Aquaponics: Small footprint, big impact

$1M USDA training grant enables students to work in studies in aquaponics

May 7, 2024

Photo above: Kevin Fitzsimmons, professor of environmental science and director of International Initiatives in the College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences (CALES), advises students as they conduct studies in aquaponics.

Aquaponics visual



  • Reduces water consumption by up to 90%.
  • Eliminates use of harmful chemicals.
  • Enables food production near mouths, such as in urban areas, to reduce transportation costs.
  • Gives access to seafood and fresh, organic produce year-round.
  • Makes food production possible in arid climates inhospitable to conventional agriculture. 


  • A $1M USDA training grant enables Kevin Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., professor of environmental science and director of International Initiatives, College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences, to fund students to conduct studies in aquaponics.
  •  Ph.D. student Andrew Masciola’s study of the potential role of endangered mussels in recirculating aquaponics systems is funded by Kasser Joint Institute for Food, Water, and Energy Security.
  • Research assistants Joy Liu, Ellie Laton, and Lillian Mance work with support from Fitzsimmon’s USDA training grant.


  • Must we feed fish to fish?  Conventional fish meal is expensive and resource intensive to produce. Students are testing alternative feeds with insects such as the black soldier fly to reduce the cost and ecological impact of fish food.
  • Which fish feed results in the most nutritious, highest quality fish and vegetables?
  • Can adding endangered mussels to aquaponics biofilters improve filtration or add conservation value to the process?
research on fish feed

UArizona Aquaponics


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