Hello, all. I'm interested in setting up an initial aquaponics system on our little farm, and wanted to know what more experienced hands had to suggest. I'd like to assemble the most productive aquaponics system I can for a budget of $500 to $1,500. At a much larger model system, at a high school near me
, "Students harvest 250 to 300 heads of Salina bibb lettuce weekly as well as 40 to 60 pounds of tomatoes. The tilapia grow to approximately 1.5 pounds in one year, making them market ready in a relatively short time. The school presently harvests over 25,000 pounds of tilapia per year."
But when we contacted someone helping to run the above project, he sent us to a website featuring some pretty expensive systems ($3,000+, for a not-terribly-large setup). I'd just like to get a modest aquaponics operation underway now, for a more reasonable price.
A bit of background, since it matters. In this location, we already have a very extensive terraced garden with underground irrigation and excellent soil. We have numerous fruit and nut-bearing trees. We have a large fishpond that could use some repair, but we have those materials and can restock it in the Spring, either using state-provided fish or some stock from our neighbors' fishponds.
We also have skylights in this house (a partially underground, passive-solar mansion), which includes an overgrown atrium (a growing room for indoor plants). And we have at least 125 square feet or so of extra, unused, weatherized windows set aside, which we plan to eventually turn into a greenhouse, if nothing better in the way of materials comes along.
In addition, we have a two-story, metal-roofed toolshed with running water, half of whose bottom floor and attached chicken run once housed a couple dozen laying hens.
Finally, if my wind-energy prototype works out, we may also ultimately have a vast supply of electricity, which will probably be stored in flywheels.
To summarize, we actually have enough food production for everyone living here right now, but this residence is large enough to house quite a few people comfortably if we had to, and I would like to have the productive capacity to feed a large number of potential houseguests, preferably without requiring great amounts of backbreaking labor. (The garden alone will provide enough of that.)
And clearly we also have quite a few resources either on hand or which may come online very soon. But I would like ideas for the best aquaponics system I could quickly and easily assemble for $500 to $1,500. Yes, I have some materials like the glass that could be used, but I'd just as soon get something going now
, and have the glass available when I expand the project later -- when I may have more willing hands around to help anyway, not to mention warmer weather.
I'm also not committed to a particular form of aquaponics -- concentrated solar lighting in greenhouses, versus indoor, 24-hour concentrated artificial lighting, or some combination of the two.
GardenGirl's video on her home aquaponics design was quite inspiring, and I also liked this comment by SMajor...
"I'm concerned about the possible misperception developing that aquaponics is energy intensive. It's not. It can be set up in a rudimentary greenhouse with one pump that operates intermittently.
"And you can feed tilapia grass or duckweed if you have to.
"From there you can get as complicated as you desire."
So... any thoughts?