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  • The

    Aquaponics Guidebook

    Aquaponics is proven worldwide as the most efficient and

    sustainable way to grow food, on any scale.

    Now, you can do it, starting today. Bevan Suits

    Packed with web

    links that take

    you to the coolest

    aquaponics sites on

    the globe! Access

    to hardware too!

    Now selling


    VOLUME 1

    2nd EDITION


    Access to Personal Agriculture

    Somewhere between a multiversity textbook and DIY magic carpet

    Sequatchie Valley Institute

    All of us who value developing

    workable solutions for a

    sustainable future should read

    this book.Natural Life Network

    Hours of reading and learning are guaranteed!

    Aquaponics Europe

    The ultimate inspiration for

    anyone interested by the idea

    of producing vegetables and

    raising fish on a micro-scale

    and in a sustainable wayThe Ecologist Magazine, London

  • Contents


    About This Book

    Good Reasons for Aquaponics

    Aquaponics Gallery

    Introducing Aquaponics 1

    Aquaponics Models 5 Nitrogen Cycle 6 A Basic Drip System 7 The Ebb & Flow System 8 The Hydroponic Raft System 9 The UVI System 10

    Equipment / Media 11 Container Gallery 12 Pump 13 DO = Aeration 14 Heater 15 Plumbing 16 Lights 17 Water, Testing for Quality 18 Roots, Grow Media 19 Bacteria Rule 20 Growing Fish 21 An Affinity for Fish 22 Choosing Tilapia 24 Other Species 25 Tilapia Wellness 26 Food, Growth 27 A Home-built System 28 Getting Started 29 System Start-up 30 System Balance 31

    Personal Agribusiness 32 Plant Farming 33 Thinking Production 34 Planning, Education, Finance 35 Grow Sell Eat Local 36

    Scaling Up 37 Sheltering the System 38 Outside the Box 39 Technology, Community 40

    Culturing the System 41

    Resources 45 Interactive, North America 46 Interactive, Australia, Africa 47 Research Links 48

    The Last Page 49

    Picture Credits 50

    Click to advance to selected page.

  • FAST, South Carolina

    FAST, South Carolina

    FAST, Kenya University of the Virgin Islands

    Red Heeler, AustraliaGrowing Power, Milwaukee Growing Power, Milwaukee

    Sustainable Design Group, Atlanta Nelson & Pade, Montello, WI Murray Hallam, Queensland, Australia

    Aquaponics Gallery Aquaponics is growing fish and plants in one system, with fish waste feeding the plants. It works in many variations of scale and form, though the basic concept does not change: Fish, bacteria and plants working together in a recirculating, soil-less system. It resembles a living organism, with a heart (the pump) and lungs (aeration). The bacteria remove waste like the kidneys and the liver. It will teach you a lot about food and this ecosystem we call home.

    Build a small system. Then you will want to build a larger one., because its simple and it works.

    Click on images to visit websites.

  • TheAquaponicsGuidebook



    Replace an aquarium filter with a pot of gravel. Put a plant in the pot. Let it drain back into the aquarium. Thats aquaponics, boiled down to its simplest form. Now, consider it on a bigger scale: An above-ground swimming pool with 3000 gallons of water. 4-foot wide grow bed trenches and lined with rubber, stretching 100 feet. Out of this system a staggering amount of vegetables and fish protein can be produced, to be consumed, traded or sold. Inputs are fish food, electricity and a modest amount of maintenance.

    Or how about this: Water from a fish pond is pumped up hill and filtered down through gravel grow beds. The clean water trickles back into the pond. Nothing is wasted. The excess nutrients provide a valuable crop.

    Aquaponics is simple and it works.

    Its also curious that it hasnt caught on in a bigger way, for all the clear and imme-diate benefits it provides.

    Consider the Benefits:

    Aquaponics is a highly efficient organic food growing system that produces a com-plete diet and requires no expensive or complex equipment.

    With a clear understanding of how the components fit together, you can start putting a system together quickly.

    It begins to deliver produce in just a few short weeks.

    Only a modest amount of fresh water is needed, as the water for the plants is continuously circulated. Only water lost to evaporation is replaced. You can provide your own fish food supply in the form of worms, insects and aquatic duckweed (for tilapia).

    Tilapia are the preferred aquaculture species worldwide. They taste great, grow fast, are very hardy and tolerate crowding. They grow from tiny fingerlings to one-pounders in about 8 months. A 500 gallon tank can produce 250 pounds of live fish, which go for about $5 per pound, retail.

    Greens such as basil and lettuce will grow from seedlings to harvest in about 6 weeks. In a southern, 6 month growing season, thats about 4 easy harvests. Basil wholesales for about $10 per pound.

    If you add a greenhouse or other indoor growing environment with supplemental grow lights, you can grow year-round.

    Introducing Aquaponics

    Personal agriculture

    is very important for

    shaping our future

    economy and environ-

    ment. We used to have

    an economy based on

    food production.

  • TheAquaponicsGuidebook



    A Basic Drip SystemEach component of an aquaponic system can be grouped as a:

    Container Fish Tank, Grow Bed Connector Tubing, Valves, Pumps, Filters, Bulkheads Medium Water, Gravel (for plants & bacteria) Organism People, Plants, Fish, Bacteria Nutrient Fish Food, Fish Waste, Nitrogen, Oxygen, CO2













    You could add Heat and Light asENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS andElectricity as POWER SOURCE.

    This system is basic drip irrigation, with 1/8 holes drilled into the tube. . A mesh pump bag will help prevent clogging.Alternately you can add emitters, which are valves on a stick, that bring the water to each plant.


    Grow tray


    Valve & Bulkhead



    Fish Waste Fish Tank Pump

    Tubing You


    Fish Food


  • TheAquaponicsGuidebook



    The Heart of Your System

    Aquaponics relies on a pump. If the pump fails, the fish could die quickly, so plan to have a battery-powered backup aerator at all times (shown on page 14). The aerator will help to oxidize the ammonia until the power returns. The need for this increases as your system grows.

    You need to move a certain amount of water through your tank each hour. Pumps are measured according to their GPH (Gallons per Hour) or GPM (Gallons per Minute). The pressure they produce at certain height above the pump is the head. The higher the water is pumped, the lower the pressure. Head pressure is measured in PSI (Pounds per Square Inch).

    Pump types include submersible, (at the bottom of the tank), or in-line which sits outside the tank, the water line coming in and going out.

    Water Pump Performance Curves


    A submersible pump sits on the bottom of your tank. The screen prevents small fish from getting stuck to the inlet and dying.


    L H



    An in-line pump connects to the tubing between the fish tank and the grow bed. It is more powerful but costs more money.

    A pump performace chart tells you how much water you can pump to what height. This chart compares three different pumps. The height of the outlet is called head.With the outlet at 12 feet, this

    pump can move 0 gallons of waterper hour. 12 feet is the limit of this pump.

    With the outlet at the same level as the pump (a total head of 0), this pump will move about 1350 gallons per hour.

    With the outlet at 10 feet, this pump will move about 600 gal-lons of water per hour.


    0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400












  • TheAquaponicsGuidebook



    Roots Grow Media

    Extending from roots are root hairs. This micro-environment is where everything comes together, the

    biochemical soup converting into plant flesh. The roots benefit from the large amount of air and nutrients that

    flow through a soilless system. This enables greens such as basil and lettuce grow from seedling to harvest in as

    little as 4 weeks.

    Actual Size

    Actual Size

    Actual Size

    Kaldnes, from Norway, is designed for wastewater treatment as an ideal environment for bacteria. It is an excellent biomedia for your biofilter. Though somewhat expensive, it provides maximum surface area for microbial growth while still allowing space for air and water to flow. At the same time, bacteria is protected from abrasive acti

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