Both the Aztecs and the ancient Chinese independently invented the technology of gardening with fish more than 2,300 years ago. People all over the world still use this technique to grow rice and other vegetables, even today.
The concept is simple: A pond or aquarium provides a home for the fish. As the fish naturally eat worms, insects, larvae, and algae, they produce waste. The waste infuses the water with nutrients, and this water is used to hydrate the garden. Clay pebbles and the garden's media bed filter toxins out of the water, and the plants take up nitrates from the water to grow. After filtering through, clean water returns to the pond. The gardener harvests food and flowers from the plants and returns vegetable peelings and organic kitchen scraps to the system as compost. The cycle continues.
The goal of an aquaponic garden is to mimic nature. Growing plants and fish together using the same water fertilizes the plants, grows larger fish, produces more food, maximizes nutrient absorption, and uses less water, overall.