Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Hi Everyone! First post.

I'm feeling the bug to start an AP system in my backyard/garage.  I've enjoyed reading a bunch of the discussion threads up and down the various boards on this forum.

I live in the Puget Sound region, north of Seattle, WA.

I'm trying to figure out the cost-benefit balance of sizing a starter system.  Just looking at tanks, pumps, plumbing, time invested, water quality management, etc... would it be better to start with a smaller fish tank (30-50gal) and grow beds or would it be better to start with a larger 275/330gal IBC tote and larger beds?

The incremental costs for the larger tanks and equipment are offset a bit by bulk price discounts and a used IBC water tote isn't that much more expensive than a 50 gal barrel.

What do you advise? I'd call myself a novice, at best, at the farming, plumbing, and water quality aspects although I'm not intimidated about following directions and mechanical tinkering (kinda looking forward to geeking around with the water management, to be honest :) ).

Just trying to not set myself up for failure and be efficient with my startup.

The goal of the system is, really, to grow some vegetables and herbs and see if I can create a stable biosphere.  I'm really just looking for some advice from the seasoned crowd.  I assume there's nothing wrong with running a larger system and tiptoeing into the number of fish/quantity of plants...but, over to you folks, what do you think and what questions do you have?

Thank you!

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My first system (still in use) was a barrel-ponics system with goldfish and pea gravel form Lowe's as grow media. That system (with some modifications) is still in use. I called it my 'proof of concept' for the Mrs. I needed to show her verifiable results before she'd "allow" me to go with a larger system and greenhouse.  

What kind of barrels and grow beds did you use?  What kind of budget did you have for the materials? 

Thanks! :)

My budget? "If it's free, it's for me!" 

The barrels are discarded barrels from an apple plant. They had detergent in them.

My second system: The tank in the basement is an extra stock tank (Rubermaid) and a 2x4 frame with a pond liner that was left over from a friends koi pond build.

Pumps are all from either PetSmart or CraigsList. Air pumps are just little ones from PetSmart as well. 

 Hi Patrick,

  If I was planning a new system I would go with the bigger system as long as you already like gardening and  plants,  because there is little difference in the  cost  of the two systems you are talking about. If you do choose to go with the smaller system I would make sure that you purchase a pump that has the capacity i.e to meet the height  of the grow beds and additional gallons per hour the bigger system will need if you decide to upgrade...  Also larger systems are more stable and do not fluctuate as much.

  When I  purchase pumps I usually try to get one with a two year warranty. I have found good deals on e- bay. I have also purchased pumps from Lowes which I think carries a one year warranty, but I had to replace several of them so I just decided to get my pumps from a different source and I have been pleased with the ones I purchased from e-bay. Also it is always wise to have a back up pump.

Hi Patrick I'm at the same spot as you are. I have decision to go with the bigger system and the green house. I just go head first all in. I'm in the same neck of the woods as you. Good to see people from west side of Washington.  

Thanks for the suggestions, Sheila! Anthony, great to hear from you...what kind of plants and fish are you thinking of trying?


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