Although aquaponics is usually used in commercial food production, it is actually quite easy to set up an aquaponics system in your backyard, patio or even on your roof. If you like eating organic products you can grow your own organic vegetables and even fruit using this method. And because fish are part of the system, you can have lots of fresh fish, like trout or tilapia, to eat too.
Leafy plants grow very well in an aquaponics system, so you can have a constant supply of fresh herbs like basil, and other salad vegetables, such as lettuce, chives and even cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers. Spinach, bok choy and watercress also grow well using aquaponics and it will all be organic too! This is because while chemical fertilizers would harm your fish and are therefore forbidden in an aquaponics system, the plants grow using the natural waste products from the fish. When you use aquaponics for your vegetable garden, the growing cycle is very short -- less than one month for cucumbers for example. About the only type of vegetables you can't grow using this method are root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, as they really need soil.
You can set up a home aquaponics system quite cheaply if you use recycled materials. You will need a fish tank for your fish, a hydroponic grow bed and a medium for your plants, like Red Scoria gravel. You need tubing to connect the water between the fish tank and the plant beds and an energy-efficient pump to allow the water to flow back and forth between the two. You also need a heater that's thermostatic ally controlled to maintain an even water temperature. For the system to work properly you need about one part of fish and water to four parts of plants and gravel.