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This final chapter discusses minor, yet important, topics regarding the management of small-scale aquaponic units. Aquaponics requires several essential inputs, including fish feed, electricity, seeds/seedlings, fish fingerlings, supplemental plant fertilizer and water to replenish the unit. All of these inputs are available for purchase, yet there are simple methods of producing many of them domestically using sustainable practices. These methods may reduce the unit running costs per year and help keep production as environmentally responsible as possible.
Do not allow all of the water to drain from the aquaponic system. Broken pipes, loose fittings or unsecured hoses can drain all of the water. This would kill the fish and make a destructive mess in the process. Several techniques for fail-safes and redundancies are discussed to secure the water level. Finally, there is a brief discussion as to how aquaponics fits among other types of agriculture and how it can be further integrated.
Compost tea can be used to supplement nutrients for the plants and be produced on a small-scale by composting vegetable wastes.
Alternative and supplemental fish feed can be grown and produced on a small-scale, including duckweed, Azolla spp., insects and moringa.
Seeds can be collected and stored using simple techniques to reduce costs of reseeding.
Rainwater collection and storage provides a cost-effective way of replenishing aquaponic water.
Redundancies and failsafe methods should be employed to prevent catastrophic loss-of-water events that can kill the fish.
Aquaponic water can be used to fertilize and irrigate other gardening activities.
Many types and methods of aquaponics exist beyond the examples outlined in this publication.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2014, Christopher Somerville, Moti Cohen, Edoardo Pantanella, Austin Stankus and Alessandro Lovatelli, Small-scale aquaponic food production, http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4021e.pdf. Reproduced with permission.