Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello guys I'm new into aquaponics and Im planning in doing a small aquarium in my backyard and know that is hard to answer this question with not knowing exactly what I want to do but I would like to know around how much money should I spend in it, I learn some financial information about Aquaponics in this website
but I would like to know more of your personal opinions since I'm pretty sure you guys have a lot more experience than me in this topic  thanks  :)

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Well this is hard to say.  If I put a $$ on my initial setup I spent around $350.  Most of that was in media, pump and assorted plumbing that I did not have laying around.  I only have a 20 gallon aquarium (donated to me) and a 10 gallon bed and a 5 gallon bed.  Both I had laying around as well as CPVC from when I redid the plumbing in my house. Friends were more than willing to donate any aquarium parts they had, especially a friend who grows coral professionally, had plenty of tanks and other equipment that he said "take what you want.

I know others who have spent around $1500 for a starter setup.  Really if you shop around on ebay and craigs list you should be able to find everything you need.  Remember it is only a hobby, till the credit card bill is due.

How many square feet of growing space do you want? You can probably expect to spend between $50-$100 per square foot, possibly less if you use at hand materials.

I build this system myself for around $1500 including the hydroton, which is the most expensive part of the system; I spend about $800 on that. It's a 450 gallon system with a 300 gallon fish tank.


Spend it all!  Just kidding. . . 


Aquaponics on a backyard scale can cost whatever your comfort zone is. I built my first IBC based system while I was laid off from work in 2009. Most of the parts I was able to locate on Craigslist for free. My IBC was free, my media was 3/4" rock and my pump was a used $5.00 (750 GPH) pump from a local hydroponics shop. The only real cost was the pump and pvc for the plumbing which is very inexpensive. I started out with large feeder fish which cost .15 each but quickly learned that they are raised to be fodder for other fish and don't live long not to mention they may NOT be free of disease. If I were to do it again, I would go with the best fish you can afford like catfish or tilapia and add them to your system AFTER completing a fishless cycling regimen. Be patient and resourceful if your starting out. Learn how to care and keep your fish and then get going on the plant side of the house. In 2009, I was starting out with AP as a hobby. I now do it full time as a way of earning a living. Our farm is located in Pescadero, CA. We are situated in a 6 acre greenhouse and have 20,000 square feet of aquaponic growing area. We will be expanding to 40,000 square feet in 2013 and hope to reach 100,000 square feet in 2014/2015.  We are located about and hour South of San Francisco and 40 minutes North of Santa Cruz. If you ever visit Northern, CA, feel free to stop by and check out our operation.

Kenji Snow,
Ouroboros Farms, Pescadero, CA

Aquaponics IS the farming evolution!


I agree with Nate, spend it all...

Seriously, though, pick a budget that you are comfortable with, and do the best you can with it. Maybe Kenji can enlighten us with how much they have invested in their commercial venture so far? It isn't cheap, that's for sure. You can't beat dirt for farming value (however, gophers rapidly depreciate that value). If you opt for Friendly style rafts, then you can expect to pay about $10 per liner foot of 4' trough, including liner, lumber, and rafts, plus $1 per gallon for fishtank. So, if you went with a 1000 gallon fishtank tied to 100' of 4' DWC rafts, you could expect to pay $2000. That would give you about 400 sq ft of growing area, at least 900 heads of lettuce, basil, leafy greens, per month of growing season, and about 400 lbs of fish per year. If you were thrifty, you could add some media and wicking beds within that budget, and get your tomatoes and carrots as well. A decent carpenter could put it together in a weekend.

We had an aquaponics workshop here at my place a couple of weeks ago, and built an 8' x 8' raft bed complete, even planted, in 2 1/2 hrs. Nothing was pre-cut or measured, or even designed for that matter. We even had to level the dirt, and I was explaining what we were doing while we were building it. The lumber was free, scrounged redwood 2 x 6 decking from a demolition. We used 21' of DuraSkrim ($42), and 8 rafts from Beaver Plastics (my cost less than $50, but local availability may be challenging). A new pump for $14, $40 for 20 catfish fingerlings, and $5 worth of  PVC for a  bridge siphon, and waalaah. Even if I bought the lumber, about $200 for 144 heads of leafy greens per month, and of course some eventual catfish fries.

I spent less than $300 on my first system. Using mostly found lumber, and one used IBC, I now have a 170 gal fish tank and 130 gal grow bed in a 5' x 5' space. Here is the system as it was being constructed and in in full bloom

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