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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Aquaponic Gardening (Idiot's Guides) Paperback – April 2, 2013
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I had been looking forward to getting this book ever since I read that it was coming out and I finally got my copy. I have already done a fair bit of reading on aquaponics but I am the sort that wants to make sure I know all that I can before I start a new project. So, it is with this idea that I began reading this book.
I am sorry to report that I stopped my detailed reading after the third chapter because I just found too many things in the book that contradict what I am now certain are true. For example, on page 9 the author states that you cannot grow cool weather plants and tilapia together. This is certainly false. In fact, Dr. James Rakocy spent most of his thirty year career at the University of the Virgin Islands developing aquaponics using lettuce and tilapia.
Beyond errors, I did not expect to discover that I already know more than what the book offers on key subjects. For example, on page 11 the author covers sump tanks, but does not explain that their primary function is to expand the water capacity in an aquaponics system so that you can go beyond a one to one ratio of fish tank to grow bed volume. In fact, in the first three chapters she seems to be assuming that all systems are restricted to a one to one ratio. This is a big surprise to anyone using the very common CHiFT PiST or CHOP designs that expand all the way up to a three to one ratio. I rapidly read through the short (22 page) Chapter 4 - Fish Tanks, Grow Beds, and Plumbing - and verified that the book entirely avoids any discussion of system types!
So I decided to give the book one last chance by flipping to chapter 24 at the end titled "Do It Yourself Systems". If these plans were any good the book would pay for itself. Again I was hugely disappointed. There are two sets of instructions for building extremely basic small systems and, astoundingly, there are ZERO illustrations or images with them! Let me repeat. The entire DIY chapter has no illustrations or images!
This led me to review the author chosen to extend the Complete Idiot's Guide series to cover aquaponics. I was a bit surprised at what seems to me to be quite modest credentials for someone writing a book such as this. As best I could tell, she has volunteered to present topics at a couple of small conferences and to volunteer for a new aquaponics association. Maybe there is more, but if so, it is not noted in the book and it does not show in the book's content.
In my opinion, there are much better choices for a comprehensive book on home aquaponics. The best of them is Aquaponic Gardening by Sylvia Bernstein.
If you are looking for a primer as to what aquaponics is and why you would even consider learning more, this is an excellent book and a very inexpensive way to learn about an exciting area. If you are looking for a detailed guide to step-by-step lead you through deciding how big a tank and a plant field, what parts to buy, what fish to raise, how to handle problems of all year tanks when temperatures range from 15 to 100 degrees, this is not sufficiently detailed. Although I have not found that book either.