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Water 2016, 8(7), 303;

Navigating towards Decoupled Aquaponic Systems: A System Dynamics Design Approach

Biobased Chemistry and Technology, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 17, Wageningen 6700 AA, The Netherlands
Aquaponik Manufaktur GmbH, Geldener Str. 139, Issum 47661, Germany
LandIng Aquaculture, Evenheuvel 4, 5688 LZ Oirschot, The Netherlands
Integrated and Urban Plant Pathology Laboratory, Université de Liége, Avenue Maréchal Juin 13, Gembloux 5030, Belgium
Institute for Natural Resource Sciences, Zurich University of Applied Science (ZHAW), Grüental, Wädenswil 8820, Switzerland
IGB, Ecophysiology and Aquaculture, Müggelseedamm 310, Berlin 12587, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Giuliana Parisi
Received: 24 February 2016 / Revised: 13 June 2016 / Accepted: 12 July 2016 / Published: 21 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquaponics: Toward a Sustainable Water-Based Production System?)


The classical working principle of aquaponics is to provide nutrient-rich aquacultural water to a hydroponic plant culture unit, which in turn depurates the water that is returned to the aquaculture tanks. A known drawback is that a compromise away from optimal growing conditions for plants and fish must be achieved to produce both crops and fish in the same environmental conditions. The objective of this study was to develop a theoretical concept of a decoupled aquaponic system (DAPS), and predict water, nutrient (N and P), fish, sludge, and plant levels. This has been approached by developing a dynamic aquaponic system model, using inputs from data found in literature covering the fields of aquaculture, hydroponics, and sludge treatment. The outputs from the model showed the dependency of aquacultural water quality on the hydroponic evapotranspiration rate. This result can be explained by the fact that DAPS is based on one-way flows. These one-way flows results in accumulations of remineralized nutrients in the hydroponic component ensuring optimal conditions for the plants. The study also suggests to size the cultivation area based on P availability in the hydroponic component as P is an exhaustible resource and has been identified one of the main limiting factors for plant growth. View Full-Text
Keywords: aquaponics; aquacultural engineering; sludge treatment; agriculture; anaerobic digestion; phosphate recycling aquaponics; aquacultural engineering; sludge treatment; agriculture; anaerobic digestion; phosphate recycling

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Goddek, S.; Espinal, C.A.; Delaide, B.; Jijakli, M.H.; Schmautz, Z.; Wuertz, S.; Keesman, K.J. Navigating towards Decoupled Aquaponic Systems: A System Dynamics Design Approach. Water 2016, 8, 303.

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