Aquaponics USA


Thank you for visiting our "Aquaponics STEM Classrooms In Action, Part 1 Page".  Click on Part 2  and Part 3 above.  All of these Articles appeared in the STEM Education Coalition Newsletter and remember to check out our "Aquaponics in The Classroom", our "Where To Get an Aquaponics Grant" and our "STEM Resources" Pages and feel free to give us a call at 760-671-3053 or email us at It's time to GET GROWING!

Sitting right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of this school’s amazing Ecology Program is the Manzo Greenhouse and inside is a 44 sq. ft. Aquaponics  STEM Teaching & Food Growing System with its accompanying 320 gallon fish tank.

This school was an early adopter of Aquaponics USA STEM Teaching & Food Growing Systems. Manzo Elementary started their Aquaponics program in late 2011 when Aquaponics USA installed their STEM system into a Music Room during the Christmas break that year.

Aquaponics is a food growing technology that utilizes live fish to fertilize vegetables and fruits in a cross-linked ecosystem where the fish fertilize the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish.

STEM Teaching & Food Growing Systems integrate Plant and Fish Biology with Chemistry, Math and Engineering. It's STEM Education that actually deals with stems.

There are two more Grow Beds on the other side of the 320 gallon fish tank. Sitting on top of the tank is the Automatic Fish Feeder, which allows Teachers to leave their Aquaponics STEM Classrooms for the weekend or holidays without worrying about feeding the fish. This System was moved to the Greenhouse.

Once their Aquaponics STEM Teaching & Food Growing System was installed in the Greenhouse with all of that natural light, they could grow flowering plants along with leafy greens. Indoor systems using Fluorescent Grow Lights like the ones pictured above can only grow leafy greens. But now Schools can order our new Mars Hydro LED Grow Lights for indoor growing that put out the kind of light spectrum that allows for the growing of both leafy greens and flowering plants like tomatoes, squash, melons, peppers and much more right inside of Classrooms, Multi-purpose rooms and even Libraries as you’ll see in Part 2. Mars Hydro LED's are so inexpensive, we don't even sell Fluorescent Lights anymore.

Pictured next to this photo of the Manzo Greenhouse is a Grow Bed full of Swiss Chard and Arugula. In order to grow these incredibly healthy vegetables, students need to learn to monitor their Aquaponics STEM Teaching & Food Growing System, which means maintaining the balance between the fish in the fish tank and the vegetables in the Grow Beds. Therefore, the Manzo Elementary students learn to perform water quality measurements on their STEM System and, in so doing, they learn elementary chemistry concepts along with the Nitrogen Cycle, and they practice reading water temperature thermometers.

Above are two unusual plants that are growing like weeds (there aren’t any actual weeds in Aquaponics systems) in Manzo’s STEM Teaching & Food Growing System. The first one is called Portuguese Kale, and it was chosen because it grows well in hot temperatures like Tucson experiences during the summer.

The second one is called Chinese Water Spinach also known as Morning Glory. It’s  used in specialty duck and shrimp dishes in Thai cooking, and it can’t be sourced anywhere locally by the Senae Thai Bistro in downtown Tucson. Pictured above is the happy face of Dee, the Thai Bistro owner, after she receives her bi-monthly delivery of Chinese Water Spinach and Thai basil from Manzo’s STEM Teaching &  Food Growing System.

The red pebbles you see in the Grow Beds above are expanded clay Hydroton Grow Bed Media. Aquaponics does not use soil for growing food because it’s main source of nutrients comes from the water that is recycled back and forth from the fish tank to the Grow Beds.The Hydroton Media, which is expanded clay, holds the plants in place in what are called Deep Media Grow Beds (one type of Grow Bed that is used in Aquaponics) and it functions as a place for the friendly bacteria to grow and thrive. Aquaponics actually grows four things--fish, vegetables, fruits and friendly bacteria that break down the fish waste and turn it into nitrates that the plants use as fertilizer. That’s where the Nitrogen Cycle comes into play and why it’s important for students to learn about it.

In the words of Blue Baldwin, the Manzo Ecology Program Coordinator (pictured here), “the plants are sold at the Weekly ‘Manzo Market’, a student-run farmer's market that aims to get school garden-grown produce back into the homes of the students that cultivated it.” Blue goes on to explain that, “at the most basic level, the Aquaponics System at Manzo effortlessly engages students' natural curiosity and connects them to a world of abundance and systems in balance they delight in interacting with.”       

What Blue is coordinating at Manzo is quite literally a magical wonderland of plants, fish and animals all interacting with excited, engaged and amazed children. This is STEM Teaching at its best. Blue did her undergraduate studies at Colorado College and later completed her MPH (Masters in Public Health) degree at the University of Arizona. She shares that “after working in various sustainability related fields, from natural building materials to watershed management to tree planting to roof top gardening in Manhattan, I joined Manzo Elementary in the Fall of 2014 as the Ecology Program Coordinator and count my lucky stars every day!”

Before Blue took charge of the Manzo Ecology Program in the fall of 2014, there was Moses Thompson, above and on the right. He was there in 2011 when the STEM Teaching & Food Growing System was installed in the Music Room. This picture shows the Manzo installation crew putting the Hydroton into the Grow Beds. Moses took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and really ran with the Manzo Aquaponics STEM System. In 2013, the Greenhouse was built and in late 2014, Blue came on board and later Moses was promoted to head the entire School Gardening Program for the Tucson Unified School District.

We want to explain the above Photo because in 2011, when this System was installed, it was called a FGS-40 System, and it didn't look like this above photo. It had a Bell Siphon in the middle of each of the 4 Grow Beds and White PVC Water Delivery Rings on top of them. The Grow Beds sat on sturdy, heavy plastic Saw Horses instead of these strong Metal Stands. We've come a long way since then with our proprietary Deep Delivery Water Diffusers that are at the bottom of the Grow Beds and the elimination of the Bell Siphon, which allows for an unobstructed planting area and a more efficient Loop Siphon. It is now called the FGS-44L and looks like the image below on our Home Page and it's FGS-44L Page.

With Coordinators and Instructors like Blue and Moses, any Aquaponics STEM Program would be a huge success turning Science into Hands-On Interactive learning at its best.

Then there’s the fish, which are an important part of STEM Teaching & Food Growing Systems. The fish are so important that Aquaponics USA calls the fish tank “the engine of the Aquaponics System”. And what a bunch of whoppers are being grown in Manzo’s 320 gallon fish tank! Tilapia are one of the easiest fish to grow because they are very hardy and can withstand beginner water quality errors.

According to Blue, the “tilapia are harvested when they reach approximately two pounds” at which point “they are sold at the ‘Manzo Market’ ”. They “always sell out immediately, even with a one-per-customer limit!” Raising tilapia really isn’t difficult as long as their water quality is good, so students need to take frequent water quality measurements.

The fish tank may be one of the most fascinating places on the Manzo campus. Everything fish do goes on inside that fish tank. They eat, they breed, they brood their young and eventually they are caught and sold at the “Manzo Market” or are eaten at a Manzo Fish Fry.

Tilapia are so resilient they can even survive for several hours without the aerators that keep oxygen flowing in their tanks. Yes, fish need oxygen and cannot survive without it. The title of this Series, “We send Schools of Fish to Schools!” is all about the bundled STEM Teaching & Food Growing Systems we send to schools, which include 25 or more fingerling tilapia depending on the size of the STEM System, the Grow Bed Media, the automatic fish feeder, a Titanium Heater, a Seed Starter Kit and optional Grow Lights.

This is Joe Navelski, a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows Program superstar, who showed up to catch and clean Tilapia for the “Manzo Market”. The fish are caught in the morning, and put on sale in the afternoon. That’s really fresh fish. No wonder they always sell out.

According to Blue, “in addition to providing food for our community and serving as a source of revenue, the Aquaponics system at Manzo is a great teaching tool, even at the Elementary level. Students learn Math, Science, Biology, Chemistry and even best Business Practices as they operate and maintain their system and host a weekly market where they sell the veggies and fish that they grow.” Not to mention, their wholesale business with the Thai restaurant.

Below, students examine the seedlings they are growing in the Greenhouse with their magnifying glasses.


Isn’t it time to turn every school campus into this joyful, exciting, engaged and interactive experience called STEM Teaching & Food Growing System Learning?

If you want to learn more about what's happening at Manzo, go to the Manzo Ecology facebook page. This is Living Learning also known as Science in Action and things are always changing.

Here is the 320 gallon fish tank that comes with the FGS-44L STEM Teaching & Food Growing System. Here Moses is looking for fry, which are newborn tilapia that turn into the giants you see below. Because there's so much light coming into the Greenhouse, Manzo is running what is called a "Green Water" Fish Tank that has a lot of algae, which tilapia love to eat and why they're growing so large.

Below is an amazing sight to behold, children gleefully eating their vegetables! That’s what can happen when they grow the vegetables themselves in their STEM Teaching & Food Growing System.

Go to our Aquaponics STEM Classrooms In Action Parts 2 & 3 above.

Aquaponics STEM Classrooms In Action, Part 1

With STEM Teaching &

Food Growing Systems

These 3 Schools that ordered our STEM Teaching & Food Growing System between late 2011 and 2014 were way ahead of their time. In 2021, Schools across the U.S. are bringing these amazing Interdisciplinary Teaching Eco-Systems into Classrooms in great numbers, and Aquaponics USA has the perfect Systems!

Here is half of the original STEM Teaching & Food Growing System that was installed in the Manzo Music Room


TEACHERS, are you ready to teach your students about what's WRONG with our broken Food System?

We have some of the best information on the web about Obesity In America, Diabetes and the Food Revolution. It's in our Archived Newsletters.

They were written in the past but are as timely today as they were when they were written because the System is still broken. Go over to our 3 Groups of Archived Newsletters:


GROUP 2: 11 Parts of the 19-Part Series, Obesity In America

GROUP 3: 8 Parts of the 19-Part Series, Obesity In America with a 3-Part Series on DIABETES



Aquaponics USA STEM Classrooms In Action, Part 1

Manzo Elementary School

TEACHERS, HERE IT IS! Our popular and very informative Aquaponics 101 E-Book by Oliver Duffy in a Clickable pdf Format so you can download and Print it yourself. Up until now, it has only been available on our website under the Education Pull Down Menu. But Teachers have requested that we make it more accessible for Classroom use.

It comes with accompanying Quizzes and a Completion Certificate and is a duplicate of what's on our site complete with Grace's original Cartoon Character representing Oliver, the Aerospace Engineer, an Aquaponics Expert.

Read through this Book that was written so beginners can avoid common errors in building and running Aquaponics Systems, and you and your students willl be off to a good start at becoming  Aquaponics Gardners.

This Book is our Gift to Teachers who are performing one of the most important jobs on the Planet--Teaching our children who represent the future of our World.

What Is Aquaponics? Aquaponics is a food growing technology that utilizes live fish to fertilize vegetables and fruits in a cross-linked ecosystem where the fish fertilize the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish.

STEM Teaching Food Growing Systems integrate Plant and Fish Biology with Chemistry, Math and Engineering. It's STEM Education that actually deals with stems.

Here's what Aquaponics STEM Teachers have to share direct from the field where they are using our STEM Teaching & Food Growing System to teach their Aquaponics STEM Classes.

This is a 3-Part Series that was published in the STEM Education Coalition Weekly Newsletter. The STEM Education Coalition Newsletter is an amazing resource to keep you up to date about what's happening with STEM in schools across the nation and in State and Government administrations and agencies.


TEACHERS, Check Out these Resources Below: Go to the big Green Box to get our pdf and learn how to create a STEM Teaching & Food Growing Classroom. Go to the big Red Box to get our informative E-Book about Aquaponics Food Growing technology. Click in the big Blue Box to get our Archived Newsletters and read some of the best and most informative articles available about our Food System, the Food Revolution, Obesity In America and Diabetes. Click in the Big Teal Box to get to our 4 Teaching-the-Teacher Pages that contain Basic Information about Aquaponics Systems. Click in the Big Dark Green Box to get to our 7 Teaching-the-Teacher Pages about Aquaponics In Education.

Learn How To Create an Integrated Edible Schoolroom that teaches across all Ages & many Disciplines while also Growing Food!

TEACHERS, we've got you covered with all of the Basics you need to Start Up, Run and Maintain your STEM Teaching & Food Growing System.

With all of the information we share on this website, you can only be successful. And we're happy and ready to help with Tech Support and the Answers to any Questions you have about Aquaponics and our Systems.

The Fish Page tells you about Tilapia, the Fish we recommend you raise in your Tank.

The Veggies Page tells you about some of the most common vegetables you can raise.

The Water Page tells you about the 8 important things that determine healthy water quality.

The Grow Beds Page shares important things you need to know about your Grow Beds.

  TEACHERS, Bring Your Classroom To Life?

We have a 36 page clickable pdf that tells you everything you need to know to create a STEM Classroom using our STEM Teaching & Food Growing Systems. Click on the Cover to the right to open it.

You can also go to our "Aquaponics In The Classroom" Page and check out our  "Where To Get A Grant" Page.

It's amazing to see how Aquaponics is being embraced by our U.S. schools as the STEM Movement takes off.  

Look at our STEM Teaching & Food Growing System offerings by clicking below. We offer five different Systems of various sizes and configurations to fit in every imaginable kind of space. Scroll to the bottom of each of these pages where our STEM Packages are located:

Below are all of our Linked System Pages:

EZ-15, EZ-22, FGS-20, FGS-44R, FGS-44L

It's time to start teaching the most important subject on our planet--How To Grow Food!

Bring Your Classroom to Life