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Radical but common sense concepts for Aquaponics  RSS feed

 
Jay Smithy
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I have just started, and am still working on a facebook page for my Aquaponics concepts.
Though I have nothing there yet, and am still setting it up, it is at:

https://www.facebook.com/Omniponicus/

Radical Concept #1: STOP BUYING FISH FOOD!!!
I am sure that by now people have figured out that it makes no sense to buy fish food to feed your fish fish food, but clearly not most or everyone.
It is contrary to the whole nature of what Aquaponics is. You are growing plants and fish, and many have seen the benefits of earthworms in thier systems, etc. So why has'nt most or everyone figured out (more are every day now) that it makes much more sense to (1) Grow the plants and (2) raise the worms ( Black worms, Earth worms, etc, etc, etc, ) that they love to eat, and would eat in a natural life and environment?  Some might say that the plants would take something out of the system themselves, but that would be negligible, and offset by the proportions of fish, water, plants, etc. in the system.
It is also possible to set things up to where the fish cannot eat the plants down to a knub, thus ensuring continued plant growth, and same for worms, etc.

Radical Concept #2: Growing medium - STOP BUYING EXPENSIVE GROWING MEDIA!!!
There are MANY things that can be used for growing media! Even pea gravel, possibly even plain sand, therer are pro's and con's for everything, but in an intrinsically 'Natural' system such as Aquaponics, why buy expensive, trendy growing media when it is entirely unneccessary?!?
Too many things in Aquaponics, like everything else in life, are used because its trendy, or sounds cool, or because 'everybody else is doing it'. Get away from that thinking!
Bad ideas for growing media:
(1) Clay balls. - Look at what I just wrote above for all that needs to be known about this.
(2) "rock wool" - "Rock wool" is a small/light scam, it is in a way the equivalent of the tale of the Emporers' new clothes. The companies that make fiberglass insulation, etc, wanted to expand thier horizons by making this stuff, that is essentiall coarse fiberglass insulation and nothing more!
It is nasty stuff, and ius not the best thing for removing plants and thier roots from anyway. It has no real benefits above everything else, and it means buying more stuff for more money that you really don't need.
(3) Lava rock - This stuff is a dilemma. On one hand, it's great stuff, and lends itself naturally to bacterial colonies, and other benefits, but on the other hand, has one very serious drawback.  It is used in some industrial filtering applications, sometimes for nasty chemicals, and then sold off to rock companies, etc.
When you buy this stuff, for all you know it may have been used in such a way, and nobody can guarantee you otherwise, and the only cluse you have is essentially smelling it, and that is no guarantee whatsoever. Don't get me wrong, IF it is safe, it is good stuff. Aside from being biologically great, it is very lightweight while not being TOO light to properly anchor certain plants. But do you want to gamble on growing your plants in stuff that potentially has trace chemicals

The best growing media I have used thus far is what I c=would call fine gravel, like the fine gravel used in home tropical aquariums. Its size is ideal for how plant's roots grow. When I have harvested plants grown in this, the roots are all through it, every gap between the rocks has a root running throug it, in other words, the ratio of size/scale of this stuff is more or less equal to the ratio of the size and number of how roots like to grow, is as best as I can explain it.
What I am seriously considering is using non-clumping cat litter. Yes, it means buying stuff, but it also has a good medium weight, not too heavy, not too light, the surface area in the granules is incredible, and it contributes minerals to the plants, which most Aquaponics systems lack. You need more than just biological matter if you want thre best for your plants. Minerals are important too. The drawback is the potential loss of the stuff when removing plants due to the roots growing right into the stuff.

Something else to seriously re-consider is that the #1 reason for concern about the weight of growing media is that people keep making some kind of table or elevated growing bed for the plants. There is no law or divine writ that says you have to do this, or that you have to have the plants higher than the fish/water.
We are getting right into the usual habit of everybody wants to do it essentially like everybody else, and although the parts and materials and details may differ and have a broad landscape of individuality, the very basic concepts of Aquaponics seem to be getting written into figurative stone, which I personally am very much against. Aquaponics is one of the most potentially diverse constructions there is. At the same time people are thinking out of the box by getting into it, but when they get into it, they are jumping right back into a newly invented box.

Radical Concedpt #3: Plants do not have to be higher than the fish/water, and the fish/water do not have to be lower than the plants.
This is something I see all the time. 90% of people do it this way, and it is not only not necessary, it is unneccessarily limiting what can be done, and locking peopl into some of the same problems to solve.
Example: If one was to use a bubble lift for the water, it makes more sense to lift the water to the fish, because you are to some extent oxigenating tha water at the same time. Also, it is better to run the cleanest water through a pump or other artifice than dirtier water, like the fish water laiden with gooey solids that will inevitably collect in or onto system components, pumps, etc. It to me makes more sense to let gravity move the 'dirty' water in the first place, and keep as much of the system as clean as possible to avoid coating, clogging, etc. of various things.
When it comes to the consideration of weight - see what I wrote above about growing media. Another things that does not seem to occur to many people is that you can have your entire sytem in the ground. For gravity flow, you can use overflow dynamics, and one thing only needs to be an inch or less higher than the next for things to flow. This can be done with concrete, pond liner, and various other methods and materials, and with the exception of pond liner, could be less expensive to construct and longer lasting than building things out of wood. You are, after all, working with water, which does not get along with wood anyway, and building wooden tables with sheet plastic is absolutely temporary and easy for leaks to happen.

Radical Concept #4: Good multi-level construction.
If you are going to have elevated grow beds, etc., don't waste all that area under the tables you are putting up. For every single square foot of elevated grow bed, there is an equal amount of square footage of area that can be used for something else.
I know that there are various ways of vertically stacking constructions for the plants. Some make a great deal of sense for using available space, that is not what I am writing about. However, I must stipulate that not all of these constructions make sense, as some just mean spending a whole lot of money on commercially produced, overly expensive eye candy, and others do not allow all the plants to get the same amount of light in one way or another.
Multi-level tables - Under your grow beds, you can have other things, as long as they do not have a serious need for light.
Example #1: Raising worms
Example #2: Compost - especially if it is in a greenhouse in colder states, compost can help keep your plants warmer. and you can of course combine this with raising worms as well, you can also use this as part of your water system. I see over and over again people going on about what to do with solids, "mineralizing solids", etc.  If you want to deal with such things, this is one great way to do it. Not only can you have great food from your plants, you can have great food from compost tea and from worm castings all at the same time - this is is Diversity, is it not? what's wrong with giving your plants more, and more diversity of food?
Example #3: Growing mushrooms. This is a little more tricky, but there are a lot of people out there expounding the wonders of growing mushrooms. Muchrooms do not have the same need for light that most plants do.

Radical Concept #5: Organic matter in the growing media!!!
This, again, is another simple and common sense option that I ALWAYS incorporate. Why? The best reason is very real and simple. Things sometimes go wrong. Pumps stop working, things get clogged (especially if you are ruinning raw fish water through them), things break, things fail.
If your plants are in nothing but clay balls, and your water system fails for some reason, and you or nobody realizes it, your plants could potentially not just siuffer, but die in 24-48 hours. Yes, people will say that you should check things out and keep an eye on your system regularly, but I do not totally agree.
(1) I like the idea of Aqaponics not having to be a full-time job in itself, simply because it does not have to be, and maybe should not be. I llke having the option of being able to be away, and not having to worry about what might go wrong, or having to rely on someone else knowing everything about the system in order to be able to fix things, and also I may not like how they fix it. If you have the right kind and amount of organic matter in your system, your plants can easily last a day or two, or possibly longer, simply because they have just enough stuff in the growing media to hold at least a little water over time.
(2) Contingencies and back-up plans are great things! Having a 'Robust' system is a great thing! The more potential problems you don't have to deal with the better. I believe in having a system that covers its won back and mine by the very nature of its construction.
My first recommendation, and what I have used, where this is concerned is a mix of Shredded Sphagnum moss, Coconut fiber, and 'activated carbon'. These materials resist fungus and rot, and provide some trace nutrient and other benefits. Yes, Sphagnum moss tends to discolor the fishes' water and add content you may not prefer, but not only can you do a couple things to cut down on the effect, I have used this without any alteration with Koi fish, and seen no ill effects whatsoever other than the coloration of the water, which itself is not permanent, and tends to be filtered out of the water anyway in a well conveived and running setup anyway.
(3) I have, in fact run systems where small plants were in full potting soil, with near continuous flow of water, and though I fully expected problems, nothing went wrong. I do not recommend constant flow of water through 100% soil, but like I wrote, I saw no ill effects in thagt case.

(?) Radical Concept #6: Stop building junkie looking systems! (?)
This, I admit, rightly falls under personal preference I guess, but I do think it matters.
90% of what I see going on out there falls into two categories: (1) Overly expensive, totally unneccessary commercial eye candy and (2) Junkie looking setups.
Don't you want to show off what you are doing? Are you telling people how great Aquaponics is?  If you are inviting someone over to see how great it is, and they are not a big gardening or aquaculture buff, why show them something that looks like you slopily threw together a bunch of trash and junk?!?
Even of you are doing the usual thing of cutting up blue barrels and IBC chem totes, you can do it like you give a damn, can cut a straight line, smoothed things up, kept things relatively straight and somewhat level, and clean up your plumbing now and then.
So often I have seen videos where it literally looks like some hillbilly brought home a bunch of trash and tied half of it together with old extension cords and rusty mis-matched screws from the junk screws cofffee can. Hey, its a free Country, and especially if you are not showing it off to people, then maybe it doesn't really matter, but at the same time, you are not doing yourself any favors either. A sloppily put tigether system is much more likely to have problems, failures, inadequacies, and continued need of fixing just to keep it going without leaking all over the place, wasting your water bill and killing yuor fish.

Radical Concept #7: THERE ARE NO EXPERTS!
Don't go to some symposium to pay some fraud $1,000 just to hear what they have to say! I guarantee you will likely not learn much that oyu could not have learned from a thoughtful internet searc.
Over and over again, I have come across someone who impressed me, and I thought "This guys really has something to contribute!", and then see them miss on one simple thing after another, and see that all they have going is looking good on video or spending a whole lot of money on that eye candy, or see a later video on how they can't figure out why all thier fish died.
Another different example I have seen on the Internet and Youtube is some outfit called "EU Awquaponics". I'm not saying they are stupid, or fake, or frauds, etc. But these giuys clearly do not get it. They make Aquaponics into something that is ultra deep and detailed minutia for high-brow biologits and physicists.
Aquaponics is fairly unique in that it one one hand is incredibly simple in concept, not that hard to put together and do, and yet has very broad horizons for all the many ways it can be done and what can be done with it. Outside of trying to make Aquaponics a total replacement for world farming, it is pointless and unneccessary. It is entirely possible for someone with very little knowledge to put someting together in thier backyard that works, seriously saves them on thier grocery budget, and provides them with far better food than they buy in the average grocery store, and often in reat abundance as well.
Some people have a gift for it, some people obviously know more about it than others, but don't go hear-worshipping people who are trying to impress you with re-inventing the wheel or making a religious science of it, and don't blow your savings buying whatever they are selling.









 
David Livingston
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Mmmm interesting could you show us some pictures of your set up
 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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The below is something I wrote on BYAP forum before to get the AP to a sustainable level.

Water = rain water would be a sustainable source of water

Tanks = large enough holes in earth lined with pond liner (if not holding water naturally like a lake)

Fish = What fish do you have in your near by lakes and rivers, which one suits to aquaculture and what is their diet.

Fish food = Azolla, duck weed, daphnia, tubifex, garden worms, BSFL, meal worms, vinegar eels, alg, spirulina, gammarus pulex, gambesi, mosquito fish, cray fish, yabbies, pill bugs, slaters, compost worms can all be farmed at home in a sustainable setup and fed to fish.

Electricity = solar pumps, battery chargers and grid backed up systems. This is the only unsustainable part I guess. No matter what, you rely on grid to protect your investment.

Gravity = would be good to use gravity to move water in a carefully designed system. You still need a pump to move the water from the lower part to the highest section.

Aeration = in a DWC setup aeration and flow is important. I am not sure if you can have enough aeration by just splashing the water on the surface. You may still need an air pump.

Commercial feed is like a backup in this case. You wouldn't have enough home grown fish food for a large operation
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Although I have never done an aquaponics, this way of growing food and fish has always intrigued me.  Most of the concepts that have been laid out in this thread have entered my mind at one time or another, and I'm grateful to see them posted as a thread like this.  Thank you.   
 
Robert Sniadach
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David Livingston wrote:Mmmm interesting could you show us some pictures of your set up


Yes! Lots of photos, please...
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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yes, please photos! I followed the link and came at a Facebook page ... but no photos of the system there
 
Michael S. New
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Nice passion, rare to see someone who is both thoughtful and expressive. Indeed the internet today is full of " expert advice" As is all human life. Like they say opinions are like AH...., everyone has one. Non clumping cat litter?
Non-clumping cat litter is often made of zeolite, diatomite and sepiolite. , years ago spent a good bit of time researching zeolite, very porous, probably excellent, no where near local for most gardeners.
Liked the comment on junk systems, but like most junk houses and cars those will fade as the process matures. Nevertheless sometimes adults need a spanking. 
Did you put up some proof of system as requested by previous poster? Cant find it.
 
Jay Smithy
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About Photos - Here's the deal.
I have been fooling with this stuff off and on since before I ever heard the word 'Aquaponics'. Not saying that I am a know-it-all who's done-it-all, or anything like that.
Last year I moved back to Southern California after being gone for almost 20 years, and while staying with someone I thought was a friend, they stole everything I had of any value, which included both my back-up hard drive, and my deep back-up hard drive that rarely even got taken out but once every few months, and that it all had been traded off for drugs. Turns out my old friend and her husband have acumulated serious criminal records including theft, robbery, conspiracy, breaking and entering, - including a number of thier own neighbors, and that her husband was not just a little mentally ill, but SERIOUSLY mentally ill.
Everything I have done on computers for almost 30 years, all my photos, videos, CAD drawings, website projects, documents and writings - EVERYTHING was GONE! The second worst thing that has ever happened to me, and the worst decision I have made in my entire life!
I am now having to start over agian from scratch, and all I have is what is in my head.
But I am not letting all that evil stuff stop me!  One of my loves has been Aquaponics, Biospheres, Terarriums, greenhousing, etc. and the like. I am taking all that, inter-relating it all into it all, and re-creating the sum of all that I have learned and fooled around with, experimented with, etc.

On the good news side, I also have a lot of experience in Virtual Reality, and have invested a few bucks into what I need to create and re-create much there, and making videos of it so that people can more easily see what I am and will be talking about.
I would like to include snippets of other people's youtube videos, but that would be very tricky with both legality and concerning people's approvals or dislikes.
They say a Picture is worth a thousand words, but it is also true the other way, a couple hundred of the right well chosen words can form a picture, and anyone who is into reading can understand that I am sure. Add to that what I will be doing in Virtual Reality videos, and I am sure things will work out just fine.
I have posted what I wrote above on my Facebook page, and as a policy, whatever I post there will likely also be posted here, visa-versa, etc.

Thank you for your inputs and replies! Very much appreciated!
I would also very much like it if, when you visit my Facebook page, you could 'Share' and 'Like' what I have there, to get it seen and growing!
I will be doing and posting more in just a few days to come.
At this time, I am scraping by trying to re-start my life form nearly nothing, so please do be patient with me.
Thanks again....

 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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With the permission of the OP, may I just insert my system pictures here. They are on Google as a shared album.
https://goo.gl/photos/aQSejoqtjYMc5HGo6
 
David Livingston
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Just to let you know that you dont need permission to post photos from the OP . This is permies we love photos ! The more photos the better ! Although a couple of samples posted on the thread might help encourage folks to look at the rest of your album Great stuff

David ( with mod hat on )
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jay, now I understand, thank you for explaining. It isn't easy having to start all over. Receive my encouragement
 
Jay Smithy
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Gurkan Yeniceri wrote:With the permission of the OP, may I just insert my system pictures here. They are on Google as a shared album.
https://goo.gl/photos/aQSejoqtjYMc5HGo6


Gurkan Yeniceri - Have studied your pictures - very impressive! Very well thought-out system, so much to potentiallyh comment on!
- The silver Fabric/Plastic, what exactly is that material? I have seen similar, but in the photos I cannot tell what particularf material.
- Very good adaptation of the cages from the IBC totes, I especially like where you attached boards to the open sides/ends. I presume those were the sides of cages?
- Grubs.. very healthy and considerate of your fish! When I fiurst saw the pics of the water bottle and the white watering picture, I at first did not understand, but that is apparently your gub producer/supplier

Something I have been considering for my next and permanent build would be the use of Black Soldier Fly larva. They are generally used for chicken food, but I wonder if they would also work for fish.
They would require special housing as to not get out of control and be a nuisance, but one definite benefit is that they will feed on meat, like fried chicken remains and possibly discarded fat, as well as just about anything else.
People say they will eat just about anything, so they may be quite useful for leftovers and waste prodicts not viable for other means.
 
David Livingston
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There is a lot of information on Black soldier fly on Permies over in the bugs forum this long thread for example for anyone interested https://permies.com/t/1267/Black-soldier-fly-larvae-poultry

David
 
Jay Smithy
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Radical Concept #8: "Psudo-Aquaponics" or "Soil-Aquaponics"...
I have previously posted about the potentially radical concept of having organic matter in the Aquaponic growing media, mostly just to hold moisture as a safeguard so that plants can last several hours to a couple days in case of pump or other system failure.
This is where I taken it a step further. It of course seems to be somewhat contrary to the nature of Aquaponics, being a liquid-based feeding system, but there are reasons why it makes sense if done right.
First, the main reasons why Aquaponicly and Hydroponicly grown plants are the easy of readily taken-up nutrients with a liquid-based system, and that mixing the ways of liquid-based feeding with soil would be asking for all kinds of problems from potentially constantly soggy soil. This apprehension does, of course make sense. However, it depends on how you do things.
To the contrary, I would ask why you want to withhold diversity of fertilizer from your plants? - liquid only, no matter what?
As I have stated previously,  good Aquaponics is like us carnivores eating steak, But one cannot live as happy and healthy on steaks alone. Same consideration goes for our plants and fish.
Even in a pure Aquaponics system, there is going to be solid vegetation waste left over, even if its the dregs left from processing compost tea. Where does this go? Most people put it in the compost pile. - Why do you have a compost pile? What do you do with your compost?
I have actively utilized what I am calling “Pseudo-Aquaponics” or “Soil-Ponics” in two ways, and both have worked just fine, and made more use of the resources at hand.
#1: Saturated Chunks. In Aquaponics, if nothing else, you need a well drained, if not quickly drained growing media (With exceptions). For example, lets say I am using larger bits of things, like the equivalent of bark mulch, or small chunks of bark, wood, plant stalks, etc. I have saturated them in compost tea over time, at least a week and up to a month or more. I have done this in two ways.
One way is to just let them soak in compost tea for some time, as I just stated, and the other is if you have some form of circulating compost tea, which I have played with and highly recommend. BY circulating, I mean that in whatever system, the compost tea also circulates, most likely in its own system for the most part. This oxygenates the mix and thereby also helps to break things down better and faster. It also generally requires one or more mesh screens to filter out larger pieces of things so as to avoid things clogging up somewhere. I have used two sizes of mesh, one for the larger chunks, and one for finer chunks. I have sometimes left the finer bits to gather over time, as some will themselves break down, depending on what they are. Finer bits of grass clipping fibers and leaves, etc. can break down more or less to some degree. The larger chunks do not, but become water-logged with the compost tea. I have also compounded this when I have removed the larger chunks, simply because they were building up, set them aside where they dry out, and then later actually put them back in, specifically for this process I am outlining. The stuff of the compost tea can only saturate those chunks so much sitting in there mostly because of all the water content, but when you remove the chunks, let them dry, and put them back in, the water, laden with nutrients is able to again soak into them, incresing the amount of overall solids and nutrients in them.

When you then mix them into your growing media, the water is able to flow and drain just fine, and over time you will notice that the plants roots do find them and seem to like them quite a bit.
The only caveat or drawback I found was that it was best to use either in a separate container or area in the system some distance away from where the water is then sent to the fish, as you do want the cleanest water going to the fish.
My systems have grown and tended toward being modular/component based, having separate containers, sections, partitions, etc. for various reasons, so this worked well for my way of doing things.

#2: Continuous flow with vertical separation.
This is where your growing bed/container essentially has two layers. First there is the general rowing media, be it clay balls, gravel, whatever, where the water is free to flow and drain in the average system and also allows air for the roots.
At the bottom, a layer at least 2-3 inches deep, but could be deeper, that has a mix of some form of compost or actual humus or mostly organic soil. The plants roots can either be planted so as the ends are in or on this layer, or will find it afterwards, with most of the root mass in the upper normal growing media.
This way the roots have all the benefits of normal Aquaponics, the water is able to flow and drain, but  the roots also have the opportunity to take advantage of solid, organic humus/soil.

Last year I put together a system for someone with some stuff they already had lying around made out of PVC tubes, in sort of a rack system with 4 lateral tubes that were 3” wide with 1 1/2” slots cut along the top for what would have to be small plants.  As far as I was concerned, it was only good for starting plants and for growing herbs. I had some herbs growing in small net baskets that he had for it, and also took some, which had a small ball of roots and soil about 2” around, wrapped them in small squares of burlap, like putting the root ball and soil in a bag.

He wanted to water this/them with a timer, but the timer only had 15 minute intervals, so they would get water flow every 15 minutes, which did not make the best sense, as the normal potting soil would essentially be continuously wet and soggy, but that's what we had and what he wanted essentially.
These two racks were in a large tub with Koi fish and minnows, or what they called “Mosquito Fish”.
I figured it would have problems, and although a coupe types of plants did not do well, all others did very well. I thought there would be problems with possible root rot, or other fungal nuisances, but except for I think it was “Chocolate Mint”, all plants did just fine, with no drawbacks from the continuously soggy soil. I cannot recommend this particular way of doing things in general, and especially not for any plant of course, but in the system I previously described above, with the soil in a bottom layer, and and upper layer consisting of some growing media that works well for flow and drain, I think it would work for most plants just fine. I plan on using this concept in my next permanent build, as the only difference would be some soil at the bottom of the growing bed/container.

 
David Livingston
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I must admit I don't find these ideas about the growing plants that radical check out information about chinampa , they have been used in Mexico for at least a thousand years I am sure stuff about what plants to use and media will apply equally to aquaponics
I am sure there are lots of threads on the issue in the earthworks forum for example

David
 
Jay Smithy
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David Livingston wrote:I must admit I don't find these ideas about the growing plants that radical check out information about chinampa , they have been used in Mexico for at least a thousand years I am sure stuff about what plants to use and media will apply equally to aquaponics
I am sure there are lots of threads on the issue in the earthworks forum for example

David


By radical, I do not mean that such things have never been done, or that they are necessarily original ideas of my own, but that they are radical concepts for the general field of Aquaponics that most people are doing.
There are a LOT of people cutting blue barrels in half and using IBC totes, with clay balls and Tilapia fish, who buy fish food for the fish. That seems to be more or less the norm.
I am trying to expand this field of interest for the average person and give some insights and ideas, and show a wider view of possibilities in what can be done and how.
 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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Jay Smithy wrote:
- The silver Fabric/Plastic, what exactly is that material? I have seen similar, but in the photos I cannot tell what particularf material.

I had to insulate the tanks for the trouts so that they are protected through spring and can grow a bit more. It is the builders insulation thingy

Jay Smithy wrote:
- Very good adaptation of the cages from the IBC totes, I especially like where you attached boards to the open sides/ends. I presume those were the sides of cages?

Yes, at first design, I cut the IBC horizontal which left me with top lid and bottom drain valve on my grow beds. At second design, I cut the IBC vertically and got straight bottoms on my grow beds. That led me to cut the cage and support the sides with planks. I think the second design is better.

Jay Smithy wrote:
- Grubs.. very healthy and considerate of your fish! When I first saw the pics of the water bottle and the white watering picture, I at first did not understand, but that is apparently your gub producer/supplier

Yes, but I was unsuccessfull getting BSF to lay eggs in that. Later they took my worm farm and fed my fish for about a month. Everyday I was feeding 10 BSFL to my silver perches. BSFL was coming out of open tap on the worm farm, dropping in to hte bucket.


Jay Smithy wrote:
Something I have been considering for my next and permanent build would be the use of Black Soldier Fly larva. They are generally used for chicken food, but I wonder if they would also work for fish.

Yes, I cut them in half so that young fish can eat them. Meal worms are also good for adult fish.


 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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David Livingston wrote:I must admit I don't find these ideas about the growing plants that radical check out information about chinampa , they have been used in Mexico for at least a thousand years I am sure stuff about what plants to use and media will apply equally to aquaponics
I am sure there are lots of threads on the issue in the earthworks forum for example

David

Hi David, yes, chinampas are like grandfather of aquaponics systems. I thought about amking chinampas but water levels in Turkey lakes flactuate a lot. It may not be possible to implement a small system of chinampas at the backyard too
 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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Soil-Aquaponics example would be Earthen beds. It is a wicking bed that is connected to AP circulating the water back to fish. The only problem is torrential rain which would get all the nutrients in soil back into the AP water. If you are doing it under a greenhouse, it would be the way to go.
I would grow things like onions, carrots, potato, ginger in wicking beds or even dwarf trees, vines, hop etc.
 
kevin stewart
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Soil aquaponics?
How about pot-ponics?

I am absent four to six weeks at a time and I needed a set up that watered whatever I am trying to grow and if/when the system failed they could manage on their own.
Solar pumps water out of a 400 gallon pit to the first tray (100 one gallon pots) through a 2 inch pipe to the second and to the third and back to the pit.
This is a pit greenhouse with a PVC hoop roof.  Originally the pit was to control the environment temperature but I'm starting to think that the water temperature is an easier way to go.
Next week an above ground greenhouse to put that theory to the test. Summer is coming.

I have been looking at the "eamas" PVC wind pumps to pump the water.
So far only looking.
soil-aquaponics-solar-pump.jpg
[Thumbnail for soil-aquaponics-solar-pump.jpg]
 
Robert Sniadach
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Jay Smithy wrote:Turns out my old friend and her husband have accumulated serious criminal records including theft, robbery, conspiracy, breaking and entering, - including a number of their own neighbors, and that her husband was not just a little mentally ill, but SERIOUSLY mentally ill.


Sounds like a little problem that Guido "The Giant" & "Cement Shoes" Frankie could take care of for ya...

On a positive note, thanks very much Jay for all the input and ideas. I'll be palying with them and see what happens...


 
Jay Smithy
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kevin stewart - Love your post about the sunken greenhouse. I will be doing same. Don't underestimate the benefits of doing so. A second greenhouse above ground can compliment the sunken one, especially when it comes to plumbing/water design and flow.
I would recommend against running the water through one gorw bed and then another if you are using fish water or any nutrient-laden water, but run the plumbing so they all get the same water equally, unless you are growing different 'crops' with different needs, where some may need more nutrient, water, or flow than others.
 
Gordon Haverland
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At the beginning, I think rock wool was nominally basalt.  It seems to have spread out a bit since then.

Basalt has been used to line steel pipes (centrifugal casting is one means).  It is possible to find basalt fibre as an engineering material, similar to fibreglass cloth,  Basalt is being used to develop means of constructing buildings/rooms on the Moon.

In so far as rock wool approximates rock wool, I don't think it is helpful to vilify it.

Gravel is broken rock in a certain size range.  I think a person could find broken rock which is more hazardous than basalt.  Which would give an example of gravel being more hazardous than (some) rock wool.

Rock wool does have a significant advantage on fibreglass insulation (batts, blown in), in that it is much more resistant to high temperatures.

I have used rock wool insulation on top of french drains for grass to grow in.  This was a long time ago, and it was not as easy to get the grass growing as my research had led me to believe.

I can imagine that there are natural materials in our local environments that may be useful in aquaponics (or other permaculture).  This doesn't mean it isn't possible to find an un-natural material that might be better.

Not all natural materials are beneficial or good.  In the news in the last year or so, was a community in Ontario, Canada which is having a problem with mercury in the water.  The source of the mercury is natural.  The reason the mercury has become a problem, may have have non-natural contributing factors.  A long time ago I was looking at selenium (in toenails and fingernails).  I ran across a region in Scandanavia (Sweden?) where a lake had a problem with soluble mercury, and was deficient in selenium.  The solubility product of mercury selenide is so small, that treating the lake with a 50 pound bag of sodium selenide essentially precipitated all the mercury and left a trace of selenium in the water, which made its way into the diet of life in the region.  But I never did see any followups on this.  Were they going to try and remove the mercury selenide from the lake bottom?
 
Jay Smithy
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Regarding "Rock Wool".
First, unless the package you get it in specifically states that it is something else, it is likely just cheap, course fiberglass insulation type material.
Second, unlike just about any other growning media, depending on grade, when you take plants out of rock wool, you tear the roots up and leave a lot of root matter in the stuff, where it will break down, which is not the wosrt thing I guess, but TERRIBLE if you are transplanting.
Removing plants from almost any other media turns out to be better, cleaner, easier.
"Rock wool" is the odd-man out. It is the exception, and not the better exception to anything. There is no real superiority to rock wool over anything else, the only thing I see it having a use for is in some roll as some kind of filtration media.


 
Jay Smithy
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To kevin stewart - I would again very much support and encourage your below-ground-level methodology. Like what I see in the picture. I would caution to somehow reinforce that embankment, as heavy, prolonged, or a string of frequent rains could compromise it.
Depending on what you have available, if using some form of masonry may be too expensive or involving too much time/work, maybe suing shot-crete, which is fairly simple stuff, and can be sprayed onto that fairly easily and quickly.
Another tip is that if the intent is to encourage cooling, I see the buried white drum in the picture for instance, if water is not at a premium, once first well wetted down, the area around the drum or similar could be kept very cool with a very, very, very slight and slow drip.
I have been amazed at how the slightest and slowest drip can keep a damp spot damp. I have watered new trees and newly planted large bushes for a week with a single 2 liter bottle of water with the tiniest prick through the cap for the slowest, smallest drips.
 
Krofter Young
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I've been using a Brix meter to test the quality of fruit and vegetables for about 25 years.  I test produce from new vendors for a health food store in Tucson and I test produce at farmers markets.  I've tested organic, conventionally grown, produce from aquaponics as well as hydroponics.  They typically rank in that order.  Organic stuff almost always comes out on top with conventionally grown produce often coming in second, aquaponics third and hydroponics last.  I've no research to back this up but apparently the lack of biological activity in any wet medium (aqua or hydroponics) limits the amount of nutrients a plant can take up.  As in nature and in our guts, a diverse microbiome is best and a wet medium cannot duplicate the biological complexity that exists in carbon rich, mature soil with all of its flora and fauna in place. Earth bound plants have evolved to grow in soil, not water.  Using the water from fish culture to irrigate plants in the ground is a good option.  http://erdakroft.com/Erdakroftfarm/Blogs/Entries/2016/8/28_Every_farmer_and_gardener_should_be_using_this_simple_tool.html
 
Jay Smithy
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Krofter Young wrote:I've been using a Brix meter to test the quality of fruit and vegetables for about 25 years.  I test produce from new vendors for a health food store in Tucson and I test produce at farmers markets.  I've tested organic, conventionally grown, produce from aquaponics as well as hydroponics.  They typically rank in that order.  Organic stuff almost always comes out on top with conventionally grown produce often coming in second, aquaponics third and hydroponics last.  I've no research to back this up but apparently the lack of biological activity in any wet medium (aqua or hydroponics) limits the amount of nutrients a plant can take up.  As in nature and in our guts, a diverse microbiome is best and a wet medium cannot duplicate the biological complexity that exists in carbon rich, mature soil with all of its flora and fauna in place. Earth bound plants have evolved to grow in soil, not water.  Using the water from fish culture to irrigate plants in the ground is a good option.  http://erdakroft.com/Erdakroftfarm/Blogs/Entries/2016/8/28_Every_farmer_and_gardener_should_be_using_this_simple_tool.html


I would disagree for one simple reason. You state "the lack of biological activity in any wet medium (aqua or hydroponics) limits the amount of nutrients a plant can take up. "
In a good system there is no lack of biological activity, period. It depends on the system how it operates, what is used in it. More toward your conclusion, I think most systems are somewhat limited in the biodiversity in the nutrient. I do not believe that just fish water is the end-all and be all of liquid nutrient/systems.
I did essentially make this point in my original post. This is why my thing is "Omniponics", which is both about making the best use of all resources, but just as much about biodiversity in the system and nutrients.
The same is true about commercial vs. organic growing. Commercial growing is very limited in the number of things available to the plants, especially when they have to use fertilizer, and the fertilizers themselves are limited, and with the main ones being actually petroleum-derived organo-chemicals, whereas organic growing give the plants much more in more ways. This is also why I am very much into one factor that so many people never really take into account, and that is the use of diverse minerals in the system. Most people think organic matter, organic matter, organic matter, and plants can gorw well in nothing but organic matter, but will never have more than plants grown in media that is also rich in minerals and can provide more trace minerals in their produce.

Its all about what the plants have available. The plants know what to do with what you give them, but they cannot make use of what thye do not have in the first place.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Krofter Young wrote:I've been using a Brix meter to test the quality of fruit and vegetables for about 25 years.  I test produce from new vendors for a health food store in Tucson and I test produce at farmers markets.   http://erdakroft.com/Erdakroftfarm/Blogs/Entries/2016/8/28_Every_farmer_and_gardener_should_be_using_this_simple_tool.html


Hi Krofter,
I thought brix was the use of a refractometer to measure the sugar content in liquids.  Does it also have the capability to measure and identify minerals and those other phytonutrients like polyphenols, lycopenes and anthocyanins? (those are the only words that come to me right now for those thousands of compounds that plants produce and account for "nutrient density"). 

What about vitamins?  Can brix measure those too?  If so, I am really missing out.  I just use my refractometer to get the sugar right for kombuch brewing, so I would not have any more bursted bottles, for primary fermentation when making vinegar, and other things like that.
 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:
Hi Krofter,
I thought brix was the use of a refractometer to measure the sugar content in liquids.  Does it also have the capability to measure and identify minerals and those other phytonutrients like polyphenols, lycopenes and anthocyanins? (those are the only words that come to me right now for those thousands of compounds that plants produce and account for "nutrient density"). 

What about vitamins?  Can brix measure those too?  If so, I am really missing out.  I just use my refractometer to get the sugar right for kombuch brewing, so I would not have any more bursted bottles, for primary fermentation when making vinegar, and other things like that.


Shorty answer is no. Refractometer is not measuring just sugar though. It is measuring total dissolved solids which includes any colloidal minerals as well as sugars. The higher the brix, the higher the amount of minerals. Sugar is the means of carrying minerals up into the plant from roots. There are charts on the net with "bad", "good", "excellent" columns. By feeding the microbiology of soil and topping up the missing minerals (somehow), you can increase the brix readings and the taste and aroma of the fruit, veg.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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g' day Gurkan,
Thanks. I wanted to say I thought refractometers measure "dissolved solids" but was afraid that was wrong.  I was taught that it was mainly sugar and - for example -when California wineries pay grape growers for their fruit, they pay based on net weight of the fruit times the refractometer reading, as if it were totally sugar, and that is what the federal regulatory agency tracks because tons of sugar delivered should yield a specific amount of alcohol, and they want to tax every gram of it!

And somehow isn't there something about salts too?  Seems like I remember that salts don't show up as dissolved solids because they are ionized, but it was more than 50 years ago I used the refractometer for the California wine industry.  I could have confused the facts since then.

Another thing I might be confused about is, many of the minerals the plant takes up are ionized too aren't they?  So would that mean they are also in an ionized form in the fruit juice?

Can you tell me where I could find those charts?  I'd like to be able to look at sugars vs other dissolved solids, I'd like to refresh my understanding and have confidence in my grasp of the situation.

And wouldn't all this disolved solids information be applicable to aquaponics fluids, and as a means to test the quality and nutrient densities in their produce?
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I'd guess that at least fungi would be at a much lower diversity in a classic aquaponics setup then in a soil bed. And I'd also guess that the bacterial population would be different. I'm not sure about the nematode and protozoa populations.
 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:g' day Gurkan,
And somehow isn't there something about salts too?  Seems like I remember that salts don't show up as dissolved solids because they are ionized, but it was more than 50 years ago I used the refractometer for the California wine industry.  I could have confused the facts since then.

Yes, you can check the salts with a refractometer too. There are salt refractometers on ebay. I am guessing the only difference between a salt and a sugar refractometer is the scale you are looking at.

Thekla McDaniels wrote:Another thing I might be confused about is, many of the minerals the plant takes up are ionized too aren't they?  So would that mean they are also in an ionized form in the fruit juice?

I don't know exactly but in that case the more sugar you have means more minerals in the juice as there would be more molecules to carry. Rex Harril says, when the border between blue and white areas in the refractometer is blurred, means ratio of minerals are higher to sugar.

Thekla McDaniels wrote:Can you tell me where I could find those charts?  I'd like to be able to look at sugars vs other dissolved solids, I'd like to refresh my understanding and have confidence in my grasp of the situation.

Rex Harril's web site deleted but internet archive has a copy of the page here. Just search for brix vegetable charts on Google, you will see them.


Thekla McDaniels wrote:And wouldn't all this disolved solids information be applicable to aquaponics fluids, and as a means to test the quality and nutrient densities in their produce?

Absolutely. And combining this with plant defficiency indicators, it would be a good thing to check. I usually read the salt levels with a salt refractometer and top it up, if necessary.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Thank you thank you, Gurkan.  I took a quick peek.  That's a resource I will have to spend more than a little time on,  certainly more than I have here at the beginning of a work day.  Can't wait to get to it.
 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Thank you thank you, Gurkan.  I took a quick peek.  That's a resource I will have to spend more than a little time on,  certainly more than I have here at the beginning of a work day.  Can't wait to get to it.

Actually, I didn't want that information get lost in the internet abyss. I copied the entire page, edited a bit and turned into PDF.
Filename: RH-Brix.pdf
Description: Rex Harill's Brix book
File size: 1 megabytes
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