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If you’re fuzzy on the distinction between aquaponics, aeroponics, and hydroponics, I highly recommend Luke Iseman’s handy guide and overview, Space-Age Gardening Technology. Aquaponics, as shown here, basically means growing plants and fish symbiotically, with the waste products from each feeding the other.

Kretzinger's current working system.

Kretzinger’s 100-gallon aquaponics system, summer 2010.

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Pleasanton, California resident Rik Kretzinger got interested in aquaponics in 2004 or so.

“I followed along in discussion groups for about 2 years,” he writes, “before I got into the game.”

His first system was built in a 10-gallon fish tank, and grew tomato plants over pacu (a tropical fish related to pirahna and favored by fish farmers for its tolerance of low-oxygen conditions).

Some start big, some start small. Until you start and jump in you will always have questions…Fact is, anyone can do it and be good at it. Will you make mistakes? You bet. But that is OK. Will you kill fish? Yes you will, and it will smell bad. But keep on and you will learn what you need to know.

Today, Kretzinger has a 100-gallon test-bed system in his side yard growing peppers, chives, asparagus, and more over koi and shubunkin goldfish.

Kretzinger's first working aquaponics garden, summer 2006.

Kretzinger’s first working aquaponics garden, summer 2006.

In June of last year, interest in Kretzinger’s aquaponics project exploded when a video featuring the man and his garden was produced and posted to YouTube by Kirsten Dirksen of faircompanies.com. That video, embedded below, has so far attracted more than 320,000 viewers, and does a great job of capturing and conveying Kretzinger’s excitement about his work.

Kretzinger has some ambitious plans for the future, not just for his home system, but for larger commercial operations. And beyond.

“Automation in aquaponics,” he writes, “started out as a hobby, and has now developed into a full-time passion and a clear path to the future of agriculture in the world.”

You can follow Rik Kretzinger’s ongoing research at his project blog.

If you’re going to be in northern California the weekend of the 17th, don’t miss the chance to see Rik’s latest designs and pick his brain at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014.

 

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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