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What is Aquaponics?

 Aquaponics is the combination of Hydroponics and Aquaculture, Aquaponics is NOT Hydroponics, they are similar in look, but the methods they use are different.

An aquaponic system is made up of three basic components:

  1. A fish tank
  2. A grow bed
  3. Helpful bacteria

With Aquaponics all the nutrients needed to grow your plants are provided by the fish waste, and in turn the plants clean the water that the fish live in.  Aquaponics combines the strengths of Aquaculture and Hydroponics and effectively negates the weaknesses.

Quick overview of my current Aquaponic system:

My system is an indoor system, I am building it in my office.  It currently takes up a little bit more room than a standard coffee table (I used a coffee table as the base for my grow beds).  My grow beds and also my fish tank are just standard rubbermaid plastic totes like you would find at Wal-Mart.

Since my system is indoors, a good deal of my work has been in recreating nature in an indoor environment, this means that I have fluorescent lighting systems to imitate the sun, an oscillating fan to simulate wind, and I have to hand pollinate the plants that require it.

Also to control my Aquaponic system I built a custom hardware controller that takes care of running the water pumps and oscillating fan.  At some point I would like to have it start controlling more aspects of the system like monitoring water levels and temperature and also managing the lights, but for now the system is quite simple.

Short term goals for my Aquaponic system:

Right now my system consists of one grow bed and one fish tank, I have room in my current system for three grow beds and two fish tanks, I would like to fill out this current system.  Also, I have been working in my office to basically pack/get rid of almost everything in there to make way to expand my system.  When I am finished in my office I would like to have eleven grow beds and around 200 gallons of water for the fish (Using the two small tanks I currently have, and then adding a 150 gallon feed trough to raise larger fish in).

I believe that once I have filled my office with a full 11 bed Aquaponic system that I should be able to provide all the leafy greens we will want along with most of the veggies and herbs that we need.

Long term goals for my Aquaponic system:

The main reason I have been experimenting with Aquaponics is to learn as much as I can so that I can setup a full sized greenhouse on the homestead we intend to buy.  I would like to have a system large enough to provide all the food needed for ourselves and produce an excess that can be used for others living on the homestead and also to be able to sell food for a profit to local people and restaurants.

Since in a greenhouse environment we will be able to grow year around once we do the initial setup it should cost very little to maintain the system and we will be getting food almost for free along with a constant supply of fish as well.