Secondary school student Invents a Root Aquaponics System to reduce carbon footprint in the environment

Secondary school student Invents a Root Aquaponics System to reduce carbon footprint in the environment


A combination of fish and plant production using aquaculture and hydroponics systems, aquaponics is moving from the realm of experimental to commercial. Large-scale industrial farming is one of the most environmentally damaging practices on the planet. 

The world’s population is estimated to reach 10 billion people in the next 40 years, which means that humans will have to expand agricultural production of arable land to approximately 2.5 billion acres, a landmass larger than Canada, in order to grow enough food to feed the rising population. 

The World Health Organization estimates that 70 percent of the world population will live in urban centers by 2050. Lack of fresh, affordable food and education about how to obtain this food in low-income neighborhoods, along with other institutional barriers, are at the core of food injustice and food access issues in major metropolises around the country and worldwide.

In recent years the number of hungry people in the world has been rising, with more than one billion human beings now undernourished. Every day about 16,000 children die from starvation. This means that our global need for food will also rise. We will need to find new ways to grow food in larger amounts to support the growing population.


There would be an adverse impact on water, oil and climate change if we continue to use the commercial agriculture techniques. We need to find out the sustainable solution of agriculture in future to mitigate the effect of climate changes in the environment. 

Secondary school student Georgia Lala (right). Photo credit: RNZ/ Tom Furley

Aquaponics could provide the solution to this issue. In the future aquaponics could be a system that reduces the amount of resources used in agriculture, creating a more sustainable way of living. Aquaponics could help provide for the increasing global population and provide a solution for when water and oil sources do become more scare.

Ms Georgia Lala was recently recognized for developing an aquaponics system, using fish tanks to help grow edible plants in the home, and helping families rely less on commercially-grown crops. She wins $50,000 for scientific invention. 

"The food that is produced through it has a really low carbon footprint, so you don't have to use any soil. There's no fertilizers, no pesticides as you go. Ms Lala has patented the Root Aquaponics system, and hopes to turn it into a small business, reported by Radionz.

How does Aquaponics work?

On our earth, nitrogen exists in many forms, such as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Organisms use nitrogen in its different forms and in different ways to carry out their life processes. To do this, plants and animals build and pull apart nitrogen compounds to get the compounds they need to grow and survive. The Nitrogen Cycle describes this movement of nitrogen from the atmosphere, to plants, to animals to the soil and to bacteria. 
Image credit: Root Aquaponics

Aquaponics works by taking advantage of the natural creation and decomposition of nitrogen in nature. In a normal fish tank at home, fish excrete ammonia through their gills as a bi-product of respiration. This ammonia is toxic to the fish and can cause extensive damage to the gills and kidney of the fish, impaired their growth and decrease their resistance to diseases. 

However a bacteria called Nitrosomonas sp. also grows is the fish tank. This is a beneficial bacteria, as it converts the ammonia to nitrite. This is less poisonous to fish, however it is still dangerous as the presence of nitrite will stop the fish from taking in oxygen.

A further bacteria develops in the tank called Nitrobacter sp. This is also a beneficial bacteria and converts the nitrites to nitrate. Excessive nitrate in a fish tank provides a nitrogen sure that can stimulate algae blooms, so this is still not ideal for a healthy fish tank. 

To protect the life of fish in a water tank, Aquaponics has designed an Innovative system. The dangerous nitrates in the tank can be removed from the system by adding plant life. Plants are able to take in nitrogen in the form of nitrates through their roots. This not only removes dangerous nitrates from the tank, but also promotes plant growth by supplying plants with the necessary nutrients needed to grow. The end product is a healthy fish tank that no longer needs water changes, and faster growing plants. 

About Root Aquaponics System

Aquaponics at its heart is a food production system which uses fish to grow healthier, better quality food. Aquaponics is a way of taking what occurs outside in nature and harnessing these processes in a constructed, recirculating ecosystem by utilising natural bacteria cycles to convert fish waste into plant nutrients.



Image credit: Root Aquaponics

The Root Aquaponics System comes with a 44L fish tank and lid containing 8 grow pots and clay media pebbles. The tank can hold a maximum of 8 hardy goldfish, which are made easily accessible through a compartment in the lid. 

Root Aquaponics is an indoor ecosystem which replicates the natural processes of nature in a closed system by recycling fish waste to generate food for plants. The Root Aquaponics System is a completely closed system, which means it needs to water changes, no fertilizers, and no soil. 

It produces zero waste and 100% clean, fresh produce. Our system is perfect for inside homes or schools and is a fun and productive way to learn about sustainability while still getting your 5 plus a day. Root Aquaponics goal is to raise awareness about this often unheard of method of cultivation. They want everyone to have access to fresh produce, no matter where they live or the environment around them. It proves that the food grown using the Aquaponics system can be both stylish and sustainable. 

Root Aquaponics also operates the Root Aquaponics Trust. Each time you purchase an aquaponics unit, 50% of the profits go towards funding aquaponic units to donate to education facilities such as kindergartens. The unique thing about this system is its compactness and applies an easy to understand design that anyone can use. It doesn’t require to change water and with no maintenance of the system, making it perfect for families, schools and offices. (Source: Root Aquaponics)

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