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Recently, Rosco (a BYAP member) who confesses to being “cursed with perfect taste when it comes to landscaping” posed the provocative question, “Are all Aquaponics Systems Ugly?

He then rolled out the following guidelines:

1 – If it involves beds on skinny legs I’ll look the other way.
2 – White, naked PVC is just no good.
3 – PE is PE is PE and colouring it don’t change a damn thing.
4 – Going for a naturalistic look is doomed from the get go.
5 – An air of permanence is sexy. It shows you have faith in your endeavours and faith in the future.
6 – If it aint all done in lime washed, rendered concrete with 65 mm capping then it’s gunna struggle.
7 – 99% of fountains are passe.

Like many of those who take a contrary view of backyard aquaponics, Rosco copped a bit of jostling initially – and, by page 3, the name-calling had started.

He sought to placate the milling crowed with……

“Actually I love cobbled together bits and pieces that only serve to make the damn thing go. Op shop functionality has a charm of it’s own. Big fan of slums and community gardens.

…..always felt drawn to the mediterranean style vegie gardens of our neighbours that were held together with twitches of wire and old stockings.”

He then pondered aloud….

“But if I were to design a timeless, permanent, coherent, functional and beautiful BYAP system…..what shape should it take?”

In my view, his thread was interesting for two reasons:

  1. It’s another example of how some elements of the Aquaponics community struggle with new ideas.  Clearly, most of the people who responded to his question missed the point.
  2. It’s a valid question – nine pages of posts produced little but a few photos that largely confirmed his premise.

I love backyard food production systems, so a few green polyethylene grow beds (and even the occasional bit of wire and old stocking) don’t horrify me too much.

Not everyone, however, is so tolerant.   For example, my own partner describes those of my systems that don’t meet her aesthetic standards as being “a bit agricultural”……which is “ugly” in diplomatic-speak.

The old adage tells us that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” so, in my mind, there’s no automatic conflict between aquaponics and aesthetics.

For some people that will mean a grow bed brimming with clean fresh food.    For others, however, form will always be more important than function.

An aquaponics system could be beautiful……one only has to look at images of some of the koi ponds around the world to see the possibilities.

It’s all a matter of personal preference……and design.