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Aquaponics Community Options

February 17, 2010

Because aquaponics is such a new growing method relatively few books have been written on it and most of the university study has been focused on commercial systems. The best place for a beginning, or even experienced, aquaponic gardener to gather knowledge is through online communities.

The biggest of these is the Backyard Aquaponics forum (http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/index.php ) run by Joel Malcom (“earthbound”) from Backyard Aquaponics in Perth, Australia. This forum has thousands of members and has been active since at least 2006, maybe earlier. Since the Australians have been doing home aquaponics largely on a year-round basis and on a bigger scale than we have here in the U.S. (see previous post about Australia, America and Home Aquaponics) they are an ideal “brain to pick” about aquaponic growing. There is a cadre of very dedicated, and very knowledgeable, people on this forum that are happy to help the newbies.

I find the downside of relying exclusively on this forum as a U.S. gardener, however, is that because they have been mainly growing in a year-round climate I need to be selective about some of the advice that is given. Another issue is that often products are recommended that we can’t get here, and fish and crustaceans are discussed that I haven’t even heard of (yabbies and marron, anyone?). Not a lot of tilapia love going on. Finally, the sheer size of this forum can be intimidating.

The best source of information in the U.S. continues to be the aquaponics list-serv run by Paula Speraneo of the famous S&S Aquafarms. To subscribe, send an email to: aquaponics-request@townsqr.com in the body (or message area) type: subscribe. This is the information source Joel turned to before starting the Backyard forum. It also has many knowledgeable people giving generously of their time to help with a huge range of aquaponics topics, including Travis Hughey of Barrelponics fame (http://www.fastonline.org/content/view/15/29).

The downside of this community is that you need to join in order to witness the dialog – no anonymous hovering like with a forum – and in joining you are signing up for a flood of emails. These can be automatically filtered into a sub-directory through most email services, however, so don’t avoid this valuable resource just for that reason. The other downside is that there isn’t an easy way to see archived conversations.

Another community option is to go with a new community. While you won’t have the accumulated knowledge of a forum or the size of a long established list-serv, you will have the opportunity to interact on a more personal basis with a smaller group of enthusiasts in a newer environment that brings together photos, video, chat, forums, etc. I’d like to put in a plug for the Ning site that Rebecca Nelson (Aquaponics.com and editor of the Aquaponics Journal) and I started last month at http://aquaponicscommunity.com/. Still “intimate”, but has already attracted some very knowledgeable, interesting people including Anne McCarthy of the Vancouver Island University program, Affnan from Malasia who is known for his wonderful videos on bell-siphon systems, and Aron Arnold who created the world’s first aquaponics music video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmy5mFfR0Rw. I’ve also started a Facebook community if Facebook is more your style (search for Aquaponic Gardening (no ‘s’)) and I tweet @aquapon.

My recommendation – spend time in all four (Backyard Aquaponics forum, join the list-serv, join aquaponicscommunity.com and fan the Facebook community). You will get something very different, and very useful, from each.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    March 29, 2010 8:16 am

    Yabbies are like crawfish on steroids that grow up to about 12 inches long. I have been considering purchasing some to grow, as I love mudbugs. I have been told that they are cold sensitive, so either one would have to save mating stock inside over winter, or raise them in a greenhouse.

  2. alberto martin permalink
    April 4, 2010 2:17 pm

    when do you teach classes?

    • April 4, 2010 4:25 pm

      Hi Alberto,

      I teach in the spring and fall around the Denver / Boulder area currently, although hopefully this will catch on and I’ll be invited to teach at other locations as well – I love to teach and spread the word about aquaponics. I post any classes that are upcoming in the Events section of our ning community site at aquaponicscommunity.com. Also, at the end of April we will be launching our new website – TheAquaponicSource.com – and video of the class I taught for the Denver Botanic Garden will be available through that site for email newsletter subscribers. Thanks for asking!

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