You have 3 of the same requirements as me:
1. Not Ghetto Fabulous.
2. Low Cost.
a. 200 gal. MacroBin $200.00
b. Wood $15.00
c. Plumbing $80.00
d. Pumps $40.00
e. Net Pots $15.00
f. Green House $65.00
g. Heater $20.00
h. Hydroton $25.00
Total : $460.00
3. Space: 4'x4'x7'
Meg Stout said:
I'm a writer (when I' not being a physicist and DOD program manager). Many of my fellow writers were struggling, so we were talking about how to reduce expenses.
One lives in a yurt, and others were talking about the Tiny Home movement. Internet searching of Tiny Home stuff led to various sustainability sites, the Windowfarm Project, and I started up my own aquaponic windowfarms. But windowfarms can only grow a small amount - they're more a decoration than a serious food production system.
I started loving on the cool Australian sites and looked to see what it would cost to get a system here in the US. Since I couldn't find anything cheap enough to pass the "impulse purchase" threshold, I've been trying to put together a system that doesn't take a lot of construction, built from parts that should be locally available to most Americans. I wanted to do something that didn't look like a handyman special (e.g., no hacked up IBCs, halved blue plastic drums, etc.).
Just completed the basic 100 gallon system with grow lights - seen here in this youtube video, "Complete 3x5 Aquaponics Unit." My cost for this system,including S&H,was just a bit under $550, which includes tank, growbed, heavy-duty shelving, lights, rocks, pumps, plumbing, and water testing equipment. My autosiphon/plumbing didn't require any solvents/glues and it's been running like a charm for several weeks now. The tilapia and license will run me another $150.
I expect to eventually expand this to a 200 gallon, 4 growbed system, limited by the space I have available in my basement room. When the system is mature, I hope to be able to produce enough to feed my family all year round. I expect the cost to complete the rest of the system will be under $1000 - so $1500 for the entire 200 gallon, 4 growbed, system if we don't count the cost of the fish. If I was a vegan, a load of feeder goldfish would suffice for the required biomass.
$550 isn't "impulse buy" level for everyone, but it *is* only 3 digits. And if I was using fish that could exist outdoors and had a yard with ample sunlight, the total cost would be roughly $300 - definitely approaching "impulse purchase" territory.