Most aquaponics hobbyists are very passionate about their aquariums and plants. After all, building a self-supporting ecosystem that enables you to not only grow fish, but grow luscious vegetables as well can be a very rewarding experience.
If you pick the right crops, let’s say certain types of lettuce, you can actually make a tidy sum of money off your aquaponics system on a per-square-foot or per-square-meter basis. That’s how efficient an aquaponics system could be.
You must have the proper safeguards and if you know what you’re doing, you can actually produce a tremendous amount of clean water, a lot of fish and a lot of green, yummy and edible plants. What’s not to love to about it?
However, before jumping in with both feet because you’re all pumped up about the environmental as well as the nutritional benefits aquaponics brings to the table, you may want to take note of the three biggest challenges to this type of agriculture.
It’s slightly costly
First, aquaponics is not cheap to set up. If you’ve ever looked at any aquaponics setup on YouTube or on the Internet, you would quickly notice the pumps and the tubing involved in such a system.
You also must have all sorts of equipment to contain and maintain the health of the water you are pumping through and storing in your system.
All these equipment and materials cost money. It is no surprise that the typical aquaponics setup costs a pretty penny in terms of starting up.
The big workaround to this is to do things in installments. Basically, you would create a modular system. If your eventual goal is to set up an aquaponics operation that has a one-hectare footprint, you can start small.
You can start with 10 square meters. Once that operation is making money or pays for itself, you can then scale up to 20 square meters, so on and so forth.
It’s a delicate balance
The second potential headache with aquaponics is that it is very delicate. Everything depends on everything else and it must all work smoothly for the system to flourish.
When you look at all these pumps, you get the false sense of confidence that since these are made of durable materials that this system as a whole is very sturdy.
Looks can be deceiving because if one key part of the process fails then the whole thing pretty much fails. Make no mistake, if your fish die, your aquaponics system is pretty much dead.
Do note that you have to be very sensitive to the different parts of the filtering system. You cannot afford blockages in your root filtering or underperformance in that part of your operations.
You should also not neglect the proper feeding of your fish. Believe it or not, if you overfeed your fish, this actually causes more problems than if you underfeed them.
The bottom line is if your fish are not healthy, your aquaponics system is probably on its way out. That’s how bad things can get.
It requires a lot of electricity
Electricity can pose problem. Unless you live in an area that has abundant supplies of cheap, reliable electrical energy, the electrical requirement of an aquaponics system actually makes it economically unworkable.
A lot of aquaponics hobbyists are exactly that – they are hobbyists. They break even or they make a small profit.
If you are looking at aquaponics as some sort of large-scale enterprise, you might want to think again unless, of course, you have access to an abundant and reliable supply of electricity.
Pair this with the heavy start-up costs and it’s not surprising that a lot of entrepreneurs in many parts of the United States consider aquaponics either too expensive or simply impractical.