4 Reasons Preppers Need an Aquaponic System

Call it disaster planning, emergency preparedness, survival planning, self-sufficient lifestyle, or just plain prepping, but whatever the name, aquaponics should play an important role in your plan for these reasons:

Outside Aquaponic System

This is my outside system during construction.

1) Water – vital for surviving any length of time, water is always a consideration with an emergency plan. By maintaining an aquaponic system, your water supply can be working to grow you food rather than just taking up space. From the fish tank, to the grow beds, and often a sump tank as well, an aquaponic system holds many gallons of water – combined with a water filter, an aquaponics system can store many gallons of drinkable water for your emergency plan. Note that this should not be your only source of stored water if you plan to continue using your system in a disaster situation, which brings us to the next benefit:

green lettuce under a Aquaponic grow light

Lettuce growing in my indoor Aquaponic system

2) Food – any long term survival plan needs to account for food, and aquaponics is a superior method of growing your own food. With the combination of naturally grown greens, fresh nutritious vegetables, and fish for lean protein, an aquaponic system has many potential benefits to add to a survival plan. Though new aquaponic systems are best suited for growing leafy vegetables like lettuce, established systems can grow a very large variety of vegetables from tomatoes to cucumbers to okra to beans to … you name it, someone is probably growing it in an aquaponic system.

My aquaponic plant growbed on Aug. 1, 2013

Growbed on Aug. 1, 2013

3) Space – foot for foot, aquaponics is one of the highest producing gardens you will ever plant. Because the plants have constant access to water and fertilizer (fish poop) in an aquaponic system, the limiting factor is really just sunlight and room for the plant to grow. Combined with vertical gardening techniques, the yield from one system can be incredible. Several times I have had to take plants out of my system because they grew so well I had too much of a particular vegetable  to use and wanted to make space to expand the variety of plants in my system.

Finished indoor aquaponic system

Indoor Aquaponic System – complete!

4) Flexibility of design – a garden is typically only possible when there is a location outdoors that gets enough sunlight, but there are some of us that live in the city and do not have the luxury of a large yard. But an aquaponic system can be built indoors for almost any size space – from a small countertop system to a large basement system. Even outdoors you can build to suit your space. I have barely enough sun to garden in only one corner of my backyard – so that’s where I built my first aquaponic system. And see #3 – I am now maximizing the production from the small area I have available. Will it support me for long-term survival? No – but combined with my indoor system I can extend my food supplies by also eating from my garden in a disaster situation. So aquaponics is especially useful for urban preppers with limited space to plant a garden.

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3 comments on “4 Reasons Preppers Need an Aquaponic System
  1. Khardiss says:

    I like what you’re thinking, but I think there are several aspects of AP systems that you’re not fully thinking thru for a SHTF scenario. 1) Power. How are you planning to run the pumps when the electrical grid goes down? 2) Water. Every now and then you will need to top up the fish tank with more water as some gets lost to evaporation and transpiration (I think that’s the right word). If the municipal water system is down, and drinking water is in high demand, where are you going to get more water for the fish? 3) Fish food. Even if you have solar panels for the power, and collect rain water for the water needs (assuming you live somewhere where it rains enough to handle your water needs), what are you planning to feed your fish when the pet stores are no longer operational?

    Not trying to discourage you, just giving you food for thought.

    • Daniel says:

      Great points Khardiss!

      If you want to use your system for emergency preparedness then yes, you need to have it running on solar power. This is very achievable, though I have not set up my system this way (yet). This probably limits you to an outdoor system, so that the only electrical needs are 1 pump, and maybe an airpump, and not needing to power indoor grow lights.

      Rainwater would be the best way to top up the system, as you mention – though a large sump tank would greatly assist in managing the water level fluctuations between rains. Depending on rain is always an issue for any kind of garden, and aquaponics has less overall water needs than a traditional garden.

      Depending on the system size of course, but the fish do not eat that much, so for the short term it is easy to keep extra food on hand. I’ve had one 50lb bag of food over a year and have not even used half of it yet. The other option of course is to grow your own fish food – using worm boxes, raising BSF larva, etc. There are also ways to run a system without fish using (human) urine as well – so if you eat all the fish to survive you could potentially still keep your system running.

      These are all great considerations and factors for how you want to run your system. For short term survival plans (first days of an event) your system would provide you with water, fish and veggies regardless of any of the above issues – but longer term these factors need to be considered.

  2. Dan says:

    I think there is huge potential for using aquaponics to face an uncertain future. Your post make several important points. I wouldn’t consider myself a prepper (though I might say my wife is!), but I am looking to maximize utilization of our 50 acre farm. I recently converted an in-ground block trench into an aquaponics greenhouse. Preliminary results have been good. If you have time to look at my project (Facebook.com/troutsalad), I would appreciate your feedback. I am investigating the possibility of installing solar to run the pumps in an emergency. I have a fairly large stream on the property and can carry water, if necessary. This morning, air temperature outside was 13F, inside was 46F. The underground greenhouse may be the way to go.

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