Some questions you’ve asked, and answers we’ve given, about the AquaBundance Aquaponics Systems…
Q- How much time will it take for me to maintain my aquaponics system?
A – Aquabundance Aquaponics Systems take very little time to maintain! On most days it will take less than five minutes to feed the fish and check that the pump and the siphons are operating properly. We then recommend that you test pH and Ammonia levels and refill the water levels in your tank weekly. This will probably take an additional ten minutes. Every other week you should rinse the pump bottom and the aeration bar. This will add about five more minutes. Other than that, you will be spending all the time you want enjoying basic gardening tasks like planting and harvesting both your produce and fish.
Q – I want to buy a system that is big enough to feed my family. Which Modular system do you recommend?
A – We’ll answer that specifically for the fish side and then for the vegetable side.
From the fish side, consider that a 200 gallon fish tank attached to a media based system can conservatively produce 40 pounds of fish a year. In 2010 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that the average person consumed 38 pounds of fish. So logically one of our systems with a 200 gallon fish tank will provide all the fish an average adult would eat in a year.
The vegetable side is extremely difficult to answer. While we could use estimates of how much lettuce you might grow in your system, we don’t think that is realistic. Not only is lettuce the fastest growing plant in aquaponics, which unrealistically skews productivity data, but also no one is buying an aquaponics system for the home to grow only lettuce! The problem is once we leave the very simple lettuce model we then enter into a maze of “it depends.” It depends on the size of your family, their relative appetites for produce, and the type of produce you like to eat. Once that is established then you need to look at which plants to grow, how fast they grow, how much they produce in their life-time, their propensity to attract insects and disease, etc.
So, the best way to predict how much produce can be grown from an aquaponics system is to compare its productivity to a typical soil-based vegetable garden. Aquaponic gardens grow very conservatively, at least twice as much as a comparably sized soil-based garden. This is because aquaponically grown plants have a near-perfect environment in their root-zones of water, oxygen and nutrients so they can focus their energy on their top growth. This means that you can place plants closer together, that they will grow faster, and that they will produce more veggies for you!
Q – I’ve seen another aquaponics system manufacturer claim an annual harvest of 215 pounds of tilapia from a 200 gallon tank, while AquaBundance claims a much more modest 40 pounds. Can you explain to me why there is a factor of 5 difference between these otherwise similar systems? Is it the additional filtering tanks supplied by the more expensive systems?
A – The most obvious answer is “yes”, it is in part because of the extra filtration equipment. Deep Water Culture (also called DWC or raft) systems need to include solids filtration so you can remove fish solid waste from the system. This could be why they estimate an hour of maintenance a day for that system, while our system is closer to 5 – 10 minutes of maintenance a day. But even with solids filtration it defies reason that an amateur, home gardener can produce over a pound of fish for every gallon of water in four 50-gallon tanks! A professional aquaculture operation would have a difficult time producing results like that in an optimized system with one 200 gallon tank, let alone four 50 gallon tanks. This is simply not realistic…even for a system that costs nearly twice as much as ours for the same amount of plant growing space.
In addition, our focus as a company is very different than many other system providers. Our mission is to serve the needs of home and school aquaponic gardeners in North America; whether they are DIY’ers served through our book and our other educational materials, test kits, and plumbing parts, or folks looking for high-quality turn-key systems such as our AquaBundance Modular series of systems. We are not a commercial aquaponics company with home aquaponics as a side business. Furthermore, we plan to earn your trust and your long-term business in part by not making unsupported claims about our systems. We are a completely open book through social media, the aquaponic gardening community site, our book, and blog. We hope you take this into account when you consider which company’s systems to purchase.
Q – What size greenhouse do I need for your systems?
A – While this answer again depends on a lot of factors, we’d like to offer some basic guidelines to help you figure out which greenhouse to purchase with your Aquabundance Aquaponics System:
- Place your grow beds along the South facing wall where they will get the most sun.
- Create an aisle at least 3 ft wide for plenty of walking space between two rows of grow beds or between one row of beds and a parallel wall so that you can comfortably tend to your plants. As an example, if you only have room on your property for a 6 ft wide greenhouse you should consider our Sleek Modular Systems because they are only 28′ wide, leaving almost 4′ of walkway, whereas an EasyReach Modular System would extend 40′ into the greenhouse and leave less than 3 ft of walking space. But an EasyReach system would be perfect for one wall of an 8 ft wide greenhouse and Sleek System grow beds could fit on both the north and south walls while still leaving room for a walkway. Bountiful Systems work best when you can access the grow beds from either side.
- Consider the placement of the door, and whether or not it opens into the greenhouse, when deciding which system to install.
- Remember to allow at least 6′ between grow beds in the same row for water-in plumbing and at least 12′ between the two grow beds that will be over the pump for pump access.
- The sump tank(s) are best situated directly below the grow beds, and the point at which water exits from the fish tank must be at a higher level than where the water enters the sump tank.
- Finally, consider the need for water, power, air circulation, heating and cooling when selecting your greenhouse. Planning ahead could save you significant money on maintenance costs!
Q – Do you ship to Canada?
A – We really try not to ship into Canada if we can help it because it greatly magnifies the costs of red tape processing on our end as well as the actual shipping costs. What other Canadians have done in the recent past is to have found a shipping depot close to the US boarder and have us deliver there. Then they pick up the product and drive it into Canada themselves.