New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Home Gardeners Are Trying Aquaponics to Produce Trout or Tilapia - aquaponics 2

We work with dozens of schools that are using Aquaponics as teaching tools from kindergarten through university.

By Sylvia Bernstein
June 23, 2014

What could be better than growing fresh organic produce in your own urban garden? What if that same garden also provided a regular supply of fresh, organically fed Trout or Tilapia? Although it may sound like science fiction, there are thousands of gardeners around North America and world doing exactly this with a new type of urban gardening, called Aquaponics.

Aquaponics is, at its core, a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture. In other words, growing plants without water and raising fish for food. The two sets of organisms benefit each other in these nearly closed-loop systems. The fish are fed organic food and, in turn, their waste becomes food for the hydroponically grown plants. The plants act as filters for the water, which ensures that the fish stay healthy and happy in their tanks. Beyond these two core components, composting worms and bacteria also play important roles by converting waste in the system into usable nutrients.

Why is this interesting? The most interesting thing about Aquaponics is that in just a few square feet, indoors or out, anyone can produce substantial amounts of organic food – not just veggies, but animal protein as well. Especially with all of the health and sustainability concerns around store-bought fish, the idea of raising your fish in a healthy and organic environment is very powerful. Aquaponic gardens are becoming common on porches, in sunrooms, in back yards, garages, and even in many basements. - aquaponics 3

In the last 5 years, Aquaponics has really taken off. Our customer-base has grown to include interesting people from all corners of the earth, and all walks of life. We work with dozens of schools that are using Aquaponics as teaching tools from kindergarten through university. Beyond education, many of our customers are urban families raising food for themselves and friends, retired gardeners looking for a news challenge and just about everyone in between.

Getting started with Aquaponics is easy. You don’t need any special skills or even a particularly green thumb. The web is full of DIY resources and businesses like ours that sell complete Aquaponics systems, ready-to-use. The plants can be started from any seeds you want and fish are typically ordered as fingerlings (babies) from fish supply companies and arrive in just a couple of day by UPS. After the initial system set up, your fish and plants will thrive with very little input from you. The ecosystem is relatively self supporting and your main tasks will be feeding your fish and harvesting your food.

For the entrepreneurial minded reading this, your mind has already likely gone to ideas of scaling up and creating your own urban fish and produce CSA or famers market stand. You are not crazy and definitely not alone. Small-scale (and large) urban Aquaponics businesses are popping up all over the world. Many start as small-scale hobbies and bud into thriving local businesses as demand grows for the delicious food being produced. Our community forum website has many members that have done exactly this and are happy to share their experiences.

For aspiring Aquaponic entrepreneurs, the best news is that you can start small and grow your system with your client-base. Many types of Aquaponic systems are modular and can be added on to, one grow-bed or fish tank at a time. These systems can start at a home-use scale and grow large enough to supply dozens of families with fresh produce and veggies.

Want to learn more or dive in? My company has created a huge amount of free and paid resource to help you get started. Here are a few:

For the “I know enough already, where can I buy a system?” group:

Head over to our ready-to-use systems page and choose a system that that ships with fish, worms, seeds and everything else you need to get started. Click here to view our Aquaponics systems.

For the “I need to research this online for hours and build it all myself” folks:

Take a look at our free, information-only website:
Get involved in our forum/community site: The Aquaponics Community
Watch any/all of dozens of videos on our YouTube channel: Aquaponics on YouTube

For the “it’s only real once I have an actual book between my fingers” group:

I just so happened to write a very thorough book on Aquaponics, which you can see reviews of and order here:

Finally, for workshop goers and hands-on learners:

We teach weekend-long intensive courses on three different topics within Aquaponic gardening in our Colorado Aquaponic Learning Center. FYI, the classes fill up early. Check out the next courses here:

Oh, and… do you like parties?

We will be hosting the first annual Aquaponics Fest in Longmont, CO this August 9&10. There will be dozens of speakers, vendors, contests, demonstrations and classes. Tickets are on sale here: Aquaponics Fest