I see aquaponics like this a means to an end and I do not have a greenhouse system just a fish tank and a growbed set up on my back porch and the ground beside it. I was looking for a way to grow some fingerling channel catfish to stock my pond with as my first attempt ended up in feeding largemouth bass catfish fingerlings. I stumbled upon aquaponics and I was like no way! I can grow fish and veggies without the need for any chemicals or anything more than some tanks and plumbing. Even though it was already summer (we can easily get an early and late crop here in South Carolina) I decided to try it out. So using the barrelponics manual as a guide I took 2 275 gallon tanks and built a system with one for the fish and the other cut in half giving me a float bed and a rock filled growbed. I used the flush fill system in the manual to provide water to both tanks with a T so that my growbed for flooded and filled and my float tank had new water added every 30min or so. Once I had all the plumbing done I hooked up my 1 pondpump added water and tested it. It worked first try although I knew once I added the rocks I would be making water flow adjustments. I then got a lot of rocks (some free some discount because of rips at the local hardware place) and caught 5 bream from my pond (in the end I added 3 more for a total of 7) and set out. I was able to plant cucumber seeds, transplanted some okra, and had something break a tomato plant in the main garden so I took the broke off piece and planted it (it rooted in the growbed rapidly) as an experiment. I ended up adding a couple more pieces of tomato plants because the one did so well, I also planted lettuce in the float bed. I actually grew lettuce through summer heat as well as the other plants producing tons so I think my test went well although with the 2 beds on the porch it took up a lot of room. At the end of the season I simply put the fish back in the pond and shut down and drained the system. This spring I changed a few things I now only have the rock filled growbed with the flood tank on the porch and fish tank on the ground which opens up porch space for sitting and watching the backyard. I then ordered 100 channel cats from the hatchery and put 70 of them in my tank giving 30 to a neighbor for his bream pond (no bass so they should be fine) I have had a few fish die which happens leaving me with about 60 fish but they seem to be doing well and the tomato plants (main crop in the bed) are doing better than the ones in the main garden I also have cucumbers growing and am trying onions and dill in it (onions are an experiment). I also used my floats and made more putting lettuce out directly on my fish pond out back. They have not done as good as I hoped with small plants and big roots but hey I was experimenting. Of course as the catfish grow I will have to start culling my biggest (most likely to fend off the bass) and release them into my pond but hopefully in the end with not much spent I will have a way to keep the bass in my pond, and as needed grow catfish to stock the pond with future dinners as needed. The bonus is I get some tasty veggies I do 0 work for because once planted in the system there is no weeding, watering, or any other tending of the plants than picking what they produce. Heck the entire system is fairly maintenance free and high yield so I am considering a larger scale using the pond as a fish tank and a solar pumping system.
I gave my experience with this system in the hopes that others will see it is a viable way to provide meat and veggies or simply veggies in a small space. It offers a high yield and uses little in the way of energy being as you could set up a pump on a solar system. While I have no plans to use it to replace my garden with it I do see it as viable option to perhaps get more yield per square foot than I have now especially with certain crops (tomatoes love this system). As I see it everyone here is about sustainability and being less dependent on buying things and more dependent on what you can grow or make yourself in as natural a way as possible. As such if a new technology or way of doing things proves itself to be a viable alternative to reaching that goal we owe it to ourselves to at least check it out to see what it offers. Personally I have found aquaponics a very low tech method to grow things actually requiring less manpower and resource consumption than in the ground gardening does. With aquaponics all I have used is mostly readily scavenged materials and a little electricity (which while I buy mine from the company could be produced naturally) where to install a garden takes a lot more manual labor or gasoline (tillers, tractors) to get it done not to mention less space per same yield (or such is my results so far). Besides here is the kicker my aquaponics system has required no pest control, no watering other than to top off the tank due to evaporation, and nothing at all added but water, rocks, fish, fish food (which can be scraps or grown), and plants to get veggies. Could it be any more natural and earth friendly that that?
I like aquaponics too and love the idea of having discussion of ways of making it more "natural". I don't like all the plastic used in most systems but there are alternatives.
A fun system to check out is gardenpool.org. This guy bought a foreclosed house in Phoenix AZ with an old pool. He turned the pool into an aquaponic system. He is raising tilpia who eat algae grown from chicken droppings falling into water ( chickens are housed above pool). The chickens eat duckweed from aquaponic system and black soldier flies raised on fish gut etc. So he's not adding any fishfood to system.
That sounds like a viable way of doing things. It most likely took a lot of time and work to get to that point but as long as I live that long I can see me doing something similar. I have an existing pond for a future large system though. Right now I will settle for using fish food for growing fish and veggies on a small scale so I can learn the basics that I can apply when I am ready to go to a much larger scale.
Acetylsalicylic acid is aspirin. This could be handy too:
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while