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FAQ: How much did this set up cost? First, please keep in mind that I live in Hawaii and EVERYTHING costs much more here than anywhere else. This is a complete system with 110 gallon tank for the fish and 75 gallon grow bed. It included a pump, siphon, piping, pre-washed cinders and the table for the grow bed. It was about $550. Yes, it is not something you go into very easily. It took me two years from going to a class on how to make your own, to its fruition. It is something you have to seriously consider. It is not an overnight decision (at least on my part).
What kind of fish and where did you get them? The fish we are using are tilapia. Scott got them from a friend who got them from a stream.
Will something like this work where I live? Certainly. As the mainland has actual seasons, you would be restricted by the growing season unless you had a greenhouse, I would suppose. You'd need to care for the fish. My answer for you is GOOGLE! Google "aquaponics" with the state or country you live in. The chances are, someone has a system set up and running down the road from you.
Can I do this on a smaller scale? I live in an apartment. Certainly!! Again, google. You can do it on a very small scale. Small bowl with a couple of goldfish will do 😉
That being said, if you have a tank and you are not dumping the dirty water on your plants, you are silly 😉 Don't waste the fish poo!!
Per WIkipedia: Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines a traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In the aquaculture, effluents accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity for the fish. This water is led to a hydroponic system where the by-products from the aquaculture are filtered out by the plants as vital nutrients, after which the cleansed water is recirculated back to the animals.
Basically it is a system of self sustainability. You raise fish (in my case we have 12 tilapia), feed the fish, the fish poop, the water is constantly filtered by being pulled up into the plant bed, filtered through the cinder bed, all the nutrients from the fish poop is fed to the plants, and the water returns to the fish cleaned. As the fish grow, you eat them. They will also breed so there should be an ongoing source of fish as well as your vegetables.
The plants grow at rapid speed. Versus being in the ground, the root systems don't need to take up a huge amount of space, so you can grow things closer than normal.
I look forward to adding seeds to my garden. I am going to try hard to move slowly. Eventually we will add on another plant bed and have two running off our fish.
Since I have an established garden in the ground that is going well, I haven't replicated what I have in the ground.