A Beginners Aquaponics Journey - Part One
Author: Aqua Gardening
Date: 27 July 2022

A Beginners Aquaponics Journey - Part One

We have teamed up with Anthony from Tribal Wellness and his family to create a beginner journey for Aquaponics.

Tribal Wellness believes that true wellness encompasses all aspects of health and wellbeing. They wanted to explore and learn gardening techniques to help them and their growing tribe grow their own food at home.

They will document their gardening journey in a raw and honest way, and we are more than happy to share the first part with our community.

Watch Part 1 of their journey to self sustainability and a healthy balanced lifestyle and stay tuned for Part 2!


Aquaponics: A Beginners Journey Part I


Come along for the ride as Ant and family start their first aquaponic garden. From delivery to set up and beyond, get a look at what it really takes to get started for a family of complete beginners! Sharing their wins, tips and even fails from the journey so far.

We chatted to Ant about how his journey has been so far...


When you bought the property, did you guys get ‘regular’ - traditional gardening - beds up and going as well?

We did. There was a fair bit of infrastructure here already. Some good grow beds and things planted.


Have you done much regular gardening in your past, and growing up?

No, not growing food. Gardening, Yeah. I love plants and tinkering in nature. But yeah, not what we see here. I want to get us pretty well self sustainable.


Have you got much solar set up? Chickens?

Yeah, we've got a creek down the bottom and a water license for it. So all our waters good. We’re fully off the grid and with the battery house, so good from that respect. And then it's just yeah, I can't see why we couldn't get to the point where all of our food as far as vegetables. Fruit and Veg and berries and that is from the land.

12 chickens. Yeah, they're almost all laying. So we get about eight eggs a day.


Are you going to look into getting chooks for meat at all? Or just the egg laying?

My wife and my daughter are vegetarian. And even my boys and myself we, we have meat. We've all been vegetarian at one stage or another. But yeah, I don't think we'd come to kill our own meat. We’ve got some really good, wholesale fishmongers and butchers and that in the area that are, you know, we can source directly from.


Do you have any kind of apprehension about when you might have to come to harvest your fish? Or are they going to be pets for you?

No, we definitely want to eat them. I'm definitely struggling at the moment. Getting all the growing conditions. Right. for both the fish and the produce. So I think I have a call with one of the guys from the Customer Success Team coming up soon, Just to try and get all right.


What made you consider aquaponics when you do have so much land to just do traditional gardening with?

I used to be a chiropractor and one of my patients came in and was just so passionate about Aquaponics. I saw the concept of it and I'm like, ‘That is amazing!’. I just want to do that at some stage in my life. So, yeah, just from that.

Then also we're fairly well across farming practices for fish, and you know, even the challenges with getting wild caught with mercury and all that kind of stuff. So, I think the attraction to produce our own fish. And then, once we can get it, right.

I think the rate of growing and just having that control of the nutrients that are going into the plants and that from the system. I love watching things in synchronicity.

Yeah. It's incredible. There's nothing like the magic of plants. Then you add the fish, and that synchronicity is really cool to watch.


What made you reach out to us and how did you find us? Was it just that per client who, who kind of got you into us?

No, so it was a homeschooling project. So my son had to look up, wall gardens. My other son, Bodie, he had to look up aquaponics and he's the one he's the one so he was 11 at the time, and he's the one who found it and research at all and said, Yep, this is the best system dad and yeah.


Were the kids keen on aquaponics and helping during the set up process?

Yeah, Bodie so he was the one kind of helping me in the video. He's into everything. Zara, when I say vegetarian, I should say veg-aquarian so she does have fish and then Xave my eldest, he was excited. He did all the videography for me to make the video so I think all of them in different aspects. Yeah. But I think because we homeschool as well, It's great because we don't really follow a school curriculum per se. So things like getting the water chemistry right just plays really well into that. So there again, Bodie he he took a liking to testing the water and you know, working out different balances and things like that.


Had you done much reading into the aquaponic process and stuff before you got the kit?

Nah, and I think that's probably our downfall. I just expect everything should just work. With no idea why it is or isn't. But one of the things was, we had already ordered the fish!


Have you had much of a look into our learning hub? and watched any of those videos and stuff yet?

I have here and there, but not nearly enough.

I understand you can get so excited about end result, it's easy to get ahead of yourself sometimes. Do you have any tips on things that you maybe didn't consider when you were initially setting up? that you beyond the fish, of course, that you would recommend to?

Have all of the products, to supplement the water and to keep the balances in when you order the system. Yeah, allow the system to be in balance before you get your fish.

The challenge was - there was a guy, we went through the recommendation of where to get the fish from. It was on the sunny coast. So he happened to be coming down to visit his mom who lived, just around the corner from us, which is so wild. Three hours away. And I’m like great, alright we’ll take advantage of that and not having to ship them.

What else? I think be more well versed, more well read haha. To kind of preempt potential problems, not just troubleshoot once things go astray.

And I think you know, a lot of people by the time they order a kit they know exactly what they want and why and yeah, we were at the other end of the scale just going oh, this seems really cool. Let's buy it.

Which is sometimes fun because you learn a lot along the way a lot a lot. Every time you mess up it's the one thing you won't do again.


When you guys received the kit - did everything arrive all good? No breakages? Everything kind of make sense?

Yeah, it was really cool. Just everything on one crate, and like how they fit everything in there? All packed in and the guide was really easy to follow. It was all pretty - I think there was only one step were like, Oh, we did that before that. Now we're going to take that apart. But for the most part. Yeah, Bodie did most of it and I helped. So pretty straightforward. And I wouldn’t Say that we're overly handy or mechanical.


How did the fish go being put in the system early , did you have many deaths or anything like that?

Not early on. It wasn't until we had lots of rain, lots of rain and the pH kept getting higher than it was and we had nothing to bring it down. So that's what I'd say for newcomers is to make sure they've got everything they're going to need to keep everything in balance. Because I'm testing it going okay, it's higher, but I've got nothing to bring it down. So it wasn’t until we got an order of different things to buffer the pH and different trace elements and minerals and things like that.


Is it Perch that you guys are growing? Jade or silver? I think I saw a - was there a goldfish in there as well?

Yes, they are Jade Perch and Goldie, our goldfish. He's our longest lasting pet so he was just in a random fountain at the back of our house. When we moved, I thought ‘I'll grab him’. I slotted him in, he loves it. He's super hardy.


Have you had many deaths since the rain caused issues? Were they in quite a short amount of time that they all died?

I would say we've lost. I think we ended up we ordered 30 I think they gave us 35. And I'd say we've probably lost, it'd be close to 10 now.

Mostly in one little lot. We were losing like a fish a day for five or six days, and then as soon as we got the pH down, that tended to calm things.

We do not recommend adding fish to the system before appropriate system cycling has been completed, if unsure we are always here to help, and we can make sure you are doing things in the right order to prevent or minimise beginner teething issues. Read our blog here for more info on System Cycling and preparing your system for fish.

Have you guys harvested much from that? Or the other garden? or the aquaponics is still a bit bit too slow with the water issues?

A little slow. We had a really good sprout in spinach. Been using that. But that kind of got wiped out by something. I'm still not sure. I had a chat to Shiran the other day around some pest management so will keep you updated how we go with that!


We can't wait for the next update to see how it's all going!