One Acre Of Aquaponics: A Guide For A Seven Figure Income

Many growers who I know do enjoy growing and eating food aquaponically. However, there is a huge number that doubts the idea of making money out of this niche. Today, I am going to show you exactly how much can an acre used for aquaponics make in a year with a complete detailed plan.

So, how much money can an acre of aquaponics make in a year? An acre that is used to grow plants aquaponically can earn sales up to $2 million dollars a year if planned with high space utilization efficiency. A farm of this size could require startup costs as low as $450,000 (not including the land cost).

You are probably wondering how will one acre generate over $2 million dollars a year in sales. Many will think that it is too good to be true. Fortunately, it is not. Aquaponics can be turned into a highly profitable business if managed the right way.

In this blog post, I will go into further details on everything required to establish a profitable one-acre aquaponic business. Important topics like startup costs, operating expenses, and sales breakdown will be discussed, so make sure to stay till the end.

How Many Plants Can I Grow in One Acre of Aquaponics?

So, let’s start by asking a very simple question, how many plants can I expect to grow in one acre of aquaponics? The number of plants harvested each month will be the key player in determining whether your aquaponics business will turn profits or not.

You can grow an average of 222,500 heads of leafy greens per growing cycle in one acre of aquaponics. To do so, you will need to use two vertically stacked layers above each other in order to maximize the production per one meter as much as possible.

By reaching this part, you are probably overwhelmed by the previous number. However, if you continue reading for only 2 minutes, you will find out how easy it is to get this amount of harvest from a single acre.

As I have mentioned before, efficient space utilization is the key to maximizing profits out of a one-acre project.

When planning the farm layout, we will divide the available space into two sections.

The first section will be the actual space occupied by the aquaponic systems. This will represent two-thirds of the total available space. The second section will represent the space that is used as corridors, storage areas, fish tanks, and other facilities that will be used in your project.

One acre= 4,046 squared meters

The aquaponic section(2/3) =2,670 squared meters

Other facilities(1/3)=1,335 squared meters

After planning the farm layout, we now need to select an aquaponic system that is durable enough to withstand commercial heavy use, and will also allow us to use two vertically stacked layers above each other to produce as much harvest as possible from every single square meter.

For the two previously mentioned criteria, I found a hydroponic vertical grow rack system on Alibaba that will occupy 2.88 square meters. It will only cost 300 dollars per unit if purchased in bulk. Well, we will need to get a lot of these to fill our 2,600 square meters. so, let’s do the math:

2,670 square meters / 2.88 square meters = 927 rack units

Every rack unit will have a total of 240 holes from both, top and bottom layers. There is a 20 cm spacing for every hole which is more than enough to grow leafy greens like lettuce comfortably.

The total growing spaces available for each growing cycle can be calculated as follows:

927 rack units x 240 holes/unit = 222,480 holes

Now that we have settled down on the rough estimates that our aquaponic farm will be based on, it’s time to calculate how much money can this one-acre farm make per year.

How Much Money Can One Acre Of Aquaponics Make Per Year?

There are a variety of different leafy greens that can be grown aquaponically, your crop selection will heavily influence the final annual revenue a one-acre can make. However, one acre of aquaponics can easily generate a seven-figure revenue annually.

A one-acre aquaponic farm can grow up to 222,480 leafy greens per growing cycle. By choosing to grow romaine lettuce, one acre of aquaponics can generate an average of $2.250 million dollars a year from selling leafy greens alone without considering the revenue coming from the fish grown in aquaculture after they have reached their market harvest size.

As I have mentioned before, the price of your selected crop can severely affect how much money your farm can turn in. Moreover, how many days is it going to take to harvest the crop, AKA, the growing period.

If we took broccoli as an example, the average farm price of broccoli head is $1.09 dollars, also, it takes a 100 day period to grow and reach the harvest size. As a result, growing broccoli will generate approximately $873,000 dollars per year.

This is less than half the total revenue that could be done when compared with choosing to grow lettuce. Hydroponic lettuce can have a wholesale price of $1.25 dollars and it only takes 45 days to reach its harvest size.

Every growing cycle of lettuce will take 45 days and generate $278,100 dollars of sales if grown at full capacity and sold with a wholeprice of $1.25.

You can have as many as 8 growing cycles of lettuce all year round. This means that the total annual sales can reach up to $2,250,000 dollars.

Furthermore, there have been steep price surges in the past year due to continuous weather fluctuations that negatively affect any harvest grown in soil. These price raises plays in our favor as our growing methods are usually focused in an indoor greenhouse.

There is another crucial aspect that you must be aware of; we didn’t account for the money coming from the sales of fish in the aquaculture tanks. Fish sales could significantly ramp up the annual revenue. In an aquaponic system of this size, you will need to cultivate up to 160,000 tilapia fish in aquaculture tanks in order to generate enough biowaste to meet your leafy greens’ nutritional requirements.

However, I would like to stay conservative with my numbers, so for now, we are going to build our assumptions based only on the sales coming from growing leafy greens. This way, any money that is made from selling tilapia will be directly added to your profits.

Now it’s time to get to know how much operating costs are we going to pay monthly in order to keep this aquaponic farm up and running.

How Much Electricity Does One Acre of Aquaponics Use Monthly?

One acre of aquaponics with indoor LED growing lights, will use an average of 525,000 kw/h monthly. This number will also include the consumption of other appliances like water pumps, air pumps, and water chillers.

This number could be a little bit exaggerating, but, you must not forget that we are using two vertically stacked layers of rack systems placed above each other. We have chosen to do so in order to generate as much revenue as possible. Of course, each layer will require its own source of LED growing light.

Lucky for us, the vertical growing rack units that I have mentioned before come with built-in Samsung growing LED lights that have 650 watts of power. Each unit will have two of these, so by doing the math, every unit will use around 1300 watts of power per hour.

Lettuce requires an average of fourteen hours of light exposure for maximum growth. This brings us to the total electricity consumption of 18.2 kWh for each unit per day

1.3 kwh x 14 hours every day =18.2 kwh per day

the total electricity consumption of LED growing lights each month could be calculated as follows:

18.2 kwh per day x 927 units x 30 days = 506,142 kwh per month

Other devices like water pumps, water chillers, and air pumps will use around 15,000 kWh to 20,000 kWh per month, which is nothing when compared to the LED grow lights.

The cost of electricity consumption will be heavily influenced by the kilowatt rates charged in your area.

How Much Monthly Expenses Will A One Acre of Aquaponics Use?

To get an idea of how much net profit will one acre of aquaponics make, we will have to calculate all of the expenses spent on day to day basis. After all, this is an actual business that will require money to keep it up and running efficiently year-round.

A commercial one acre of aquaponics will require around $110,000 dollars each month to cover its expenses and keep the business working around the clock.

Monthly expenses will cover:

  • Electricity for the LED growing lights and pumps
  • Wages for 4 fulltime employees
  • Fish food for aquaculture

So, let’s break down the total monthly operating expenses to get an idea of how much each item will cost us and how did we reach these numbers.

Electricity costs of One Acre of Aquaponics

As I have mentioned in the previous section, we will use an average of 525,000 kWh every month in electricity. Also, the kilowatt rates are different in every city. So, let’s take the average price of a kilowatt in the USA as a benchmark. According to energybot, the average electricity rate in the USA is currently running at 10.42 cents.

So, a one-acre of aquaponics in the USA will use an average of $54,705 dollars each month in electricity costs.

525,000 kwh x 0.1042 = $54,705

Monthly Wages To Run a One Acre Aquaponic business

Handling a great harvest size like the one this aquaponic farm will produce will be a headache. It is impossible to run it alone. Surely, you can handle one acre of the soil-based farm alone. However, this is not the case for aquaponics. Keeping up with the aquaculture feeding schedules, constantly monitoring the water quality, collecting plants that are ready to harvest and other heavy-duty tasks will all be required to be done in order to not mess things up. So, operating this farm is by no means a one-man job.

A project like this will need a minimum of 4 full-time workers to help you operate this business. Of course, you can hire more employees if you want, but for now, we sticking to the minimum of 4 full-time employees.

4 employees x $2600 per month = $10,400 dollars of wages per month

Fish Food Cost Per Month For One Acre Of Aquaponics

The average fish feed Cost to grow one acre of aquaponics is approximately $30,000 dollars to $35,000 dollars per month

To be able to grow one acre of leafy greens using aquaponics, we will need to raise around 162,500 tilapia fish in aquaculture. I will further explain how we reached this number, but for now, let’s just do the math to get a rough estimate on how much fish food we can use every month

Tilapia fish need to eat around 3% – 4% of their net weight per day in order to grow. The net weight of tilapia at the stage we are going to choose best for our system will be 250 grams. Each fish will eat an average of 10 grams of pellets fish feed a day. This sums up to a total of 1.625 tonnes every day.

The average price for pellets fish feed can be approximately $700 per ton if purchased in bulk.

50 tonnes per month x $700 = $35,000 dollars per month

Buying pellets fish feed in bulk from China or India will be your best option. After all, you will need around 50 tonnes every single month, which is a lot, to be honest. So, getting the lowest price possible will save you a lot of money, especially if you are buying them in bulk, and countries like China and India will guarantee you the best prices on the market.

After getting an idea of how much money we are going to spend each month on operating expenses, it’s time to calculate how much net profit we are going to get.

How Much Profit Can a One Acre of Aquaponics Make Each Year?

As the basic principles of accounting state, The net profit is calculated by subtracting the total spent expenses from the total sales revenue.

The total net profit one acre of aquaponics can produce annually is approximately $1 million dollars of before-tax income after subtracting the total expenses.

The following table will show a summarized profit and loss statement of a one-acre aquaponics farm based on the numbers we have explained before.

Annual Revenue
Leafy greens sales$2,250,000
Tilapia aquaculture sales$——–
Total Annual Revenue$2,250,000
Operating Expenses
Annual electricity bills ($54,705 x12 months)$656,460
Annual wages ($10,400 x12 months)$124,800
Annual fish feed ($35,000 x12 months)$420,000
Total Operating Expenses$1,201,260
Net Profit
Total Annual Revenue$2,250,000
Total Operating Expenses($1,201,260)
The Total Net profit$1,048,740
Aquaponics Profit and Loss Statement

So, by now, everything has been sorted out, we know how much money can we generate from a one-acre aquaponic farm. However, we must not forget how much money we are going to spend in order to actually start up this project.

How Much Money Will It Cost To Build A One Acre Aquaponic Farm?

To begin with, we must all agree that every dollar spent on a project of this kind is treated as an investment. So how much money will I need to invest in order to establish this one million dollar revenue generating farm?

The total startup costs for a one-acre of aquaponics is around $400,000 to $420,000.

First things first, we need to divide our startup costs into three different categories:

  • The hydroponic systems cost
  • The aquaculture tanks cost
  • The greenhouse cost

This way it is easier for us to go into further details of every aspect.

The hydroponic systems cost

The vertical racks system will cost around $300 dollars per unit. It costs around $370 dollars on Alibaba, but I negotiated a deal based on an order that is above 900 units, so the price dramatically went down.

The 2,670 squared meters that we are going to use for the vertical rack systems will require around 927 units. The total cost of purchasing the hydroponic rack systems will be $278,000 dollars.

927 units x $300 price/unit = $278,000

These units will also save us an extra mile due to the fact that they come with their built-in Samsung LED growing lights.

Each unit will require a total of 8 floating racks with a price of $3 each.

8 floating racks x 927 unit x $3 = $22,248

To keep the water circulating through the farm, we are going to use 2 heavy-duty water pumps that cost $1,500 dollars each.

2 heavy duty pumps x $1,500 = $3,000

Purchasing a water chiller and an air pump will cost us another $1,500 dollars for both of them.

The Aquaculture Tanks Cost

Each unit will require around 80 gallons of water to operate. So, a total of 74,000 gallons is required to fill in these units.

I have decided that the aquaculture tanks will be divided into 5 tanks; This will provide better control over the water quality and will severely minimize losses if there is a case of disease spread.

Each tank can hold a total of 17,000 gallons of water. The price of a single aquaculture tank is $1,300 on Alibaba. The total cost of aquaculture tanks will sum to around $6,500.

$1,300 x 5 = $6,500

to keep the water quality of these systems as clean as possible we would use 3 heavy-duty biofilters that will cost us $2,000 dollars each.

$2,000 x 3 =$6,000

The Greenhouse Cost

There are several options available on the market and there all vary in price and quality. Of course, as the price increases, the durability and lifespan of your greenhouse will improve. However, I decided to stick to the NVPH polyhouse because of its moderate price.

The price of the NVPH polyhouse has an average of $23 per meter in the USA. which will cost us around $93,058 dollars for the whole acre to be covered.

$23 per meter x 4046 square meter=$93,058

The total startup costs of a one-acre aquaponic farm:

Hydroponic System Costs
Vertical Rack Systems (927 units)$278,000
Floating Racks (8 racks x 927)$22,248
Heavy Duty Water Pumps$3,000
Air Pumps and Water Chillers$1,500
Total Hydroponic System Costs$304,748
Aquaculture tanks Costs
Aquaculture tanks (5 tanks)$6,500
Biofilters (3 filters)$6,000
Total Aquaculture Tank Costs$12,500
Greenhouse Costs
NVPH polyhouse cost (4046 square meters)$93,058
Startup Costs
Total Hydroponic Startup Costs$304,748
Total Aquaculture Tank Startup Costs$12,500
NVPH polyhouse cost$93,058
Total Startup Costs$410,3066

7 thoughts on “One Acre Of Aquaponics: A Guide For A Seven Figure Income

  1. Afiliate for Amazon but buy everything from Ali?
    Thank you for the article. Best place to setup is low cost labour and electricity.

    1. It might sound controversial LOL!
      However, I have tried to keep the startup cost as low as possible, and Ali Baba tend to offer the lowest prices if the purchase was done in bulk.

  2. Amazing work Joe. It’s really impressive.
    Your space is definitely the best source for the Hydroponic business.
    Well done. and looking forward reading other articles.

  3. Hello my Friend, you have shared something of great value and a brilliant idea to create an enterprise that will benefit a community in need of fresh produce and fish products. Might I ask can I split the cost in half, to begin with, and still make a nice income? I intend to build-up to the one-acre capacity. Please give me your opinion on this idea.

  4. great analytics! very helpful. Have you seen success growing potatoes in an aquaponic or hydroponic system? Can you do a similar profitanility analysis for potatoes? Ideally mini potatoes.

  5. Thank you, Joe
    I found your web page by accident and I am so pleased you have helped so much in many areas of making my project a fundable investment I hope to be, I will be setting up in Africa ( white engish ) on a 10-acre site so some price points will change.
    Starting small and growing after a few months to the 10 acres I will have.
    If you do a newsletter so that when you post you keep everyone in the loop I think it is a good idea.

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