Since I published the Zero to Hero Aquaponics Construction Manual, I’ve gotten numerous requests for an operations manual. I’ve been resistant to writing one, largely because it would take hundreds of pages and still fail to cover many situations. There are also topics I’m not really qualified to write on.
Well, now there’s a manual out there – for free.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently put out this document which describes–in detail–how to manage an aquaponics system.
It’s a fantastic document that will help a lot of people get started with and learn about aquaponics for themselves.
For those building an aquapoincs system in North America, here are some things you should keep in mind:
- The manual is aimed at areas near the equator, which means that their advice and methods do not speak to heat loss, humidity control, or supplemental lighting.
- Their design guides (appendix 8) do not contain insulation or air sealing, and will only work seasonally in temperate climates.
- Their numbers for cost-benefit (appendix 7) assume a low stocking density, or a plant-centric rather than fish-centric system.
- They offer limited and sometimes-inaccurate advice advice on fish selection, especially with regard to cold-water fish.
Those concerns aside, I would encourage you to read up. Their advice on system startup and fish care is spot-on. They spend a lot of time on pH and water chemistry, which is the primary concern of new aquapons.
The learning curve is steep, so you might as well get a running start. Happy reading!