Monday, November 18, 2013

DIY Aquaponics Systems For People

Learn To Do It Yourself

Yesterday in the ASC Community we proposed a question to people because we like to guage where the average thinking is. Many people come to the page because we post all kinds of information on sustainability and DIY projects. I think some of the info we post will become more valable as the days and months go by in the USA. 

This is the question we asked: 

"Can we ask how many people here would purchase an Aquaponics Set-Up off a distributor from $4000.00 to $10,000 if you could buy all the parts and do it yourself for about $500.00? Do you think the DIY Skills you would learn from doing it yourself would be far more valuble?"

We got an outstanding Do It Yourself and learn from the beginning. 

Here is a great comment from one of our community members: 
Chris said:  $500? I built my first system for a little under $200. and that included $120 for the 1000L tank. Since then I've expanded and rebuilt (bigger or more efficient or both) about 3-4 times, and I still dont think I've hit $500.

The trick is looking at what you have and being a little creative. 
I have a stand alone solar power system that generates more power than I can use so I brought 12v pumps from a boating shop, so my bilge pumps run about 750 Gal/hr, and I used 20L plastic containers from a local honey and health food outlet (Saved them from going into land fill) as my planter pots and a time clock to control when my pumps run and for how long.

Depending on your DIY skills and your creativity and initiative when sourcing materials you can build a system for anything from a few $$ for a really basic system up to as much as you want to spend.

Eg. a 'micro system' would only need a 20L bucket(or aquarium), an aquarium air pump and fittings, and a plant tray on top. You setup the bucket like an aquarium, and install the air pump so that is used ventury effect to drag water above the top of the bucket and into the plant tray. The water is filtered by the plant tray and drips back into the fish tank - bucket. Now feed the fish and let them feed you!

DIY For A Cheaper Aquaponics System 

You will need at least 3 IBC containers: 

One IBC for the fish tank, and the other 2 cut into grow beds and a sump tank. Buy FOOD GRADE tanks, second hand ones are obviously cheaper. You might want a 4th IBC for extra grow beds as the system matures. 

One big roll of HDPE piping 1.5 inches wide, along with some connectors and elbows, a good pump and some clay, gravel or other type of  growing media. 

IBC containers can be bought from anywhere $60.00 to $100.00 a piece. We got ours for $60.00 each.
Our pump cost us about $100.00 and we actually bought a bigger size than needed, so we had more water flowing to help create oxygen content back into the water. 

Our roll of HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) or (PEHD - Polyethylene High-Density)  piping cost us about $45.00 and we still have a ton of it left. 

The joints, elbows and extra's needed cost up to $50.00 for all kinds of things
We got a small load of gravel delivered which cost us about $100.00
So we actually spent close to $500.00 for a 1 tank, 1 sump and a 3 grow bed system.

There are a couple of other things you will need like: cinder blocks, old bricks or thick wood beams to sit the grow beds on. These can be free if you are smart and hunt around, maybe they are already in the backyard! Become a scrounger because junk yards, garage sales, habitat for humanity stores and other similar places can become great resources for building materials.

Free DIY Instructions

For those of you wanting some instructions on how to build your own system we have these plans you can try: This is the barrelponics system and the structure is a little different than IBC containers but still worth the effort of putting it all together and learning from scratch. 

So now I have to ask why does it cost $4000.00 and up to buy a similar system from a distributor? That's a pretty hefty markup!

Sure, anyone can go and buy a ritsy system with a nice set up and all you have to do is plug it in BUT many of our community felt that in the long run a person wouldn't learn that much. What will you do if there is a problem with the system, how will you know what to fix and of course the added COSTS. In this day and age when prices are becoming more difficult to live with, who can afford to invest $4000.00 plus dollars in a system that can be done for less than $500.00 at home?  

It seems to me that anyone who wants to learn how to grow with aquaponics will gain much more benefit by starting from scratch. If you still have two good hands, a brain and want to learn something, then YOU are the best teacher you will ever get to know. 

I know of a company who has a top range of $10,000.00 for an aquaponics system. away people, thats just way too much money. For that hefty price I would expect the greenhouse, fish, food, start up nutrients and plants too. 

The problem we have is, Americans have become a nation of consumers. Many of the distributor aquaponics systems are specifically built on the premise that you will not want to build one for yourself. Building your own system is an opportunity to save some money for other things you may want to become sustainable.

Solar panels can create energy and help run the pump in the tank. You can make your own greenhouse for a couple of hundred dollars, so there's a nice home for your aquaponics system. Save your money for these kinds of items.

So why not build your own aquaponics system for 1/8 th of the cost?

As things become financially harder for many Americans, I can forsee huge numbers of people going back to DIY anything. I think this is great because it means the self taught experts, will soon become very valuable people to their community once again. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Educators For Aquaponics Coming In 2014

Education Tempered With Ecology And Growing The Future

Over the past few months the ASC magazine has been contacted by a few different groups wanting to work with us in the Aquaponics industry. The ASCommunity really loves the idea of being able to contribute to the further education of people worldwide and helping them to grow their own food. 

Many of our experiences have led us to believe that if you want to really move ahead with something beneficial, then you just have to do it. No big debates, voting, waiting on others to come around, procrastination, ums and ahhs, just get it done! That's how the ASC Magazine came to be and it's turning out to be hugely successful because we just moved ahead with it. 

The Educators For Aquaponics Site would like to educate people the way most of us use the internet these days. You Tube Videos are fabulous but they still lack that classroom atmosphere that many people need to focus and learn from. We propose a virtual online school where someone who wants to teach aquaponics can do so through slide show presentations, online graphics, information packets that can easily be downloaded, one on one conversations, audience interaction and teaching videos. 
Join us here for updates:

A business owner can also gain benefit by presenting his aquaponics or other type of sustainable business in a way that educates and inspires other people. This business owner would then become an authority in their local or state area which is always good for any business. People will continually to come back to a business if they see that what you are doing can help them too. 

A school educator can teach classes that will inspire and change the curriculum for many other schools worldwide. The ASC Magazine has been investigating aquaponics and farming being re-introduced into schools. From what we have seen with articles contributed from educators, this kind of learning is very beneficial to children and students alike. 

Online classes can be easily accessed by school students as many of the classrooms these days have computers in each room. We want to encourage more education programs within different USA states to help children use a great teaching program. This can benefit kids in a way where they have a better understanding of  biology, ecology, science, sustainability, technology and economics all rolled neatly into each other through the Educators for Aquaponics site. 

Learn at home in your pajamas if you wish. While travelling to conferences is a great resource for learning, the truth is that for many people the cost alone is no longer feasible. We have actually heard this complaint from many others in the community. People do not have the monies available for expensive hotel accomodations, extra food expenses, plane trips, fuel costs and time away from home. However with a virtual learning facility as close as your keyboard or other mobile device, you can learn in your home, in the park, at the beach or in the backyard.

The cost is minimal and therefore the learning experience is more effective to most people. We will also keep people up on upcoming classes and who will be hosting them.
You can sign up here:

Educators for Aquaponics is a new way to teach and educate all people back into farming and sustainability.
Hope to see you in 2014...