Backyard aquaponics is a descriptive term for the process of raising produce in containers and using fish to provide the necessary nutrients. There is little to no dirt involved in this process, making it ideal in areas where the soil is not suited to growing produce in the ground.
You feed the fish, and the fish feed the plants with their poop.
Hydroponics is the process of raising produce using chemical-based nutrient laden water to plants in containers. Again there is no soil required.
The most basic system requires at least one container for your fish, and one container (about equal size) for your produce. Anywhere you can place a water bed is supported well enough to support the weight of a small aquaponics system.
Why would you want to have a backyard aquaponics system?
- You can grow veggies and fruit that you couldn’t normally grow in your outdoor climate.
You can grow veggies without any dirt.
You can extend your growing season by placing your system in a controlled environment.
You can grow your veggies “organically” if you feed your fish certified organic fish food.
You can grow your crops year around.
You conserve water by recycling the water from the fish to the plants and back to the fish.
A backyard organics system uses about 10% of the water that a comparative conventional garden would use.
You may be able to eat the fish you raise.
What can you raise in your backyard aquaponics system?
You can raise most leafy green plants. You can raise tomatoes, and other plants which develop their fruit above ground. Some folks have raised beets, but not potatoes. You may be able to raise rice in a larger system.
You can raise fish for your own consumption. For example, if your state allows, you could raise tilapia or trout.
How much does a system cost?
You can build a system for very little money (perhaps under $100), or you can build one that is more elaborate. Purchasing a ready-made system is more expensive.
Backyard aquaponics systems are already in service around the world, and are just beginning to be us in the USA. Do yourself a favor and start building your own system.
If you have questions for us, please post them in the comments and we will answer them in future articles.