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The Easy Off-Grid Way To Start An Aquaponics System

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aquaponics system (Image source: Aquapolics.com) [1]

Always do your research before adding to your aquaponics system. Also, make sure that you have the space, materials, time and energy to maintain it. (Image source: Aquapolics.com)

There is an abundance of information on the Internet describing how to set up an aquaponics system, and a lot of that information makes it look frighteningly complicated and time-consuming. Today, I am going to try and simplify it for you, and hopefully make it less scary.

So what’s aquaponics? It’s a combination of fish and plant production using aquaculture and hydroponics systems. But is it really as easy as I claim?

This is a yes and no question. Yes, because it can be as easy as you want to make it. And no, because both aquaculture and hydroponics have difficulties inherent in the systems. When combining the two systems you can reduce the difficulties to just a few rather than a few dozen.

The difficulties you can run into with aquaponics are few and can be remedied fairly easily. These problems are:


1. Space

Where can you put your fish tank and grow beds? Solutions:


2. Equipment



3. Time


Setting up your system is easy once you have the space you want to build it in. For this article, we will be concentrating on setting up your system inside a greenhouse.

aquaponics system (How Home Aquaponics Can Deliver A Perpetual Supply Of Food) [2]

Image source: Aquaponicsplan.com

Here’s the equipment you’ll need:


Fish Tank


Growing Medium


Grow Beds


Freshwater Master Test Kit


Water Pumps

Would You Like An Aquaponic System For Your Home? Click Here! [3]


What Fish Should I Use To Stock My Tank?

What type of fish you use depends on one of two things. Are you going to eat them or are you just raising them for the poop? My answer is that I intend to eat them so I’m going to list the fish that are often stocked in aquaponics systems.


aquaponics system (Image source: UFL.edu) [4]

Tilapia. Image source: UFL.edu






Other fresh aquatic critters you can use in aquaponics once you have the technique down are crawfish/crayfish, freshwater mussels, and freshwater prawns.


What Plants Can I Raise In My Grow Beds?

Any plant that can be harvested as a leaf will grow well with just the fish providing the nutrients the plants need to grow: leaf lettuce, kale, basil, spinach, arugula, dill, chives, etc. This is a benefit to your winter produce since you’ll be able to enjoy fresh salads all through the cold months.

Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and other plants of this nature can also be grown in your aquaponics system. However, you will need to find a supplier for the supplemental fertilizer you will need to add for them to grow properly. Any plant that flowers to produce a fruit needs boron, copper, sulfur, and other nutrients and minerals to fruit properly.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to grow any plants where the harvestable product is grown at the roots. This means you will need to grow your potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes and turnips in dirt. But since you are setting up your aquaponics system in your greenhouse, this is a benefit because now you can use those places that would be taken up by your leaf crops to grow more root crops. And you’ll get about 30 pounds of harvested, edible fish per year if you use tilapia.


Final Thoughts

I cannot stress it enough: Always do your research before adding to your aquaponics system. Make sure that you have the space, materials, time and energy.

One thing I have not talked about in this article is breeding space for your fish. If you don’t want to have to purchase fingerlings every few months and wait for them to grow up, you will need to provide breeding space within your tank or a separate tank for your chosen breeding pair so that the grown fish don’t attack the resulting fry. Again, you will need to research what your species of fish requires for breeding and what the fry require to grow into fingerlings.

Remember that when you harvest your fish you will get roe from them. Roe from the males can be fried up for dinner or sold as fish bait while the roe from females can be rinsed, salted and cured into your very own caviar, which can then be canned and kept to surprise your friends and family with a “posh” treat on special occasions. Depending upon the species and sub-species of your fish, the color of the roe will be nearly any color between creamy yellow and dark purplish-red.

I’m sure that there are a few other things you may want to know, but all I can offer right now is to do your due diligence and research everything. Happy harvesting!

Do you have experience with aquaponics? What advice would you add? Share it in the comments section below: