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Starting small aquaponics, what kind of creature?  RSS feed

 
                                              
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  i dont see an issue though. because it DOES work well with water plants with much less effort, and a wider range of designs, no outside needs. i personally focus on growing useful plants for my fish so far, but theres all kinds of useful plants for our consumption that are water based. Atleast I can across such lists in pond design things i read before. I just was more interested in fish food.

  So its still a great thing, and water based plants overall are actually much more efficient growers then land based plants anyway.... so theres hordes of potentials here. Ive just never seen an example of a truly closed loop system that used land based plants.
 
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I don't see there being any component of a low fish high plant system that would require more work than a plenum (nitrate reactor) I built one of those when I was breeding corals, and it was a lot of work to get it running, and I did a lot more testing after that.

ETA: You wont have a truly closed system, if you are taking food out for yourself then you have to put some sort of food back for the system. Also you need light and power.
 
gardener
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nitrite build-up usually occurs during the winter or cloudy weather, the greens take up the nitrogen faster than the plant can process it. the system of light/heat is unbalanced - it is warm (summer) but the light level is low (winter)
this occurs also in soil based green house systems. one solution is to remove the plant with roots from the aquaculture system and put it in clean water for a few days with sunshine or lights. this will allow the plant to utilize the excess nitrogen
 
                                              
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Emerson White wrote:
I don't see there being any component of a low fish high plant system that would require more work than a plenum (nitrate reactor) I built one of those when I was breeding corals, and it was a lot of work to get it running, and I did a lot more testing after that.



corrals are so neat!!! well if your talking land based plants here, ive still not seen a closed loop system. Not trying to be difficult, I just have read a bunch on it, and never encountered it, if it exists.

I guess im just more interested in the fish production aspect of it... Im going to put in a metal swimming pool for my fish, (4500gallons, same price as a 180 g stock tank and it will corrode but by then I can be set up with something cement and that will last for life) and grow the plants in kiddy pools. with a charcoal filter for chemicals filtration, and a sand filter to polish it off before going back to the fish. Its going to be real low tech, and extremely productive based on what Ive seen in my tanks this winter, and growing the plants..... a family could produce all the fish they could eat like this for not to much money, and feed them as well. all in their front yard.... I think that is way more interesting then trying to force land plants that show deficiencies and need outside inputs into a system they never evolved to be a part of....  am i really alone in this?
 
                                              
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duane wrote:
nitrite build-up usually occurs during the winter or cloudy weather, the greens take up the nitrogen faster than the plant can process it. the system of light/heat is unbalanced - it is warm (summer) but the light level is low (winter)
this occurs also in soil based green house systems. one solution is to remove the plant with roots from the aquaculture system and put it in clean water for a few days with sunshine or lights. this will allow the plant to utilize the excess nitrogen



very interesting!!! more work, but its an easy solution.... you dont need all the same infrastructure, the growing medium and that for water based things though, so its cheaper just to grow them in soil, but its great theres a solution, atleast for the greens...

 
            
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I think what interests me the most is the prospect of cultivating a mineral dense freshwater weed so I don't have to buy in kelp for the garden or the animals.
 
                                              
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M. Edwards wrote:
I think what interests me the most is the prospect of cultivating a mineral dense freshwater weed so I don't have to buy in kelp for the garden or the animals.



yeah me to actually. because i will be able to grow many more plants then my fish will eat, or chickens for that matter... so the rest gets to be great biomass for my composts.
 
Emerson White
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Azolla probably.
 
                    
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i'm with you silverseeds all my research over the past 5 or 6 months agrees with you. i never really pieced together in my head that the major difference between the potential that i first considered and the negativity i was reading is that the problem is land based plants.

as for water based plants i remember reading about water cress. i know cattails are more of a permie/forager thing than market thing, but how would they do in such a system? are they a 'water' or a 'land' plant.

thanks for the info, i have a reemerging interest in this. we are looking to start with 1 tank of fish and 1 tank of clams.

i was actually pretty high on my results with my snail tank, but while i would consider eating snails, (not these these are more like my pets now) i would not cook them before eating them. and i have trouble cooking things alive also. (part veg, fish no meat for me)
 
            
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boddah wrote:
as for water based plants i remember reading about water cress. i know cattails are more of a permie/forager thing than market thing, but how would they do in such a system? are they a 'water' or a 'land' plant?



See Emerson's post above? Azolla would be a good candidate.
 
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SILVERSEEDS wrote:
certainly, but in the case of nitrates in greens, how would a backyarder know it was reaching poor levels?



$15 aquarium test kit?
 
                                              
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boddah wrote:
i'm with you silverseeds all my research over the past 5 or 6 months agrees with you. i never really pieced together in my head that the major difference between the potential that i first considered and the negativity i was reading is that the problem is land based plants.

as for water based plants i remember reading about water cress. i know cattails are more of a permie/forager thing than market thing, but how would they do in such a system? are they a 'water' or a 'land' plant.

thanks for the info, i have a reemerging interest in this. we are looking to start with 1 tank of fish and 1 tank of clams.

i was actually pretty high on my results with my snail tank, but while i would consider eating snails, (not these these are more like my pets now) i would not cook them before eating them. and i have trouble cooking things alive also. (part veg, fish no meat for me)



same thing happened to me. i got super excited about it, then slowly realized it wasnt really a closed loo system... then realized that water based plants worked well.....

honestly Im still in the discovery stage for what plants to use, I was waiting for spring, which is now to collect the plants.

Ive got azolla, and duckweed for now, both being tasty to my carp. Im going to get a whole range of plants eventually and see what most useful for myself, and the animals. I do have cattails to, its a water plant, i couldnt pass those as I love how they look. not sure Im going to eat them....

as for marketable things... its been awhile but I came across a full list of edibles to put into ponds awhile back. Going to have to find it, theres actually a good number of edibles for both you and any animals, not sure how marketable they are... how about market the fish??? the list i saw had dozens. If you have a savvy farmers market around it might go real well actually....

Lets back track a second though, aquaponics with land plants, where you need to add nutrients, is basically like organic hydroponics as I see it. not the closed loop system its made out to be, but better then hydroponics if done right Id think....
 
                                              
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Mekka Pakanohida wrote:
$15 aquarium test kit?



how would that tell you the concentration of nitrates in the leaves of the greens?

no matter another poster offered a solution to that, still the other nutritional deficiencies and need to bring in things outside the system for other land based plants is a real issue. If you still want to do it, go for it. I hope you do well.
 
duane hennon
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another water plant (not without its own set of issues) is water lettuce. it grows quickly. is easily harvested for composting (not eating.) i don't know about feeding to animals


http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plantedtkssubwebindex/pistia.htm
 
                    
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as per green deane, cattails can live in seasonably wet watters. i have them growing in what looks like more of a meadow on my property. i havent eaten every part, but i have eaten the root starch almost a month ago. it tasted perfectly fine. i am going to try it in all fashions this year. i am very excited because it is a wonderful plant that i have a good deal of.

i am pretty sure the fish should be easy to market. plus i live near enough to NYC to make the trip. my business partner has access to markets and stuff. also thought of opening a salad greens shop in a local town for lunch time only business.

but thats straying from the topic too far.

i have heard AP people say that duckweed is to dangerous to introduce into the system. that it could clog everything. i have had a problem with algae clogging some non black piping in my basement system.

i wonder if lotus makes any sense?
 
duane hennon
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duckweed and azolla can be prevented from  clogging overflow pipes by having a below the surface discharge. a standpipe down a few inches below where the plants float. algae growing in clear pipes indicates excess nutrients
 
master pollinator
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I'm raising Sagittaria aka Duck Potatoes in my little garden pond.  I had a Water Chestnut but it died, as did a Taro.  I think there are several water plants that could be grown in an aquaponics system.  But overall I think growing plants for fish, chicken, worm, or maggot food or for composting might be a better idea than human food plants, to avoid possible nitrate overload.
 
                    
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obPWEbJDotI

some ideas + my apple snails!

thats eat the weeds. by green deane
 
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Good luck with your aquaponics! I made up a system with a 45 gallon barrel and a bell syphon.This drained intp a 2 by 8 growbed that was 10 inchs deep.My grow medium was some pea gravel found nearbye. This drained to a tank made of plywood lined with plastic measuring 2x8x2 ft.( It was a table I converted) I used goldfish.Worked great until it got too cold for them.Grew some great tomatoes and crazy hot peppers!My pump flushed the system about 1o times per day.I figured oxygenation of the water was key.I had about 50 3 inch goldfish and fed them 2 pinchs of feed per day. This technology is very scalable from 15 galon to whatever. I would suggest using a bubbler as well as bell syphon for your system @ 15 gallons. Good luck and take lots of notes! Make sure your medium has lots of bacteria in it!
 
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i wonder about plants inoculated with rhizobium bacteria. i haven't heard much about legumes in the system. perhaps the bacteria that fix nitrogen seems counter-intuitive since there is already plenty in the water you are trying to convert but i wonder if they can utilize the material present.

i'll be doing a lot more research into what you've said silverseeds. my buddy and i are assembling an ibc tote system to play with. our interest is to figure out how to make a system work well for our home (brooklyn). like many locations, its a brownfield here and soil is not an ideal medium. i can't tell you how much a square meter soil varies in toxicity. of course soils shift in the country but you can jump from 200 ppm to 1000 ppm of lead in 12 inches.

we are primarily interested in using a mix of clay pellets and biochar to maximize the niche opportunities for micro-organisms. we were also considering introducing mineral rock powders into the medium. rock phosphate isn't mobile and degrades rather slowly. greensand offers many trace nutrients no longer available in many soils. i don't think we would put this in during our first run, but perhaps they can improve upon aquaponics.

we will probably grow material to feed the fish at the start (only 1 bed to begin with). since nitrogen fixers tend to be particularly hungry for the nutrients they accumulate (like most dynamic accumulators) perhaps they would produce biomass rather swiftly for a chop-and-feed system to supplement our duckweed growth. i prefer aquaculture but for the sake of diminishing the demands city-dwellers have on places they never see, let alone commit to protect and maintain. that's a goal worth struggling for..

 
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goldfish
 
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Location: Czech Republic; East Bohemia; Latitude 50˚ 12' 34"
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I thought I'd show you my IBC trickle filter I made which could be used in a small system where winter can make the filters necessary.

The idea is to cut the top off a tank and the bottom of another and nestle then with media in between. The tanks with smooth walls will make a very bad filter and about three hours of work to put together. The rippled tanks will go together in a few minutes. If you need more pictures I can post more in between pix. The pipes are to blow in air to the bottom of the filter and have the air counter flow against the water.
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Lower section with first tier cut off and tank just cut at bend
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Here an air injection pipe is inserted into the filer material
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Here you see the finished filters. Notice I used the rippled IBC for this, they nestle better. Use the smooth tanks for tanks.
 
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Jason, that is a rad looking setup you have going on... I take it the trickle filter is for solids removal? I have seen good success with media based filters, but not as a primary system. What are your thoughts on cleaning, loading with "gunk", etc. What is the filter material I see in the photo?


I would love some more info on the overall design of your system. Is that whole wall of totes in the last pic all filters? How big is this system??

Please share more.

 
Jason Learned
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Hi Jacob,

The system will have around 2000 square feet of growing and the solids are initially removed by a sieve filter then go to settling tanks then to plants and finally to the trickle filters. They should go for 30 years before needing to be cleaned. The media comes on fuses blocks with 49 tubes making a cube. They will start with a warm water system but are planning to switch to native fish at some point down the line.

Jason
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Additional glass tanks
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Heating detail
 
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I discovered this forum while searching the very same subject for answers.  I guess I've been reading those who tell you how great it is to do it because that is what they sell, and it was only the "permaculture" thinking that kept telling me I am doing something wrong if I do what they say.  There was something missing from the well painted picture.

My thoughts align with some of the claims of the early posts on this thread of insufficient nutrients in the cycle,  I am still not convinced that the system in overall design doesn't work but the cycle needs completion to resemble as close as possible the mechanics of nature.  Still, the thought of a zero sum game (inputs-outputs) may be correct in physics terms but in terms of life and ours in specific it is not.  There is light energy being transformed, together with oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, water, nitrogen, into more and more life.  But what is missing from the remaining elements in nature in the cycle of "life eating life" and vegetation to produce more life?

Fungi, mold, ....  Natural cycles include those in decomposing and producing nutrients composed of metal and non-metal based substances, organic and inorganic.  Here we have a system where land/air based vegetation and its relation to fungi and molds is blocked.  As far as I know and from what I have read it is next to a miracle that is happening at all.  The conditions of collaborating fungi to any root system are disrupted by too much water when the bed floods, and too much air when it drains.

Most soil based fungi will not work.  No compost no nutrients.  There may be nutrients of plants to grow and survive but not the living beings dependent on them.  Not healthy anyway.  

How do you add organic composting into the system (fungi will eat screws and produce chelated iron for example, if you put steel wool on your bed all you might get is rust) is something I am experimenting with.  The reason why is that I live in a very dry part of the world and food production and water supply is hard to come by, and permaculture despite of how wonderful of an idea it is, it is more oriented to life conducive geographies.  As we are going towards 8bil and to less than 1acre/0.4hectares/person of fertile land we need solutions fast.  We need to retake the dessert into the forest and we need to it with the least mechanical, energy,industrial method possible.  We need to undo much of the forest destruction before the imbalance destroys us.  We are the pest, we are the reason life systems are failing everywhere.  We are the reason biodiversity has gone so low it is amazing we are still on a living planet.

Whether we are talking about raising fish, mushrooms, aquaponic vegetables, ... there seems to be some magic of 20' C/70'F 60% humidity sunlight and forest shade, that seems to be accelerating all life.  The more you deviate from such conditions the harder life becomes.  The physics equation we need to solve is maximize life and well being while minimizing pain and hardship.  

And aquaponics seem to have been designed with very hostile intentions against fungi, the root of all life according to some.
 
duane hennon
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hi Aqua,

welcome to permies

a good test of these systems would be to check on these systems 2 years on
do we have any update from the builders?

aquaponics, like hugels, food forests, swales, etc, sometimes have surprises for the builders

so slow is a key factor
 
Jason Learned
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So two years on the large system has been dismantled.

It worked after I got it going for a year, but they wanted a system that was cheap and then did not run it the way I said. Also they only concentrated on fish and did nothing with the vegetables. Then complained that the cost of raising fish was too high. I think that the fat government money they got might have had something to do with what went down.

Seeing the system was heartbreaking. The fish were not happy, water changes had to happen a lot and the primary filters were rarely cleaned. (The trickle filters did fine) one large grow bed was mostly empty and the other was full of mature leafy greens going to flower. They were using it as an aqua culture system. Once they "ran" it for the required time for the grant they received they closed it down. And now they scream aquaponics won't work. Here is the link to a video about 9 months before they tore it apart:  https://youtu.be/qqDIAFz8kUE
As you can see in the video there are not enough plants, it was designed for baby lettuce and they were to plant 100 square feet of it and harvest 100 square feet every day for it to run well. That is what they wanted but not what they actually wanted, because I don't see any baby greens here.

So I wanted to build a system Paul would like and I built one that exemplifies what he does not like because I forgot to design in for the asshole factor.

Our new system is in Amsterdam. It is a test plot on a portion of one of four islands surrounded by canals. We can isolate the whole thing if we want to in the future but right now it is connected to the whole canal system albeit it is at the lowest point for its area. I'm still building it but we are almost done and will plant soon. It has three paddies, one for growing duck potato one for wild rice and one flood drain to act as last filter and see what we can grow. The water will go back to the canals where the fish have a more natural place to be and help solve one asshole factor. The canals now have algae and test well for nutrient so we have an additional 4 basins dug out of the clay of different sizes to grow leafy greens before it goes to the paddies. We will sell these to restaurants and get restaurant waste to grow insects to feed the fish when the nutrient levels start to drop. Eventually we will start to stock the system but only as it winds up. The key stocking thing now is freshwater mussels to keep the ph right. If the system works we will replace the pump with a windmill, it is Holland after all.
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New duck potato/wild rice paddies at dusk. Sorry I don
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The flood drain paddy almost done.
 
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