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Olga Boiko

When it comes to growing cannabis, many still envision a traditional technique centered around soil, water and light. However, times are a changing and so have the methods in which marijuana manufacturers use to create quality product. For instance, would you believe that fish can be used in the growing process?

Canadian medical marijuana company, Green Relief, has made headlines recently for embracing aquaponics as a way to develop more consistent plants.

Green Relief describes the aquaponics approach as one “that combines hydroponics and conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic life, such as fish, in tanks) in a closed-loop environment.”

As you’d imagine, the water in these tanks would eventually see its fair share of fish poop. To avoid toxic water conditions, however, a hydroponic system is employed to properly filter it.

Through the filtration process, the feces will eventually break down and turn into nitrates. These nitrates serve as nutrients for the plants.

To receive this goodness, the plants’ roots “dangle down into grow beds that are connected to the fish tanks in the system.” Not only are the plants now receiving the aforementioned nourishment from the fish excretion, they also assist in the purification of the water, thus providing the fish with a healthier environment. From there, this clean water is recirculated into the aquaculture system. This creates a “never-ending” closed loop.

Explains Green Relief: “The system is mutually beneficial for the fish and the plants as the fish poop provide a food source for the growing plants while the plants provide a natural filter to ensure safe, and optimal growing conditions for the fish. This creates a self-sustaining ecosystem where both parties can thrive.”

According to a report by Reuters, Green Relief’s closed-loop system raises 6,000 tilapia and 4,500 plants “at any given time.” This method also uses 90% less water than conventional agricultural growing strategies.

The publication also notes that Green Relief empties one of its 16 fish tanks every five weeks and donates about 300 tilapia to Second Harvest, a food charity that provides fish to a homeless shelter’s kitchen.

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