Restarting Discussion

Well, there has been no discussion here since November 2015 so I thought I would through in this local (Phoenix) photo as a catalyst.  There are now 4 of these in operation and the number is growing.5020574490?profile=original

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  • OMG...

    I think I now have an idea of what to do with my too expensive to run hot tub with the leaky heater...bypass the heater and try this.  What time of year was this photo taken?

    • Greetings. The photo was taken in December 2015. It is a new concept in aquaponics called S-CAp (Self-Contained Aquaponics). It is not as simple as it looks but much simpler and easier than traditional techniques. I am developing a website about it ( but it is not on line yet. After next wee watch for more information.
  • Dr. Brooks,

    Thanks for posting this here.  I think I saw the idea of a "tour de ponds" or something similar posted on another site (maybe facebook).

    I think that would be a wonderful outreach/educational opportunity.


    • Greetings Dan. Yes you saw the idea of a Tour de Tanks recently on the Arizona Aquaponics page on Facebook. I think it is a great idea. But again, I am biased ;-)

  • Hi Dr. Brooks:

    Is it feasible and economical to incorporate these type of hydroponic and/or aquaponic setups in community gardens?

    My question is more of an intellectual-exploring-the-idea question.  I am sure it can be done.  Is it a good idea?  Many community gardens are in distressed areas.  Would this increase the food availability proportionally and economically over a bed of similar size?


    • Greetings Catherine. Thanks for the question. Yes. Called SCAp (Self Contained Aquaponics) particular type of aquaponics is a new techniques designed to lower operating and construction costs by about 2/3rds while maintaining production rates equal or superior to traditional unit. This is so that more people can make use of the technology including underserved communities. There is one downside however. Like any deep water small children must be kept away from it. Beyond that reviews of operators are very positive and a number of have been built over the past month since the new idea was introduced.

      Regarding production rates, is is very difficult to find accurate date on how much food per square food a traditional garden produces. However we have three years of good data on SCAp and we have seen production rates of about 9 lb/ft2 of growbed space over a 10 month growing season.

    • Hi Dr. Brooks,

      I was curious about the production of a land bed to compare to the 9lb/2feet/10 months.  I actually found an article by Rosalind Creasy and Cathy Barash in Mother Earth News on an experiment they did together.

      They had a 100 sq ft bed (5 ft by 20) which produced 235.8 pounds of food over 5 months (April to September)

      So if my math is correct to adjust for comparison they produced 4.7 lbs for every 2 ft over 5 months.

      The production would seem to be equal (if I'm doing the math right):

      hydroponics: 9 lbs over 10 months compared to

      land: just under 5 lbs over 5 months.

      If the comparison is only on plant production and does not include fish, then it would seem an aquaponics set up including fish would produce more food over all.  If only plants it would be equal.

      Thoughts?   :-)

    • An excellent article! Thank you. Ok lets followup on what you said:

      "They had a 100 sq ft bed (5 ft by 20) which produced 235.8 pounds of food over 5 months (April to September)."

      A quick question. Is April to September 5 months or 6? Anyway, Doing the quick and dirty math  ;-), this is 2.358 pounds of food per square foot over 5 months. (235.8/100). Doubling this comes to 4.7 lbs/f2 over 10 months. An impressive number for a soil garden though the 9lbs/ft2 for the aquaponics about doubles it.

      Yes, the aquaponics number for this example does include fish.

      A quick note, though they superficially look alike, there is a great deal of difference between aquaponics and hydroponics. Though the common description of aquaponics is "the combination of hydroponics and aquaponics," we have learned over the years this description is not accurate. Call it for now "a wetland ecosystem harnessed to produce food for us ;-) )"

      From the article I found the description of what she did extremely detailed and interesting. It almost provides for a point by point comparison. So I think I will do just that. Recognizing that our climate here in Phoenix is not conducive to summer fruit (the pollen dies at over 100 degrees F so it is very difficult to get fruit to set during the hot months which are increasing) so duplicating what she did here in Phoenix will be a challenge. Never the less,  I will see if I can plant a bed using the same plant spectrum and see what happens. Should be fun.

      I am also interested in the cost of preparation for a 100 ft2 soil bed. Cost is the bane of aquaponics. In general it costs WAY too much and it is WAY too complex.  The new S-CAp method however appears to be addressing these issues requiring about the same amount of time for set up as described in this article. The comparison will be to see how the costs of materials and water compare on a pound for pound basis. 

      Good stuff. Thanks.

    •  I will see if I can plant a bed using the same plant spectrum and see what happens. Should be fun.

      Thank you for your thoughtful response.

      Super!  I also look forward to how your "journey" works out.

      (I used to use the word experiment in relation to gardening and my friend Suzanne Vilardi mentioned she sees it as a journey - I liked that reference better :-)

      While some fruit does not set in our summer heat, the fact that we can garden and produce some form of food year round, should offset that particular limitation with regard to sweet fruit, I would think.

      Also Peppers, eggplant, wonderberries seem to thrive in our heat for example (forms of fruit), so their production would be a consideration.

    • Greetings. My apologies for being out to touch. Back to you shortly.

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