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“A self sustaining cycle:” MPS students use aquaponics to produce fish, plants

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MILWAUKEE -- It has been called the future of farming because of how much water it saves. Aquaponics is gaining attention around the country -- and it's a technique some Milwaukee Public Schools' students have become very familiar with.

MPS aquaponics program"There are about 25 tilapia in here, I feed them every day, I make sure that everything is running good," said Tyrique Nash.

Tyrique Nash is in Bradley Tech High School's aquaponics lab five days a week. He makes sure his fish are healthy and his pepper plant keeps growing.

"It wasn't really tall, it was kind of big, and I put stakes in it so it could grow up and now it is growing up the window," said Nash.

Nash does it all with zero chemicals and very little water. The fish are the key -- they produce waste that becomes fertilizer for the plants.

"We use about 10 percent of the water that traditional farming uses," said Mario Morelli, Bradley Tech High School aquaponics teacher.

Aquaponics is a farming technique that can produce high yields quickly.

"It is a self sustaining cycle," said Morelli.

MPS aquaponics program

It is proving useful in developing countries.

"They don't have to use as much water, they don't need as much land, and they can still produce as much food," said Morelli.

The vegetables will be sold to the teachers and the money will cover lab maintenance. The students get a science credit.

This was the very first  aquaponics lab for the Milwaukee Public School District and it has been so successful that it has been used as a model for the now 11 other aquaponics labs for MPS.

"We have actually given away, I would say, between 60 to 80 fish this year to other schools to help them start up their own aquaponics systems," said Morelli.

MPS aquaponics program

You may be wondering what happens to the fish. If the tilapia reproduce and have enough younger fish to keep the system going, the students hold a fish fry twice a year.

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