a aquaponics system was donated to my college and no one knows how to set it up. i am the founder of our permaculture club and wanted to learn about his system so my group can be involved. i am hoping someone can lend me some guidance on how to get started?
Hey, Trinda. What are your limitations? Climate, amount of desired input/output, ethics, etc. Also- I hate to ask... is it a Nelsen & Pade system?
Basically, once you have a site chosen, you can contour the system to fit the space- I'd advise you to look at Will Arnold's Growing Power systems, they're probably the best I've seen as far as cleanliness and input/output balances. Even if it is an N & P system, the basic elements can be modified and put to use in a Growing Power style system, but most
2 things I would pass on from my experiences:
1.) Always err on the side of the plants- too many plants, ok; too many fish, so so so bad.
2.) Find the best possible way to maintain your water temperature and aeration without consumptive inputs- the "high-output" systems that are built modularly, and above ground (hint hint), will put out a lot of food. Unless the power cuts out for a few hours, and you suddenly can't move 1600 gallons of fish waste sludge out of the clarifiers, and the tomato beds are overflowing with stankwater because they're in a low spot, and hundreds of tilapia are dying because the temperature is dropping too fast and their airstone stopped pumping oxygen, and... you get the picture. Design your system with foresight. Use gravity and nature to help you, instead of trying to fight them.
If I had to tell you the full all-out shitnado of stories that accompany my lessons, you might never want to go near an aquaponics system. Instead, know that this is a truly remarkable and potentially self-sustaining way to grow food, one that still needs refinement in order to reach its full potential.