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Is anyone doing aquaponics?  RSS feed

 
john muckleroy jr
Posts: 40
Location: nacogdoches,texas
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It looks interesting but I'm off the grid so everything would have to be solar and I wonder about heating a greenhouse in the winter,the economic viability of it all.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Starting a aquaponics system in the winter is nice and challenging goal.
How big of a system are you planning on building?
How about 3 50gal Rubbermaid buckets sitting under 3 tables. With 3 grow bed on the table.

Bucket 50 gal (2ft x 4ft) http://www.rubbermaid.com/Category/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?Prod_ID=RP091415
Table
Grow Bed
Grow Medium
Cold Hardy edible plants
Cold Hardy fish
Cold Hardy fish plant
Pump

Take a look at this setup.
http://gardenpool.org





 
john muckleroy jr
Posts: 40
Location: nacogdoches,texas
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That is neat ,where are you located?I'm in Nacogdoches ,texas and it is the winters that scare me about all this,also summers very hot.
 
Keith Odell
Posts: 68
Location: Indiana
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I have 4 goldfish in a 15 gallon tub that are feeding several herbs and ornamentals at this time. This is indoor.
I will soon (fingers crossed) start a slightly larger operation in the basement with tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.

Growing Power in Milwaukee heat their fish tanks and that mostly heats the greenhouses. Maybe solar hot water to heat the tanks?


 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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You can hold 1lbs of tilapia fish per gallon of water. So if you have enough already fattened up from march to November (70F to 91F).
You would have enough over the winter. I really cant think of a fast growing algae eating cold water fish.
But there is carp, salmon, lake trout, and a few tiny algae eater who could be feed for your crop fish.

I would just build it, throw any fish in it and just focus on the plant side of it till March.
Then hopefully you will learn more as you go along.

If you install solar heating you could have year round tilapia seeing as how your in zone 9
 
bill archer
Posts: 58
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
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I found a great deal recently on some 275gal totes at $50/piece. Needed cleaning, still working on that but they're in good shape. This was just days after seeing the DVD "Aquaponics your first 12 months" which uses one tote for the tank and grow bed. I was really excited about the whole thing until I realized that average tilapia need warmer water than say blue nile tilapia which can live in 48-55 degrees. Even so, a 50 gallon tank of water this time of year is dropping at low as 30 degrees I estimate, possibly even a bit more. To keep 200 gallons at least 48 degrees would cost a lot in electricity (not much luck with solar this time of year and little sun on my land due to the huge trees blocking 85% of it). Perhaps there is a way to pipe heat from a rocket mass heater safely into the tank, but until a genius figures that out, I am stalled in my plan, at least to have edible fish AND veggies. It seems every climate has its challenges. Thoughts?
 
Travis Day
Posts: 26
Location: Idaho, 43rd parallel Zone 6A
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I have been holding off on finishing my system because I am going under the knife but I have a 12'x24' greenhouse that will have a 3800 gallon fish tank for nile tilapia, about 340 sq ft of grow bed space with both NFT and DWC and it will run year round in zone 6 with a mix of solar heating and as needed a rocket mass heater also solar for power.
 
H Warner
Posts: 10
Location: northern New Mexico
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I live in northern New Mexico where winters are very cold and brutal. I'm off grid also and heating our 30x30 greenhouse with wood (very costly) just to maintain it above freezing. Our aquaponics system is on hold until the weather lets up or we can get a rocket stove made. We have so far a 250 gallon tank with 20 of the blue 55 gallon barrels cut in 1/2. solar power will work for the water and air pumps. We are a small homestead with prepper like attitudes but none of the big bucks. We cant import talapia into NM (trust me, I've looked into it) and that leaves trout/catfish. Not many people will deal with NM for "pond fish" and the local fisheries only release fish to state/federal owned lakes/streams, etc. Because time is so short and we need something now, I'm looking at koi. Not edible, really, but they get big after a while and are cheap and legal. Once spring hits, we can look at trout fingerlings or something else. duckweed will be grown and fed and I hear rabbits love the stuff also!
 
bill archer
Posts: 58
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
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H Warner wrote:I live in northern New Mexico where winters are very cold and brutal. I'm off grid also and heating our 30x30 greenhouse with wood (very costly) just to maintain it above freezing. Our aquaponics system is on hold until the weather lets up or we can get a rocket stove made. We have so far a 250 gallon tank with 20 of the blue 55 gallon barrels cut in 1/2. solar power will work for the water and air pumps. We are a small homestead with prepper like attitudes but none of the big bucks. We cant import talapia into NM (trust me, I've looked into it) and that leaves trout/catfish. Not many people will deal with NM for "pond fish" and the local fisheries only release fish to state/federal owned lakes/streams, etc. Because time is so short and we need something now, I'm looking at koi. Not edible, really, but they get big after a while and are cheap and legal. Once spring hits, we can look at trout fingerlings or something else. duckweed will be grown and fed and I hear rabbits love the stuff also!


Ahh time, money and better climate. In just 6 months of this new life we've started here in Oregon, these are the three things I find I can never have enough of, even more so to accomplish the goals I'd like to reach for my place. Speaking of greenhouses, cold weather etc are there any plans out there for the Solaroof bubble insulated greenhouses, and/or any price estimates (solaroof.org)? Seems this has worked for others in cold climates. here's a link to a completed design http://www.tdc.ca/bubblegreenhouse.htm

Sounds like using the koi is a good start, at least you will be growing. I may have to take the same route... at least they're nice to look at and hey, they might do in a pinch if one *has* to eat them



 
Travis Day
Posts: 26
Location: Idaho, 43rd parallel Zone 6A
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Have you given any thoughts to compost pile heating ? if your greenhouse is to small to fit it on the inside build a enclosed compost area venting inside along the north wall as to not block any winter sunlight.

Now you can also dig a hole inside your greenhouse to put your FT into and add polystyrene insulation before backfilling or if you have room put your compost pile around two or more sides of your FT so its not only heating the air but the FT as well.

Note that if you are using a air pump you could even cover 1/2 to 3/4 of the surface area with pool cover or foam and still keep the o2 levels needed to help hold heat in from a dirrect contact compost pile but if you do this warm air temps in the greenhouse will not help heat the water much because 1/2 to 3/4 of the surface area is covered.
 
Nancy Sinclaire
Posts: 30
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I just want to emphasize a word in S Bengi's post. "Hold". "You can hold 1lbs of tilapia fish per gallon of water. So if you have enough already fattened up from march to November (70F to 91F). You would have enough over the winter." This is a storage system not a growth system. That does not mean one pound of fish requires one gallon of water during growing. Basically it is a holding tank, like a tank full of lobsters for sale tank in the grocery store right before the 4th of July. With that amount of fish per gallon of water, if the power goes out, harvest immediately. One pound of fish per gallon of water is a stocking number I have never heard before. Old books said one inch of fish (meaning length as in guppies) per gallon of water. A guppy is a tiny fish. It probably weighs about as much as a vitamin tablet.
 
Nancy Sinclaire
Posts: 30
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Keith "4 goldfish in a 15 gallon tub" is probably exactly how the first aquaponics people started. You are practicing aquaponics. It is a great system to study to practice and learn the basics. From here you have the foundation to move forward if you choose to go a bit in this direction if it is right for your needs.

 
Nancy Sinclaire
Posts: 30
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bill archer: "until a genius figures that out" I agree. It will happen soon. They are working on it. Until then practice with a cold water species of fish. Tilapia may be great and the be all and end all but they are not perfect. People in non tropical areas need to discover the "ap" fish for cold weather aquaponics. Or maybe it is not a fish at all but something else. A frog?
 
Nancy Sinclaire
Posts: 30
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H Warner: "I'm looking at koi." You can also include simple, and more importantly inexpensive and nearly ubiquitous feeder goldfish. They are carp. They are eaten. Maybe not here. But they are perfectly suited to getting your system up and running and holding their own in 30 degree water if a deep enough area is provided for them with an air bubbler to keep a part of the surface water free from ice. Think of them as practice fish while you are researching and running trials on the perfect fish for your system requirements.
 
Travis Day
Posts: 26
Location: Idaho, 43rd parallel Zone 6A
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Yes using cold water fish for the sake of argument lets say Trout in the cold areas is good but if you live some where like me (3 hours ago it was 1 deg) and want to keep your system running year round it is easier to naturaly heat your FT in winter than naturaly cool it in summer as it gets up over 100 deg here, also even with cool water fish if you live in a cold area you will still need to either heat the FT in winter to keep it at 52-56 deg or cool it yes even in winter if your greenhouse is kept warm all year.


Yes Tilapia is not the type of fish that is the best for you but if want/need a fast grower they are the top choice, I would love to set my system up for Trout and I might still do that at some point but I can't get the numbers I will with Tilapia.





 
Sherry Jansen
Posts: 59
Location: Southern MN
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I did some raising the Red Claw Crayfish. They are a tropical Austrailan crayfish that grows up to a pound in a year, kinda like a small lobster. They are mainly shrimp size.

The redclaws have a lot of advantages-
-they can be stocked denser than American crayfish which turn cannibalistic,
-they grow fast
-females can hatch broods 3 times a year with each hatch of 500 fry each.....one problem was keeping enough tanks going
-they taste awesome!

I raised them as a hobby, but wrote this book with a commercial grower:
http://www.MyBackAchers.com/redclaw.htm
 
Travis Day
Posts: 26
Location: Idaho, 43rd parallel Zone 6A
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Can you do high density farming with vertical substrate or Matala ?

I will look into them thanks
 
George Harvey
Posts: 2
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H Warner wrote: ... We cant import talapia into NM (trust me, I've looked into it) and that leaves trout/catfish. Not many people will deal with NM for "pond fish" and the local fisheries only release fish to state/federal owned lakes/streams, etc. Because time is so short and we need something now, I'm looking at koi. Not edible, really, but they get big after a while and are cheap and legal. Once spring hits, we can look at trout fingerlings or something else. duckweed will be grown and fed and I hear rabbits love the stuff also!

Did you look into importing tilapia as aquarium fish? If you are putting them into tanks and there is no way they can escape, this is okay in many or most states.
Koi are an ornamental strain of common carp, which are the most widely farmed food fish, worldwide. They are not usually considered suitable for food in the US, but I am not sure why. I know some people really love carp. I remember, as a child, coming across an angler walking on the bank of a river, who showed off his catch to me and exclaimed, "Them's carp! Them's good eatin'!"
Trout require a lot of food and are dependent on animal protein. I have not raised them, and am putting off trying because of this. They also require cold water.
Catfish, on the other hand, seem to eat just about anything. I have not seen them wild about duckweed, but they do eat it.
Goldfish, koi, and a lot of others eat duckweed as well. In some parts of the world, duckweed is raised for human consumption. I would not raise it for myself to eat in a fishtank.
You might also try azola, which is a little slower growing than duckweed, but seems to persist in cold better. The fish I have very much prefer duckweed, but some species might like it better. I have not tried it yet, but I intend to. It is also used for human consumption, and has a nice scent. Like duckweed, I would raise it in its own tank for myself.
Watercress can be grown in floating rafts, and fish nibble at the roots. If you want to raise watercress for your own food, do it separately, because the fish prevent it from growing fast. A large number of other plants will also put roots into the water, and I expect fish would eat many of them. Mint is one. Celery is another, but I have not yet seen fish eating the roots.

 
Ryan Barrett
gardener
Posts: 151
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An auto-fed pellet rocket stove design. Heats greenhouse and aquaponics pools
 
Chris Jensen
Posts: 1
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you should try to use a compost pile in one corner of the green house put a 4 inch tube in it and you can get a lot of heat
 
Jeremiah Robinson
Posts: 92
Location: Madison, WI
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Hi all,

There are so many ways to keep your aquaponics warm in winter!

All of the following can help:

  • Passive Solar Greenhouse Design
  • Insulated and Air-Sealed Fish Tanks and Grow Beds
  • Insulated Piping
  • Multiple Layers of Thermal Protection for Plants
  • Fish Selection for Cold Hardiness
  • Plant Selection for Cold Hardiness and Freeze/Thaw Tolerance
  • Efficient Water (Not Air) Heating
  • Programmable Temperature-Dependent Pumping Controls
  • Strategies for Maximizing Nitrification in Cold Water
  • Aquaponics-Integrated Hot Tubs (Seriously)


  • Probably the best first steps are to build your tanks out of old freezers. Then, make your grow beds entirely out of insulation and pond liner with the plants planted directly through the top layer of insulation with net pots. That'll cut your heat loss down to about 10% of what you'd have otherwise. They you can get creative cutting down that last 10% with solar hot water and what-not.

    Here's an example:

     
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