Here’s a feel good story about a 13 year old girl who runs one of the 4 biggest aquaculture and aquaponics businesses in South Africa. It’s great to see someone so young have the drive and ambition to do incredible things.
As we all know, running a flourishing aquaponics system let alone a business can sometimes be difficult (though not complicated as suggested in the video), but aspiring biologist Rikalize Reinecke’s love for nature and sustainability has accelerated her learning curve.
Watch the video and hopefully it’ll inspire you to create your own aquaponics system, whether it’s on a commercial scale or just a simple home system.
Starting Out and Maintaining
Here’s how Rikalize Reinecke got started.
“What really inspired me was once I watched the movie Dolphin Tale. Something in my head just went off and it was like an alarmed that screamed “fish, fish, fish!.”
Of course, Rikalize still has to go to school but she still tends to her aquaponic fish everyday.
“In the morning before I go to school I usually pop in to see if everything’s fine. If there’s stuff I want the workers to do during the day, I write a list and leave it on the desk and they’ll do it…During the weekends, the routine is very different because then I’m working and I’m cleaning and I have to do the water quality tests.”
Since Rikalize cannot physically be at her business everyday, she has to delegate tasks to her employees just like any other business. The hardest part of running an aquaponics system is setting it all up but once it’s all up and running, maintaining the system is a formality which can simply be followed.
Rikalize’s aquaponics business had only been in operated for 18 months but it has already experienced such high growth which is amazing to see.
It’s slightly irrational to think that Rikalize created her aquaponics business all by herself. It’s likely she had help from her family and maybe other investors.
As well as being taught on how to operate the business (her father enrolled her in a week long aquaculture course), she may have been chosen to be the face of the business for marketing purposes. However, judging by the video, it’s quite clear that Rikalize is familiar with how the business works.
The Challenges of Running an Aquaponics System
Here are some of the challenges Rikalize faced.
“Some of the challenges I’m facing while running my farm is electricity. Electricity is very expensive so I’m trying to get off the grid by using solar.”
Cost of electricity is an issue for everyone that decides to start up an aquaponics system. At the end of the day, the whole idea of aquaponics is to help the environment, eat healthy and to save money while doing so.
This makes it even more important to buy an energy efficient grow light that’s controlled by a timer so it only turns on when necessary.
“Another challenge is temperature. The fishes optimum temperature is around 27 to 28 degrees.”
Plants and fish are the lifeline of an aquaponics system. They are synergistic and you simply cannot have one without the other, so it’s vital that both are well looked other.
Since fish can be expensive and take more effort to nurture and grow, it’s especially important to maintain water temperature, ammonia levels, stocking density etc. Failure to do any of those will result in the fish dieing.
All in all, there are no serious challenges to overcome when running a home aquaponics system. It’s only if you decide to expand and operate on a commercial level, that’s when things get a bit more complicated as you’ve added a business aspect to it.
In any case, I hope Rikalize’s story has inspired you to create your own sustainable farming system in the form of aquaponics.
To get the most out of your aquaponics system, I highly recommend the following articles, where you can decide from the highest rated and bestselling products for aquaponics.