Aquaponic Gardening

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how much goes into AP? is it for me? help with a phone call?!

I jumped into AP really quickly.  learned about the possibility of integrating quail, fish, and veggies, found a used AP system that is being sold cuz the guy is moving, and I grabbed the deal.  In the rush to get things figured out how to get the system out of his home and into ours within a matter of days, with the AP book still in the mail, i still feel lost and confused on what to do and bits and pieces of helpful info are helpful but i'm still lost.  I could still back out of the deal and the gentleman will be fine with it, but i think i want to still go for it.  i was excited about it and want to raise my own food for my family and community.  i've always enjoyed (and struggled with-live in AZ) gardening, have chickens and am getting quail.  there's no doubt i love this kind of stuff but have a child with disabilities and 3 young kids and want to make sure i'm not getting in over my head time-wise.  once i figure this out should it mainly run smoothly?  how much time will i be putting into this?  i'm sure u all feel it's worth it or u wouldn't be here.  I think it's for me but since i was given this opportunity to buy the system without having time to read a book I need some more direction laid out; what do i do next, what do i buy, where do i buy it...  Is anyone available for a phone call so i could ask questions?  feel free to private message me for my phone number and any direction/thoughts posted here on the forum are ofcourse appreciated, too, ofcourse.  thx!   Kim 

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Media based systems, once established, practically run themselves.  The routine chores of monitoring and adjusting the system (water parameters) takes a few minutes per week.  Fish feeding is a daily or twice daily task which takes one or two minutes. Otherwise, it's simply gardening, except easier, since the plants are automatically fed and watered.  

Click on GROUPS and join the arizona group - possibly someone near you can assist.    

I was confident that I knew what I was doing and still killed most of my fish early on - killed the rest of them later.  

Cycling - you need to understand what that is and it is well explained on this site and in the book.  See forum - Cycling

Good luck

Randall and George, thx for the words of encouragement.  i'm excited and am going to go for it.  It's interesting how people have different perspectives.  some say it's $ and a lot of work.  some say it's easy when u get the hang of it and u can practically do it for free if u integrate your system with quail, chickens, worms...  I guess i'll get to see for myself.  I'm excited and ready to jump in.  like other thigns I've done, chickens, gardening, camping; u name it, can be $ and more complicated or can be less $ and simple.  with AP there's no doubt a learning curve but I have a great resource here and knowing i'll make mistakes and it's not a big deal, i'm in.  thx so much! 

Kim, I have to say I agree with Randall and George. I'm still in my first year of aquaponic gardening and began mainly for my grandchildren. My grandson loves to garden and somehow, at the age of five, had aspirations of selling his humungus cucumbers at the local farmers market. Although he loves watering the garden and harvesting plants, he's was not so good at weeding--and papa was not so good at bending down to weed all the time for him. That's how I got into aquaponics. I figured the higher grow beds would be great and NO WEEDING! I did everything on the cheap, building my fish tank and grow beds out of wood and lining them with dead vinyl. They are not perfect but they work great!

I would say the initial layout of cash might seem harsh but looking back, I saved a lot by just getting the necessities. Most important are a good pump and aeration and heating system. I've found tilapia easy to raise and mine are just about big enough to eat now. I'm so happy because my wife and I both like eating tilapia but don't like that when we read the label, we find they came from China, raised on fish meal, and the first ingredient after the fish is carbon monoxide! I can assure you, my fish will have no carbon monoxide pumped in them.

Okay, off of my rant now, I struggled to get my system up and running but I asked questions of people on this site. did not quite understand all that stuff about PH and Nitrates. I really didn't understand what I was looking at when I tested my water. I'm the guy who didn't know any better and bought ammonia (with cleaner) and put it in my water to cycle the system. I started with little feeder goldfish and probably killed about 500 of them before I got it right. Now for the good news. Once the system was up and running properly, it became virtually maintenance free. I'm raising 18 tilapia in a 200 gallon tank with 27 square feet of grow bed. My grow beds are 12 inches deep and I used pea gravel as a filter medium.

I'm finally getting the hang of rotating crops and adjusting to the seasons. My system is outdoors. I've insulated my tank and grow beds and cover them with shade in the summer and a little homemade (mini) greenhouse cover in the winter. I would say you simply cannot go wrong with this type of gardening. I've always liked the thought of gardening but I seemed to have a black thumb because I didn't understand watering and fertilizing and all that. I grew up in the Northwest where our soil was rich and we got plenty of rain. Our only concern was what to plant in our short growing season, and keeping the goats out of our garden. But now I've even successfully grown: Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Cilantro, Basil, Beans, Peppers, Tomatoes, Collards, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and Eggplants in my system

I say go for it! The worst thing that could happen is you might kill some fish and plants. Surely, that is sad, but as you learn more about this as I am now, you'll realize the awesome benefits and speed at which you can grow vegetables. At first, I only gardened for the benefit of my grandchildren but now find myself looking at every empty lot I drive by and wondering, "wouldn't that be a great place for a community garden?" I don't know, I just see this way of gardening something that can be used for family sustainment, prepping, or providing food to a community.

I must warn you now though, once you've harvested your first crop, you'll be addicted to aquaponics. You'll suddenly find yourself researching ways in which you can use different types of systems like raft and NFT. Just remember, according to Sylvia Bernstein's book, it takes about 25 square feet of grow bed space to support one person a lifetime of vegetables. I think the best benefit of all is that you know where your food comes from and know that it is free of things that can harm you or your children.

Best of luck to you.

Oh, I want to add one more thing. If you are living in Arizona, there are some folks around Mesa that have turned a pool into a large integrated aquaponics system. The thing supports their family of four and is completely off the grid. They give tours too. Check out their website:

James, thx so much for the encouraging info!  i'm surely going to check out the pool!  i'm really excited.  25 square ft per person-i'll surely be expanding! 

Aquaponics is not a lot of work once you're past the initial setup. Of course, there are factors that play into that, but, it's a breeze.

I'd be happy to give you hand; shoot me a friend request so we can message each other.

thx Alex!  nice looking garage set-up u have!  i sent u a friend request.

Chickens poop into the water to feed algae, which feeds tilapia.  It's been well discussed here so I won't go further.

James Stratton said:

Oh, I want to add one more thing. If you are living in Arizona, there are some folks around Mesa that have turned a pool into a large integrated aquaponics system. The thing supports their family of four and is completely off the grid. They give tours too. Check out their website:

yep, i'm interested in learning more about chicken poop. i've heard it's controversial but i'll read and experiment.  getting quail, too, maybe that will give my fish a more broad diet.  :)  i'll read about it.  thx!

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