Aquaponics is a new industry that has been developed with great potential worldwide. This relatively new food production system is a combination of fish and vegetable production in a closed-loop recirculating water system. Aquaponics eliminates the need to constantly adding chemical fertilizers to grow plants hydroponically since the system uses highly nutritious effluent produced by fish, which contains almost all nutrients required for optimum plant growth. At the same time, instead of wasting water loaded with fish waste, aquaponics uses plants to clean and purify the water, which is then returned to aquaculture tanks. Therefore, water can be reused indefinitely and is only replenished to compensate for evapotranspiration losses. This is an environmentally sustainable technology that can generate several value-added products near large urban areas, because the systems can be even established in water- constrained regions. Thus, the objective of this project is to develop a new procedure for determining nutrient release coefficients in aquaponics systems through mass balance analysis using the production of tilapia Oreochromis niloticus integrated with hydroponic lettuce. Ultimately, coefficients and models will be used to design a pilot project of a commercial aquaponics operation at small and medium scales.
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