaponics, the symbiosis occurs mainly between the microflora, the plants and the fish. The microflora that exist in an aquaponics system are the foundation or the building blocks for the symbiotic relationship that exists between all other organisms. The microflora more commonly referred to as beneficial bacteria can occur naturally; however they take some time to establish and spread through the entire system.
Once the colonies are well established symbiosis in the system can function properly. As the fish are introduced into the system they excrete waste which contains ammonia, the beneficial bacteria in the system convert the toxic ammonia to nitrates through a process called nitrification. Plants then take the nitrate produced by the bacteria and grow. As they uptake the nutrients from the water the plants also act as filters cleaning the water that gets recirculated back to the fish. Once the plants and fish mature we harvest them as organic food.
Symbiosis occurs not only between the fish, plants and bacteria but it occurs simultaneously among the several microbial species that exists in aquaponics collectively called the microflora. There are several distinct microbial communities that exist symbiotically in aquaponics and have specific roles from breaking down nutrients to detoxifying the water for the fish. Whatever role a microbial community is responsible for they all function in unison to maintain the health of an efficient and highly productive aquaponics system.
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