United Nations FAO Manual on Aquaponics now available

In 2014, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) came out with a 288-page publication on aquaponics.

The formal name of this document is "Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 589: Small-scale aquaponic food production Integrated fish and plant farming." The nine chapters and appendices cover the principles involved in small-scale food production using aquaponics.

The chapters cover:

  1. An Introduction to Aquaponics, including a brief history and modern uses of aquaponics, including humanitarian aid (pp. 1-10)
  2. Understanding the Biological Components of an Aquaponic System, with emphasis on the Nitrogen Cycle (pp. 11-20)
  3. Water Quality in Aquaponics, including DO, pH, hardness, and parasites (pp. 21-34)
  4. Design of Aquaponic Systems (pp. 35-74)
  5. Bacteria in Aquaponics, including nitrifiers, anaerobic bacteria, and heterotrophic bacteria (pp. 75-82)
  6. Plants in Aquaponics, including plant selection (pp. 83-102)
  7. Fish in Aquaponics, including biology and fish selection (pp. 103-122)
  8. Management Practices, including setting up a system, routine maintenance, system safety, and troubleshooting (pp. 123-140)
  9. Additional Topics in Aquaponics, including wicking beds, saline aquaponics, and much more (pp. 141-156)

The appendices are also packed with information, covering:

  • Vegetable production guidelines for 12 common aquaponic plants (pp. 169 - 182)
  • Plant pests and disease control (pp. 183-186)
  • Fish pests and disease control (pp. 187-190)
  • Calculating the amount of ammonia and biofilter media for an aquaponic unit (pp. 191-192)
  • Making homemade fish feed (pp. 193-198)
  • Key considerations before setting up an aquaponic system (pp. 199-204)
  • Cost-benefit analysis for small-scale aquaponic units (pp. 205-208)
  • Step-by-step guide to constructing small-scale aquaponic systems (pp. 209-248) and
  • Aquaponics quick-reference handout (pp. 249-262)

Given that this is a UN document, and all but three nations use metric, those in the US, Liberia, and Myanmar may have some difficulty with the dimensions given. However, if such folks remember that 25mm is an inch, a meter is roughly a yard, and a liter is roughly a quart, that will cover most of the dimensions that might be otherwise confusing.

If you are new to aquaponics, a gardener, or a small-scale farmer, I highly recommend you give this new FAO document a read!