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 Post subject: How commercial are you?
PostPosted: Aug 20th, '15, 22:33 
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When talking AP to people I usually put them into brackets based on what they want from AP most of them fall into the danger zone hopefully as the tried progresses we can clear up some myths and get some solid answers.

Here is the scale I use.
Futurist 0-1000gal
Survivalist 1000-3000gal
Commercialist (businessman) 3000-10,000gal
Commercialist (farmer) 10,000 and up

Most people grow their systems jumping from bracket to bracket its the area between the survivalists and businessman that I call the danger zone. I find most people don't even know their respective brackets and jump from a small survivalist to businessman but think they are farmers, this causes them to plan incorrectly and ultimately fail.


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PostPosted: Aug 21st, '15, 02:47 
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Hi Damien
You know I have never really worried about the size of,’My installation’
It has provided me with hours of fun. Many friends. I must confess all female have also commented that size was not their biggest concern.
I do however have to confess that occasionally I have strayed into the danger zone.
Many times I have turned onto that highway.
On a diet does not mean that reading menus is forbidden.
I suppose I am a, ‘Survivalist’ At my age that is a fact not a choice.
One of the joys of this site is the variety of people views and opinions.
Do not try to put us into boxes.
Long ago an American friend told me the difference between rifles and guns
I get confused......

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PostPosted: Aug 21st, '15, 04:36 
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Dude every thing has a "super-set". We are on an aquaponic website that is box(1), in the commercial forum that is box(2).......... My view on the subject is just one of many, however i have a little more experience than most with the topic of the original post and i am sharing my view point, hopefully to the benefit of someone, somewhere.

You said you have been to the danger zone and back. I assume that is only on paper (lets call it a hunch). Interesting observation though and i must agree with you that most long term successful aquaponic systems i have seen are contented at the survivalist stage stopping just short of the point were labor has to be calculated and sustained financially.

I hope following post are more relevant to the topic as i would love to expand on the idea.


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PostPosted: Aug 21st, '15, 06:25 
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Im not really sure what you want from this thread, Damian. As you are aware, 99% of members here are practicing backyard aquaponics and the very few that are- I doubt would comment.

If it is for the benefit of anyone wanting to enter commercial aquaponics, or wondering how to scale their system I think its worth saying that rating the system by its water capacity is not really worth much at all. Well, it is a very small part of the pie anyway.

There are many members here with large bodies of water with relatively small growing areas. There are also systems with small water volumes and large growing areas.

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PostPosted: Aug 21st, '15, 07:05 
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Thanks for the helpfull post Charlie I hope to get a better understanding of the topic through exchanging ideas here. A large enough number of members have contemplated making a living from Aquaponics but there is little information online about what that change requires. It would be nice to put our heads together and start to document the journey. Everyone will have slightly different solutions and that is what I want to hear about.

Rating a system by water capacity is not ideal but gets the general idea of scale across. As 10,000gal of water takes up alot of room. I do assume that all the water is being used to its full potential as in any other profit driven venture. Its better than square footage or capital investment to me.. what do you think is a better baseline to start the conversation with?

I so love talking AP!


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PostPosted: Aug 21st, '15, 08:59 
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I've made over $100 from youtube. Does that count?

I'm one of the high bodies of water people as well, makes it easier to manage I think. I plan on breeding and selling goldfish as well, but until I can make a living from it, I personally wouldn't call it commercial. If I can make back what I've spend on the system, I'll be happy :)

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PostPosted: Aug 21st, '15, 09:48 
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As Charlies says its a BYAP forum so we are all mostly aspiring mavericks and geece :) [ie. topguns]


but as an interesting aside to your original question
and you would also have to tease out fish versus veggies.
a possible logical BYAP scale would be (VOL = GB + FT):

1-1000L = small minimal system, low sustainability [minor/some veg] ie. single IBC or less

1000-5000L = supplementary system [mostly veg, some fish] ie. multi IBC or basic circular tank
"supplement family"

5000L-15,000L = significant veg, 'regular' fish ie. now into tanks with a lot more nutrients to deal with.
"family & friends, seasonal excess". setup costs/effort high.

15,000L-xxx serious BYAP system, verging on to high costs and 'hobby farm' scale.
possibly reaching seasonal local market produce levels.
costs/effort probably exceed family disposable income.

but likely at all scales that costs exceed return.
(purely financial, ignoring non-financial benefits)

at which case Damian your scale presumably really looks to when it becomes commercially/community viable, versus providing a supplemental contribution to a single families diet.

guess this is off topic but basically food for thought of where a BYAP system needs to be to contribute food to a family group. Quite a few people talk about BYAP and home grown vegies etc to help offset global food.

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Last edited by dlf_perth on Aug 21st, '15, 10:03, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Aug 21st, '15, 10:01 
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dlf_perth wrote:
5000L-15,000L = significant veg, 'regular' fish ie. now into tanks with a lot more nutrients to deal with.
"family & friends, seasonal excess". setup costs/effort high.

15,000L-xxx serious BYAP system, verging on to high costs and 'hobby farm' scale.
possibly reaching seasonal local market produce levels.
costs/effort probably exceed family disposable income.


I've got 16,000L (approx) in my system, and it's still not producing anywhere near enough to call it a hobby farm scale. I'd say on a weekly food shop, depending on the season, it'd save me between $25-$60 a week. Pump and feed are only real ongoing costs, and pump costs $160 a year.

It depends on what area you're talking about with production. If I wanted a small hobby farm, I'd need x10-x20 the amount of grow space I've currently got, and even then, it'd be nothing more than pocket change I'd make at the markets for a lot of effort.

If I wanted to grow fish semi commercially, well, Stu would probably know that one better.

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PostPosted: Aug 21st, '15, 10:08 
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so maybe there is a slight shift upwards... ?

1-1000
1000-7000
7000-20000
20000- ??

but in essence for a BYAP it comes down to when the system is supplying enough product to satisfy a families needs versus beginning to have an excess (at which time excess and/or product could presumably be 'sold' - which is the premise of hobby farming).


then the big step of when some income = an income, which I guess is what Damien is alluding to.

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PostPosted: Aug 24th, '15, 03:14 
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Dlf_Perth you seam to have a good handle on this. I agree it is only when you are producing enough for your family and have excess that you really start looking at commercial systems. It would be nice to document the other reasons seaking to upgrade, can you think of any more? That is the only one I can come up with.

One point I disagree with most people on is i think starting small and growing limits you as a producer, so when people start small and then want to expand their mind set is all ready byap and makes it very difficult to be successfull. The advice I give is to have a solid business plan. I find when people come from small systems they don't plan correctly.

100% of the time labor is under calculated. I have found that this area really lacks.

So we touched a little on why and when people want to upgrade next is how to go about the actual upgrade. We really need AP realated measurement for efficiency.

There really is so little info out there about going commercial from a byap system and yet so much people interested in doing it. So I think this tread could become a real help for those as interested as I am in going commercial.


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PostPosted: Aug 24th, '15, 08:32 
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This video explains perfectly why using only RAS technology will not produce the aquaponic system that falls right in that danger zone it is basically because the needs of the operator are not being met. Your only looking at what's best for the fish and not what is best for the operator.

Column I would like to here some more about what you would want from such a system if you don't mind.

Oh and here is the link to the video just substitute for AP system design. Its a little over 10mins long.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OqEeIG8aPPk


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PostPosted: Aug 24th, '15, 09:06 
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One point I disagree with most people on is i think starting small and growing limits you as a producer, so when people start small and then want to expand their mind set is all ready byap and makes it very difficult to be successfull.

This situation is applicable in all areas of small business.
Though I am very much an amateur in AP I am aware of many situations where people struggle in the zone you talk about. I can see it equally applying to AP.

as a simple example away from fish/veg altogether imagine a hairdresser/barber.
They have the scissors and make a bit of cash cutting hair for their friends and start to grow.
Then they get too busy and the time comes when they need to think the next step.
Maybe they use a front room of their house....
But the next step after that is a chasm - it involves commercial leases, staff, insurance, proper gas lift chairs, proper sinks, waste management etc etc

I can relate this similar situation to many professional areas I am involved in.
with a small operation sole trader (which I operate as) you can get away with minimal gear and hire gear as needed but it really limits you to the small jobs or helping out other peoples projects.

The step to go 'permanent' requires a completely different business perspective and you actually need to look at having expensive equipment and financing to achieve sufficient output to support a company and potential for a return on investors/interest.

people do it every day - but it is the riskiest part of any venture/career.

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I know about aquaculture financing through my brother who some years ago left a bank as small-branch business lending manager and getting involved with a small international aquaculture operation via a private financial broker. He basically said the numbers simply don't add up, particularly at the scale to be 'safe' for cautious investors.

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PostPosted: Aug 24th, '15, 09:57 
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Damian wrote:
Column I would like to here some more about what you would want from such a system if you don't mind.



I've never run a commercial system. I know in my head how I'd set it up, but any semi commercial system would be for me to suppliment a gelato shop/burger place. Not to sell if for almost nothing at a market.

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PostPosted: Aug 24th, '15, 11:44 
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Damian wrote:
This video explains perfectly why using only RAS technology will not produce the aquaponic system that falls right in that danger zone it is basically because the needs of the operator are not being met. Your only looking at what's best for the fish and not what is best for the operator.

Column I would like to here some more about what you would want from such a system if you don't mind.

Oh and here is the link to the video just substitute for AP system design. Its a little over 10mins long.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OqEeIG8aPPk


Damian I don't feel you are qualified to make comments about the pros or the cons of RAS technology since you know so little about either.

What is best for the operator when it comes to a commercial system is making a living in a manner that is not too arduous, stressful or unhealthy. I don't see how making sure that the fish are well cared for would inherently compromise any of those considerations.

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PostPosted: Aug 24th, '15, 16:42 
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Dlf_Perth so this chasm is not only in AP, that is strangely comforting. Lol. Is their anyone that researches this chasm that I can read up on? I find the numbers don't add up for me either or should I say there is not enough "fat" in running commercial AP and that is why I may have to finance it my self.

Unless I have another "value adding" business like column has sugested. I actually think selling fish and chips on the farm is a viable option or doing prepackaged meat seasoning. Even the big supermarkets do something similar were they prepare and sell food before it goes bad on them.

Stuart if I was qualified I would not be here asking questions, would i? Obliviously you did not watch the video or you missed my point so let me say again. If simply copying RAS systems were enough they would of been many more small commercial AP systems out there. Copying RAS systems is only a piece of the puzzle. And that piece is like a corner piece the easiest place to start. I am looking at other design factors.


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