AQUAPONICS HAS BEEN on the rise for several
years now whether it is a big, mass-producing
aquaponics operation or a small trial system in
your backyard. It is also a great way to benefit
from resources at a relatively low cost because
the tanks consume less water.
There are all different kinds of reasons why
people want to start an aquaponics system.
It may be a hobby for some or home food
production, and aquaponics can also have
educational, research, social and community
components. All these options are beneficial
for the environment and yourself.
When people think of aquaponics, they
think of just the plants. However, the fish
used to help make the plants grow are just
as important. One of the advantages of aqua-
ponics is that you are growing the plants and
the fish together, simultaneously, to have two
different products to sell in the end.
The primary fish used in aquaculture are
catfish. According to U.S. Catfish, 94 percent of
U.S. farm-raised catfish are grown and raised in
Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Since 1985, all those state’s economies
have doubled in revenue from $2.1 billion to
over $4 billion, to date. Similar to any animal
production, like cattle or chickens, catfish harvesters have a schedule they go by while the
fish continue growing to full maturity.
They start off as little minnows and grow
into fingerlings once they reach 4 to 6 inches.
Then, they are transported to manmade
ponds until they reach full maturity. The
mature catfish are harvested when they are
1 ½ to 2 years of age or weigh over a pound.
These farm-fresh catfish are being mar-
keted all over the mid-south region because
of the breed, which is a mix between channel
catfish and blue catfish.
Brad Robb, Delta Farm Press staff writer,
wrote an article on the struggles of catfish
farming which highlighted this specific
breed of catfish. He calls the breed, “the filet
mignon of catfish”. He also notes that split
pond systems create a better environment
for catfish to grow.
Dr. John Jenson, aquaculture expert, will
be at the aquaponics booth to help answer all
your questions surrounding the current state
of aquaponics. He has a lot of experience in
this field as he served as a Peace Corps volun-
teer in Brazil, a fisheries Extension specialist
in Alabama, founded the Alabama Catfish
Quality Insurance Program, and served as the
interim director of the Alabama Agricultural
There will be an “Ask the Experts” table
where Jensen will be there to guide you along
with all your questions regarding aquaponics.
This gives people the chance to explore the
area and see what kind of method would suit
their idea best to start their own aquapon-
ics system or learn the basics of aquaculture
It addition, Chef Chris Wilton will be
around to share best practices of cooking
fish and cooking demonstrations. Several
seminars will take place throughout each and
every day at the Expo including “How to Filet
Fish” and “Aquatic Weed Control for Private
Ponds”. A full list of cooking demonstrations
and seminars can be found when you stop by
the booth in the Aquaculture Building.
Aquaponics is the perfect mix between
aquaculture and hydroponics. There will
also be samples of fried fish funded by the
Alabama Catfish Producers and Recipe Demonstrations throughout the day.
Aquaponics combine benefits for plants, fish
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