01 Dec What can you tell me about getting started with aquaponics?
Answer: In starting an aquaponic garden, one of the most important things to do is a fishless cycle with pure ammonia to build up the nitrifying bacteria. This step requires patience and should not be rushed. Some resources mention the use of feeder goldfish to start. However, unless you have a very reputable source, feeder goldfish are usually parasite-ridden, and you won’t know it until six months into production when all the fish end up dead. At the beginning, it is also recommended to create a way to take the fish out of the system in case they need to be treated for ich, fungus, etc. This is usually called a hospital tank, and should be appropriate for the size and number of fish in the system. For example, my colleague has a 300-gallon system and his hospital tank is a 50-gallon storage tote. The ATTRA publication Aquaponics ? Integration of Hydroponics with Aquaculture provides an introduction to aquaponics with brief profiles of working units around the country. It is available at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=56.There are lots of other good resources available that discuss all aspects of aquaponics, including the following:The Aquaponics Associationhttp://www.aquaponicsassociation.orgPromotes the benefits of aquaponics through education and outreach.Stout, Meg. 2013. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Aquaponic Gardening. Indianapolis, IN. Alpha Books. Available at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BR4SAK0/ref=oh_d__o09_details_o09__i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.A comprehensive guide to aquaponic gardening, from choosing a setup to selecting fish and vegetables. In addition to everything one needs to know to run a healthy aquaponics garden and care for both the vegetables and fish, there are step-by-step plans with photos for building different size systems. The author fully explains how to garden indoors and how to resize and move a garden inside or outside, depending on the season, to produce an abundant supply of edible, organically-raised vegetables and fish.Bright Agrotechhttp://verticalfoodblog.comBright Agrotech’s Vertical Food Blog has lots of free resources and its YouTube videos do a great job explaining everything from water to nutrients, although their content is a bit light on fish.Backyard Aquaponic Systemshttp://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/An online forum for discussing aquaponics. Growing Powerhttp://www.growingpower.orgA non-profit urban farm and training program in Milwaukee and Chicago. Much of its production focuses on aquaponics. Growing Power offers trainings on aquaponics at its farm locations as well as at regional training centers. Its website also contains resources on aquaponics.