It seems that more and more people are getting interested in growing some of their own food, whether it's doing a bit of backyard gardening, or branching out into hydroponics, aeroponics, vermiponics, and even "duckponics." Of course, aquaponics -- a hydroponic system that incorporates the cultivation of aquatic animals like fish -- is popular too, though it can be difficult for city dwellers to implement as it can require quite a bit of space.
But urbanites could try Australian design company Avooq's 3D printed version of an aquaponics system, designed to be small enough for small urban apartments. Dubbed the Cascaqua, or the Cascading Aquaponics System, it is a
... closed loop ecologically balanced system that combines the cultivation of plants without soil and the cultivation of fish. It is essentially a mini ecological system where the plants care for the fish and the fish care for the plants symbiotically.
The patent-pending design, which can be downloaded for free from the company's website, consists of ABS plastic pieces which can be 3D printed at home (estimated print time is 8 hours), and assembled on top of a glass fishbowl, plus a submersible pump and tube that you must purchase on your own.
Here's how the system works: you feed the fish, which excrete waste in the form of ammonia. Bacteria convert the ammonia into nitrites, then nitrates. This nutrient-filled water is pumped to the top of the cascading grow bed, then percolating down through and feeding the plants' roots. These roots absorb the nutrients, while also filtering the water before it goes back to the fish.
Of course, the fish raised in this small fishbowl are probably going to be raised as pets rather than food, but the design does bring a bit of aquaponic fun into small spaces. Visit Avooq for more information or to download the files.