Student Initiative Creates Aquaponics Ecosystem: Photogallery

View PhotogalleryScientists have successfully imitated the ecosystem of a healthy pond in order to bring fresh produce to urban areas. And now Trinity students are building this system on campus.

Calob Lostutter ’13, Caleb Steele ’14, and Kaleb Dean ’14 have begun an aquaponics system with support from Trinity’s biology department, Associate Professor of Physics and Science Education Tom Roose, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michael Bosscher, and the Campus Ecological Stewardship Advisory Group (CESAG).

In an aquaponics system, fish and plants are raised together with the intent to recycle resources. The fish waste supplies nutrients to plant roots, and the growing plants purify the water. The system cleans and recycles water, keeping fish healthy while promoting plant growth through nutrient-rich water.

Lostutter, a chemistry and psychology double major, initiated the project.

Incorporating aquaponics into Trinity’s curriculum could benefit several departments:

  • Biology courses could use it to study the nitrogen cycle, sustainable energy systems, and the plant growth cycle.
  • Chemistry classes could test the system’s nitrate levels for proper growing conditions. The system would provide a unique way of learning water chemistry, including running tests for nitrates, ammonium, and pH levels.
  • Biology and chemistry majors may utilize the system for independent research projects.
  • After the aquaponics lab is fully functioning, it will provide fresh produce and fish to the community. Business students could set up and run a business selling the produce.


“In my romantic mind, I believe the system to potentially be a small wave that causes people to reevaluate their part in furthering the Kingdom,” said Lostutter

The students were inspired to start the aquaponics system after a field trip during the Food Justice Interim. Assistant Professor of Social Work Cini Bretzlaff-Holstein taught the course and supported the students’ efforts.

The aquaponics system will measure 40”x 48”, with a height of 46”, and will be located in the Heritage Science Center greenhouse. Those involved with the project hope to have it built this month—with seeds planted and fish swimming.