Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

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Travlin
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Re: Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

Farmer Brown wrote:

Speaking of which, I finally got my system up and running up last weekend.  If you want to check it out, and follow my trials and tribulations, go to Farmer Brown's Aquaponics.  

Thanks for the link Farmer Brown.  I reviewed your site and I'm very impressed with how much you accomplished so quickly.  I look forward to following your progress.  You are a real man of action.

Travlin

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Re: Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

Farmer Brown, thanks for sharing what you are learning!  Well done!

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Re: Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

pinecarr wrote:

Farmer Brown, thanks for sharing what you are learning!  Well done!

As a guy that dreams of someday getting in the AP game, my hat is off as well!

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Re: Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

Thanks to everyone for sharing your experiences in such detail. Aside from the problem of power and parts backup, it is the kind of elegantly simple solution that we will need more of in the future.

FYI, I ran across an organization in Florida that teaches courses on aquaponics...everything from one-day basics to twelve-week intensive courses on how to set up large systems in developing countries. They also include instruction on using solar energy.  While I like the idea of having a small system at my home, the greater potential seems to be creating larger community aquaponics systems, especially in urban areas.

I recently ordered the two print manuals they offer, will report back on their usefulness after I receive them.

Morning Star Fishermen
http://www.morningstarfishermen.org

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Re: Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

Bumped due to the super coolness factor alone.

Imagine if you had a water wheel pump system running off a small creek that did all the circulation for you, no electricity needed. I have such a creek, and chickens to add the ground eggshells to the media...just looks like I might need some source of fish food and chelated iron?

Hmmm.

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Rules-of-Thumb For Home Aquaponic Gardeners

I thought this might be useful for those interested in AP systems:

Many of our community site members have pointed out that we need some basic rules-of-thumb for aquaponic gardening.  Why?  Because they will help the beginners among us get started without needing to spend weeks researching what to do.


I’ve had the distinct honor of collaborating with Dr. Wilson Lennard from Australia on the guidelines that follow below.  Dr. Lennard has earned one of the few PhDs in aquaponics in the world.  These guidelines have also been reviewed and endorsed by Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics, and the “Aquaponics Made Easy” and “Aquaponics Secrets” videos, and TCLynx and Kobus from this community site.


Nothing we say below is set in stone and there are exceptions to almost every one of the listed rules-of-thumb given certain conditions. However, they do offer a set of generally accepted principles that, if adhered to, will put you on the path towards successful aquaponic gardening. 

Please see Aquaponic Gardening Rules-of-Thumb for the meat of the article (unable to copy & paste).....Jeff

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Fish Tank Size and Fish Stress

One aspect of Aquaponics that I strongly disagree with is the crowding of fish into a small tank. This design has several disadvantages:

  • Do you really want to eat fish that have been chronically stressed by a confined space? I know I don't want to eat chickens that have been confined to a cage their entire life, why would I want to eat fish exposed to this same chronic stress? 
  • The crowding of fish creates the need for extensive mechanical aeration and circulation of the tank water. And at higher fish densities, just an hour without this aeration would kill the entire population. Since mechanical systems are prone to fail, and a constant source of electricity is not a given in this day and age, this design doesn't seem sustainable in the real world..
  • Fish health = water quality. The properties of healthy water such as dissolved O2, pH, temperature, and dissolved solids could be more easily managed with a much larger volume of water than is typically utilized in Aquaponics.

The stocking density of a typical Koi pond is one fish per 1000 gallons of water. Depending on the size and flow rate of the filtration system, a stocking density of one fish per 500 gallons of water is acceptable as well. In Aquaponics, the stocking density is roughly one fish per 10 gallons of water; a 50-100 fold increase in fish density relative to what is acceptable in well the established Koi culture. The reason AP proponents give for needing such a high fish density is that it's required to achieve the optimal nutrient concentration (specifically nitrate concentration) for plant growth. I disagree.

Nitrate levels accumulate to significant levels in large Koi ponds over time. As Koi ponds typically only have aquatic plants consuming these nitrates (if they have any plant component in their system at all), a partial water change is periodically required to control nitrate build-up in these systems. In an open-flow AP system, the nitrate laden water removed from the pond, as well as all the solids removed from the mechanical filtration system, could be harvested and used to grow plants. Another advantage of an open-flow system is that other sources of plant nutrients could be added to the waste water from the pond to aid plant growth, without having to worry about how these additions might affect the fish.

In a closed-flow (or recirculated) AP system, one could simply wait for the nitrate levels to rise to the desired level in the large pond (1-2 months) before initiating the circulation to the grow beds. Of course, this design implies that the pond has its own dedicated biofilter for the bacteria to convert the fish waste to nitrate. It would also require some form of mechanical filtration to remove solids from the pond water. But a well designed water feature (waterfall) could supply all the needed oxygen to a pond that has a sufficiently large volume of water and large surface area; thus eliminating or reducing the need for mechanical aeration. And the large volume of water would buffer changes in temperature and pH as well. A mechanical failure in this system would provide a much larger grace period for repairs.

But the best reason for a much larger fish tank/pond, is the fish would be able to move; an important requirement for the development muscle tissue. Fish stress from social interactions and water quality would be greatly diminished, and a happy fish is good eats.

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Bakki Shower Biofilter in Koi Pond

This isn't directly related to AP, but I was really impressed by the filtration system on this koi pond. 

The aeration that the Bakki Shower design provides for biofiltration (nitrification) is excellent. I can imagine that this design could be used effectively within an AP system to improve conversion to nitrate and dissolved O2 levels in the system.

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Automatic Back-up Battery-Powered Aerator

Here is an air-bubbler for aquariums that I ran across that might be useful in aquaponics, though you might need several of them for an AP system.

Hurricane Category 5 Professional AC/DC Battery Operated Air Pump

  • Continuous operation with or without power. Automatically switches to the backup rechargeable batter
  • Automatic recharge system charges battery pack when power is restored.
  • Designed with optional "D" cell battery slots for use when main battery pack is exhausted.
  • Adjustable flow control with Interval Battery Extension Technology (I.B.E.T.).
  • Features two modes: Hi position pumps 14 hours on full battery and Lo position runs for 28 hours intermittently (one minute on, one minute off, in battery mode only) Removable, 6V Ni-Cad rechargeable battery pack included. Made of high quality impact plastic for durability and quiet operation. Dual outlet design.

Buy at Amazon ($128)

Buy at AquaticHouse.com ($79)

Buy at FinsDepot.com ($66)

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Re: Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

We are in the process of putting in a 4 meter fish pond for an aquaponic system.  Ours is a little different in that it will be heavily supplemented by a rainwater catchment system.  This will be an experiment in that it is our hope that the system will be far less dependent on a need for a constant pumping system.  Currently, our non-food producing water catchments are vibrant with fish and plants, without any external pumps or bubblers.  We use these catchments to provide nutrient rich water for our plants in the ground.  It works well.  Thanks for the great link.  We'll get the DVD's.  We are also taking a class.  We'll use these grow beds for the delicate plants.

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Re: Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

Very cool idea--

Have a spring or rainwater fed pond with fish above the level of the plants, and then drain it through the plants.  No pump involved; let gravity do the work.  Could work if your water source is high like that.

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Ancient Hawaiian Polyculture and Aquaponics?

akamai mom wrote:

We are in the process of putting in a 4 meter fish pond for an aquaponic system....

Aloha Mom,

You might enjoy this video about ancient Hawaiian polyculture by the owner of Friendly Aquaponics.

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Re: Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

Thanks for all these great aquaponic links and ideas.  Thank you, Jag, for the film clip.  The man, Hobie, whom the speaker is most directly conversing is a long time friend of mine.  The plant he is featuring, taro, is an important one of our staples.

My favorite part of focusing my efforts and concerns on food production, is that it makes me happy.  Cultivating life around us, is so much more joyful and fulfilling than stressing about the rise of fascism and an impending economic collapse.  ... I do both, rejoice in the abundant biology around me and stress about the digression in our society.  I like the happy part best, so I place the most energy there. 

Our aquaculture system should be up and running within the month.  Hopefully, the rainwater feed will minimize the need for the pump system that will be in place.  We'll let you know how well we succeed.

Aloha

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You're Eating Fish Feed!

A traditional aquaponic system's primary nutrient input is fish feed, and all crops harvested from the system will contain only those nutrients initially present in the fish feed. Is the nutrient spectrum in commercial fish feed capable of supporting an optimal human diet? I highly doubt it. If you fail to diversify the nutrient inputs into your AP system, your really just eating a diet of fish feed disguised as lettuce, tomatoes, corn, fish, etc.

So how do you expand the nutrient spectrum in your AP system? You harvest nutrients from the waste streams of your home, garden, livestock, and community. You then feed this waste into the bottom rung of your food chain to achieve a diversification of nutrients in the system and harvest. Here are some ways people are doing this:

Black Soldier Fly Larvae Cultivation: BSF larvae are terrific consumers of food wastes and they can easily digest food wastes from meat, diary, and citrus that worms cannot effectively digest. See what the BSF larvae do to this hamburger in just 5 hours:

...or to these fish in just 22 hours:

They will also efficiently digest chicken, livestock, and human manures. The larvae make an excellent high protein-high fat  fish feed supplement for an aquaponic system (depending on the type of fish in cultivation). So by incorporating BSF larvae into your aquaponic ecosystem, you can utilize nutrients from numerous local waste streams to expand the nutrient density of the food going into your mouth from your AP system.

Vermiculture: Incorporating composting worms into your AP ecosystem is also an effective means of adding to the nutrient spectrum of the system. While worm populations will thrive in the media flood & drain growbeds in an AP system, they are just processing nutrients already in the system in this situation. To be truly effective, a separate worm composting bin that can process waste streams from outside the AP system is required. The nutrients captured from these exogenous waste streams can then be introduced into the AP system by adding worm tea made from the worm castings, and supplementing the fish feed with surplus worms. Worm Teas can have excellent nutrient spectrums with superb plant bioavailability.

Foliar Sprays: Plants are capable of taking in some nutrients directly from their leaf surfaces. Many aquaponists use seaweed extracts, full of trace elements and minerals, in a foliar spray to boost the health (and nutritional value) of plants in their system. These seaweed extracts may also be added to the system water in small amounts as well. 

So in conclusion, don't just eat fish feed, add waste stream nutrients to your diet for the health of your entire food chain.

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Re: Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

Just wanted to inform you that we have linked to this excellent page in our latest issue of
http://aquaponics-digest.blogspot.com/
We wish you well
Bruce

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Various AP Videos

(quit stressing the fish!)

(TCLynx is a superb source of info on AP and one smart lady! Check out her AP blog here.)

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Dr. Wilson Lennard on Aquaponics

Here are a few excellent lectures and interviews with Dr. Lennard, an AP expert

Dr. Wilson Lennard on Aquaponics Today

Dr. Wilson Lennard on Backyard Aquaponics and Adding Nutrients

Dr. Wilson Lennard on Commercial Aquaponics

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Re: Can You Feed Your Family With Aquaponics?

Thanks Jag; good stuff!

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TED Video On Aquaponics

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Inspired by this group and set up my own system today

With the warmer weather in Westchester (a suburb county just north of New York City) and the forsythia beginning to bloom, I stopped by the Home Depot tonight on my way home. By 8:30 PM, supplies packed into my car, I drove home and set up an aquaponics 25 gallon system and got it working by 11 PM.  I"ll give details of the components, which totalled under $200 with starter plants (Red Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Head and Bib Lettuces (plus Sweet Basil and Strawberry plants to keep in their starter pots which I will have to bring indoors at night until nights get consistently above 50 degrees F.) 

I used two 27.5 gallon black "Transport" tubs (to keep the sun off of the water to reduce algae problems in future.  Cut a 3/4" hole in bottom toward one corner and put male and female screw-to-3/4" PVC connectors through the hole. The sides are 18" high and the 3 bags of 17 litre red stone fill the planting tub about 7" (So I will need two more bags to bring it up to 12 inches of crushed rock base to have sufficient surface area for the microflora needed to fix the ammonia and nitrite into nitrate.)  The 3/4" PVC that fits into the pass-thru connector is cut to the length needed to keep the home-made Bell Syphon functioning with the water level about an inch below the surface -- this is done to reduce algae formation, which will happen if the nutrient-rich water is exposed to the sun-light. A 2" PVC pipe is cut about 2 "" taller than the first drain pipe and is capped with a PVC cap and notches are cut near the bottom to automatically break the vacuum. A 3" PVC Pipe is cut 2 " higher than the last one and multiple holes are drilled to allow water to reach the drain pipe and to keep the crushed stone out of the Bell Syphon.  Added about 30 gallons of water and started up the pump to begin the initial cycling. 

Alas, I over estimated the pump and will have to go and get a 100 to 120 gallon per hour pump to get the 15 minute flood and drain cycle going.  Also need to get a pH, Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite test kit to see where I am starting and slowly adjust the pH to the 6.5 to 6.8 range.  Hope it only takes the two weeks to begin to stabilize and then the question is what type of fish to place.  Since it is a small system, I may just start with gold fish and if the system gets going, I plan on adding a larger system and possibly add Tilapia or Striped Bass -- will have to check with a local fish farm that in a bit north of here as to the best fish for this area.

Will take some photos and post them later in the week

Simon

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Update on my Square Foot Garden and Aquaponics

Having attended the Chris and Becca weekend seminar at Rowe Massachusetts, I came home and expanded my SFG and Aquaponics set ups.

Rather than repeat the postings, the link to the Rowe Seminar Forum with my 5 postings is http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/rowe-2012-seminar-forum/72891?page=1...

Here are four photos of my vertical and grow bed aquaponics. The first was three weeks ago and the rest are from today

Here is just one of the photos of my SFG

I would be glad to share more details with anyone. Just ask.

Be sure to see the full progress detailed in the Rowe participants forum.

Simon

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Drinkable Aquaponics Water!

JAG wrote:

Earthwise,

Your absolutely correct about how water efficient the system is, as the only loses are via evaporation and plant transpiration like you stated. I really goofed by leaving this out of my original post, I'm a little ashamed to say that I overlooked this major advantage of aquaponics probably because where I live we get 50+ inches of rainfall a year and its not really an issue for me. 

If I live in a dry climate, I would think it would be nice to also have another 1000 gallons of water available just as a back-up in a crisis. A decent water filter should make the water very drinkable. Heck, the guy in this video just drinks it without a filter, lol. Notice how the cut-away shot hid the fact that he spit it outLaughing

No, he doesn't spit it out. That's Tim, my husband, and in fact, he prefers our system water to tap water. I drink it as well, at least as a demonstration of the safety of the water during our free farm tours. Literally hundreds of people have seen me do so. And I don't spit it out either.

It tastes very familiar and sweet, like clear stream water, in a way the chlorinated, flordated water has never seemed familiar to me.

We have about 80,000 gallons of back up water, here on our farm, and the growing troughs act as a 6000 sq ft catchment system, so every time it rains, we fill up to the top in very little time.

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low-cost vertical aquaponic system for small spaces

This low-cost vertical aquaponic system can grow leafy greens, herbs and raise fish for a small family year round, and it fits in a 5' by 3' space. Sean Brady, the aquaponics projects coordinator at the Center for Sustainable Aquaponics and Nourish the Planet in Loveland, Colo., showed us how to build a system from scrap he found around the greenhouse. We published a version of this how-to guide at engineeringforchange.org, and it's one of the good ones, so we'd like to share it with Instructables, too.

Read More...

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Combination AP Pond and Swimming pool

JAG'S comments about providing the fish with adequate space make me wonder if a swimming pool could double as a fish pond?

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Dennis McClung, Garden Pool

Hi Olive Oil Guy

You could use the swimming pool as a fish pond. But it would be a bad idea to use that same fish pond as a swimming pool due to the sanitation.

There is someone already doing it successfully in Mesa, Arizona. He runs chicken poop to feed fish, fish and chicken poop to feed plants, and duckweed to feed chicken and fish...

His name is Dennis McClung. He and his wife run http://gardenpool.org/

They were featured on National Geographic's Doomsday Preppers (which Dr. Martenson and others have wisely avoided).

Poet

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All wealth comes from the

All wealth comes from the soil of the earth's special health needs moisture. The human perception of the world is what makes us here.

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