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Macon State Prison Launches Aquaponics Program

Homer Bryson
Director of Public Affairs: 
Joan Heath
Contact Name: 
Jeal Dorsey
Contact Email:
May 13, 2016

Macon State Prison Launches Aquaponics Program

Inaugural program partners with Owen & Williams Fish Farm, GA Dept. of Natural Resources, and Fort Valley State 

FORSYTH, Ga. – On March 1, Macon State Prison expanded their horticulture program to include aquaponics - a system that combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). This is the first program offered at a Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) facility that utilizes aquaculture.

“Aquaponics is an exciting addition to the horticulture programming offered at Macon State Prison,” said Commissioner Bryson. “Thanks to this addition, the 14 inmates involved in the horticulture program are now able to learn how to care for fish in a greenhouse environment.”

The facility, which hosts a hydroponics system, partnered with Owen & Williams Fish Farm, Inc., Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Fort Valley State University to implement a recirculating system for plants and fish to live symbiotically in March.

The system is built using two store bought tanks, one 410 gallon for the fish to live in, and one 250 gallon treatment tank. Water flows from the holding tank, where solid waste particles are filtered out, and leaves only healthy nutrients for the plants. From the treatment tank, water is then pumped to an aerator that breaks up the flow and adds oxygen. Finally, water is piped either through the hydroponics system or to a bypass that flows directly back into the fish holding tank.

The students already receive a Lawn Maintenance Technician and Greenhouse Technician technical certificate of credit once they complete the year-long Horticulture program (from South Georgia Technical College), but the goal is to eventually offer Aquaculture certification as well.

The GDC has one of the largest prison systems in the U.S. and is responsible for supervising nearly 52,000 state prisoners. It is the largest law enforcement agency in the state with approximately 10,500 employees.

For more information on the GDC call 478-992-5247 or visit




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