Arlington Catering Company Uses Aquaponics to Farm Fish

by Katie Pyzyk July 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm 6,072 26 Comments

An Arlington catering company is boasting about being the first in the D.C. metro to use a non-traditional technology — aquaponics, a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture — to farm its own fish.

Main Event Caterers (3870 S. Four Mile Run Drive) recently began using the urban farming technique. Aquaponics is the practice of using a closed-loop ecological system to grow both fish and plants in one body of water. Water circulates through fish tanks, moves through filters and plant beds, then heads back to the fish tanks.

The catering company says the process benefits the business as well as the environment.

“Less water and fertilizer use, the ability to grow a large volume of crops in a small space, and the value of our clients knowing exactly where their food comes from are just a few of the benefits we’ve experienced,” said Joël Thévoz, CEO of Main Event Caterers.

Main Event Caterers has a history of operating a green business. In addition to the aquaponic farming, it uses compostable materials, wind and solar powered electricity and rain water reclamation.

“Our commitment to sustainable initiatives runs deep,” said Nancy Goodman, Co-Founder of Main Event Caterers. “Everything we do within our daily operations is motivated by our dedication to protect and preserve the environment while providing an entirely green experience to our clients.”

  • JimPB

    Very interesting.

    What are the fish fed? This effects such things of the Omegas in fish. How does the nutritional content of these fish compare to wild and farm raised (in the ocean) fish? How does taste compare?

    And: what is done with the fish urine (removed from water, but then used? if so, how?) and their stool (a potentially valuable fertilizer)?

    • IP678

      I prefer my fish pulled right out of the Potomac.

      • AL

        Dang it, you beat me to the punch!

        • Drunk_IrishChick

          Yeah, I love PCB’s and Mercury!!!!!!

    • AL

      The ammonia in fish urine and feces is converted to nitrite and nitrate as part of the nitrogen cycle.

      However, I don’t think I’d ever want to eat seafood produced in this manner any more than I’d want to eat seafood plucked out of the Potomac River!

      • Stu

        Why not? Everything in the ocean pees and poops.

        • AL

          The concentration of substances in the ocean is much less due to the sheer amount of water!

        • UA

          Including me.

    • drax

      They are fed garlic, brah.

      There, that’s done.

      • Arlington Cat

        Two points, Bro,

        I didn’t expect a garlic reference because it is a piece about a caterer and not a restaurant. So, you got me. Well played.

  • JohnB2

    Neat stuff. I’d like to see more about how it all works.

    JimPB: the plants help remove the wastes from the water, the filters help too, both mechnically and biologically (nitrification/denitrification).

  • Clarendon

    Great, now open a good seafood restaurant and we’ll be set.

  • CW

    I can’t seem to find in the article or on their website what type of fish is being farmed. I would assume tilapia, which are in my understanding the easiest to raise in tanks, as they can tolerate greater variations in water temperatures, etc. than other food fish. Still no easy task. I wonder what their annual production is going to be?

    • North A-Town Snob

      I was wondering the same thing. Can’t seem to find anything on their website that says anything about it either.

  • arrrlington

    I used Main Event for my wedding. Great company!

  • ClownLoachBro

    Eat me.

  • wow, I would have never guessed they had such an operation down there. It looks so none-techy. Very cool.

  • FBG

    What’s with the myspace pic?

  • Undereducated

    Since the backyard hens concept hasn’t met with much support, perhaps backyard fish will be more palatable. A fish in every pot.

    • drax

      Backyard hens does have alot of support. Don’t judge anything by the comments here. That’s a mistake.

      • Undereducated

        I haven’t heard anyone crowing about backyard hens recently.

        • MarceyRd

          Backyard hens have a lot of opponents. Don’t judge anything by the comments here. That is a mistake.

          • Undereducated

            I actually give a kluck about backyard hens, but I don’t hold any hope that they will get county support any time soon.

  • Sarah

    And, outside of this, Main Events is a tremendous catering company. We used them for a large event of ours, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the staff, food, and general organization!

  • Judging by the number of comments and questions coming up here thick and fast, I guess this whole aquaponics thing has intrigued many.

    As a DIY aquaponics enthusiast, here is my .02:

    IMO, one very important point (not mentioned in the article) is that with an aquaponic system, one can farm not just fish but also 100% organic veggies. (Several aquaponic farms have already been certified by the USDA to be 100% organic.)

    2. An aquaponic system uses the symbiotic relationship between fish and plants to form a closed-loop where the fish produce the nutrients (fertilizer) for the plants and plants clean/purify the water for the fish, by absorbing the nutrients.

    3. Plants grow on pure rock-beds submerged in water, without any soil.

    4. In a typical (aquaponic) system, all one needs to do is to feed the fish (the same way as you’d feed fish in an aquarium); the closed-loop system largely takes care of the rest.

    5. Just about any type of fish can be raised (depending on the government regulations applicable to the area where you live).

    6. In this system, plants grow about twice as fast as they do via traditional farming/gardening.

    7. A small DIY aquaponic system could be setup even indoors and larger ones can be setup almost anywhere outside – garage, backyard etc.

    8. One can harvest enough fish and veggies to feed a family with a simple (and inexpensive) DIY aquaponic system, requiring (much) less than an hour of daily maintenance/upkeep.

    Hope this helps. 🙂

  • Thanks for all the great comments, if you’d like to learn more about what we’re doing or ask a specific question about the Aquaponics system, our Facebook page is the best way to get in touch, http://www.facebook.com/maineventcaterers.


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