Assuming that you’re starting small as a beginner, aquaponics can be a relatively easy venture to dip your toes into, without an enormous initial investment. While there are several different ways to get started, it’s probably easiest to start with a fish tank, or even an aquarium. This part of the system is where you generate food for your plants. If you’re familiar with aquariums, you’ll understand the concept of cycling, which starts you off in a good place. Cycling is the process of establishing a bacterial colony that breaks down wastes produced by the fish into a form that can be used by plants. If you have no plants in your tank, you’ll usually manage the excess nutrients through regular water changes or the addition of chemicals and flocculants. In an aquaculture setup, you’ll have plants depending on those nutrients, so water changes and chemicals will be a thing of the past. For now, get an ordinary aquarium set up, cycled with a healthy bacterial colony, and keep your fish happy while you work on your grow beds
Select a single vegetable, or an entire salad to grow: it’s your choice, but leafy greens and herbs are the easiest to begin with. Just make sure their needs correlate to the ideal conditions for your fish as far as pH and temperature go. You can build or purchase grow beds, floating rafts, or other options, so long as they provide enough structural support as your plants get taller. It’s a good idea to get any seedlings going at this point so they’re ready for transplant once your system is hooked up. This is a good point to address your lighting system. If you’re indoors, you’ll need to install lights that can reproduce the appropriate spectrum for your plants to thrive. Make sure that the lumens produced meet the needs of your plants. Next, you need the infrastructure - the pumps and pipes and systems which keep water circulating between your fish and your crops. Grow beds that use grow media and offer a constant recirculation between the fish and the plants are one of the most effective systems. Take a look at setups using a bell siphon and purchase an appropriately sized pump to match your system. Various setups, including NFT and rafts, can even be mixed, matched and combined to match your specific goals. In fact, if you can construct one that delivers a nice cold glass of iced tea each afternoon, let’s talk business.