There are many ways to ‘do’ aquaponics. In fact, the concept itself is so broad as to cover everything from rice farmers who have fish in their paddies to high tech climate controlled greenhouse aquaponics. The core concept of polyculture and pairing complementary species like fish and plants gives us something with lots of possibilities. While it would be great to claim that the Santa Barbara Aquaponics model is the best, the best system for you needs to consider your wants, your location, and your level of involvement. Luckily, aquaponics is flexible enough to meet most people’s wants, location, and involvement.

CAM01039Broccoli, watercress, and kale thriving at Santa Barbara Aquaponics

Do you want a system big enough to feed friends and family or have a particular vegetable in mind? Easy enough.

Would you rather have a small system to grow herbs that fits on your patio? No problem.

Do you need a system that is automated for those long weekends away with the family? That’s possible too.

So understand, before you commit to an aquaponics system, think about what you want to grow, what space and sun conditions are available, and what level of involvement you want. Your answers are crucial to helping you or others plan and build your system the way that works for you.

System Size- The bigger the better? For some, that is yes. In fact, the economy of scale means making it twice as big sometimes only costs a little more. Balancing the system size with your needs is important. Knowing what types of plants you want to grow helps you plan for how much space you’ll need.

System Location- The concept of Right Plant, Right Place common to gardening holds true in aquaponics. If your aquaponics system will get lots of shade or is especially windy, you need to take this into account as well, just like in soil. If you’re on a moderate slope, there are even some fairly easy steps to nearly avoid grading.

System Involvement- How much do you want to tinker with your system? Do you want to feed them three or four times a day and keep it immaculate?  Will you only have time on the weekends? These are important considerations and will affect how much automation and maintenance you should plan on.

Whatever you choose, know that Santa Barbara Aquaponics is there to help you answer these questions and design a system for you that meets your culinary needs, works within your space, and fits your schedule. What can we do for you?

By Randy Turner

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