Aquaponic Gardening

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Is there a rule of thumb you use for how many sq ft of grow beds and how many gallons of fish is required to produce enough food to feed one average person year round completely?  Thanks so much.


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The reason I ask is because I'm at a monolithic dome course this week, and I'm about to spend money on a dome developed for aquaponics with fish tanks in the concrete ground like an indoor river, and grow beds suspended from the ceiling above the tanks. It's all concrete, will be buried under ground (using led lights), and I want to make sure I'm planning properly. I will post sketches and I'm looking forward to good ideas and pitfalls.

If you could make an automated system in a concrete dome buried under ground, what would you do to make it perfect?

I'd think about housing the aquaponics in an attached greenhouse and move it inside if necessary.  Possibly the greenhouse could be used to heat the dome.  I watched the video at - really cool.  Good luck.

Thanks George. I'm going to put it in the dome underground. If I can get good info on how much water and how much grow bed in order to feed one person year round, I'll have a much better idea on how big the dome must be. Thanks in advance for ideas on a system in an underground dome.

I did some rough calculation including fish, veggies and barley or wheat for carbohydrates (which will grow in AP). My assumptions were 1500 calories a day per person. I came up with 500-700 square feet of fish and plant growing space to generate that amount of calorie output per person per day. That assumes optimum yields and no losses. You would probably have to double that to be safe.

Seeing that you need 1000-1400sq feet per person and 10-15 KW of power for the grow lights, that would need to be a very large and well powered underground dome to support a family. If you got very creative with the dome and grew on every surface you may be able to shrink that. Lets be clear, without the sun we are out of business.

My calculations were all based on available crop yield data. And no I don't have the calculations anymore.

Oh, I forgot to mention you would need about 10 pounds of fish food per person, per day to get your 1500 calories. So as you can see you are better off eating the fish food or stocking up on rations than planning a doomsday AP system.

Thanks John.  I really appreciate it.  I'm interested to see how your math compares to that of others.

My best effort is about one fifth of an acre per person, (not including grains) of which two thirds were soil grown and one third hydro (all using fish effluent). Please read my blogs: and . 

One would need a breeding tank, a fry tank and a grow-out tank large enough for at least fifty two tail of fish assuming one eats one fish per week.

Personally, I disagree with the idea of using artificial lighting of any sort unless one is in an extreme environment like space or the south pole esp if one is trying to be self sufficient. Though good for growing greens, I don't believe LEDs are enough to grow fruiting plants. I believe in following dreams but I strongly suggest you do some more research before you dump loads of money into a fantasy. 

Sorry to cut this short but I will follow up on this topic and input what I can, when I can. I would love to collaborate with you to build this concept into reality and I won't even charge you a consulting fee. All I ask would be to credit me with the eventual design.


Thanks for the reply Carey.

Here is a simple calculation... Let say you are just growing rice. Average yields are about 5 tonnes per acre. that comes out to about 11000 pounds of rice. Brown rice has about 1686 calories per pound so that would give you 18,580,000 calories of food or enough to feed 33 people for 1 year 1500 calories a day. There are 43560sf in an acre, divide by 33 and you get 1320sf per person.

It is possible to get higher yields than 5 tonnes an acre with record yields at double that so theoretically you could get as low as 660sf per person. AP does get higher yields in general but is not yet studied with rice production.

Thanks Jon.

there is some kind of aquaponics pond in the " Earthship " that they make in Taos  New Mexico , they intend it to feed the inhabitants . you might find out good ratios from them 

over my head , i eat one fish per week not counting crayfish. that's 52 fish  per person per year. my family eats  lots of chicken, pizza and hambergers 

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