Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Dear all members,

My name is Chris lee, I have recently inherited 16.58 acres(low density) in southern New Jersey. My plans is to start a commercial aquaponics farm, raising Tilapia, rainbow trout, Malaysian prawns, and growing different types of lettuce, herbs, etc.,(market demand).
I designed a 3 layer raft system and incorporating hanging gardens as well. I have at the moment 13 restaurants verbally interested in purchases, and commercial supermarkets as well. I can go on and on, but I am not great with business plans and proforma balance sheets. Does anyone out ther have any tips, pointers, or softwares that they could possibly help me. Just trying to start up my business!

Greatly appreciated and excited!

Chris

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The business part of commercial aquaponics is certainly the hardest part, sorry I don't really have any tips for you on the business side, I think I need some myself.

However, on the aquaponics side, you definitely need to find out from your local authorities what sorts of permits and business licenses you need to do what you want to do.  And also, commercial aquaponics trying to incorporate the list of species you mention might have some issues since tilapia and malaysian prawns need heating while trout need cool water.  What sort of greenhouse are you going to be using?

I'm not sure what you mean by 3 layer raft system incorporating hanging gardens.  Multi layer aquaponics can't really take full advantage of sun so you will have added costs of lighting and the electricity to run that lighting.

By your mention of 3 layer, I'm assuming your design is influenced by growing power and/or sweetwater.  Please make sure you plan enough filtration for your fish load.  I've seen many come from viewing their systems only to try to mimic the parts they noticed and wind up with way too many fish for the filtration afforded by just the rafts alone and wind up killing huge amounts of fish for lack of filtration.

Aquaponics is really about raising bio-filter bacteria (kinda like organic gardening is about growing the soil and letting the soil feed the plants) to filter the water for the fish and provide the nutrients for the plants.  Aquaponics is definitely more than simply feeding the fish water tot he plants, that description leaves out a whole part of the important triangle.

Thank you for your response. In the state of new jersey, I have discovered that I do not need permits to raise the specific aquaculture. The 3 layer system will have UV lighting under each row, which would not run too much electricity. It's also to incorporate the rotation periods, starting from the top, but then again you may be right on efficiency. Im also experimenting with mirroring system to maximize the amount of jewels I can capture during the day, while using renewable energy to light after sunset.
I have also calculated the amount of fish I would need to support that sort of growth. Also, the Malaysian prawns acts as another filter, without harming the roots.
I plan on incorporating Rutgers university's agri. Program to help me as well. They are looking into further research...so why not use them?
Your input is greatly appreciated....please let me know what you think.

Chris


Chris lee said:
Thank you for your response. In the state of new jersey, I have discovered that I do not need permits to raise the specific aquaculture. The 3 layer system will have UV lighting under each row, which would not run too much electricity. It's also to incorporate the rotation periods, starting from the top, but then again you may be right on efficiency. Im also experimenting with mirroring system to maximize the amount of jewels I can capture during the day, while using renewable energy to light after sunset.
I have also calculated the amount of fish I would need to support that sort of growth. Also, the Malaysian prawns acts as another filter, without harming the roots.
I plan on incorporating Rutgers university's agri. Program to help me as well. They are looking into further research...so why not use them?
Your input is greatly appreciated....please let me know what you think.

Chris
Hanging garden...1 sq. ft, can be turned into 8'

I do have a strong recommendation that you get a small system going for yourself before you get too deep into the commercial aquaponics investment.  Make sure you really enjoy farming because this is definitely not a commercial operation that you can really get away with hiring out to temp labor or something and just monitoring it from your computer.  It is farming and it is a type of farming that demands a pretty big up front investment to go large scale commercial.

Chris.. if you have all that land available.... why are you layering the rafts, and using artificial lighting....

 

It just doesn't make economic sense to pay for the cost of electricity... when you could use sunlight, and a greenhouse if required....

 

And a single layer raft system will be so much easier to maintain....

Yes I agree, the weather here is very fickle. The electricity will be running off of renewable tech. I'm trying to utilize space on 1 acre, then to expand when business is viable.
I have been doing this for 2 years. Also did an apprenticeship in northern Cali.
I'm also trying to emphasize to the public, that smart farming does not require mass land.

Chris,

   Suggest you consider visiting the Aquaculture Research and Education Center at Cheyney University outside of Philadelphia. They have over 10,000 SQFT aquaponics greenhouse with 35,000 gal of fish tanks 

http://www.cheyney.edu/natural-applied-sciences/Facilities-and-Equi...

http://www.cheyney.edu/natural-applied-sciences/images/AquponicGree...

They grow basil commercially and sell it widely around that area.

Wow! Thank you Bill!
@ bill, I have contacted Cheney univ., and the director was very helpful! We are possibly talking about a JV in near future

Chris,  You can raise the fish without a permit, but you will need a license to bring them into the state from the NJDA.  How big of a renewable energy source do you have, you will need a lot!  I have a 30.8 KWH photovoltaic system and that would not be nearly enough to raise tilapia in New Jersey.

Chris, how are you going to raise Tilapia, rainbow trout, and Giant Malaysian Prawns... all in the one system...

 

They have contradictory temperature requirements...

 

And I'm sorry... but providing UV lighting to your 3 layer grow beds... will not produce relaiable, or IMO, acceptable plant growth....

 

Plants need a much wider spectrum of light than purely UV...

 

Beware of all those "verbal promises"... IMO... they're not worth diddly squat... and even if they do materialise... if you can't produce and gaurantee supply... they'll dissappear faster than a politicians promise...

 

And commercial supermarkets.... I seriously doubt you'll get a foot in the door... partly due to food safety compliance issues... but more because they'll demand wholesale pricing... and you won't turn a profit on a wholesale basis...

And then there's the question of maintaining supply...

 

From what you've written... which tends to suggest that you haven't as yet done a business plan...

 

I suggest that you do some various serious research,,, and then a serious, no bullshit business plan.... allowing for 20% less production than you migth think acheivable...20% less market than you think... 20% more costs than you think...

 

And then figure out if it's worth investing 24/7 of your time... at no cost.. doing it all....

Thank you Rupert. I have currently been working with 2 university aquaculture programs to assist and JV with the lab. As far as commercial scale goes, I have already discussed with board f directors in supplying at small local level, and compliance with health codes. ( university research has covered this)

I have visited 3 aquaponics farms in Cali, Utah, and Chicago...they all had similar designs and have been very successful.

The only trend I have noticed with aquaponics in a commercial level...nobody wants to push the envelope. I appreciate your comments.

Thank you

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