Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

It feels good to type this, because one of the biggest parts of goal setting and goal achievement is to write them down.

I've been researching aquaponics via Google searches for more than 3 years, but I have not yet built my first system.  I compost with worms and sell my extras on Craigslist for $17 per half pound and $30 per pound. I grow vegetables in above ground beds. I even have a very simply designed deep water hydroponic grow bed made from an 18 gallon Rough Tote plastic container with cheap air stones/bubblers that is beginning to grow it's first bell, banana, jalopeno, and pobalano peppers. But...I don't have an aquaponic system.

Hopefully that will be changing soon.

After finding this community via a Google search a couple weeks ago, it's rekindled my desire to build an aquaponic system that will grow enough fish to feed my wife and I a weekly meal of catfish and enough vegetables to severely reduce our grocery bill for store bought produce. 

It would have happened sooner if aquaponics design was simpler to understand and more inexpensive to build.  I can probably build a DIY barrel system for under $200 to experiment with.  Or, I can purchase a basic hobby-level system for $1,200 - $1,300 from a few different suppliers that will grow out a few fish each year. Or, I can buy a turn-key purpose-built aquaponics system that will grow a substantial amount of fish for between $3,000 and $4,000; and as a bonus the designers of this system will likely even deliver it to my house and help me set it up. Or, I can take the time to learn more of the in's and outs' of building a system by improvising my own components, my own media, my own beds, fish tanks, etc. and probably make some mistakes along the way, but save $1,300 - $1,800 in the process.

Besides deciding to prioritize spending money on something that may not be as simple as it sounds on paper, my second thru sixth largest obstacles has been convicing my wife that we should spend the money on it, sacrifice space in our backyard, risk a few uncomfortable glances and comments from my neighbors, and risk the HOA police putting the kabosh on the entire system before it really gets going well.

Whew! I'm getting tired typing out the list of all those obstacles that are probably closer to excuses than actual obstacles.

I am a complete novice just beginning the journey, but I have learned one thing for backyard aquaponics system is not going to build itself some night while I'm sleeping.  I'm going to have to get my hands dirty and step outside my comfort zone a little to turn it into reality.

I guess I've already taken the first several steps in the process this weekend by making the decisions to use a 300 gallon Rubbermaid fish tank stocked with catfish and attempt to camaflouge the set up with some type of bamboo fencing or some type of retention wall made from a concrete composite or stone pieces.

Only 239 more decisions and steps to take on the journey. Wish me luck!

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Comment by B. Pearcy on March 9, 2011 at 3:59pm
Yes. I have seen Friendlys site. I visited a local farm that uses their commercial design too. It is impressive. The foot print is too big for my backyard though. I need vertical instead of horizontal. I am leaning toward media beds instead of raft style beds. I also think media bed will allow some things that are deeper rooting.
Comment by Carroll Harris on March 8, 2011 at 10:02pm
Friendly Aquaponics has a great deal of information on their site -- they were the first organic aquaponic company in the US (not continental -- in HI) -- they have a great philosophy:  they sell you plans that they've TESTED (and guarantee), and you build it yourself.  Just an idea for a DIY -- I just bought the plans for the Micro 64/128 system -- so I'll let you know next year how I did!  Now I have to do more research and figure out what kind of fish . . .  . and then  . . . .
Comment by Chris McMahon on March 3, 2011 at 11:26am

Good luck Pearcy. I am also still in the design stages. On the HOA issues I would recommend getting an OK in writing before starting. As you know HOA's think they own your property.They also change leaderships sometimes. Getting an OK from them before starting will save you a lot of time and money fighting them later.

I personally would never buy in an HOA, I have read some real horror stories.


To keep costs down I am thinking of earthbaging everything. I want to learn everything about earth-bagging anyway. So I can combine both techs into one.

Comment by Fred Rasmussen on March 2, 2011 at 12:44pm
Good luck Pearcy. I am in the same boat as you. Once I make up my mind to do something, it is just a matter of time and money. I already made up my mind on this and my wife, saint that she is, is also warming up to the idea as she can see I am serious about it.
Comment by rashid on February 27, 2011 at 7:18pm
wish u luck.. all da best!!

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