FAQ


Customer Mike G. Testimonial with collage of pictures of his aquaponics system and his kids holding fresh veggies from the system.

Customer Testimonials & Pictures

Aquaponics FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

This Aquaponics FAQ webpage can answer many question if the concept is completely new to you. Even if you are familiar with this type of garden you may have basic or even more complex questions before you are ready to invest in a system. This page is geared towards those types of questions plus some general questions. For FAQ’s common to people who already have a system please see our private members’ areas (either DIY or Complete Kit purchase customers, which ever applies).
What is Aquaponics?
Is it more efficient or faster than a regular soil garden?
How much trouble is it to maintain?
What is the most important aspect?
How much power does it use?
Do you have many problems with the water or air pumps?
Do you have to use a media/clay pebble bed?
Do different plants grow better in pebbles vs floating rafts?
What kind of fish do you recommend?
Where can I find fish?
Can I feed the fish rabbit or chicken poop or what fish food alternatives are available?
Do I need a greenhouse?
What are the actual dimensions of the Sanctuary 32 (smallest expandable)?
Can the Sanctuary 32, 48 or 64 fit in a straight line rather than an L pattern?
Can I use all pebble beds without the rafts?

Aquaponics Systems

Kits to assembly full size systems

Do you have a dealer program?
Does the water or pebbles ever need to be changed?
What can I grow in these systems?
Where do you get your seeds from?
What cities do you have systems on display at where, I can see it in person?
Can I grow potatoes and carrots?
How do you control the water temperature (warmer or cooler)?
Do I have to eat the fish?
What do I do if all my fish die and how can I prevent that from happening?
What if I have additional questions after I get my system setup?
Can I grow shrimp instead of fish?
What happens if the electricity goes out? How long until the fish will die?
Can this work off grid with no electricity?
Should I have a backup battery or generator setup?
Is it possible to move a system and if so should I completely shut it down then restart it after moving?
What is a salt bath and should I use it?
What happens if I get fish from an unclean environment?
Is it normal for my water to turn green?
Can I use pesticides to control the bugs?
What is the best way to control the bugs?
How hard is it to raise my own fingerlings?
Do I have to be good at math to manage a system?

What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is the merging together of aquaculture and hydroponics. The problems with these are the same, you have to discard the water after a while because of pollution but when you put the two of them together, if forms a system where the water polluted by the fish becomes the nutrients for the plants. The new symbiotic relationship is called aquaponics.

Is it more efficient or faster than a regular soil garden?

Yes. It is about twice as fast as a soil garden and you can plant much closer together. In a normal garden, the nutrients are in the soil and in our system, the nutrients are in the water. Planting close together is not a bad thing at all.

How much trouble is it to maintain?

Once everything is set up, is very simple. Daily maintenance is feeding the fish, checking the plants for insects and making sure that all your pumps are running correctly.

What is the most important aspect?

The most important aspect is to make sure that your plants are not causing any root balls with anaerobic areas in the clay pebble bed. It is important to test your ammonia level in the water. If it rises quickly, you may have a dead fish in the system or you have an anaerobic root ball in one of the beds (roots of one of the plants in the clay pebble beds are rotting and needs removal).

How much power does it use?

The water pump & air pump together use 23 watts. An additional air pump would be needed for the Sanctuary 96 or 128 and would use another 6 watts.

Do you have many problems with the water or air pumps?

No, the air pumps and water pumps will run for years and years as long as you keep the filters clean. Once a week, you need to brush the water filter off. For the air pumps, there is a filter on the bottom that needs to be removed & cleaned every few months. One reason that people have problems with water pumps is that they are on timers. Timers will wear out the pump by starting & stopping all the time. Our systems do not use timers.

Do you have to use a media/clay pebble bed?

Yes, absolutely. If you do not use a pebble bed or a gravel bed, the solids will become attached to the root and kill them, so you have to filter those solids out and that is what our pebble beds do. The earth worms also break down the solid matter and then that purified water is sent into the raft tanks.

Do different plants grow better in pebbles vs floating rafts?

Not really. They seem to do about the same. We have tested this with different kinds of plants. You want plants in the clay beds that need a root structure to hold themselves up and that grow taller. You want your leafy greens like lettuce in the raft beds because they are short and need no root structure for support. You want plants in the raft beds that have shorter harvest time because they are easier to get in and out of the system. A long term plant like a tomato that will produce longer should go in the clay beds because it gets large and needs the root structure and you are not taking it in and out very often. Any plant that climbs or gets very large needs to be supported by a trellis or something.

What kind of fish do you recommend?

There are a lot of different kinds of fish that you can grow: Tilapia, catfish, trout, bass. We recommend Tilapia if your climate is warm. They are a fast growing fish & do not acquire diseases very quickly and they can handle all kinds of bad water. The problem with Tilapia is that you have to keep the water temperature above 55 degrees. For a warm climate, that is fine. For a cold climate, you might want to grow trout or another cold water fish. The best thing to do is to check with the local wildlife agency and see what they recommend for your area.

Where can I find fish?

The best place to start is craigslist.com. That means that it will be local and you will not have to pay shipping costs which is expensive for fish. Some websites are www.tilapiadepot.com and one of the best websites for tilapia iswww.fishkis.com.

Can I feed the fish rabbit or chicken poop or what fish food alternatives are available?

We do not recommend feeding animal droppings to the fish. They may contain e-coli which may contaminate your system. The commercial fish food is cheap but probably contains GMO. Fishkis.com sells an organic, non GMO fish food. You can grow your own Duck Weed for fish food which is grown on the surface of the water of one of your tanks. You squeeze the water out and freeze it for food. You could also grow worms to feed them as well.

Do I need a greenhouse?

For most parts of the USA, you will need a greenhouse or you will need some way to control the climate. It depends mostly on the fish you are growing. Even in Phoenix, AZ (where our manufacturing facility and main offices are located) in a hot climate, it is better to have a greenhouse. If it gets below 55 degrees in the winter time we recommend having a greenhouse. You can also grow in a spare bedroom or a garage and use supplemental lighting like fluorescent lights or grow lights.

What are the actual dimensions of the Sanctuary 32?

This is our smallest Sanctuary system that is expandable up to our Sanctuary 128. The actual dimensions are in an L pattern, left to right, 85 inches. The depth front to back is 102 inches.

Can the Sanctuary 32, 48 or 64 fit in a straight line rather than an L pattern?

Yes, when you order, let us know us and we can make the plumbing adjustment for you. Instead of taking up an 8 foot by 10 foot space, it would be 4 foot by 12 foot. If you send us your space requirements we can suggest a system.

Can I use all pebble beds without the rafts?

Our Sanctuary Series systems are designed and set up to run together with beds & rafts. You can customize anything you want but from the factory, we cannot change our design to enable it to work with all pebble beds.

Do you have a dealer program?

Yes we do. Please check our website. There are three different types of programs available. You need to fill out adealer application form and email it to use for approval. We will contact you from there.

Does the water or pebbles ever need to be changed?

No. The water is the “blood” of the system. You will lose some water to evaporation so technically, the water is being exchanged. You will not need to change the pebbles.

What can I grow?

These systems will grow about anything with the exception of a few root crops. Potatoes and carrots normally do not do well with aquaponics but you can grow onions, radishes, beets, and other types of root crops. We offer wicking beds for those that want to grow potatoes and carrots. See our website for more information on wicking beds.

Where do you get your seeds from?

We order our seeds from www.HeirloomSolutions.com. They have a large selection of seeds, all heirloom seeds, and non GMO.

What cities do you have systems on display at where, I can see it in person?

As of April 2013 we have systems on display in Phoenix, AZ, Dallas, TX and very soon in Charlotte, NC, Fayetteville, NC and Chattanooga, TN with more coming soon.

Can I grow potatoes and carrots?

You cannot grow potatoes and carrots very well in an aquaponics grow bed, however we do offer a wicking bed option for sale that will allow you to do well growing root crops. Wicking beds are not attached directly, but you do use the highly nutrient rich water from your system to add to it.

How do you control the water temperature (warmer or cooler)?

Controlling the water temperature is best done using tank heaters in colder climates. We sell a 300 watt tank heater and a thermosiphon solar collector. Depending on your climate and system setup, it may take 2-3 tank heaters to keep the water warm enough in the colder months. Cooling the water can be more difficult in some location and may take more electricity. Keeping the fish tank shaded, the lid open, and aeration is important in warm climates. It is also wise to choose a fish that you can easily grow for your climate.

Do I have to eat the fish?

No. If you would like to grow koi or goldfish that is fine. Alternatively, you may also be able to sell fish, such as tilapia, if you do not want to eat them yourself.

What do I do if all my fish die and how can I prevent that from happening?

If all of your fish die, you have a serious issue. Probably the ammonia level is out of hand. You will need to discharge all the water and replace it with fresh water and test the water to make sure it is safe before you add fish. To help prevent this from happening check your system daily to ensure the system is running properly and test your water regularly, then take action as needed.

What if I have additional questions after I get my system setup?

Good question. Every customer that purchases a kit from us will have access to the “Customers Only Section.” Here you will find many more FAQs, videos, and information to help you be successful with aquaponics.

Can I grow shrimp instead of fish?

From what I have researched, shrimp or crayfish are a bad idea. They tend to eat everything in the system including the plants. They can also crawl from one grow bed to another so they are very difficult to contain. Fish would be a safer option.

What happens if the electricity goes out? How long until the fish will die?

It’s a great idea to have a backup battery or some type of secondary power in case that happens. How long they will live depends on how many fish you have compared to how big your tank is. If you only have a couple of fish in a 300 gallon tank, they will live a long time and don’t need any extra oxygen. However, if you have 75 pounds of fish in a 300 tank, they will probably begin to die within the first hour.

Can this work off grid with no electricity?

Yes. That is one of our main designs in the system. It is very simple to set up our system to work off a solar panel and a battery.

Should I have a backup battery or generator setup?

We do recommend a backup battery. We recommend a generator unless you have a large commercial system.

Is it possible to move a system and if so should I completely shut it down then restart it after moving?

It is possible. It will be some work. You need to drain the water and scoop out the pebbles while keeping your fish and plants alive in containers during transportation. The most important part of moving fish is to keep aeration, keep air flowing through their water. You can get 12 volt battery operated aerator at Walmart to keep the fish alive.

What is a salt bath and should I use it?

Salt baths are very good and we highly recommend it. It is 1.5 pounds of pool salt per 50 gallons of water. We recommend giving a salt bath to all new fish that will be added to your system. The salt will kill all the parasites on the fish and also helps the fish with their gills. It is a good idea to add a little bit of salt. All this and much more information is available in the “Customers Only Section.”

What happens if I get fish from an unclean environment?

It is okay to catch fish from a lake or pond. We recommend that you give them a salt bath when you get them and keep them separated from the other fish for a week. Then repeat the cycle of giving them another salt bath while keeping them separated for one more week. If they look healthy, put them in with the rest of your fish.

Is it normal for my water to turn green?

If sunlight hits any part of your water, it will turn green because of algae. If you have a net pot in your raft that does not have a plant in it, we recommend putting some clay pebbles in that net pot. If you do not, you will get algae scum growing in the bottom of the net pot.

Can I use pesticides to control the bugs?

Absolutely not. Commercial pesticides will kill your fish.

What is the best way to control the bugs?

Mix one gallon of water, a quarter cup of molasses, 1 teaspoon chili powder and about 3-5 drops of dish soap. Spray on plants.

How hard is it to raise my own fingerlings?

You can set up a tank to breed fingerlings. We have found that this will happen automatically. The bigger fish will eat the baby fish but they have so many that often the little fish will escape out the overflow tube into your sump tank where they are safe. Once bigger, you can transport them over to your fish tank.

Do I have to be good at math to manage a system?

No. There is no math involved. A good manager is looking at the future using a calendar and scheduling when to plant the crops so that you are never out of food. Tip: When growing your own food (vegetables, fruits, etc..) stagger your planting and harvesting times wisely! When you plant more than you can eat, consider canning or freezing it for later consumption and use that as part of your strategy for storing foods!