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What type of aquaponics methods offer the highest and quickest ROI for backyard sized systems? Many interested in growing food will be surprised at the cost of media systems. I know I am. It is nice to have a hobby but at my house hobbies need to pay their own way a little better.

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If you do microgreens harvest can be in as little as 7 days. Micro greens are $15/lb at market.
And if you use the raft/Deep Water Culture method, it's a lot less expensive (and less complicated, by a long shot!) -- I haven't built my system yet, but the manual by Tim and Susanne of Friendly Aquaponics is very clear and detailed -- and there are a lot fewer problems, it seems.  It does take up a bit more space, but it's kind of like a raised garden bed space requirement (at least, that's how I'm doing it -- we've staked out the spaces, and it's as though we were putting in two raised beds that were 4' X 8' with a round pool for the fish (it's going to be an overly conservative 275 IBC container, so don't know if it will be round or square) (the beds actually sit on the ground, though, with a liner).   (This is their Micro 64/128 system, so you can enlarge it to 4 trough beds, too -- I'm saving room for the dogs to have frisbee space (old dogs, so not that much room needed!).  Just a thought.    not-even-a-newbie-yet Carroll
I have seen the commercial version of the Friendly design. Even the micro version takes up a pretty big foot print for an urban backyard. I guess there always trade offs. With $1,000 in a media system the ROI at $3 / lb avg will take a few years to break even.
I'm new to aquaponics and still learning, but it's my understanding that the raft system has some limitations regarding the kinds of plants that can be grown. I think media grow beds have an advantage in that area.

Carroll Harris said:
And if you use the raft/Deep Water Culture method, it's a lot less expensive (and less complicated, by a long shot!) -- I haven't built my system yet, but the manual by Tim and Susanne of Friendly Aquaponics is very clear and detailed -- and there are a lot fewer problems, it seems.  It does take up a bit more space, but it's kind of like a raised garden bed space requirement (at least, that's how I'm doing it -- we've staked out the spaces, and it's as though we were putting in two raised beds that were 4' X 8' with a round pool for the fish (it's going to be an overly conservative 275 IBC container, so don't know if it will be round or square) (the beds actually sit on the ground, though, with a liner).   (This is their Micro 64/128 system, so you can enlarge it to 4 trough beds, too -- I'm saving room for the dogs to have frisbee space (old dogs, so not that much room needed!).  Just a thought.    not-even-a-newbie-yet Carroll

http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/Travis/CostBenefitAnalysisofAquap...

GB system ROI for the company above, very detailed

 

275 IBC = $150 clean if you got 2 of them and used one in half for a media bed and 12" of the top of the other as a media bed you would be $300 in + media / pump fish ... That would be about 200 gallons with up to 343 gallons of surface area if you use the tote cut in half for its full depth. Probably the best bang for your buck but you still have to account for media costs, and the fact they are ugly lol

 

If you are strapped for space you might want to look into ZipGrow™ towers as they can serve the same purpose as MB filtration in a smaller package.

 

There are a ton of factors when it come to ROI and some of them you cannot accurately account for. But I would say a couple years to be the average for most systems.

 

My system is going to be indoors so it will cost even more than an average outdoor non-greenhouse system as I will have to pay for lights as well.

LIGHTS:
$1000 just in lighting ($116 a year to run)

FT:

$200 for a 300gal tank (if not going IBC route),

BEDS:

$450 in media beds (if using 50gal)
OR $280 with 70gal beds (24" deep)
OR even better $230 with 100gal beds ...

MEDIA:

Hydroton $713 ($31 a bag at 23 bags for 300 gal)

 

Then you have valves and pluming to add on ...

 

So minimal $1143 (100gal beds x 3 or 29sqft of deep planting area) sump needed in-case of power outage. ($73.9/sqft $3.81/gal)


OR if using IBC route ~260gal $1106 ($806 for the hydroton needed + $300 for IBC or 26.6sqft of deep planting area and if you use the top of the first tote as a GB too 13.3sqft of normal 12" growbed planting area  about 40sqft total $52.7/sqft $4.25/gal) You would need a sump for this however since the GB size is greater than the FT size.


OR IBC ~260gal and use other tank for beds 26.6sqft deep planing $951 (totes + $651 hydroton) ($3.66/gal $35.67/sqft)


OR $795 if I go the ZipGrow™ ($85 each) route ... no sump needed. (35ft planting area note not sqft) while cheap you will not be able to plant as many plants at once as a media bed solution. @ 4" spacing 105 (15 per tower) plants which might be more than enough when you think about it :) [will support crops like tomatoes, peppers, unlike the NFT solutions] MAX price here as you dont have to get 7 towers as this if for MAX stocking amount ($2.65/gal MAX  $22.71/ft MIN)

 

You could go one IBC, cut the top off (so 270gal) and add some ZipGrow™ towers ($85 each) which will act as filtration too ... max of 5 on the system with 27lb of fish. So 25ft of growing space max. Total would be like $575 before pump piping etc... no sump needed. ($2.13/gal MAX   $23/ft MIN)

 

NOTE ABOVE PRICES WITHOUT COST OF LIGHTS (since my case is unique)

 

 

The hardest part is first finding the room, second identifying what you want to grow and what systems you can grow it in. After that you can use simple spreadsheets to calculate costs for medium, beds, etc

 

Each have different planting area and each have a different price point, and each take up differing amounts of room.

 

I consume about $40 in fruits and vegetables a week that I could grow in my AP system. This excludes fruiting trees (again since indoors), and pesky plants requiring acidic soil to grow which I consume, and all root based vegetables I consume as it takes 7 to 9 months to grow them) When my system is up and running, if I am able to produce the same amount per week, then that is $2080 a year in savings. And this amount could actually be more considering the food will be 100% organic without any pesticides.

 

I will be most likely going the koi route, however I am not sure about stocking rates yet because they like to have room so might end up with another fish. However if I went the koi route I could sell them in the future to make money as well ...

 

So ROI is a little bit tricky and will be hard to quantify ... if your on a budget then identify what you want to grow and the room you have to grow it in then find the cheapest solution you can. Eventually it will pay off ... that is certain. And it assumes everything will go smoothly when you start giving time lines ...

 

 

Hope I didn't bore your eyes too much, and I hope my math wasn't off >./p>

-Burton

Burton,

Thanks for the thoughtful response. You pointed out some things I had not thought of yet. Your right in the ballpark I am planning. I have to go a little lighter on fish tank and needs to look good. I will be at $300 for 200 gallons. The media expense is the area money is tight for me.$200 seems high for river gravel for a country boy but in an urban area it seems unavoidable.

If you go with river rocks make sure they are a PH neutral rock!

 

Cant find any IBC in your area or do you already have the fish tank selected?

275 gallon IBCs in CO run $60 to $90 each, plus fuel or freight fees.

Can anyone suggest a good grow medium that is a bit cheaper than hydroten? I guess river rock would add a lot of weight compared to expanded clay though...

We live in a subdivision and my wife is not in favor of an IBC tank. She thinks it's too industrial looking. I have convinced her we can disguise a 4 feet x 30 inch tall fish tank from Aquatic Ecosystems in Orlando.  It's alittle deeper than the 300 gallon Rubbermaid we looked at but the foot print is 2 feet smaller. the next size smaller Rubbermaid is 150 gallons which is on the smallish side for Florida temps.  I found a 200 gallon that is deep, which I like.

 

Burton Rosenberger said:

If you go with river rocks make sure they are a PH neutral rock!

 

Cant find any IBC in your area or do you already have the fish tank selected?

There have been some with IBC tank owners who have decorated them to look nicer ... let me find the link sec ...

 

http://aquaponicscommunity.com/photo/new-indoor-winter-resort

 

goto the photo section on page and search IBC some people have done some good jobs making them look better :)

That actually looks really classy...

You could make it look even better if you put paneling all around it with trim :)

 

Check this out http://olctote.com/videopromo.html ...

Now this uses OCB plywood with wood strips and PP straps ^_^ granted you would need to buy a liner thats pretty cool...

 

Also note, its wood, if you have termites might not be good, but you could make something like this with plywood, fiberglass, PP straps n hooks, + HDPE liner for about the same cost as a used IBC! And think of the posiblities for color and spacing on the straps.

 

You could also make a unit that is not as tall. This would make a system like this easier to move in the future ...

 

Note the PP straps hold about 3500lbs each 0_0

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