Are Aquaponics 'Kits' a Rip Off?

Friendly Aquaponics Micro Kit photo
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Instant feedback is nice. No sooner do I write a post about Hawaii-based Friendly Aquaponics—praising their work, but noting that their plans for aquaponic systems don't come cheap—that I get an email from them telling me I'm right, and that's why they've launched one of the most affordable DIY aquaponic options out there. And they are less than complimentary about their competition!The new micro-aquaponic plans from Friendly Aquaponics are available to download for $50 and, they say, can be built for under $500 from locally sourced materials. They compare this to kits available online for upwards of $3000, arguing their kit is twice the size, and a fraction of the cost of the packaged variety:

"We took time we really didn't have from operating our aquaponics farm to build and test the Micro System and write the Micro System package. Why? We were offended by the many sellers on the web who are taking advantage of people's relative lack of knowledge about aquaponics to sell them overpriced collections of standard tanks, pumps, and piping called "aquaponics kits", that can usually be purchased locally for a fraction of the cost. If we'd seen even ONE such "kit" that was reasonably priced, that ALSO had realistic claims about how much can be grown with it (the other problem we have with these people), we wouldn't have bothered with this set of plans."

Of course it's always a dangerous thing to question another's business model—those who are putting together and shipping kits will naturally have expenses that significantly raise the cost of the overall system. But if these plans are as good as the folks at Friendly Aquaponics say they are, they should certainly give those willing to compile components themselves a more affordable option.

We'd love to hear from readers with experiences of either option, or of building your own. You know where the comments are...