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By May 29, 2012 Read More →

Book Review: Aquaponic Gardening by Sylvia Bernstein

The growing popularity of Aquaponics around the world has led to the release of a plethora of materials; books, DVDs, classes, you tube clips, etc.  Some of them are outstanding, but many are worth less than the paper they’re printed on.  It’s to be expected, with any new concept, but it makes things difficult for newcomers to the game as they try to navigate their way through this sea of information.

One of the challenges I’ve taken up, is to familiarize myself with as much of this material as possible in order to be a resource, helping beginners separate, as it were, the wheat from the chaff.  Later this summer I intend to add a page to my blog that will serve as a repository of valuable Aquaponics resources.  I will also highlight some of the less than desirable material that has found its way into the market.

One of the first pieces of information everyone new to Aquaponics (The wedding of aquaculture and hydroponics in a closed loop that mimics a river culture and produces both vegetables and protein) should read, is Sylvia Bernstein’s book, “Aquaponic Gardening” (New Society Publishers, 2011).

Although Ms Bernstein has only been seriously involved in Aquaponics for a relatively few years, she brings an abundance of hydroponics experience to the table.  She was a founding partner and VP of Marketing/Product Development for Aero Grow International, the makers of the very popular Aero Garden, so she had instant credibility with me.

Her book, “Aquaponic Gardening”, and her business, The Aquaponics Source, focus on information for the home gardener, which is what most readers of The American Preppers Network are.

“Aquaponic Gardening” is written in plain English and is easy to grasp, even for a Kentucky hillbilly like me.  It has enough photographs, charts and schematics to be helpful and inspirational without appearing to be filler.  After all, it’s a primer, not a coffee table book.

The book is divided into 5 sections, each having multiple chapters.

Section 1 is the Introduction.  It covers the basic concepts of Aquaponics and offers a kind of apologetic for why this could very well become the home food production method of the future.

Section 2 is The Plan and guides the reader through the basic decisions of location and design of the home Aquaponics unit.

Section 3 is called, Hardware and talks about the grow beds, fish tanks, plumbing, grow media and water.  As one who doesn’t have an engineering or handyman bone in my body, I was relieved to discover in this segment that I wouldn’t really need great skill levels to build or assemble my own unit.  Some readers will read this and want to build their own, either for aesthetic, hobby or financial reasons.  Others will simply say, “Point me to a shopping cart where I can buy one.”

Section 4 is called Software and is all about fish, plants, bacteria and worms.  This section should be read a couple of times as this is the part that relates to living things and how they interact.  To be hyper critical, I would probably have included water in the software section rather than hardware, but that’s a bald man splitting hairs.

Section 5 is the Integrated System and explains how everything works together in symbiosis.  It also offers great tips on regular monitoring and maintenance.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the valuable appendices.  I’m one of those people who think appendices should just be more chapters, which is just one of the reasons I would never work out as an editor or a publisher.  My advice to you is that you consider them as chapters in the book and read them.  There’s a lot of good information there.

“Aquaponic Gardening” is available in paperback and Kindle editions.  The paperback is $19.77 on Amazon.  Although I’m a huge Kindle fan, it is my opinion that it’s worth the extra cash to purchase the hard copy version because you’ll want to refer to it as you build and work with your system and an actual book is easier to navigate than an electronic version.

I found the book helpful and simple to understand.  It doesn’t attempt to dazzle with science or try to impress the experienced Aquaponics gardener.  As a matter of fact, I found it valuable enough that I have purchased quite a few plumbing supplies from the Bernsteins’ online store at

I am a true believer in Aquaponics gardening as the gardening method of choice for the 21st century. “Aquaponic Gardening” is a great way to be introduced to this productive and fun way of growing fish and vegetables together.  Please send any questions my way.

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2 Comments on "Book Review: Aquaponic Gardening by Sylvia Bernstein"

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  1. squirrelwarrior says:

    I have read this book cover to cover and have used it as a guide to build my own aquaponics system in my backyard. The author even answered questions that i emailed her in a very timely and easy to understand manner. I suggest this book to anyone begining the path to Aquaponics.

    • Sam Burton says:

      thanks for the note, squirrelwarrior. The Bernsteins are very helpful, you are absolutely correct. Glad to hear you are a an Aquaponic Gardener, too. We are a fast growing group. :-)