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Aquaponics is one of the fastest growing, home food production methods in the world today! Globally, the aquaponics (and hydroponics) industry is expected to reach $1.98 billion by 2022! It stands to reason, if only because growing food with aquaponics uses just a fraction of the water that standard agriculture does! Want to know more? Here’s “How to Get Started with Aquaponics”.
Personally, I’ve been fascinated with aquaponics for a long time, but haven’t gotten around to implementing a system. That’s why I reached out to Josh Butz from JKS Homestead for some advice and pointers on how to get a home aquaponics system up and running. Here’s our interview:
Hi Josh, tell us how you became interested in aquaponics:
I became interested in aquaponics from Jack Spirko over at The Survival Podcast about three years ago. So last year I finally pulled the trigger and started investing in the parts that are necessary!
What I really loved about Jack’s design is it is you can build each unit separately. So I started with a 100 gallon water trough, and made a deep water rafting bed with just a pump, a piece of foam board and some 4″ pots.
Then I added on a flood/drain bed and a wicking bed in 50-gallon troughs as I had time and money.
What purpose does aquaponics serve for you and your family?
Right now we are using our system to grow all of our lettuce, some walking onions (for chives) rooting cuttings for sale this spring and overwintering some special pepper plants.
How much did it cost to get your system started?
Total for the whole system was approximately $500, but to get started with just the deep water raft was about $100 and that grew all the lettuce we ever could eat!
Is it real technical or can anyone do this?
It really depends how far you want to take it. I just watched a few videos on YouTube, built the system and was able to grow all of our own lettuce. However, as I have expanded I have found issues that I am still trying to work out. Also we have fish die off from time to time so we either go buy more feeder fish or go to a local pond and catch some sunfish.
Is there any special training needed?
I don’t think so. It’s pretty straight forward but you will have issues and you will learn as you go!
Where is your system set up? Are there special requirements for the location i.e. humidity, etc.?
Our system is currently in our basement which is cool for our peppers, but they over winter just fine. However, this temperature is about perfect for our lettuce! We just run a dehumidifier and the humidity hasn’t been an issue.
Can you make money with aquaponics? How?
You definitely could make money doing this!
You can root cuttings of certain plants over winter and sell them in the spring (elderberry, dogwood, sweet potatoes all come to mind). You can also sell lettuce although this isn’t as marketable. As far as the fish goes, we grow out feeder goldfish and when they get to big we try to sell them to folks with ponds that want bigger fish, and that usually pays for the feed for the year.
Also when we had our system outside we grew out small sunfish from local ponds and when they got big enough we just ate them and went out and caught more.
Kelly: I’ve heard about folks raising fish to sell to local chefs, that’s something to look into as well!
What’s the best way for someone to get started?
I tell people to watch Jack’s videos as he went into great detail on his last build or you can also watch some of our videos at JKS Homestead Facebook page. Then just go out and get a 100-150 gallon Rubbermaid water trough, a pump and a piece of foam board. Set the pump up to just spray water and cut holes in your foam board for whatever size pots you have.
Place lettuce seedlings in the pots with a couple chunks of lava rock and your plants will grow very well just like that!
Thanks, Josh, for taking time to teach us all about aquaponics!!