More Aquaponics Research

A very rare treat for us, rack of lamb was marked down $5, and it was local and organic, so I splurged and this was the lovely result. All I did was sprinkle it heavily with Herbs de Provence and put it in the crock pot on high for 4 hours with a 1/2 cup of water. It was the most delicious, succulent rack of lamb I have ever tasted. Made me want to raise lamb. I wonder if goat meat is close to that? They are somewhat related animals. I’ve heard goat is more like venison, but then people say that rabbit tastes like chicken and it really, really does not. I’d rather raise goats as I am allergic to wool, but I do like the lamb so much.

Now on to the aquaponics. I decided after finding out that the shipping on the expandable $5000 aquaponics system I wanted to buy is $2500 that that is not going to happen. Their shipping is only free if you get the $7500 system. But if you’ve only got $6000 to spend… So I dove into finding out just how much it would cost to put together a simple system ourselves from things I can either buy locally or with free shipping off Amazon. Here is what I’ve come up with.

Stock tank $100
4 masonry mixing tubs $51.92
200 L of clay pebbles $139.80
Plumbing and piping parts (just an estimate with plenty of cushion, no exact numbers here) $200
Submersible pump $54.88
Filter bag for pump $14.57
24 cinder blocks $31.68
12 x 8 foot green house $1248
Tax $165.68 (assuming 9% sales tax, which is high but we are 8.4% here)

Total $2006.53 And that is with the green house that would have been on top of the $7500 for the other.

And I can get a 140 watt off-grid solar panel kit to power it for $741.95 including shipping. The kit includes everything but a marine battery, so just put it together, attach the battery, plug in the pump, and you are good to go. A marine battery is around $130. I suppose there is the water testing kit, good bacteria, and fish food, too but that is negligible and an on-going cost, not a one-time cost.

So with the solar kit and battery, with the green house, it is still not even half the amount the other place is charging.

I know that the masonry tubs aren’t necessarily the best choice or food grade, but a $12.98 tub compared to a $249 grow bed…well, there is no comparison. I think I will chance it. My other choice would be kiddie wading pools which would cost less but not be black. Unless I can find something like an industrial sized tub for mixing salads or coleslaw at a restaurant supply house. Even if I did decide to go with the 4 grow beds at $1190 or so…it is still not anywhere near the $7500. It’s just under $4100.

And the thing is, we can wait on the solar kit and battery if we need to and just plug it in to the electric for now. So do it ourselves it will be. The biggest expense will be the green house and this one is made for the elements around here and to make it through our types of winters, so it is worth the cost and not having to build it from scratch. And it can set on an existing pad so no foundation needs to be built. We should be able to take it apart and move it easily later on.

In the meanwhile, I settled on my little aquarium aquaponics set-up. I bought an AquaFarm and I’ll be setting it up in a week or two and getting started with some herbs and lettuces and a beta fish. I did buy a couple of small organic herb starts for the window, rosemary and lemon thyme. I may or may not put them into the little aquaponics system. I am excited to see how it goes.

9 thoughts on “More Aquaponics Research

  1. valbjerke says:

    Goat meat is leaner, and it doesn’t taste like venison – not to me anyway. Different flavor than lamb definitely. Goat meat handles strong flavored herbs well – makes an excellent curry as well.

    • LuckyRobin says:

      I have been looking to find if there is any place here that serves it. We do have one Indian restaurant, but everything is covered in sauces so I don’t think I could get the true flavor of what the meat tastes like that way. I may just have to order some online.

  2. I’m going to give aquaponics a try on a small scale to see if it’s something I can do. I have a 29 gallon fish tank and I figured I would run a pump into a couple small pvc pipes with the clay pebbles and plants to filter out the fish waste. I’ll probably get gold fish for the express reason that they create a lot of waste for the plants. But I want to give it a shot before just to see if I like it or not.

    • LuckyRobin says:

      Yep, that is why I am trying the small one with the beta fish first. To see how it goes. I think I will like it though. I love to garden but conventional gardening is pretty tough on me. Aquaponics seems like a good answer to that.

      • Sounds like a plan!
        We really just want a nice cool place to grow our lettuce that isn’t outside with the bugs! Keep the aquarium near the kitchen and we’ve got fresh greens all the time!

        • LuckyRobin says:

          I’ll be doing 2 types of lettuce, and 3 herbs in mine. We can’t grow lettuce outside here until end of April and I am sick of store bought greens right now.

          • Me too…I keep having to buy things from the store and then eat them like a crazy person because they go bad in 3 days. We had a whole crate (5lbs) of oranges go bad in a week and 3lbs of grapes in 2 days….so infuriating

  3. We found Australian boneless leg of lamb for $5/lb here and have been buying it! It is so very good!
    Have you considered finding used food grade 55 gallon drums and cutting them in half for your media beds? Or is that too big?
    Something I have been thinking on recently for greenhouses is converting ordinary greenhouses into solar greenhouses by lining the back wall with Mylar survival blankets that one can get online for like $0.05/each.
    And you may wanna consider a goldfish instead of a Betta. When I worked a year at a pet store I learned an unreasonable amount about fish and I think a goldfish would be more indicitive of the amount of waste your aquaponics fish will produce. Aquaponics was originally designed as a way to clean fish waste out of a farmed fish system and the best systems operate on that principle.

  4. LuckyRobin says:

    I did consider the 55 gallon drums, but they tend to bow out on the sides which means also building frames for them to reinforce them and we don’t want to have to do that. We just want to set them on cinder blocks for support and to raise them off the ground.

    There are some really nifty barrel aquaponics systems on youtube, though. There is one where they cut the top off the drum, about the top 10 inches or so, and then put the fish in the bottom piece with a small cut out for feeding, and then flip over the part they cut off, hook up the plumbing and pump and then push it into the new opening of the bin and fill it with media. It looked like it took less than an hour to put it together. Doing it that way nothing bows out. They only bow out when they cut them in half lengthwise.

    But I came across someone who is doing their system with 2 50 gallon stock tanks for the grow beds and 1 100 gallon stock tank for the fish and I liked that. I also found some feed troughs that would work that are 30 gallons. Then some hydroponics reservoirs that would work as media beds. But all in all I think I like the 2 50’s and 1 100 gallon tanks. They will work and no extra reinforcing is necessary.

    I have thought about goldfish, too, as they are a dirtier fish, but it’s only a 3 gallon tank and I think it is supposed to be 5 or 10 for a gold fish if I remember right. Of course with the water being cleansed by the media in the grow pots and the waste eaten by the plants, it is possible that one goldfish might do okay. We’ve never had much luck with beta fish, they are so inbred and they die pretty quickly if they are blue and that is all the kids ever wanted, the inbred blue ones.. I still need to read the book that came with the set and see if it says anything about how gold fish might affect the system. I swear the commercial said you could use a gold fish, but now I can’t find it..

    I am actually even considering just growing gold fish the first couple of years in the big system until we really have it down and then switching to perch or trout. My main goal in the beginning is to just have vegetables that I don’t have to fertilize or water or weed that is at a good height for my body. If we never end up switching to edible fish it won’t be that big a deal.

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