Is Aquaponics Worth The Effort?

The question has been asked countless times and I guess will continue to be.  Why do Aquaponics and is it worth it?  Is Aquaponically grown produce and fish all that different?

Some claim no!  Some say that the nutritional value or density, is not much different between produce grown in a regular dirt farm or garden, a hydroponics system or an Aquaponics system.  I suppose that comparison is something to be documented, but let's suppose that the comparison is correct.   Why then bother with growing Aquaponically?

Aquaponics fish

Fish dinner. Home grown and home cooking.  How good is this!

In this short piece so far, we have not mentioned the fish.  Regular dirt gardens/ farms, or hydroponics at any level can't deliver a fish dinner.

So what other reasons might there be to engage in Aquaponics.  I will list some. The list is not exhaustive but a good start.
1. Freedom from dangerous pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
2. Aquaponics can be truly "Organic" (none of that midnight spraying of poisons. If you do, you will kill those little policemen, the fish.)
3. Use of natural processes for the production of plant nutrients.
4. Most efficient use of water. (that one is a big one, especially now in SoCal, Aussie and other places)
5. Can be done anywhere. Especially significant in desert areas, places of poor, degraded or polluted soil. Inner city areas that are food deserts. At village level where resources are very limited.
6. Pure food. This sums up many of the above reasons.

Aquaponics produce

Wonderful pure food. Aquaponics produce at it's best. Your body will thank you for this meal.

Food purity is the overriding consideration.  Many, if not most other food production methodologies, are pure food failures.

Perhaps you can add some reasons that are important to you.   Please comment below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply, I love to hear from you.

23 thoughts on “Is Aquaponics Worth The Effort?

  1. I made aquaponics for independence. I´d rather eat what I grow, and sell the rest, making a living out of it.

    • Excellent Edgar, thanks for the feedback. Your own home grown produce is much better and it tastes just great, that is for sure.

  2. Murray,
    We have been having fish meals with veges all grown in the system. The fish (Jade Perch) are
    absolutely beautiful and extremely high in Omega 3.
    Our sliver beet is SOOO crisp that you hear it tearing as you pull it apart. Wundabar!!

    Les

    • Hi Les,
      Silver beet is great steamed with coconut milk. Have you tried that? Yes, Jades are hard to beat. Thanks for the feedback.

      • Hi Murray,
        I am having trouble getting Jade perch.. here in the USA (Ohio).. so i was wondering- Is there any way to network with some well established-American- fish farm owners, who all want some jades to raise: and multiply- ?so then, we have a self sustaining- supply of Jade perch; in america- to continue- to multiply and share? I need to find a way to get 50-100 of them for my system, but they want to sell many- thousands …if they are shipping them some kind of fancy-air fair to the usa.. i may be overlooking some way- ..is there any suggestions you could offer?
        Thanks..
        John

        • Hi John,
          I really wish we could find some forward thinking person who would make the investment to take Jade Parch to the USA. Whoever did this would be very well rewarded financially. A great fish.
          The exporters here in Australia are Ausyfish. http://www.ausyfish.com/
          A great hatchery company that really know their stuff. It is all there, just needs someone to make the investment in the future.

        • Roll with what you know. Jade perch are great and tilapia are okay. But Americans love their game fish and cat fish. There is no reason we could not use left over scraps or even some cheap oats to grow our own vermiculture and really get our own fish going strong. I plan on putting in blue gill, cat fish, and rainbow trout. I have a second tank with minnows and gold fish that will be a treat for the future. I want to build a cage for fresh water oysters. And figure on fitting cray fish in there someplace. Diversity in diet equates to happy healthy people.

  3. 4-S’
    S=Food Safety
    S=Food Security
    S=Food Sustainability
    And in my opinion the most important!
    S=Food Sovereignty

    sov·er·eign·ty
    supreme power or authority.
    synonyms: jurisdiction, rule, supremacy, dominion, power, ascendancy, suzerainty, hegemony, domination, authority, control, influence, autonomy, independence, self-government, self-rule, home rule, self-determination, freedom

    Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.

    • So true Randy,
      Many overlook the three “S” you have listed. And the fourth is very important. Who actually owns the food supply?

  4. Hi Murry and other aquaponics enthusiasts.

    I just completed a Life Cycle Assessment thesis study of an aquaponics system in Bangkok Thailand at the end of last year. One of the obligations I needed to meet involved publishing in a scientific journal. It is a very short summary of the Thesis work. I have made it available to the internet for those interested. If anyone has interest in the larger LCA work, please contact me to receive the PDF.

    https://www.academia.edu/11758227/Environmental_Sustainability_Assessment_of_a_Media_Based_Aquaponics_System_In_Thailand_-_Mark_Hindelang_-_JGSEE

    • Hi Mark,
      Looks like a great document. I will read it tonight with great interest. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Here in Egypt…the inverse… The Aquaponics is expensive food then it just to reach and the cost to build one is very high and classic farms not care to the water bcz the others have almost water to the Tourist resorts.i try to build my Owen but thy said on me ..that crazy and failed… just a few Pearson.s had success with it but they in desert …in village no no and i try

    • Thanks for your comment, very interesting. Would like to know more about the difficulties you have experienced.

  6. I have actually done the research on Nutrient Density. Fed a diet of Duckweed (with resident zooplankton), Soldier Fly Larva, and Red Earthworms, as mine are, the fish are significantly higher in Omega 3 Oils. Because this diet essentially becomes the nutrient bath of the plants, such dynamic fertilizer really does result in greater nutrient density. Example: It took fourteen grams of chard grown in my test garden to equal the density of that grown in my A.P. System just twenty feet away. My original soil is was very depleted and I have spent five years creating the finest garden soil in the county. Nevertheless, because of the diet I feed my fish, my A.P. veggies are much higher, and more diverse in nutrient content. It’s difficult to argue with the facts.

    • Thanks for the feedback Phillip. Very interesting although I am not surprised. Love to see more on your research when you have time.

  7. I enjoy it as a great hobby that gives back . I like my catfish and you cant believe how good an aquaponic fish tastes . Picking fresh greens in the worst part of winter is great. I feel that it has added to my family’s quality of life as well as my own.

    • That’s fantastic Greg, Love the catfish! I love my Jade and Silver Perch. Nothing like going in there with the net and getting a fish or two out for dinner.

  8. My main disappointment with Aquaponic gardening is that there are limitations in the plants that seem to grow well – i like my lebanese cucumbers, purple king beans, silver beet, bok choi and other green leaf plants ( although some of these are bitter( from I presume the high nitrates). Surprisingly I have a great passion fruit vine – quite productive but quite a few other flowering veges are not so productive- even when I add K every week. Incidentally the roses I grow seem to last longer in the vase than the ones from soil garden.
    Great for some herbs which can take over the grow bed- esp mint and basil..
    Would like to hear less of how to build a system and more about the plants that can be productive ( and tasty). Which plants have worked well for you ?

    • Hi Jim,
      I do not have knowledge or details of your system, but we have plenty of success with all kinds of food plants. We grow plenty of cucumbers, beans both climbing and dwarf, silver beet by the truck load and so on. Bok Choi we don’t bother with mainly because it attracts insects, big time.

  9. It is and is not. It depends on your needs and what your resources and skills are. It does not take much to buy a shovel and start in on gardening. The more equipment you buy the less time and effort it will take to manage. From a simple shovel and a handful of seeds to a shed of landscaping equipment it is a buy as you go affair. Aquaponics however is an expensive upfront cost with a long term pay out. You can manage the cost by DIY but really it is a labor that requires the question is it worth it to me.

    For someone growing for food independence the answer is yes. But you are going to want to go big or go home. If you start too small and upgrade latter you will find that you could have saved yourself a whole lot of trouble and money just going for it at the start. That being said if you start small with the idea of possibly growing big and planing for integrating it into larger system you may find it easier. The fact that you can control conditions no matter the season or weather really gives you security in your food supply.( a water heater can make a greenhouse warm all winter long. Just as tinted windows, sunscreens and dehumidifiers can keep the heat down in hot summers.)

    For food growth there is nothing more effecient than an aquaponics system. The cost of fertilizer is tied in with the feed cost so you get the plants and you get the meat in one input. If you grow your own feed through vermaculture you can lower the growth costs even more. The only other constants in cost are power and water bills. Now If you really want to grow your own food the square footage needed is not that big. If you make shelves and tall tanks you can really get things cooking even in the smallest yards. And every farm should have an entire green house devoted to aquaponics for the family’s food security. Especially if they mono culture.(Why depend on a good harvest for your family’s grocery bill when you have plenty of space to make that fear disappear)

    For non food growers the answer is no. You can make an aquaponics system but it is more of a novelty and a conversation piece. Ponds and fish tanks have plenty of information on plants, water treatments and filters that can make life easier and more pretty than your average DIY project.