Got the Go-Ahead for Aquaponics on This Property

I got the go-ahead this week to not only do the aquaponics system here including putting up a small greenhouse, but to do straw bale gardening. So as soon as our tax refund comes I will buy the greenhouse, which is the first step. We have decided to do a build our own system instead of a kit because of the expense of the kits and the shipping. So the greenhouse will come first because there are really only 4 months here that a system could be exposed to the elements without it being an issue.

I am getting an 8 x 10 Duramax, pictured above, because it will hold up to a snow load. It sounds like something the husband, the son, and I can put up in a couple of days time. We will be putting it on the pad in front of the garage, so no need to level or build an area for it. It costs $1248. So definitely the most expensive component, but we do need a protected environment for the fish during the cold season and the otherI got the go-ahead today to not only do the aquaponics system here, but to do straw bale gardening. So as soon as our tax refund comes I will buy the greenhouse, which is the first step. We have decided to do a build our own system instead of a kit because of the expense of the kits and the shipping. So the greenhouse will come first because there are really only 4 months here that a system could be exposed to the elements without it being an issue.

I am getting an 8 x 10 Duramax because it will hold up to a snow load. It sounds like something the husband, the son, and I can put up in a couple of days time. We will be putting it on the pad in front of the garage, so no need to level or build an area for it. It costs $1248. So definitely the most expensive component, but we do need a protected environment for the fish during the cold season and the other cheaper ones I have looked at won’t hold up to the possible snow load. We will eventually get a $6000 glass greenhouse that is expandable when we buy our new property, but that could be a long while as we wait for our house to sell. Also this one will be relatively simple to take apart and move while the fancy one will have to be a pretty much permanent structure.

The cheaper ones I have looked at won’t hold up to the possible snow load. We will eventually get a $6000 glass greenhouse that is expandable when we buy our new property, but that could be a long while as we wait for our house to sell. Also this one will be relatively simple to take apart and move while the fancy one will have to be a pretty much permanent structure, so it will have to wait until we’ve moved and saved up the $11,000 for one.

The fancy one that I eventually want will be like this:

Cape Cod greenhouse

I want a high one like that because I would like to have some citrus trees. Most of the trees I want are dwarves that will be grown in very large pots, but even those can gain some height, up to ten feet. The citrus I want are dwarf meyer lemon, dwarf key lime, and the dwarf Washington Navel orange. Definitely a future endeavor.

I should be able to fit a system with a 100 gallon fish tank, 1 sump tank, and two 50 gallon grow beds in the Duramax with a bit of room leftover for seed starting and hanging flowers and my fodder system. I have decided to use Rubbermaid stock tanks for all of these. They are heavy duty, meant to hold potable water, and are already black and UV resistant. We are going to set them up so the grow beds overhang the fish tank so that it will use less floor space.

I am actually leaning towards goldfish for the fish instead of an edible fish. I figure that just getting the system running is going to require a lot of trial and error, and I’d rather make those errors with 20 feeder goldfish at $1 each than more expensive trout fingerlings. And when we eventually move I want to build an outdoor water feature waterfall thing with a goldfish pond, so when we are ready to actually start growing trout, the goldfish would move to the ornamental pond.

I think a year or two with running goldfish in the system will help me learn the ins and outs. Since my main goal is vegetables and fruits anyway, this seems like the best solution. I mean, I would like to grow trout for the table at some point, but not until I feel like they will be raised in the best environment I can give them. Goldfish can handle a lot given the right amount of water to live in, so I am less likely to kill them if I mess something up. Not that I intend to mess things up, but well, having the best intentions doesn’t mean you won’t mess up. Everything has a learning curve.

I also don’t really want to fiddle with trout until I have the capability of heating a greenhouse during the cold months and running an aquaponics pump and possible fish tank heater with a solar system. Goldfish can handle temps of 35 F to 90 F and we can let them go into hibernation if it becomes necessary. I do still need to find a source of organic goldfish food. I haven’t looked yet, but I am sure there is one.

I really want to get started soon. The tanks will need six weeks to cycle to grow the bacteria before I can even do anything with them, so the sooner that happens, the better. There are ways to jump start the system, but I haven’t really investigated those, other than vaguely that someone used liquid seaweed fertilizer to start growing plants early before they put fish in. But I don’t know much about that at this point.

Right now I am just looking at a small solar system that will run the pump. No heater, no tank thermometer or anything like that. So we would have to set that up, too. It doesn’t look hard, but often things that don’t look hard are, so…the sooner we can get going the better.

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5 thoughts on “Got the Go-Ahead for Aquaponics on This Property

  1. Gold fish are messy, messy fish! They require 5 gallons of water per INCH of fish with a typical filter system. With this you may be able to stock a little more tightly but with a system designed with veggies in mind I doubt it. However fish can eat anything with a high nutrient value. I know a group of people who grow tilapia on rabbit poo. You can try growing some duckweed in an intermediate bed and it is great for feeding fish and the extra filtration could allow you to keep more fish. Any ground meat or seafood tends to be a good source of fish food and so does ground alfalfa like pellets.
    Much like other animals, fish are just omnivores that need a certain balance of nutrients. Where they get those from is fairly irrelevant because they can eat just about anything.
    The best way to innoculate a tank with bacteria to process fish waste into plant food is to ask for someone else’s old filter cartridge or water and use it. Otherwise you should just drop a big feeder goldfish into the tank and start feeding it. The bacteria will build up on its own but not without something like fish waste to encourage it to start.

    • LuckyRobin says:

      I haven’t finished reading just yet on the part about getting the system up and going, other than it takes six weeks from scratch. We want messy fish in aquaponics as the waste is what feeds the plants. We are figuring 10 goldfish per 100 gallons. The filtering from the media beds could probably handle twice that, but we have to think about growth of the fish. A lot of folks do high density stocking with aquaponics, but I certainly don’t think that is where I’d want to start if I’d want to do it at all.. I don’t know anyone who keeps fish so we’ll have to start ours from scratch, unless one of the pet stores would give me one. Or possibly someone on our local facebook trading post.

      I am looking in to raising duckweed for the goldfish. It seems pretty easy to grow. When I move on to trout, I will likely also raise a tank of guppies to feed to them since they are carnivores, not omnivores like goldfish. And will probably have my worm bed going by then, too, so they can have some of those, too. For the goldfish I’ve found a recipe for them that combines vegetables, some fish, and gelatin. And I did find an organic goldfish feed. It works out to $7.43 a pound, but that includes the shipping. Which seems pricey at first glance, but it is a lot of feed in volume considering how light the food is and how much they sell it for by the ounce in pet stores.

      We are going to go and visit the one aquaponics farm in our area before we start our system. They do it on a commercial level, but I’m sure some of it will apply.

  2. tntdreaming says:

    This is a very cool concept. Maybe I need to learn more about this??!! Sounds really interesting!

  3. How exciting! We’ve talked about doing this, but I want to raise tilapia. In our state, there are super strict rules for raising this kind of fish. It sounds like what you are doing, following you while you start your aquaponics adventure, will be a great learning source for us. Keep us posted as you go along. Anxiously waiting to hear!!

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