Aquaponics 101 – Scaling up.

Seeing that I have been accused of dealing with too much politics and not enough “fishies” (thanks Lex), I’ll get right back to Aquaponics.

My system is by no means complete, nor are the fish, plants or water quality perfect, but I have paid my school fees and I now know what works, and what doesn’t work on my size system, which by Australian standards is regarded as a medium-sized system.

I have always involved myself in businesses or hobbies that are scaleable, and Aquaponics is most definitely scaleable. I will now be moving in two directions.

Firstly, smaller. I am busy designing a completely a self-contained, mini-system for households and small communities. It consists, simply of a fish tank, two grow beds, a small submersible pump and a solar panel and battery. It will be totally portable, and I will deliver, assemble and configure it in a few hours. It will get it’s water from a single downpipe from the roof of the house, and could even be placed permanently up against the house with the downpipe leading into the fish tank. I would like to see one of these in as many households as possible.

Then bigger. I have designed a 30m x 10m tunnel-based system consisting of 4 x 3m diameter (1.2m high) tanks, 100m of grow beds and a centre sump, pumps and filtration. The first of these systems will be going up on a farm near Knysna and will be producing the Tilapia as well as tomatoes, strawberries, basil and ginger. This will be an interesting build and I have at least 3 others lined up to do when I have finished this one. It will take a few months to build and configure.

Here is a roughly drawn plan. You probably can’t see what’s going on from this, but I’d like to post it to document the very first step in this project.


Here’s an image of a large aquaponic farm in the Virgin Islands, growing Basil, with a similar layout as mine except we will have everything within a greenhouse, and the ponds will be in the middle.


I now have a great dam to use for my Tilapia brood fish, and hope to be producing tens of 1000’s of fingerlings by Spring. Have a look at this. 9m diameter and it holds about 60000 L of water. I am very excited about the potential of this project which appears to be growing from strength to strength.


Oh well, a busy weekend beckons.




14 thoughts on “Aquaponics 101 – Scaling up.”

  1. Hey Synaptoman, great site. Pls post or send more info on your mini-system for households. I live in Noordhoek, W.Cape and want one. Also planning to buy a stretch of land along the Breede to set up an aquaponic venture, but the problem is I know bugger-all. Do you run courses for ignoramuses? Also, pls put me on your mailing list if you have such a thing. Rgds, Nic

  2. Hi Nic,

    Thank you. I will email you privately some details on my small home system. Also go to for some great ideas. Download the Second Edition of the magazine and you’ll see my small home system featured as one of the system picks.
    As far as the Breede river idea, we design and build turnkey systems for clients in this area and would be glad to assist. Unfortunately, due to time constraints I haven’t been able to get my training courses going but will keep you posted.

  3. Hi synaptoman ,

    I am a third year architecture student currently studying at Manchester University in England. My project this year is the design and construction of an Aquaponics farm and market, but I’m having trouble finding a suitable precedent for my project.

    I was wondering if you knew where I could find information regarding the layout of an aquaponics farm; architectural plans, sections or anything else that might help. The sketch plan you’ve shown here looks brilliant, do you have any more detailed plans of something like this that you’d be willing to share?

    Any information would be greatly appreciated.


    Robin Burek

    1. check out, thier systems are basicly foolproof and straightforward. Alos thier a commercial aquaponic production company. I will be starting construction of a 500 ft2 system in april of 2011. If your intrested I could e-mail you copies of plans and photos as it progresses along.

      Miami/ FL

  4. Hi Have you managed to locate any relevant construction design standard that we can be guided by in the design of our farm…for instance foot baths, roofs…etc not necessarily the tanks layout but more so building and shed layouts

    1. Hi Trini Follower,

      Nice to see you on Synaptoman again. I deal quite extensively with greenhouse construction and design in my book, Aquaponics – The Synaptoman way, now available as an eBook for only $18 from this website. You are dictated mainly by mean temperatures in your part of the world in your selection of housing for your AP system. Sometimes, if you live in a subtropical or even temperate climate you can even just use s shade-cloth covered area for your system.

      You can get the eBook here.

  5. Hi,
    I’m Christopher Carew of Tinidad and Tobago, I am
    currently studying Tilapia production and Aquaponics
    and will like you to send me any information you can
    provide me with.

    Thank You.

    1. Hi Christopher,

      All the information you will need is in my book. One of the motivations for writing it was because of the numerous requests of this nature that I get. Just click on the link on the main page.

      Kind Regards


  6. Hi,
    I set up small aquaponics green house with various plants. among the plants i am experimenting is strawberry. i have bought various seed in teh US though still in transit. meanwhile my wife was able to get some seed in our place (btw I am fromPhilippines) and she started planting it. the financial and business aspect seem very feasible but i am not actually a farmer with very less knowledge in farming. i learned that in quaponics you do not need to be a farmer to grow plants.
    can you give me pointer on growing strawberries in aquaponics system? I will appreciate your response. Thanks.



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