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"Duckuaponics"

 
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This is a term that landed in my email inbox, this morning, and this is where the link directed me:
https://morningchores.com/duckquaponics/

We're in the process of setting up an indoor mini-aquaponics system, in the master bedroom. Hubs and I have always enjoyed watching a tank full of fish, as we snuggle up, and settle in, to sleep. We've also always been curious about aquaponics, but really had only taken notice of the huge set-ups with perch and tilapia. But, we've finally decided to turn our happy pastime into something even happier. So, this is going to be our intro into 'quaponics' systems.

We've also talked a long time about ducks. We both love duck for dinner, in many forms, and duck eggs are amazing, so they seem a natural, for us. We even have a pond they might be able to help us 'green-up'! But, our ground is so rocky! And, the slope to the pond is very steep (we're working on that, too). Most folks complain about the messy wet crud they have to clean up, if they use kiddie pools, and don't even talk about using it as a tea-type fertilizer, but that just seems to me to be the most awesome thing to do with that mess. I thought using a paint mixer attachment on a drill, to break up any of the sloppy 'chunks', and mix it up, before pumping it out through a bigger diameter hose (rather than trying to lift & dump it) made more sense, with the bonus of being able to move the liquid more easily, to where it's wanted, via a tub on a trailer. I'm fully aware that this is one idea of tons of possibilities!
So, after discussing it with hubs, he (unsurprisingly) is intrigued, but wants numbers. Estimates. Cold, hard, dollars and cents info. Lol. Yeh.... Those will most definitely figure in, lol - but, I would love to hear your ideas on ALL the logistics of duckuaponics!

Are you already doing it? If you have ducks, and you're not, why not? Have you even considered harnessing their water waste, like this? Or do you just plant (the things that can tolerate wet feet, as well as stand up to the ducks) closer to your duck pond? Do you have other ideas about how-to? What are your experiences with it? Tell me about your duckuaponics adventures and misadventures, please!

 
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I like your thinking Carla. This is a post of mine from a couple years ago. It’s been rolling along since, going well. It was even a selling point on the property for our current buyer (in escrow, moving 15mi inland and uphill to a 25acre off grid spot). The main reason I gravitated towards ducks were their hi phosphorus manure, which helped fruiting plants whereas fish manure is known for high N and little else, leading to 20ft tomato plants with two tiny fruits.

https://permies.com/t/75626/Hugel-Chinampas-duckoponic-swales#749713
 
Carla Burke
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Nice work, Ben! Great video, and I love your duck pond!
 
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At the moment, I've had to go much simpler. We are too wet in the winter to use our stock tank, so the Noisy ducks just get buckets and rubber pans, and the Muscovy and geese have access to the winter creek and buckets and rubber pans. I was given two stock tanks so once things dry out a bit I use one in the big field for the geese and the Muscovy. It's on wheels and I move it to where I want the grass to stay green every 2-3 days. It can only move when empty. It has a valve I can turn which leads to pipes with holes for a "duck shower" that spreads the water a little. That empties enough of the tank that I can tip out the rest, rinse, and refill.

These tanks are high enough that the geese need the ramp, and the Khakis like the ramp and the Muscovy ignore the ramp!
The ramps are a broken ladder cut at an angle, covered with hardware cloth and with supports added to rest on the top of the tank walls.
The khakis have a run due to predator pressure which is not ideal and I have plans for improvements when time allows. In the short term, we bought a special screw fitting which allows me to drain the water down a much longer pipe to the bamboo patch. Then when most of the water is out, I unscrew the fitting and tip the rest of the water out, rinse and refill.  
The tanks get really muddy, really fast, and also full of feathers at times, so I couldn't imagine doing anything that isn't *really* easy to disassemble and clean out. I would really like to move the Noisy ducks nearer to my veggie gardens, but the last time I tried they were all killed by a mink in broad daylight. I don't have enough birds to justify a livestock guardian dog or three, so until I feel I can provide safely fenced paddocks, I am having to compromise.
At least at this point, I am reusing the water all summer for grass growing.
 
Carla Burke
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So, Jay, your setup is pretty much a duckuaponics tractor! That's pretty freaking awesome! Thank you for sharing it!
 
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Been searching for the best solution for small backyard ducks, and I've decided on large kiddie pools mounted to something like a dump trailer next to a compost bin that drains into a raised bed or two. I couldn't find anything that will last longer, and for the price, I think its cheapest to build a round deck to hide the kiddie pool that to keep rebuilding a duck pond, and both will be pretty in the end. Most people seem to say the ducks will muck anything else up too fast, but you can just dump the kiddie pool over and over again anywhere you want it.

I really want to see how you do the indoor aquaponics.  I found  some research papers on raising catfish, prawn and crayfish in a recirculating system but in separate tanks. The tanks were cleaner because each animal eats a different size of food so will clean the other's mess. I'm going to try vermiponics first. Yellow bullhead sounded like a good starter fish but I couldn't find anyone to supply it.
 
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When I first saw this, my thoughts were it was about using the water for an aquaponics type set up where it is run through grow beds and filtered by the plants before being returned to the duck's pool. Has anyone tried this yet?
 
Jay Angler
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Rick Myers wrote:When I first saw this, my thoughts were it was about using the water for an aquaponics type set up where it is run through grow beds and filtered by the plants before being returned to the duck's pool. Has anyone tried this yet?

I know that I've seen a video of something like that, but not the "5 year update". Ducks add "huge" amounts of sand and mud to their water. I think this is an area where the KISS Principle should guide you. I really want to add  cattails to the down-slope side of my duck run, just to soak up the nutrients more effectively, but trying to recycle water back to the ducks would need serious planning for the amount of sludge involved. Totally plan your system in ways to reuse the duck water and nutrients, but I suggest you start simple and work up.

You could be the first to come up with an easily manageable system - if so, please post pictures and instructions! We're learning more and more about such things. The book "Reusing the Resource : adventures in ecological wastewater recycling" by Steinfeld, Carol and del Porto, David, might be a useful resource.
 
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If you already had a system for dealing with the duck waste, then the dumping the fish waste should only be a small addition from what i’ve Been told.

Other ideas I had for a permanent duck pond instillation was to use a maciating pump from an rv with the above style set up or using a toilet flush siphon and manually flushing the pond like a toilet tank (the top one not bottom)
 
Carla Burke
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Rick Myers wrote:When I first saw this, my thoughts were it was about using the water for an aquaponics type set up where it is run through grow beds and filtered by the plants before being returned to the duck's pool. Has anyone tried this yet?



That's exactly what I'm talking about
 
M Kreiger
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Carla Burke wrote:

Rick Myers wrote:When I first saw this, my thoughts were it was about using the water for an aquaponics type set up where it is run through grow beds and filtered by the plants before being returned to the duck's pool. Has anyone tried this yet?



That's exactly what I'm talking about




Now that I look at it, someone correct me if I’m wrong - the problem with this design is you are running the water backwards so-to-speak. The water from the ducks is what will need to be filtered to not kill the fish. There is also a parasite bluegills get from birds, not sure if othe fish get them. People on backyard chickens said the problem with permanent set ups is the waste deteriorated the system too quickly and most went back to kiddie pools and chase the ducks away from their backyard ponds. Except if you have an acre “pond.” I decided to settle for building a little deck with a kiddie pool in the center or just arranging Gravel around it until it looks pretty. Still deciding how to dump it, maybe a lever system
 
Jay Angler
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M Kreiger wrote:

People on backyard chickens said the problem with permanent set ups is the waste deteriorated the system too quickly and most went back to kiddie pools and chase the ducks away from their backyard ponds.

Exactly - this is why I rotate where my tanks/buckets are so the water goes to different plants or grass each day or two, rather than having anything stationary.

Water plants like a mixture of reeds, cattails etc could be used to filter duck water (they do in nature after all), but I would consider it "black water" not "grey water" and hesitate to grow things like lettuce in it, unless it had been filtered through several layers of plants in a sequenced pattern. It would need a filter at the beginning to keep the crud from clogging the gravel beds that you're counting on to house your "good microbes" that turn the nitrogen and bad bugs into stuff the plants eat. I've just read the book I mentioned above and it talks about simple and more complex systems, but many of them talk about "settling" tanks or some sort of filter as step one.
 
Ben Zumeta
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I just used woody debris filled sediment deposition basins (4) between hugels, that then ran through 4000gal of 3"- round rock and gravel, then to a settling tank, and 2nd tank where I could pump it back uphill through the pond if I wanted to aerate and recirculate the overflow/leftover rains after storms. It came out very clear and while I did not drink it, it seemed cleaner than the duck pond it was splashing into!
 
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