You Can Be Successful in Aquaponics if…
Aquaponics is a viable method of organic, sustainable food production. The technology has been proven and applied at a variety of locations around the world. People are successfully using aquaponics to grow food for their families and for profit. You can find aquaponic systems of all sizes – from backyard hobbyists to educational systems to large-scale commercial operations. Many people are interested in pursuing aquaponics as the industry grows and the technology becomes more well known.
Before you spend a dime on equipment, keep reading to make sure you understand what it takes to successfully operate an aquaponic system.
You Can Be Successful Operating an Aquaponic System If…
- You can differentiate between the reputable specialists in the industry and the aqua-shysters.
- You can raise plants or fish with success.
- You are willing to follow directions.
- You know when to ask for help.
- You (or someone) is there to observe the fish & plants.
- You are meticulous, detail oriented and organized.
- You don’t re-invent the wheel.
- You are willing to continue learning.
Aquaponics is quickly gaining popularity and with that, there are many new websites popping up offering advice, equipment and information. Beware of systems that seem too simple, too cheap or too good to be true. Although the daily operation of an aquaponic system is quite simple, aquaponics involves complex biology and you need a system that accommodates this.
Rather than patenting a system, Nelson and Pade, Inc.® promotes sharing information because we want aquaponic growers to be successful so the industry can grow in a positive and rewarding manner. We do this in the Aquaponics Journal®, our websites, books, curriculums, consulting, teaching and other publications and we have been doing so in this industry for over 20 years. We provide a lot of information about our systems and there is a lot of outside documentation as well. There is a broad base of documentation from the University of the Virgin Islands, the Crop Diversification Center, in the Aquaponics Journal® and the documentation that comes with the systems.
Rebecca Nelson and John Pade have spent many years working in aquaponics and controlled environment agriculture. For them, it is not a passing fancy, it is not a get-rich quick scheme and it is not new. It is a passion and it is their life’s work.
People who are successful in aquaponics usually have an interest and aptitude for raising plants and/or fish. If you’ve had a garden or aquarium (or have experience in hydroponics or commercial fish farming) and your plants and fish consistently did well, you will have an advantage in aquaponics. The information on the daily operation can be learned, but if you don’t have a green (or blue) thumb, you will be at a disadvantage.
All of the aquaponic systems from Nelson and Pade, Inc.® have been designed following proven ratios and methods and they come with detailed assembly and operation manuals. It is important that you study and understand the information in these manuals before assembling your system. Getting it right the first time will save you money, time and stress later on.
A farmer calls a veterinarian when there is a problem with the animals on the farm; a business owner calls an accountant when preparing tax filings; an individual calls a lawyer when they need legal advice. An aquaponic grower needs to build a network of people who are familiar with aquaponics, aquaculture, hydroponics, pest and disease identification and business management. When a problem arises, a grower should pursue information that will provide a resolution. Aquaponics is a young industry and no one person, company or University has an answer to every question that will present itself.
The daily operation of an aquaponic system is fairly simple but it is important that you observe the health of the fish and plants often. For best growth results, the fish need to be fed several times per day and this provides a good opportunity to visually inspect the system, the water flow, the aeration and the plants. Aquaponics is not hard work, but it does require vigilance and regular monitoring. If you can’t be there, then you need to make arrangements for someone else to be.
It is important to keep records of your water quality, fish stocking, plant seeding and harvesting. Providing the proper environment is as important as providing food to the fish and it takes organization and monitoring to achieve this. No matter how automated your system might be, it is important that a human is involved to interpret test results and manipulate environmental control equipment, as needed.
Experimentation, research and development are all essential to the advancement of any technology. But, it is a waste of time and money to duplicate efforts that have already been done. There are designs, methods, ratios and techniques that have been refined over many years. Look to this information and data first and then build on it. You can help the aquaponic industry advance by expanding the knowledge base vertically rather than horizontally.
Aquaponics technology will continue to be refined. There are numerous courses on aquaponics offered by organizations, Universities and businesses. We highly recommend that you take courses and follow the latest developments in the industry. This will help you become a better grower and to produce a higher quality product. For a list of learning opportunities, check out our courses. For a list of books, videos, publications and curriculums, go to the aquaponics.com shop.