History and Research - 0LD

How it Began

Research in the field of aquaponics began in the 1970's. There were several successes and failures that when compiled lead to the science of Aquaponics we know today.

The New Alchemy Institute, was an important pioneer in what has now become an entirely new way of farming in the twenty-first century. Closed in 1991, the institution ceased to be, but publications they produced on greenhouse production and aquaponics are still used as valuable resources for technical information.

The North Carolina System, developed in the 1980's by graduate student Mark McMurtry at The University of North Carolina, was a ground breaking aqua-veggie culture system based on raising the fish breed Tilapia. Highlights of his system include conservation of water, intensive production of fish protein, and reduction of operating costs.

The Speraneo System

The Speraneo System, developed by Tom and Paula Spreraneo, owners of S&S Aqua Farm near West Plains, Missouri, took the knowledge aquired from the North Carolina System and modified it. In this revised system, tilapia was raised in a 500 gallon tank with fish effluent linked to gravel cultured hydroponic vegetables, all contained within a solar greenhouse. Unfortunately, Tom passed away in 2004. Paula still operates the family farm. They now grow a a diverse variety of vegetables and herbs.


The University of the Virgin Islands System, headed by James Rakocy, PhD. and UVI associates developed a commercial-scale system that has operated continuously for more than nine years now. Nile and Red Tilapia are raised in rearing tanks. The tanks are linked to a floating raft hydroponics system. Aquacultural effluent is recirculated throughout with the aid of pumps. They have successfully raised basil, lettuce, okra and other crops. The results were high quality vegetables and large yields. Dr. Rakocy has published many extensive research reports. Especially see; Update on Tilapia and Vegetables in the UVI System 2004. Dr. Rakocy also notes the integrated water reuse system as a viable solution to energy efficient food production in developing countries and in arid regions where fresh water is scarce.The UVI team offers a week long short course each year.

The  Aquaponics System

The Friendly Aquaponics System, is a system that was developed by our mentors Susanne Friend and Tim Mann. Located near Honoka'a , Hawaii, the couple operates a successful commercial (as well as family) aquaponics farm. Tim completed the University of the Virgin Islands short course. Then, he brought his knowledge back to Hawaii where he built a simpler, lower cost, and equally efficient system. Tim and Susanne also offer a four day short course, which we highly recommend. Note : This site is still under construction a complete reference page with links will be provided. Please feel free to email any questions to our email located on our home page.


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