I would like to take a moment to contribute some basics for the beginner looking to start their own AquaPonics system. I will only really address a gravity fed or float in pond type setup as I see RAS systems as ultimately unsustainable for the most part. The issue I have with RAS Aquaponics systems is that they are a great way to grow some organic food in an urban or suburban a environment where water and space may be an issue ans must be conserved but are not truly sustainable because of the electrical and usually fish food (and even fish fry!) inputs. When determining the relative sustainability of a project I like to ask one IMPORTANT question;
Could I sustain this system without outside (i.e. NOT RENEWABLE OR ONSITE) inputs?
Obviously a modern urban human settlement is NOT sustainabel anyway so if that is your only option, go RAS for sure! If you are serious about permaculture and sustainability though, find and connect with (or create your own) Farm!!!
A truly SUSTAINABLE closed cycle Aqua-ponics system therefore MUST include three elements Fish, Fish food, and nitrifying bacteria, and Plants. To me, the best way to do things sustainably is to do them as close to the way nature does them as is possible. So you raise fish in ponds, not tanks, and you feed them aquatic plants (algae, duckweed, etc, as well as maybe some worms raised in a worm bin) then you float the plants on rafts in those same ponds and they receive all the nutrients they need there! The nitrifying bacteria will ALREADY be in a natural pond, or will quickly find their way there in any manmade pond as well! I will be adding some how-tos for both RAS, grvaity fed, and float in pond setups to this thread throughout the week as I have time (between our busy farm/workshop activities!) Let me know if you have any questions!!!!
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