If you want to run a business that uses innovative sustainable growing methods, does not need much space or land, and has a low impact on the environment while being financially profitable, then commercial aquaponics is for you.
A commercial aquaponics system presents an opportunity to earn while helping the environment and the community at the same time. Managing commercial aquaponics might be an enticing opportunity, but it requires detailed planning and understanding of your goals. This blog discusses everything you need to know about starting and managing a commercial aquaponics system.
What is Commercial Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (the growing of fish and other aquatic animals) and hydroponics (the growing of plants without soil in a recirculating environment). This recirculating agriculture was introduced in the mid-1970s, and it is becoming more and more popular today because of the many benefits it offers. Today, many ecopreneurs have started to develop the commercial aquaponics farming business of mass production of fish and crops.
Most of today’s commercial aquaponics systems exist in controlled environments, such as greenhouses or outdoor locations with favorable climates. Many saw the potential of the aquaponics industry, and it is expected to grow more.
How Does Aquaponics Work?
In aquaponics, the plants are grown in the grow bed, and fish are placed in the fish tank. The fish tank's water containing fish waste is fed to the grow bed, where billions of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria break the ammonia down into nitrites and then into nitrates. Plants absorb these nitrates and other nutrients to help them grow. In return, the plants clean and filter the water into the system. The fresh, clean, and oxygenated water then recirculates back to the fish tank, where the cycle will begin again.
Pros of Commercial Aquaponics Systems
- Aquaponics is a sustainable method of growing food without relying on pesticides and other chemicals that can be harmful in large quantities.
- It saves water.
- There is no soil-borne disease that could damage plant growth.
- It does not require a large space of land.
- It allows food production in deserts, rooftops, and other areas, which would be impossible to use with a traditional growing method.
- Plants grown in aquaponics grow faster, allowing for a fast return on investment.
- Year-round growing of fish and plants.
- Dual source of income from fish and plants.
- Require less work and manpower than traditional farming.
Cons of Commercial Aquaponics Systems
- One drawback of commercial aquaponics is the start-up costs of setting up a system.
- Large crops are pretty difficult to grow in an aquaponics system because of the limited space and nutrients.
- Higher maintenance costs such as higher electrical costs. Fish require uninterrupted flow 24 hours a day, which can be difficult in places prone to power interruptions unless you install a solar system or generator, which is costly.
- Setting up and maintaining a commercial aquaponics system requires professional knowledge and experience.
Things to Consider in Starting a Commercial Aquaponics System
Before developing and starting your commercial aquaponics farming business, consider the main reasons you want this kind of business. This will help you focus on the business plan and identify the issues, resources, and expertise needed to develop your business plan.
Consider asking yourself these questions;
- Do you have a farm or crop growing experience to help your farm operations, or do you need to seek that expertise elsewhere?
- Do you have a property, or are you still choosing a location?
- Are you developing an aquaponic farm for-profit and source of income?
- Who will be part of your planning team?
- Do you have the knowledge or expertise to develop marketing, operating, and financial strategies necessary for the business plan or help start the business?
- Do you need expertise in addressing environmental and cleanup issues that may be associated with the public property you intend to use?
How to Start a Commercial Aquaponics System
Here are the necessary steps you need to take in starting your own commercial aquaponics farm.
1. Conduct research on commercial aquaponics farming. Gather sufficient information about the aquaponics business. If you are a beginner, learn how it works and how to manage an aquaponics system. If you don’t have experience in aquaponics, it is better to set up a smaller system first to learn the in and out of aquaponics.
2. Visit an aquaponics farm in your area to gain expert advice on operating a commercial aquaponics farm. There are also lots of free resources on the internet, so use them for research and to communicate with other aquaponics growers.
You can also visit your local department of agriculture and fisheries to gather information on the requirements for establishing a commercial aquaponics farm.
3. Make a detailed business plan with the help of a qualified accountant. The business plan should contain the financial forecast of your proposed business, including the projected cash flow, estimated start-up costs, and sales forecasts. It will also include marketing strategy, operating strategy, and financial strategy. For ideas on creating an aquaponics business plan, refer to our “Aquaponics Business Plan.”
4. Select an area where you want to build your farm. Choose a location where your plant will receive enough sunlight.
5. Select and design the aquaponics farm you want to implement.
6. Gather all the materials you need and start setting up your system.
7. Register your commercial aquaponics farm to get the permits and licenses you need to operate.
8. Start your commercial aquaponics business as per your business plan. Continue consulting with other aquaponics farmers to learn more about managing and maintaining your aquaponics farm.
Is Commercial Aquaponics Profitable?
Is commercial aquaponics profitable? This is one of the most common questions in every potential aquaponics grower’s mind.
Generally, a commercial aquaponics system makes money by selling its products to the buyers at markets or directly to local grocery stores. Besides selling fish and crops, some aquaponics farms also earn by selling aquaponics systems and providing aquaponics classes to enthusiasts.
Like any other business, a commercial aquaponics business may face and overcome many challenges to become profitable. However, aquaponics is still considered a more profitable food production than traditional farming because of its many benefits.
Tips on How to Make Your Aquaponics Farm More Profitable
One important key to a successful commercial aquaponics farm is knowing your goal. If you don’t have much experience with aquaponics, consider hiring an aquaponics expert as a resource person to teach you about running an aquaponics farm business. Here are our tips on how to make your aquaponics business more profitable.
- Know and understand what will work best for you. Investment is involved, so you can't just experiment with different things that might affect your system. A successful aquaponics business is all about making the right decisions.
- Be cautious. Don’t start too big right away. It is better to start small and become an expert before expanding into a large aquaponics business.
- Sell a variety of products. By selling a variety of products, you can cater to a wider market.
- Sell only excellent quality products. The easiest way to boost profit is to ensure you are only selling excellent quality products.
- Dedicate your time to your business
If you want to make your aquaponics farm a primary source of income, you need to make it more profitable. The Aquaponics business is not an easy job, so you need to make time to become an expert, so you don’t have to rely too much on others to run your business.
As with other businesses, a commercial aquaponics farm can also become profitable with high-value produce if appropriately managed. Having a good aquaponics business will benefit not only you and your family but also your community. Being able to produce fresh and healthy food without damage to the environment is one of the best profits you can get from your business.