I have been researching aquaponics for over a year, and we're finally on the verge of diving in!
Aquaponics is the combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics where you raise fish in a tank and plants in grow beds. The system is a closed loop (with the exception of the fish food) where the fish tank water is filtered by the grow beds and the plants get all their nourishment from the water and in turn clean and hep oxygenate the water that is then returned to the fish. The system can be a constant flow or a flood and drain. Our system will be a flood and drain. If you have never heard of aquaponics before please do a search on the Internet as my description is just a country boy's thumbnail.
Ahhhh, the Internet such a wealth of information. As with searching anything, I found almost as much confusing information as I did straight forward helpful information. A lot of the web pages I visited were wanting to sell me their systems and each would contradict the last page. Another problem was that the few people I could find using aquaponics in the U.S. are in a completely geographical section. I wanted to use a fish species that I knew could survive in our climate and not use some tropical fish I had never heard of before that would die on me the first day. I had placed the idea on the back burner, since to be honest I could just continue to expand my square foot gardening and traditional gardening and put up a green house with the knowledge I already have.
However, my fortune changed last week. I made contact with a great guy in South Illinois, on Homesteading Today, who is running a system like the one I'm wanting to start. He and his wife have been running their system for a few years and they have been nice enough to answer questions I have had. They even sent me pictures of their system. They are having great success growing catfish and vegetables from March to November. With their help, I know I can further my path to self sustainability and increase the profit margin on the farm.
I will start a scaled down prototype system in the next few weeks to operate and experiment with while we're still learning. I will also learn to take pictures and post them here on the blog so everyone can follow our progress and see if it's something you would like to try.
Y'all Come Back!