Automated Aquaponics for Business or Pleasure: A Scalable Approach

Automated Aquaponics for Business or Pleasure: A Scalable Approach

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.


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 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.

YouTube player

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.


5 thoughts on “Automated Aquaponics for Business or Pleasure: A Scalable Approach

  1. Robin Fearon says:

    Reblogged this on WeLove-Digital.

  2. rik94566 says:

    Reblogged this on Aquaponic DIY Automation Blog.

  3. Martin Harvey says:

    Anyone seen the aquaponics and hydroponics at Epcot? It really cool!

  4. Shawn Shrout says:

    So where are the design plans to actually do this? Neat idea but lame for instructional purposes

    1. sophiacamille says:

      they are in our project section :)

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan
Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).