Howdy guys and gals
I have 3 IBC totes and one and a half more on the way. I just have to complete a few more rabbit hides in trade. I have been reading and watching a lot of youtube videos. I have a basic understanding.... however when I walk outside to start on it, I look at the totes and simply scratch my head. I know that aquaponics isn't a completely "permaculture" idea, however I think that we can all build on the original concept to make it better. For instance my Dad runs his electric fencer with a solar panel and has a couple of extras. I think that I could use one or two of them to run the pump and the bubbler.(I'm sure it isn't my original idea haha. There is nothing new under the sun) I also plan to feed the fish with my BSF larvea. Another problem I run into is the choice of fish. It is too hot during the summer to run salmon or trout and it is too cold during the winter to run bass or bluegill or crappie.... I am not sure what zone I live in, I live in North Texas in a small town called Callisburg. The nearest big town would be either Denton or Sherman. I live about an hour and a half north of Dallas...... Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to everyone on this awesome forum for taking time out of their day to read and contrubute to the vast knowledge available here.!
Well I have no expirience, just interest, like you.
Cat fish might make it through cold weather.
Carp certainly would.
Neither are considered the best fish for eating,but both are robust and will tolerate high stocking rates, dirty water and low oxygen.
Not that you plan on having any of those conditions, but Murphy happens,right?
Shrimp might work as well...
Have you checked out http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/
Those guys are focused like lasers on aquaponics.
Also look a RobBob on YouTube.
He incorporates red wrigglers, keep a chickens, and he is fun to watch. He does live in Australia, so he's not that expirienced when it comes to dealing with cold weather😏
Consider growing azolle in a seprate tote,for fish food.
It fixes it's own nitrogen.
Maybe grow water hyacinth or duckweed to adsorb excess nitrogen,plus create feed and biomass.
The duck weed can grow in the same tank as the fish, floating within in a net bottomed raft.
Floating insulation,the pink or blue stuff can hold plants and prevent heat loss or gain.
Probably a good thing you didn't rush right out and start cutting, Permaculture is all about design which involves at least as much planning as physical work.
Tilapia are another favorite choice often sold alive in oriental food stores, but make sure you keep them contained, they are very high producers, but one thing you will find with all fish is their production will have an optimum temperature range, below and above which they go dormant. Also don't skimp on the oxygen, that will be the most vital component of a high production situation
When I think of IBC totes I think of wicking beds and vegetables, so you may want to incorporate a tote or two cut in half with gravel etc to act as a biologic filter and partial aeration of water going back to the fish. That cycle may help fill several different needs and interdependencies. Positioned properly the whole thing might run on a single transfer pump taking water from low to high, then letting gravity fill in the transfers between totes that are stepped slightly downhill . a final sand/gravel filter could finish the water before going back to the fish.
water Hyacinths do filter water, but have no other real use except as fertilizer (at least my fish don't eat them) and duck weed and azolla are good food, but take lots of surface area, and floating rafts with nets would likely be unworkable in a few totes. I just have a few goldfish, and they quickly dispatch any duckweed I throw into their water.
BSF are likely too rich to use as a steady diet for most fish and will need to be mixed with some starch and veges, which might become a focus of the wicking beds growth potential (if you don't decide to dedicate them to your own food)
google what zone am I in ? to find out your exact zone, I would guess that area is designated 7 or so with some pretty fast transitions from hot to cold, so some sort of climate extender (hoop house) over the whole shebang could make whatever system you install much more productive. In the case of tilapia you might even want a source of heat at least for the tank, but I guess you have already considered that.
Personally, I would consider running a seasonal system if you are planning to do it completely outdoors, but if you do so, you may need to purchase commercial feed if you want your fish to reach plate size before the cold sets in. Then again, you do live in Texas, so you should have a good bit of wiggle room when it comes to temperatures
For a year round system, catfish might be a good choice for you. Tilapia grow quickly and should do great in the high temps of Texas. Being naturally tropical fish, they thrive in warm water (70F+) and can handle the low levels of dissolved oxygen that come with it. Plus they're just all round tough-as-nails bastards that can put up with a good bit of abuse.
"There is nothing, Sir, too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible." - Samuel Johnson
I appreciate The link and the refence to the youtube channel! Also murphy and I are old pals.... with friends like him you don't need enemies haha
Thanks for the input. I was actually looking at a couple of your suggestions. I thought about having the tops as wicking beds to plant herbs and maybe somethings like strawberries or something. I also considered duckweed to grow in the deep tanks as a supplemental goat food and possiblly for my rabbits also. I have to do more research on that front though.
I had considered catfish..... but there are a few things that turn me off of them.
1.) The ick disease which is apparently very bad in an enclosed tank and (so I have read) very bad for a human to ingest... for instance if you butchered one that you didn't realize had it.
2.) Also somewhere in leviticus God tells us not to eat anyfish without scales. And while I am a christian and I know that we no longer have to follow the old testament, I also believe that it was put in there for a purpose. So I think those will have to stay out of the picture
I enjoy crappie and bass. I wish there was a way without building a green house that I could raise them year round. But you did give me some ideas like maybe a tank heater and some insulation wrap of some sort.
I will have to research the food for fish. This is one reason I haven't jumped in yet. I would like to be able to provide all of their food myself. Thats another reason for the aquaponics. I was thinking about growing duckweed and maybe some other things to supplement ( or replace) my goat and rabbit pellets.
The pumps and bubblers need to run at night too or the fish and bacteria will die. So in addition to Solar panels, you'd need batteries and charge controllers as well. The batteries need to be big enough to run everything for several days during stormy weather and you need enough solar panels to charge the batteries quickly after a storm.
If your pumps and bubblers need 60 watts to run (picking a number at random) then you'll need 6 to 8 golf cart batteries to last through a long storm and probably 500 watts worth of panels.
It's certainly doable, but you'll need a LOT more than a couple solar fence chargers.
FWIW For your location, it's much easier to heat water in the winter than cool it during the summer, think solar water heater panels. If you put the panels inside your greenhouse, you can use cheap plastic swimming pool panels. During the summer time you can move the panels outside and circulate water through them at night to radiate some of the accumulated heat into the cold night sky (it's called, Night Sky Radiant Cooling)
My opinions are barely worth the paper they are written on here, but hopefully they can spark some new ideas, or at least a different train of thought
I built one once, but was unable to balance the nitrate/nitrite etc. Donated it to someone who wanted to try.
There is a company that teaches aquaponics in Mansfield, TX. First Saturday/Sunday is free to anyone who wishes to attend. They have a large greenhouse set-up. Can't find the link right now. You can PM me if you like.
I am in southwest Oklahoma and set mine up in a vacant house. I used one big tote for the fish, one 1/2 tote for the sump and a 15 inch tub filled with pea gravel for the grow bed. I also rigged up a 4 tier pvc pipe grow tube.
I had 2 major problems I couldn't get worked out. 1) with only 3 windows, I didn't have enough light....got one tomato plant to get up to about 2 feet tall, but it was spindly and bent to the windows. 2) couldn't get the system cycled.
Another thing I found out is the water pump may use a lot of power. Tried a 1/2 hp basement sump at first but ate lots of electricity. Went to a Harbor freight pump pretty quickly.
For oxygen, Used a 80 lite air pump pushing air through a 8 in air stone. Put this in the fish tank.
Using an electric type heater to keep the tank warm can also use a lot of electricity.
Tried inexpensive gold fish to try to get the system cycled but the fish died (twice). Didn't want expensive fish in there first off. Glad I didn't.
thought I would mention, Geoff Lawton talks about using a 20-30 gallon bucket with lots of air holes in the sides filled with 1" gravel. He says that algae/bacteria quickly forms on all those surfaces and this oxygenates and purifies the water.
I use a tiny little transfer pump that could supply water to a height of 5 feet or so (it says max is 200 inches, but this will reduce gph), and in conjunction with a bucket set up like that it might go a long way to getting the water clean and aerated for the fish with less bubbling action required. pump