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Hello,

We are students at NC State University getting our masters in Global Innovation Management. Our project is working with aquaponics and we need to know what the most important factors of aquaponics farming are for you.

Can you list the top 10 things (or as many items as possible) in order of importance. 1. being most important.

Also, in your opinion, where are good cities throughout the USA are prime for aquapoincs systems?


Thank You,

Andrea, Kaitlin, Stefanie

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Well im no where near as knowledgeable as others on this site but seeing as how no has commented yet ill give it a shot with what i have learned. As far as factors in order of importance i guess number one would have to be the bacteria because without it all you would have is a bunch of dead fish and plants. After the bacteria is present and the system is cycled properly i would say fish becomes the next factor. Depending on where you live and how well you can regulate your water tempature, different types of fish will suit the individual system better than others. Next I would think plant type would be in line of importance. Depending on how deep or shallow your grow bed is or even if you use the raft system will determine what plants will do better. Like I said I am no where near as knowledgable as others on this site so hopefully more experienced members will comment to correct me where I am wrong. Sorry if thats not the kind of info you were looking for.

Since this is for a management degree, I'll give you advice with that in mind.
You need to consider the bottom line.
I've seen several resources online that say in commercial aquaponics you'll break even on fish sales, and your profit will be on vegetables.
Tilapia are the hardiest fish for aquaponics, but they are not native to the US so some states have some regulatory hurdles to go through with the fish & game dept. For example- my experience in Texas is that you can only buy tilapia from someone with a state issued exotic fish license. The licence holder has to deliver the fish to your premises. You can breed them and sell them (not alive) with no permit. Look for pond-stocking services for a source of startup fish. You can't even have out of state fish shipped to you unless you have the exotic fish license.
Choose a city whose population are interested in buying AP veg. You can sell to the public on site, or at farmers markets. Sell to restaurants or to grocery stores that support local producers. I'd at least shoot for setting your sale prices equal to the competition and really make the sale based on the fact that is is local, sustainable, all the AP feel-good characteristics.
Your chosen city should have affordable commercial space for the operation. Unless its in an area that can grow year round, this operation must be indoors.
The location doesn't have to be in the city limits of your target market, just reasonably close.
Look at water use regulations and also electricity costs. There can be a lot of variaton between cities and states. Insurance varies between states too.
Also, consider the business climate of the state. What's their minimum wage? Is it an at-will employment state? What are the state business taxes? Does the state have personal income taxes? You'll at least need one very experienced AP manager to keep the system healty. I'd also have a business manager too, to worry about finances. For your project, you may want to interview a commercial AP expert. Theres an AP consultant in Richardson, TX (a member on this site) You may need to pay for an hour of his time. I think it would be worth it. Sylvia Bernstein could be an option too.

Could you clarify your question a little? Define factors of aquaponics farming..... Do you mean what about aquaponics is important to us in how it affects our lives and the world? Or what are the key factors in learning how to grow with aquaponics that are the most important?

Hi Alex, 

We are looking for a list of what makes aquaponics successful.  ( ie.  water quality/price, location) things of that nature. 

We appreciate it. 


Alex Veidel said:

Could you clarify your question a little? Define factors of aquaponics farming..... Do you mean what about aquaponics is important to us in how it affects our lives and the world? Or what are the key factors in learning how to grow with aquaponics that are the most important?


Thank You Ryan.  We appreciate your feedback and the contacts you provided. 


Ryan Garlington said:

Since this is for a management degree, I'll give you advice with that in mind.
You need to consider the bottom line.
I've seen several resources online that say in commercial aquaponics you'll break even on fish sales, and your profit will be on vegetables.
Tilapia are the hardiest fish for aquaponics, but they are not native to the US so some states have some regulatory hurdles to go through with the fish & game dept. For example- my experience in Texas is that you can only buy tilapia from someone with a state issued exotic fish license. The licence holder has to deliver the fish to your premises. You can breed them and sell them (not alive) with no permit. Look for pond-stocking services for a source of startup fish. You can't even have out of state fish shipped to you unless you have the exotic fish license.
Choose a city whose population are interested in buying AP veg. You can sell to the public on site, or at farmers markets. Sell to restaurants or to grocery stores that support local producers. I'd at least shoot for setting your sale prices equal to the competition and really make the sale based on the fact that is is local, sustainable, all the AP feel-good characteristics.
Your chosen city should have affordable commercial space for the operation. Unless its in an area that can grow year round, this operation must be indoors.
The location doesn't have to be in the city limits of your target market, just reasonably close.
Look at water use regulations and also electricity costs. There can be a lot of variaton between cities and states. Insurance varies between states too.
Also, consider the business climate of the state. What's their minimum wage? Is it an at-will employment state? What are the state business taxes? Does the state have personal income taxes? You'll at least need one very experienced AP manager to keep the system healty. I'd also have a business manager too, to worry about finances. For your project, you may want to interview a commercial AP expert. Theres an AP consultant in Richardson, TX (a member on this site) You may need to pay for an hour of his time. I think it would be worth it. Sylvia Bernstein could be an option too.

Thanks James,  that was helpful as well. We will need to see if there are regulations on fish, plants and bacteria in different regions around the US.  

james davis said:

Well im no where near as knowledgeable as others on this site but seeing as how no has commented yet ill give it a shot with what i have learned. As far as factors in order of importance i guess number one would have to be the bacteria because without it all you would have is a bunch of dead fish and plants. After the bacteria is present and the system is cycled properly i would say fish becomes the next factor. Depending on where you live and how well you can regulate your water tempature, different types of fish will suit the individual system better than others. Next I would think plant type would be in line of importance. Depending on how deep or shallow your grow bed is or even if you use the raft system will determine what plants will do better. Like I said I am no where near as knowledgable as others on this site so hopefully more experienced members will comment to correct me where I am wrong. Sorry if thats not the kind of info you were looking for.

The guy in Richardson is named Dave Pennington. You can find him on the member's list.

I'll echo what others said that marketing is the #1 issue, trumping all others by a factor of 10.  Same as with non-aquaponic farming.  This depends on location, local restaurant and food-buying culture, and your own marketing skills.

If you can sell all your greens for a really good price then you've got a chance just about anywhere.  My impression is that few commercial aquaponics ventures really make money without grants.  Could be wrong though.

In the northern part of the country, system design with regard to heating makes a big difference.

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