Ms. Pavlicek picked up 10 African Tilapia fish from Salem State College a few months ago to help with the start up of an aquaponics lab at BHS. The goal for this lab is to provide an educational experience for students and to harvest the vegetables and fish for the school cafeteria. The Science Center has been managing the start up of the aquaculture system and assisting with general maintenance over the summer.
Aquaponics is the match of aquaculture (the keeping of fish) and hydroponics (soil-less plant growing). Aquaponics can be done on a large scale or in/outside your average home. The fish produce waste and ammonia. The fish waste is providing a food source (fertilizer) for the plants and then the plants filter the water that returns back into the fish tank. Microbes (bacteria) convert the fish waste to nitrites and then into nitrates. The solid waste is broken down and used for food for the plants.
We started our project with tomatoes, lettuce, beans, peppers and basil. We are still in the beginning/learning stages of the system but have already processed 6 bags of lettuce and a handful of beans! The tomatoes should be ready soon for harvest as well.
Check out BCAT’s news brief below for a close-up view of the aquaponics lab.
This is a collaborative project between Mr. Sullivan (BHS principal), Steve Zarba (system design and building manger), Dr. Conti (superintendent of schools) and the Science Center.