Navigating the costs associated with aquaponics systems can be a daunting task. Our blog post demystifies the expenses involved in setting up and maintaining an aquaponics garden, from equipment and materials to ongoing maintenance costs.
Dive into our blog and gain a deeper understanding of the financial aspects of aquaponics gardening.
|Fish tank||$30 – $500|
|Grow bed||$20 – $300|
|Water pump||$15 – $200|
|Plumbing||$10 – $100|
|Water heater||$25 – $200|
|Fish and plants||$50 – $300|
|Testing equipment||$10 – $50|
|Lighting||$20 – $100|
|Miscellaneous supplies||$50 – $100|
|Installation and setup||$100 – $500|
|Total cost (small system)||$330 – $1,850|
|Total cost (large system)||$1,000 – $7,000|
The size of your aquaponics system will determine the cost, but it will also affect how much food can be grown and how many fish you can raise in your system.
The larger the system, the more money it will cost. While this may seem like a disadvantage for those who want to start small and work their way up, there are some good reasons why you might want to go with a large project instead of a smaller one:
- A larger aquaponics system is more stable and less likely to fail due to fluctuations in temperature or water quality than its smaller counterpart is.
- A larger aquaponics system also produces more food per day than its smaller counterpart does because there’s more surface area exposed to sunlight (which helps plants grow) and water (which helps fish thrive).
If you’re interested in learning more about the technology behind aquaponics systems, check out our comprehensive guide on the technology behind the aquaponic garden. Our guide explores the various components that make up an aquaponics system and how they work together to create a sustainable and efficient ecosystem.
The next thing you need to think about is your water source. The type of water source you use will vary depending on where you live, but in general there are two main types: rainwater or well water.
If it rains where you live and there’s a cistern or tank available, using rainwater as the main source of your aquaponics system may be a great option.
If not, then well water might be better because it’s usually free at least (as long as there isn’t any kind of property tax).
Wells can come with their own set of problems though for example, if the well is too deep or far away from your house then transporting the water will become difficult and expensive with enough barrels needed for each trip back and forth.
Also consider how much water will be needed per day/week/month; this depends on how large your system needs are going to be!
Water Sources for Aquaponics Systems
|Municipal/ City Water||Readily available and convenient; reliable quality||May contain chlorine, chloramines or high levels of fluoride, which may harm fish and plants|
|Well Water||No additives or chemicals; typically low in cost and abundant||Variable quality, may have high mineral or metal content, might require pre-treatment to be suitable for aquaponics|
|Rainwater||Pure and free from additives, suitable pH level for plants and fish||Requires collection system, may have variable quality or contain contaminants depending on where the water is collected|
|Water Harvesting from Aquifers||No additives, consistent quality||Access to aquifers may be limited in some regions; drilling and construction may require significant investment|
|Surface Water (Rivers, Lakes, Ponds)||Widely available and renewable||Inconsistent quality, may contain harmful chemicals, pesticides, or parasites, requires filtration and treatment to be suitable for aquaponics|
So, let’s have a look at the costs of building an aquaponics system.
You will need to consider materials and labor costs, time spent on construction and space available for your project. You should also think about convenience and what kind of system suits you best.
Curious about the essential requirements for starting an aquaponics system? We have you covered in our guide on what are the requirements for aquaponics. From the setup of the system to the necessary materials, our guide offers a comprehensive list of everything you need to know before getting started with an aquaponics system
Hydropower is a great choice if you’re looking for a passive source of electricity, but it’s important to remember that this method will only be effective if your aquaponics system is located on or near a river or lake. If that’s not the case, you’ll need to install a small generator.
Solar energy may be the most environmentally-friendly option in terms of cost and sustainability, but there are some drawbacks when it comes to an aquaponics system:
solar panels can’t generate enough energy in high latitudes; they require direct sunlight that isn’t always available during winter months; they produce more heat than electricity (which may disturb fish).
This can all add up when calculating costs and benefits associated with each power source option.
Wind farms are more expensive than solar because they have larger initial investments but lower operating costs over time–if there’s windy weather regularly where you live then this could be an ideal way for generating your own food year round!
Power Sources for Aquaponics Systems
|Solar Power||Renewable, low carbon emissions, low operational costs||Initial costs of equipment may be high, intermittent sunlight and weather conditions may affect productivity|
|Wind Power||Renewable, low carbon emissions, low operational costs, suitable for remote or off-grid systems||Dependent on weather conditions, may produce noise and visual distractions|
|Grid Power||Reliable and efficient, no need for electrical infrastructure setup||Dependence on existing infrastructure, rising energy costs, carbon emissions|
|Generator Set||Independent of grid power, on-demand power supply||High operational costs, produces high levels of noise and carbon emissions, requires regular maintenance|
|Hydro Power||Renewable, low carbon emissions, low operational costs||Infrastructure setup cost may be high, limited sites with suitable water features, requires regular maintenance|
Type Of Fish Used
The type of fish you use will have a big impact on how much your system costs. Different species need different amounts of food, and can live in more or less strict conditions. Some types require more work to breed, while others are easier to breed.
For example, Tilapia is one of the most popular fish for aquaponics because it’s easy-to-find, adaptable and easy-to-raise. It also happens to be very affordable:
A pound of Tilapia (about four whole fish) costs about $3-$4 at your local grocery store! On the other hand, Koi fish can cost over $100 per pound; they’re beautiful and fun but might not be the best choice if you’re new to aquaponics or don’t have a lot of spare cash lying around!
If you decide that Tilapia are right for you (or any other cheap species), then it’s time for us to talk about how many pounds per week each container holds before needing restocking (or “harvest”).
Want to know what vegetables are best suited for an aquaponics system? Our guide on what vegetables can be grown in aquaponics covers everything you need to know, from the right pH level for plants to the best starter plants for beginners. Start growing your own vegetables in no time with our guide!”
The most important part of your aquaponics system is the filtration system. A good filtration system will ensure that you don’t have to clean out your fish tanks too often, and that your plants are getting the right nutrients.
There are a few different types of filters you can use:
Mechanical Filters: These use mechanical means to remove debris from water, like sand or gravel beds. They only remove large particles from the water, not harmful bacteria or pathogens (which we’ll discuss in more detail later).
The advantage of these filters is that they don’t need electricity or any other special equipment for operation; however, they also don’t work as efficiently as other styles of filtration systems do either.
If you’re going for an off-the-grid option for your aquaponics setup (and why wouldn’t ya?), then this type might be perfect for you!
Biological Filters: These systems use beneficial bacteria to break down waste materials before returning them back into the waterway where it can be reused by plants again later on down the line once they’ve been cleaned throughly enough after weeks/months/years worth of accumulated material buildup over time
Labor And Installation Costs
In addition to the materials and equipment costs, you’ll need to consider the cost of labor. Labor is the single biggest expense of an aquaponics system, so it is important to find ways to reduce those costs.
Do it yourself! If you are handy and enjoy projects like this that involve a little bit of everything (plumbing, electrical wiring, carpentry), then consider doing some or all of the labor yourself.
You can save between 30% and 50% by doing all your own work on an aquaponics system compared with hiring a contractor.
Hire a licensed plumber or electrician: If you don’t have experience with these two trades, then hire them out through referrals from friends who have used their services before or even through local Facebook groups.
Ask for references so that you can talk directly with previous clients about what kind of work was done for them as well as how much they paid for each service component (materials vs labor).
This will give you some idea about what kind of price range would be reasonable for your needs as well as whether this person has experience working on systems like yours before!
If you’re interested in starting an aquaponic garden but not sure where to begin, check out our comprehensive guide on aquaponics: the complete step-by-step guide. Our guide covers everything you need to know, from the basics of water filtration to how to set up your own system at home. Get started on your aquaponics journey today
Filtration Systems for Aquaponics
|Solids Removal||Simple and low-cost, removes fish waste and uneaten debris, reduces ammonia buildup||Not effective in removing dissolved solids or nitrates, requires regular replacement of filter media, can clog easily|
|Bio-filtration||Facilitates nitrogen cycle, converts ammonia to nitrate, provides nutrients to plants as fertilizer||Requires specialized knowledge, high initial investment, may require additional media and equipment to operate efficiently|
|Mineralization||Converts fish waste to mineral form, increases nutrient uptake by plants, improves water quality and maintains oxygen levels||Requires additional monitoring, may not remove all waste from the system|
|Protein Skimming||Removes excess organic debris from the water, improves overall water quality and reduces algae growth||May be expensive, requires additional equipment and specialized knowledge|
|Ultraviolet Sterilization||Kills harmful bacteria and parasites, maintains water clarity||Requires replacement of bulbs and regular maintenance, may affect beneficial bacteria populations, ineffective against certain types of algae|
The amount of money you’ll spend on fuel depends on the type of fish you’re raising. Some fish need more energy to swim than others, so if your system is going to run for a long time without any maintenance, it’ll be better to choose a fish with low energy requirements.
Tilapia are a good choice because they’re hardy and don’t require much food. They grow quickly and are easy to raise.
Fish Power Requirements
If you want to compare different aquaponics systems based on their fuel costs, take into consideration the power requirements of each system’s pumps and lights (see “Lighting” below).
For example: If one system uses large-diameter PVC pipes for its circular flow loop but another uses smaller-diameter PVC pipes but has more lights and pumps installed in it (because it has more plant beds), then that second system will use up more electricity than the first one—even though both systems have similar amounts of plants!
Maintenance And Upkeep Costs
The cost of maintenance and upkeep is a big part of the overall cost of an aquaponics system. If you don’t have the time or money to maintain it yourself, you might want to hire someone else to do it for you.
This can be pricey, especially if their services are not included in your initial price tag for building the system.
You should also consider whether or not your home has the right environment for running an aquaponics system.
Ideally, this will be somewhere where there’s enough light coming into your windows but not too much heat escaping through them; somewhere where there aren’t any animals that could get into trouble with your fish; and somewhere with enough space (or at least room) so that those plants can grow big enough without encroaching on other things like furniture or even bedrooms!
Heating And Cooling Costs
Heating and cooling costs are usually the biggest part of the cost.
Heat pumps can make heating costs lower, but they require a good amount of electricity to run.
If you don’t have access to other sources of energy (e.g., solar), then you’ll need to use electricity or gas instead—and that means higher costs.
Solar panels can keep your greenhouse warm in winter, but they won’t help with cooling it down in summer.
Ready to get started with your own aquaponics system but not sure what you need? Check out our guide on what do you need to start aquaponics to learn about the essential equipment and materials necessary to build your own system. Our guide also includes helpful tips on how to maintain your system and keep it thriving for years to come.
While the initial costs of aquaponics systems are high, they’re actually a good investment. The cost-effective nature of these systems means you can save money on your food bill and potentially even earn money by selling excess produce.
If you want to get started with an aquaponics system but don’t know where to start, check out our guide which covers everything from choosing the right fish for your climate to filtering water using plants!
Here are some additional resources related to aquaponics systems and backyard gardening:
Aquaponics: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide: A comprehensive guide to aquaponics, covering everything from system setup to plant and fish selection.
What Vegetables Can Be Grown in Aquaponics?: This article provides an overview of the types of vegetables that can be grown in aquaponics systems.
How to Make Your Own Aquaponics System: This guide provides step-by-step instructions for building your own aquaponics system at home.
How Much Do Rocks Cost for Backyard? Explained: A helpful resource for those looking to calculate the cost of landscaping their backyard, which can be useful when budgeting for an aquaponics system.
How Do You Grow Vegetables in Aquaponics?: This article provides practical tips for growing vegetables in your aquaponics system.
Commercial Aquaponics Startup Cost: This article provides an overview of the costs associated with starting a commercial aquaponics operation.
Aquaponics – Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: This fact sheet from Ohio State University Extension provides an introduction to aquaponics, including system design, plant and fish selection, and maintenance tips.
What is an aquaponics system?
An aquaponics system is a type of farming method that combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) and hydroponics (growing plants in water without soil). In an aquaponics system, the waste produced by the aquatic animals provides nutrients for the plants, which in turn clean the water for the animals.
How much does an aquaponics system cost?
The cost of an aquaponics system can vary widely depending on the size of the system, the materials used, and the equipment required. Generally, a small-scale system for home use can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars, while larger commercial systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more.
What can be grown in an aquaponics system?
A wide variety of plants can be grown in an aquaponics system, including leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes, strawberries, and even some fruit trees. The types of plants that can be grown will depend on factors such as the size of the system, the water temperature, and the pH level.
Is an aquaponics system difficult to maintain?
While there is a learning curve involved in setting up and maintaining an aquaponics system, many people find that it is relatively easy to maintain once they have gotten the hang of it. Regular monitoring of water quality, nutrient levels, and pH is important, but many aquaponics systems can be largely self-sustaining with minimal intervention.
Are there any downsides to using an aquaponics system?
Some potential downsides of using an aquaponics system include the initial cost of setting up the system, the need for regular monitoring and maintenance, and the risk of disease or other issues affecting the aquatic animals or plants
For 15 years, Hellen James has worked in the gardening industry as an expert and landscape designer. During her career, she has worked for a variety of businesses that specialize in landscaping and gardening from small firms to large corporations.