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Aquaponics food web  RSS feed

 
Amedean Messan
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Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Hello and thanks for volunteering yourself for the week. I believe Aquaponics qualifies for urban permaculture as seen here: http://www.growingpower.org. I had previously posted this but I have not developed a clear strategy for a larger than family scale model. I would appreciate your incite since you live in Australia where aquaponics has blossomed and because of your expertise in permaculture.

I'm in the design stages of an aquaponics system for small business in which I have come across a few problems. One of the more obvious is the problem of introducing biomass into a mostly closed loop system. The problem is that fish pellets most often available are not sustainable! Many brands (at least here) are made of dehydrated chicken scraps, so called junk fish (especially ones processed for omega-3), algae, amoung others. I guess water is much more precious than the issue of feed in Australia but have you come accros any solutions in your work. Either way, I would love your extensive incite on how to generate food that is nutritious enough for the fish and be able to grow it sustainably. I will have 100 acres to work with and I want to leave most of it for agroforestry/rotational grazing. I would love some here-say solutions. The aquatic species I am leaning towards is tilapia because I love the taste and they are a reliable species, but also open to Malaysian prawn. I have even gone as far as looking into insect traps to trap them as a food source. My desire is to develop all resources internally so again your incite and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

My climate is zone 7-8 and the soils are clay. I guess what I am looking for is suggestions for techniques or viable plants that can be grown for fish feed, but ultimately I want to bridge the land to aquaponics so I do not have to buy costly/unethical fish feed. I have the option to make feed pellets with a pellet mill for storage. Thanks for reading everyone.
 
Adele Fike
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Location: South African
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Could Duck Weed be used as fish food as it is said to be high in protein?
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Absolutely it can, I have looked into duckweed and other people have used it. My design challenge is that I do not know how to grow it within the system without adding something "x". The biomass has to come from somewhere. I could grow it in a pond separate from the aquaponics system, but I know little on how to create an ecosystem based on duckweed with the intent for a larger scale production. Also, I would like to diversify the input for nutritional purposes and also increase the reliability of my feed flow. I am not sure if duckweed provides all nutritional requirements. This will require some knowledge on aquatic botany and ecosystems connecting water with land. I am beginning to feel I may be stretching the limits of what at the time is conventionally known in permaculture and that I should read some scientific books on the matter. I was hoping to get at least one response from Mr Lawton since these two concepts he should have experience in but my window is up, sigh, oh well - straight to the river for some field studies in between some thick books.......yawn
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Duckweed just showed up one day in my little garden pond. I never had to add anything. The mosquito fish eat mosquito larvae and other bugs which fall in the water and I think the duckweed lives on the tiny amount of fish and tadpole poo plus sunlight. The closer one can get to an ecosystem in which everything lives on the waste of other things, the less outside inputs will be needed, I think. Most nutrients will come from plants which live primarily on sunlight. I personally think water plants are the best at living in a water environment, as compared to terrestrial plants. But most of us aren't used to eating many kinds of aquatic plants. I'm trying to include as many different kinds of aquatic plants in my system as I can and hope to learn to eat some of the edible ones. Those which aren't edible by humans can be fed to Red Wigglers or BSF larvae.

http://www.tricker.com/ is a source for many interesting water plants

 
Tony Elswick
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has anybody added lillies? could they attract buggers?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I'm raising Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, from seed. All parts of the plant are edible. http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Nelumbo+nucifera
 
              
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howdy,

you can dig a big pond, add dirt, add plants, add small fish, and then add talapia and allow the pond to spin on its own.

you can then go fishing and that should work just fine.
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Yes, but the fish are not the main crop. I am speaking about aquaponics, not aquaculture.
 
              
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you can grow floating gardens, or use the water to irrigate your plants, that should work fine as well.
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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If you have sincere questions or helpful comments then please continue to post, otherwise I would not comment.

DO your research on the advantages of an aquaponics system before you ramble. Your theoretical pond does not work when the fish damage the roots, no control measures over PH and floating crops do not benefit from flood drain aeration. You were initially unhelpful and not suggestive but rather naive and forceful.
 
              
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so you protect the roots of the plants, and i've never found ph to be an issue for any food crop fish or plants.
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Well, if I am wrong can you send us some pictures of your system along with details. Hey, if you got something working like you described great, I am all ears! Just no fluffy details please....
 
Jeffry Rodgers
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Location: Florida
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Duckweed is a viable option, but I don't think it should be the only one. Worm farms (vermicomposting bins), black fly larvae farms, bug zappers, and duckweed could be combined for a diverse and nutritious diet. Some species of perch, like the Jade Perch, are omnivores and can be fed from the aquaponics garden. A grow bed filled with could be harvested in 3-4 weeks, and if combined with the previously mentioned dietary options, the aquaponics system comes closer to being completely closed loop.

At this point, one of the last remaining input problems is the energy need of the system. A self-regenerative off-the-grid stand alone power system would reduce the cost of outputs (cost being the cost of producing the outputs relative to inputs) to almost zero. I've been fooling around with drawings incorporating Tesla turbines (one in the form of a Tesla water pump) hooked up to a synchronous AC induction generator. The electricity produced from the generator gets routed through the system by a charge controller to maintain a consistent load on the generator, with batteries added for energy storage. The system pushes excess load to "dump" locations such as water heaters and air heaters (both of which could be used to maintain atmospheric and fish tank temperatures in the greenhouse). This design is far from a finished product, however.

Hope this helps.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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What would be helpful is if folks could post examples from their own systems.

 
              
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i don't have a camera and i've only moved into my new place 4 months ago. But do try my suggestion on a scaled experiment if you haven't already. aside from being fun, it is also educational and you will likely be surprised at the bioload 1000 gallons of water can support. throwing a bunch of crap together and letting it spin is self-correcting, whereas trying to engineer something someway will likely forever leave you in unstable equilibrium.

 
              
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Jeffry,

duckweed is good but i find azolla to be superior. it is nitrogen fixing, and supposedly, growth is only pegged by phosphorus limitation. you can dump your old laundry water into as virtually all detergents are phosphate-based and growth will never be arrested.

 
Jeffry Rodgers
Posts: 2
Location: Florida
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Thanks Toan! I had to write that down.

I don't have pictures of a system, because I have not built it yet. I'll post sketches when they are more detailed.
 
Albert Johnston
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There MAY be a place for aquaponics in homestead permaculture. It depends on your talent, temperament, and resources. I'd like to hear if sepp holzer has experimented with aquaponics. I live in Florida which has helped enable me to conduct experiments with a variety of super easy species.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Sunnyslopes McCoy wrote:There MAY be a place for aquaponics in homestead permaculture. It depends on your talent, temperament, and resources. I'd like to hear if Sepp Holzer has experimented with aquaponics. I live in Florida which has helped enable me to conduct experiments with a variety of super easy species.


Any photos or other details about your systems, the species you grew, etc etc.....?
 
Albert Johnston
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I don't have a system. The only species I have successfully maintained is the common mosquito fish, gambusia. I also have my mosquito digester that is photographed on my Facebook. Oh yes one Oscar in a heated tank outside. So I am just beginning like a lot of people. I think that aqua-culture has to be the first step. If I can create a healthy pond with dozens of species of plants and animals without the use of a lot of power that is the way I'll go. Aquaponics needs a lot more research.
 
hannah ransom
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I saw a video of someone who had their chicken above their pond and the tilapia ate the chicken poop. I don't think it could be the only source of food, but maybe an extra.
 
Robin Hones
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I am a bit confused here. You live in climate zone 7-8 but are considering tilapia, correct? Tilapia do not thrive in temperatures much below 70F so I am assuming this must be an indoor system, and therefore heat provision is another issue in terms of closed loop? In which case do you plan on having space available indoors to grow the fish food as well? Azolla, for example, is great fish food but will not grow below 50F and grows optimally over 70F.
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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@ Robin

On average, tilapia can be maintained at temperatures ranging from 60.8 through 95 degrees Fahrenheit . The average ideal temperatures where the fastest growth occurs is at 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit.



Oreochromis aureus ( Blue Tilapia ) are more cold hardy than typical tilapias. The lethal limits in degrees Fahrenheit are 46.4 and 105.8 ( Observed in 1988 ). However, introduced species existing in the wild have developed further tolerance to northern climates. Blue tilapia have been recorded in the wild in NC ( zone 7-8 ) and other regions as shown in the map below. I wish to collect wild samples because they have endured further natural selection producing more cold tolerant varieties. There is little data on the characteristics in these fish and I would to be pioneering this effort ( innovate, not follow ).

References:
Tilapia Culture, 2005 - Abdel-Fattah M. El-Sayed
Non Indigenous Species - http://nas2.er.usgs.gov/viewer/omap.aspx?SpeciesID=463


 
Robin Hones
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@ Amed

You live in NC in zone 7-8 and are trying to use Tilapia or Malaysian Prawns for Aquaponics and are concerned about what "farm made" alternatives there may be to commercial pellets?

If you are trying to do this in unheated/external environments then you have a lot of issues to contend with (forget the feed issue for a second):
Tilapia - even if you can corral some fish that have adapted to living locally you still have to breed and then control feed through seasonal fluctuations.
Malaysian prawns - will have to be grown (larvae to harvest cycle) in the 4-5 months they can survive, so that leaves 7-8 months to worry about.
Vegetable products - if the system is going to be somewhere close to continuous (for your cold-water hardy tilapia, not the Malaysian prawns) then you will need to be growing something (what??) year-round to remove the wastes from the fish tank.

Obviously I am skeptical. If you succeed in a design then I am a buyer - I would love to have tilapia and/or Malaysian prwans in my own 7-8 zone here in WA.

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think cold tolerant vegetables might be a possibility for growing during the cold season.

Beets, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, parsley, spinach, corn salad, arugula, chard are some cold tolerant vegetables that will grow through the winter in Zone 8.


 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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@ Robin

Yes, that is a good summary of my challenges. I am working out alternatives in my design stage which employs methods in geothermal energy. In the winter I can guarantee 50 - 60 degrees through the winter. Should I use a heat pump I can boost the numbers to the 70's range without excessive energy expenditure. I have even looked into compost heat as a possible thermal source. My alternatives I have an interest in are Crappie, but I have to do individual research on dieting. Tilapia are easier to handle in regards with diet. I am not overly concerned with growth rates because the main source for profit comes in the crops. On the architectural aspect, I am looking at two main options for reserving the heat: greenhouse or enclosure. There are benefits to both. I can understand your skepticism, I however do not want to put off a good idea where there is a lot of potential for growth.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Personally I think if you can afford it the greenhouse offers great benefits for more options of plants you can grow, as well of course keeping the Tilapia warm enough. For my climate I would want a greenhouse which can be opened up on the sides with removable panels or very large windows, for ventilation in the hot season.

 
duane hennon
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aquaponics in an earth sheltered greenhouse = aquapini
he's in Florida and worries about the cold


Aquapini

about 20 minute into video
 
John Stevenson Jr
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i found this on what i think you where talking about hope it helps
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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@ John

Thanks for the video but I am not looking at the concept, more struggling on connecting a land crop which can be grown in abundance that will provide good nutrition for fish so that I may make pellet feed. The idea is being completely self sufficient.
 
Laurence Hutchinson
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Perhaps you should consider looking into ecological aquaculture to generate a natural food chain for your chosen fish species. Fish prefer a natural food source that suits their natural metabolic uptake. Artificial food does not do this.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I don't know if you could consider what I've done aquaponics. I called it "duckponics". Basically I built a duckpond with a fenced section for planting. It worked really well until the ducks figured out how to get under the fence. Now I don't even bother. The darn ducks got too smart and then the pond cracked so it's all over anyway. But I have some brief photos I can link.

Ok so this pic is an unfinished version, obviously, but the best of the planting area. I did fence it completely around. The duck pond portion is cement and the planting area is clay. I have a pump in the bottom of the duck pond area that pumps the water up and through 3 different planters that I'd drilled holes in. I had had various plants in the planters. Then it went into the plant area before circulating back to the pond. Now, even though the pond was fairly large ducks are nasty. So when the water got to be too gross I would pump it out of the pond and onto my veggie garden which I thoughtfully located directly next to the pond. This didn't work either because of Satan's birds (aka guineas), also pictured. lol

The ducks really loved it though.

You probably can't see to well but I have duck weed laid out in there. I was going to use it as a duck feed supplement. It worked really well before they fence hopped. It would grow out of the fence and they'd eat it. Easy Peasy. I had various edible water plants in there with plans to plant other crops on the berm. Maybe I'll resurrect this some day with better fencing or stupider ducks.
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Guinea next to veggie garden
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