Vegetables on the hook

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Manuel Arrillaga and Daryl Fuchs see enormous potential in combining fruit and vegetable cultivation with fish farming. With their start–up "Fësch Haff", the young entrepreneurs want to convince farmers to jump on the bandwagon.

It all started quite innocently. Three years ago, Manuel Arrillaga and Daryl Fuchs met for a beer during their Master's programme in Augsburg. "Daryl said he would like to grow shrimp", recalls the native Mexican. That could work, the biology and biomedical engineering student thought to himself. He had already heard a little about hydroponics (the cultivation of plants in a nutrient solution) during his studies. That got the ball rolling.

After a bit of research and finding out that the whole thing with cannibalistically inclined freshwater shrimps is not so simple after all, they come up with the Australian red claw crayfish. "So we started experimenting around." In the boiler room they set up an aquarium with five freshwater lobsters, which they connected to a fruit and vegetable patch. That was in 2020. Because the students are in Augsburg most of the time, they are developing software that allows them to keep an eye on their installation at a distance. "We put a few plants in there and when we came back everything was sprawling, melons, tomatoes…"

Aquaponics is a portmanteau of aquaculture and hydroponics and describes the raising of aquatic animals in combination with the cultivation of crops. The basic principle is very simple: the excrement of fish or crayfish serves as nutrients for salads, herbs and the like. They receive these directly via the water and the purified liquid then flows back into the fish tank. However, as is so often the case, the devil is in the details.

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